Category: Uncategorized

Stop yelling at the refs

By Nick D’Andrea

I will open this up with full disclosure.  I am a sports official.  I won’t hide it and I am not ashamed of it.  Since I got that out of the way, let’s move on.


There has been a growing culture in sports, mostly at the lower levels, that the officials are incompetent and that they don’t know what they’re doing, they don’t know the rules and they should not be out there.


You can ask my friends and my family, I am a sports rules junkie.  You cannot go into a room in my house without seeing a rulebook or a casebook of some sport.  I am constantly reading the rules of different sports and I love to hear interpretations of those rules by top officials.  Yes, I am a geek, but you will very rarely stump me on a scenario.


So, when I see parents in the crowd screaming and yelling at officials (at a kids game mind you) all I do is laugh.  Most people have no clue as to what it takes to be an official.  It’s not just about the rules, that’s actually the easy part.  The mechanics of a sports official is more important than knowing the rules, why?  An official can’t apply their knowledge of the rules if they are not in the right place to make the call.


That’s neither here nor there.  I came across this article that was written by a parent on how referees can take charge and improve the youth sports culture.  I understand the writer’s premise in this letter but he is deflecting from the real issue.


Mr. Wilson, the author, asked the umpires to do three things that he feels would help.


Be proactive in what you expect in the game. Referees are very good at letting players know what they expect and consequently players have learned to play to the referee’s level of expectation. When the referee does not make this clear, the ref spends significant time in the game establishing the level of play that is acceptable.


My response: Mr. Wilson we are game officials not coaches.  It doesn’t matter what level of expectation we want, we officiate the level we are at. We expect errors in a game, we are not disappointed when we see them. To suggest that the officials expectations are more important than the expectations of the coaches takes away from the important job that the coaches have and should be doing. If we as officials implement our own expectations on players what do they need their coach for?


Be proactive with the coaches. Make it clear at the beginning of the game how you want the coach to communicate with you. It is much easier to keep coaches at the level of interacting you want when the standard has been stated clearly at the outset of the game. It is easier to intervene the first time the coach tests the limit because it has been clearly stated before the match. When it has not been clearly stated, the coach often responds negatively because they feel they are being picked on and the standard is not the same for both coaches.


My Response:  That’s what we do prior to the game.  Those little meetings at home plate, center court or midfield are not prayer services.  We are doing exactly what you asked above.  That communication last about five seconds, or until a close play goes the wrong way. It implies that as an official we can control others emotions simply by stating what we expect and how situations should be is giving us way more credit than we are due. When a play goes badly the conversation we had at the start of the game is the last thing a coach, parent or player is thinking about.  It’s not the clarity of the communication, it’s the lack of punishment from leagues that let that continue to grow.


Lastly, Mr. Wilson Adds:


Be proactive with the coach concerning the role of parents at the game. Make it clear that the coach is responsible for the action of the parents. If parents are being negative, you will approach the coach to have them take care of the situation. If the coach does not take care of it then you will have the parent leave the field.


 My Response: Mr. Wilson that is a rule.  It may not specifically say parents but it calls out spectators. You suggest that if the coach doesn’t care or doesn’t want to deal with an unruly fan, the official should ask the parent to leave. That rarely goes over well since the official is the target of their venom. Ejecting a parent at a youth sports level tends to escalate the situation, should we go ahead and cause more chaos at a youth sports event?


I give Mr. Wilson credit for trying to solve a problem but he is not looking at the correct issue.  I have also came across another letter written by a player of youth sports it’s titled An Open Letter to My Dad, who Makes Me Want to Quit Sports.  I don’t think me explaining the rules, setting expectations or asking them to calm down will help them.


Since Mr. Wilson asked three things from referees in youth sports, I will ask the same of parents.


  1. Take time to learn the rules rather than yell when they don’t go your way
  2. Stop yelling at players, coaches and referees. You are setting an example it will either show your child to show the same behavior or feel very embarrassed and want to quit
  3. Let your child have fun. Embrace it, the odds of your child getting a scholarship or going pro are so small, why waste this time stressing your child out


Mr. Wilson, the refs do have an opportunity to make a difference. But shouldn’t parents and coaches also be setting a good example for their children?

