WINDSOR - The Capitol Region Education Council wonâ€™t have to worry about funding its middle school sports programs for at least another season.
On Wednesday, representatives from Vistra Energy visited CRECâ€™s Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor and presented CREC with a $100,000 donation.
â€śYouth sports in our country are becoming more and more privatized and you see that with AAU and showcase events,â€ť said Jonathan Winer, CRECâ€™s athletic director. â€śNot every family can afford that or send their kids to things like that. Thatâ€™s why school sports are so important. This allows kids to have the opportunity to play sports and not be reliant on their socio-economic status and weâ€™re really thankful to Vistra Energy. A number of our players from our state champion [boys basketball] team at Innovation played in our middle school programs, so this is vital. Middle school sports are the foundation of our high school teams.â€ť
This was the fourth consecutive year a donation by Vistra Energy, an integrated power company based in Irving, Texas, but operates two sites in Connecticut, saved CRECâ€™s middle school sports program from being cut due to budgetary constraints. The funds will be used to support middle school sports at four participating CREC schools for the 2019-2020 academic year.
â€śVistra Energy is dedicated to strengthening the communities where our employees and customers live, work and serve,â€ť said Pete Ziegler, Vistra Energy vice president of plant operations. â€śAs part of this commitment, weâ€™re honored to continue our support for CREC athletics and its numerous youth development programs. The programs offered by CREC Athletics teach critical skills, including teamwork, self-confidence and leadership - among countless other life lessons that students can use in the workforce and as leaders in their communities.â€ť
During the event, Vistra Energy representatives met student-athletes during the event, listened to essays written and read by four CREC athletes and participated in a ceremonial check presentation.
Funds from the donation are also being used to continue the Vistra Energy Citizen-Athlete Scholarship Award for graduating seniors. Desaray Chapman, a three-sport athlete from Aerospace, was this yearâ€™s recipient and will receive a $1,000 scholarship for each of the next four years. Chapman will attend Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Mass. in the fall.
The other senior scholarship finalists to present their essays were Colby Gray (Academy of Science and Innovation), Samuel Agyei (Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies) and Samuel Darko (Civic Leadership High School). The four were selected for their ability to meet challenges both on and off the playing field.
And for Winer, seeing the interaction between the student-athletes and the company to help CREC continue is youth sports programs was perhaps one of the best parts of the day.
â€śTo me, itâ€™s a day of celebration,â€ť Winer said. â€śTo be able to celebrate the generosity of Vistra Energy and knowing our middle school programs will stay intact through the 2019-20 school year and have our four athletes read what CREC athletics means to them, itâ€™s amazing. Itâ€™s a day of recognition and what motivates our athletes to want to come out and do well on the field and in the classroom. And again, we canâ€™t thank Vistra enough.â€ť
David Glovach can be reached at email@example.com