The New Britain Brawlers: Scoring On and Off the Field

brawlers

By Antonio Squitieri (4/8/16)

Link to published article: http://nbcityjournal.com/archives/12730

Everyone deserves a second chance. For the city’s newest semi-professional football team, this is not just a philosophy, but a way of life.

Upon joining, every player makes a pledge to accomplish a set of goals. Most of them, however, have little to do with winning championships.

“Our biggest goal is to get all these guys to the next level in their life and bettering themselves,” says Head Coach/Team Owner Rick Bachand “Not as a football player, but as a human being, to be able to support themselves to be productive members of society.”

Rick Bachand knows the importance of helping others. Having touched the lives of many through his tenure as a New Britain coach and educator, he started this program with a focus on turning around lives, and with time has exemplified that it is never too late to change.

In every team he has coached, he’s instilled a sense of unity that has created trust beyond compare. The balanced support system within each roster, which comprises of not just men with blemished backgrounds, but also team mentors who’ve gotten to where they want to be in life, has continued to make this program thrive.

“Everybody helps everybody here,” Bachand said of his team. “Everyone’s been in pretty much in the same situation as the next guy. We’re all in the same boat.”

From its beginnings in Waterbury, the program has made gaping strides in its mission. With over 300 players in the past 5 years, a great majority have obtained jobs or enrolled in college for the very first time in their lives. Last year alone, 14 players started college while over 50 became employed, and all it took was a second chance.

Luis Ventura, the team’s current quarterback, was once like any other kid from New Britain. He did poorly in school, succumbed to outside pressures, and then dropped out before graduation.

“In my mind, I was an immature little kid back then” said Ventura of his teenage years.

Luis made the decision to get his life back on track by joining the Brawlers, and is now working to finish his high school diploma while pursuing his passion for football, but he doesn’t plan on stopping there.

“I want to bring some form of peace to New Britain,” expressed Ventura. “If the kids go out to the games, let’s say even before they go into high school, and they see us, the older guys playing football, and we’re not even in the streets or anything- so they’re not looking up to “OG’s” or thugs from the block. That gives meaning to kids, they like to see that.”

Since their emergence in December, the team has also made a pact to help the community by giving back to the city of New Britain. In doing so, they have been involved in several projects that have impacted the lives of others.

Most recently, the team was a part of saving the home of a local Vietnam War veteran whose house was in danger of foreclosure. For some time, the veteran struggled with keeping up the outside appearance of her house. Fortunately for her, the Brawlers were there to help in her time of need and restored the house back to suitable living conditions.

This year, the team will be involved in a number of charity events in New Britain including the Autism Awareness Walk, the Connecticut RACE IN THE PARK for Breast Cancer, and will also hold their annual football summer camp to teach kids from the community the skills of the sport they love- free of charge.

“Being a part of the community is definitely a big part of this football team” said CB/WR Tyrone Wright “It’s not just playing football here, it’s about bettering our lives.”

With a track record off the field that has shown success beyond measure, their performance on the field, has been no exception. Last year, the Brass City Brawlers of Waterbury saw a season in which they went 13-0 en route to a national championship. Players also found themselves with the opportunity to continue their football career at the next level, including a pair who joined the growing market overseas to play for the Sao Paulo Storm in Brazil.

Expectations are high for Coach Bachand and his team yet again as they embark on their first season in the city of New Britain. The program currently has over 20 players, but are actively searching for more to fill out the remaining roster spots.

The New Britain Brawlers football program offers a variety of opportunities to help individuals make their dreams become a reality. Through its free membership, access is granted to services such as SAT classes and GED classes, as well as the tireless efforts made by its staff of coaches and mentors who work with colleges and companies to help secure jobs and college recruitment.

With the start of the season only 7 weeks away, now is the chance to get involved. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the citizens of New Britain, as well as the surrounding towns of Berlin, Southington, Newington, and Plainville, to join on the ground floor of something that will change the lives of many people, according to Bachand. The team also welcomes any form of community service and will take on any task for those in need. For more information call Coach Rick Bachand at 860-967-8061.

The season kicks off July 16th and will host all home games at New Britain High School Stadium. Tickets will be $7 for adults and free to ages 16 and under.


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