How I talked to my daughter post-election

By Nick D’Andrea
Thinking in 3D

It’s been a week since the election and I must say I am very disappointed in what I have seen and to be honest I have tuned out. I am not disappointed because I don’t agree with anything that is going on, but the fact of the matter is that people are saying some hateful things unprovoked and unwarranted and it flat out makes me sad.

The big question over the past week is “How do we talk to the children?” Maybe I am trivializing this but I didn’t find it to be as big of a deal mainly because my daughter is 7. If I can get her to remember to brush her teeth in the morning it puts me that far ahead.
I have one rule that I have applied in my life, my work and my coaching. It is that you can’t get mad at something that hasn’t happened yet. So it is imperative that I teach my child to look at things with an opened mind and to not have myopic viewpoints. To think that any of this election will have any lasting ramifications on her, I feel, is absurd. Why? Because she’s 7.

My daughter over the last year has become obsessed with Presidents and their life history, namely Abraham Lincoln. There is actually a video of her at The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. sprinting up the steps and me behind barely able to keep up. She loves to read about him and has several books on him and was ecstatic that we surprised her by taking her to Gettysburg so she could stand where “Honest Abe” gave the Gettysburg Address.

She took an interest in the election this year and I was happy to answer any questions that she had. Her summer reading consisted of books about Lincoln (shocking), President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton. She soaked it all up and would give me continuous facts about all three. She did have trouble digesting that Hillary was (dare I say it?) a Yankees fan. Unfortunately there were no children’s books on Donald Trump, not that that it would have swayed her “I’m with her” feeling about the election. Her innocence about the election was what I found truly remarkable. Not once did she come home and tell me of the horrible things being said about children. Which leads me to believe, she paid it no mind or it wasn’t happening.

What my daughter doesn’t realize is that this election impacted her family more than she knows. Her grandparents, one of her uncles, one of her aunts and her dad are in fact immigrants. All of us here legally she was never led to believe that a Trump presidency would take her family from her. Why? Because she’s 7.

She doesn’t think her father will be ridiculed because of the deformities on both of his hands. In all seriousness I don’t even think she has even thought of it. Why? Because she is 7

The conversation at the bus stop on November 9 went like this:

“Daddy, who won the election?”
“Donald Trump did honey”
“Honey, this is what happens. We have elections and we vote our leaders into office. Sometimes someone we don’t support or like will win. That’s ok. It just makes us want to try harder to help that person or find someone we can support and vote for the next time. In some instances you can even try to run yourself. Do you understand?”
“Is that why you ran for the election?”
“Yes, baby, it is.”
“Ok. Daddy, I love you.”

We haven’t spoken about it since. It is my job to make sure my daughter understands and respects the process, no matter the outcome. I want her to learn that it is ok to have a difference of opinion with people, especially her friends and family, and to respect those opinions. I want the election process to inspire her to truly believe that anyone CAN be president. Lastly, I want her to understand that she may not agree with the President, she may not even like the President, but there is a respect for the Office of the President. Respect the process, respect the results, and respect the office. I think the baseball widow and I have done a good job in teaching that.

It’s not my job to indoctrinate my daughter. Why? Because she’s 7




Long Weekend! Thank a Vet!

By Nick D’Andrea

I am keeping up with tradition and posting a public thank you to military personnel that I have been lucky to come to know over the years.  Most of the words have stayed the same but my feeling towards the military have not changed.  Some people say that my appreciation to the military is sometimes over the top, my response that is “No it is not!, I can’t thank them enough”

Our military deserves our support, right wrong, or indifferent.  These brave men and women volunteer to take a job to defend this great nation.  They should be commended, not condemned.  That is all I have to say about the respect our military deserves, because most Americans feel the same way I do.  As I normally do each year I want to thank these specific individuals for their service and everything they have done for this country.  This year I am adding a dear friend, Christopher Lyness.  He just returned from his tech school with the Air National Guard and is currently stationed on Cape Cod.  If you would like to add someone to my annual list please drop me a message, I would love to honor them.

