NEWINGTON - Winning five of the past seven Class M boys volleyball championships isnâ€™t by chance for the Newington boys volleyball team.
The Indians have a roster loaded with talent and filled with basketball players, something thatâ€™s become a theme for the Indiansâ€™ group, especially over the recent titles.
â€śCoach [Burns] is always looking for basketball players to join the team,â€ť Newingtonâ€™s Louis Egbuna said. â€śYouâ€™ll see him at basketball games in the fall already trying to see what players would be good at volleyball. He gets us to take up the game and coaches us to become volleyball players instead of just basketball players trying to play volleyball.â€ť
This yearâ€™s team had eight players on its roster that played basketball in the fall. It was an improvement on the five from the 2017 championship team (Zach Harmon, Nat Alleyne, Teddy Fravel, Andres Ithier Vicenty and Egbuna) and the one (Dante Phillip) from the 2015 team that captured the state championship.
While height is important to establish a presence at the net, some of the players donâ€™t have a volleyball background.
Rather, they just bring the tools needed to be coached into a standout volleyball player.
The perfect example of that is Teddy Fravel, who didnâ€™t have a major role last season, as he was still learning the game and Newington coach Curt Burns was mentoring him, like heâ€™s done to other basketball players in the past. But listed at 6â€™7 on the roster Fravel is the tallest player the Indians have and became a key piece to this yearâ€™s championship run.
â€śWith a lot of us being basketball players we try to take advantage at the net,â€ť Fravel said. â€śThat was a big reason for another championship. We know we can beat anybody at the net, weâ€™re a confident group and we go out there to prove it.â€ť
Outside of Fravel, the other eight basketball players on the Newington roster this season were Egbuna, Keenan Esau, Jacob Baclawski, Julian Ortiz, Razik Amadou, Krystian Kujawa and Mason Romano. All eight players will be back next year as well with another offseason to improve on their game, scary for opposing teams.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a lot of guys coming back next year too,â€ť Caceres said. â€śWe want to celebrate this one now but weâ€™re looking forward to getting back next year.â€ť
Newington only had four seniors on this yearâ€™s state championship team - Daniel Cloutier, Evan Metzger, Darien Rodriguez and Al Chan.
With all the returning players and all the big players at the net returning, the Indians will once again be set up to make a run. When next fall rolls around Burns will likely be back seeking out more basketball players to join the volleyball team.
After all, itâ€™s been too good of a run to change things now.
â€śIt never gets old,â€ť Burns said. â€śYou see the excitement of the fans and the kids and itâ€™s great for the school. Itâ€™s a lot of fun and we hope to be here every year. We definitely set our goal to get here every year.â€ť