The Berlin Wall Part III: Big Fella Meet Berlin Connecticut Berlin Connecticut Meet The Big Fella!
My Crew: Probably the BEST thing that could have happened when I moved to CT was my old man’s travel agent Dennis O’Brien had a good friend in Berlin named Vic Lavender (🙏🏿❤️🙏🏿)! Vic’s son played on the football team so he arranged for us to meet. The entire summer prior to school starting I was with the homie Lav and he introduced me to some life long friends (Cooney, Santoro, Urciullo, Coccomo, Johnson, Brothers Coletti, Mayette and Swanson) whom without a doubt made the transition a lot easier plus these were some “Wild Boys” my type of dudes ✊🏿!
Prior to the move when I visited my dad in CT during the summers we were at his home in Manchester his Condo in Meriden or my grandmothers home in Hartford.
Berlin was VERY DIFFERENT from Manchester, Meriden and Hartford. Let’s just say it was culturally challenged AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
When I got there I became the 4th brother at the school and there was ONE sister 👀(she was a cutie 😬)! To say my situation was DRASTICALLY different from Eastside High School in Gainesville is the definition of an UNDERSTATEMENT! Berlin Connecticut is a small town in the middle of Connecticut between Hartford and New Haven. Everybody there knows EVERYBODY there. Great place to raise a family. Many of my high school classmates went off to college only to come back and marry their high school sweethearts. That’s just what people do there. Although I stood out for the most part it was a cool place to be had a lot of fun met some GREAT people and they welcomed me with open arms. There was a clown or two but we’ll get into that later.
No disrespect to the previous brothers that had come through Berlin High but I think I brought a little more soul. I was a southern guy I was DIFFERENT. I had the tight crease in my jeans. I wore a gold ring in the shape of Africa. My sister and her boyfriend would show up to games with the system jamming! We were in a different world in Connecticut, but we never lost our Florida roots. We brought Florida to the quiet peaceful town of Berlin AHAHAHAHAHA! I still remember one of my partners telling me man Forrest your sister and her boyfriend LL Cool J pulled up to the game with that music bumping (Slick Rick “Hey Young World”).
One of the MOST fantastic New England discoveries in moving to Connecticut was my introduction to homemade authentic fine Italian dining. I also discovered that kids from other cultures talk to their parents extremely different than how I was raised. There were many times I found myself ducking expecting shoes and any other throwable objects to fly across the room in response to how some of my friends spoke to their parents 🤣🤣! Back to the food I must give a shoutout out to the Tolomea family. Man Look EVERY Friday night we ate the most delicious homemade fried dough with the most delicious homemade marinara sauce with fresh grated mozzarella cheese and/or confectioner sugar. It was ABSOLUTELY DEVINE!!!
The First Time AP laid eyes on me he refused to believe I was serious! You gotta understand 6-6 315lb sophomores (I grew 2 inches and gained 37lbs between my freshman and sophomore year) don’t just randomly walk into your office asking is this where I sign up for football?
Imagine jogging out to football practice and everybody staring like WTH!! The transition did have a hiccup or two. I had my crew in the back of the locker room. The homie Lav and I were P.E. Fanatics! We played Public Enemy religiously. Well there was this “CLOWN” that played on the team. It’s ALWAYS one! I guess me coming in taking his position and just being BETTER didn’t sit well with him. Remember these are kids that have grown up together playing all of their lives together and here I come disrupting what he thought would be his senior year to start; NOPE!! The story goes like this we had that Public Enemy bumping the song “Rebel Without A Pause” with the tea kettle whistle sound. Well I guess buddy didn’t care for the music we were playing so he decided he was going to come to the back of the locker room where we were sitting doing what we do after practice and turn our music down 👀. People that know me know that’s just UNACCEPTABLE so me being who I am walked up to the front of the locker room and turned his radio OFF! He looked as if he was in disbelief so I went to my high voice “What You Wanna Do”? That wasn’t what he wanted. Teammates stepped in to stop what would have been an UGLY outcome for buddy. Never had a problem with any teammates again. ALWAYS one clown! Before I go into the meat and potatoes let me say this. We had some great players on my Berlin High School teams yes there are MORE athletes in Florida but I wouldn’t necessarily say that they ALL are better. I played with some guy that were DUDES! Them Gentile brothers would knock your face off! Wenzel could have played QB or Safety at an FBS program. Delgrosso was a mail toter DEFINITELY an FBS back. My lil bro Coco was as tough as ANYBODY I played with at FSU.
After I left the attention I brought to the school football program made it possible for those after me to get a look and earn scholarships. Florida talent was better but Florida high school talent is BETTER than EVERYWHERE! That’s like saying Fo you were just BIGGER than everybody in Connecticut. I was BIGGER than EVERYBODY EVERYWHERE 👀! If you can ball you can ball. These guys were definitely D-1 talent they just didn’t have the exposure. That was getting ready to change REAL SOON!
As the first game got closer and closer there was this buzz and I didn’t understand why. What I found out is they didn’t play many high school games Friday nights in Connecticut because of the cold weather (and we didn't have lights at Sage Park at the time) where as in Florida they played some games on Saturday's because of mosquitos. Imagine living in a small town that everybody knew each other and here you come a stranger but not just any stranger you're a little bit darker and little bit bigger (AHAHAHAHA) you kinda standout so yeah all eyes are on you! What are you going to do Big Fella? For me it was simple! HANDLEBARS! I reckoned it was time EVERYBODY found out about “The Big Fella” 👀! I welcomed the challenge EVERY Saturday. I was still learning the game but like NEO I was beginning to BELIEVE that I could dominate at the line of scrimmage.
Went Full Teddy Pendergrass In My First Ever Game In Berlin!
After a couple of games I got my first college letter of interest as a Connecticut high school football player it was from Syracuse University.
After my sophomore year the calls started from college coaches the calls NEVER stopped!
The Absolute Most DOMINANT Time In My Football Life My Junior Year And That Time The Entire Middletown Football Team Tried To Jump Me 👀