HARTFORD — Mike Quatrocelli certainly had a good excuse if he wanted to leave Saturday night’s women’s game early. After all, this was his second basketball game of what had turned into an exciting 10-hour excursion – the dual season-ticket holder also attended the men’s game at Gampel in Storrs that afternoon.
But unlike many at the XL Center who left the Hartford arena long before the women hoisted yet another Big East trophy, Quatrocelli was there when the buzzer sounded, ending the 31-point- dismantling of the Seton Hall squad.
“I’d say I’m a fairly loyal fan. There’s been very few times in the past 26 years when I’ve left a game early and that’s out of respect for the players and all they do for the university,” said Quatrocelli, a sales rep in the aerospace industry.
He’s been a season-ticket holder for the men’s team for 26 years. He purchased season tickets for women’s games when they first became available a couple of decades ago.
“I appreciate what both coaches do and I’m happy to be a loyal and committed fan of both programs,” said the New Britain resident.
Quatrocelli has been attending Husky home games for more than a quarter of a century with his friend and fellow season-ticket holder Charlie Smith of Wethersfield.
Of course, a few people had other reasons for attending both games of this rare hoop doubleheader, including Bill Collins, who wanted to be on hand when his wife’s father was honored by the university.
Sally Collins is the daughter of John Toner, who was inducted into the school’s “Huskies of Honor” during the men’s game against Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, a fitting venue to recognize the former Athletics Director and UConn legend whose vision was largely responsible for construction of the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in 1989.
Head coach of the UConn football team from 1966-70, Toner became Director of Athletics in 1969 and held that post until 1987.
In 1979, Toner left a legacy to future undergrads that is even bigger than Gampel, when he guided Connecticut to a Big East charter membership.
“Saturday was John’s day,” Bill Collins said of his father-in-law. “And I know a big part of the day for him was not only being honored but especially being surrounded by his family, his six kids and all his grandchildren.”
Four of those grandchildren belong to Sally and Bill – namely, Cathleen and Matthew along with James and Allison who are both currently enrolled at UConn.
Although the official “Huskies of Honor” ceremony was held at Gampel, Toner and his wife Claire were also introduced to the crowd during the women’s game that evening.
“John made a point of telling my wife that he definitely wanted to go to the women’s game [too] because he hired Geno as well as Jim Calhoun,” Collins said.
Posted March 7, 2009