*Added in 2016

Christopher Lyness – Air Force National Guard
Timothy MacCartney Sr. – United States Army
Timothy MacCartney Jr. – United States Army
Ron Scarborough Sr. – United States Air Force
Michael Scarborough – United States Air Force
Ron Scarborough Jr. – United States Marine Corp
Derek Gordon – United States Marine Corp.
Cary MacCartney – United States Army
Craig Tomanini – United States Army
Jill Murray Wildt – United States Marine Corp.
Sam Wildt – United States Navy
Don Mason – United States Army
Eric Catalanotti – United States Army
Robert Catalanotti – United States Army
Justin LaMonda – United States Marine Corp.
Denny Brigley – United States Army
John Finneron – United States Army – P.O.W. World War II
David Layman – United States Navy
Dan Thibodeau – United States Marine Corp.
Kim-Cameron King – United States Marine Corp.
Mary McCue – United States Marine Corp.
Rusty Williamson – United States Navy
Nick Fortunato – United States Navy
Paul Dell’ovo – United States Air Force
Paul Vigneault – United States Navy
DJ Gentile – United States Coast Guard
Glenn Peacock – United States Coast Guard
*Jenaliz Macavey – United States Aire Force
*Larry Sasso – United States Marine Corp
*Tom Beech – United States Marine Corp

Thank you!

If you don’t take it from me, ask my wife

We need to correct ourselves

The election is over and I couldn’t be more relieved, but unfortunately this is not the end.  I used to be a political junkie.  So much so that I even ran for local office.  The atmosphere surrounding our recent election cycles has soured me on the whole process.  Every type of media has destroyed the political process so much that nobody even knows what the issues are.   We only have ourselves to blame and we need to correct ourselves to bring pride and accountability back to our democracy.  Recently, two former Mayors of the City of Worcester had made comments that struck this same cord, and we need more people to speak out like this.

Former Mayor Raymond Mariano asked in a Worcester Sun column titled “Losing friends over the election”

“How can we expect our elected officials to work together if we demonize those we disagree with? If we have disdain, or worse, for those whose opinions are different, what chance do we have that our government’s leaders will work cooperatively to solve our nation’s challenges?”

My sentiments exactly.  Social media has become unbearable, mainstream media has become unwatchable and news journalism has become un-readable.  Unfortunately we have bought it, hook line and sinker.  The reason for all this venom and mis-information goes back to one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Jonathan Gruber when he insulted the intelligence of the American voter by saying it was “….the stupidity of the American voter…” which helped passed the President’s signature piece of legislation.

There you have it people, we have become so indoctrinated with our respective sides, that something like that does not bother us.  It bothers me to no end and I am doing something about.  I have taken a different approach this time around.  Nobody knows how I am voting this year, with the exception of President (I’m leaving the ballot blank).  I don’t engage in political debates, I will have discussions and if someone disagrees with me it is up to them to give me a reason to change it.  Not to tell me I am wrong or that I am going to destroy America, or that I am deplorable.

As former Mayor Jordan Levy recently said on his radio show “Nobody has the right to tell me how to vote”.  If the candidate or the ballot measure has merit on its own then convincing me should be easy.  If not, plan to answer questions.

We have nobody to blame but ourselves for the volatility surrounding the election.  We have succumbed to quick snippets and headlines to determine the story, rather than reading the actual facts.  We have put our faith in an industry that has trampled their very own credo of “journalistic integrity”.

The term “fact check” no longer resides with the person reporting, but with someone who feels like it when the mood strikes them.  That’s why websites like and are very popular sites because nobody knows the truth anymore.

I’m sure most of you reading this voted the way your truly believe and I respect that.  But next time, I just ask, don’t blindly go.  You may still end up there but you will not regret it.  It is time we change our behavior around elections, because if we don’t, this is just the beginning.



Coming Right At You

Time to let go

Recently I wrote a piece titled “Always say Goodbye” about the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  My wife Darcy (aka The Baseball Widow) shared her feeling on the matter as well and asked me to post on her behalf.  Hope you enjoy.


On Saturday afternoon, I took my girls to church not realizing that this particular Saturday would be the last time I sat in the pews of this beautiful church we have called our parish (for myself well over 10 years and for Nick well over 40).  I entered mass like any other mass, with Antonella in my arms drifting off to sleep.  Cecilia pulled out the missal and I helped her find our page so we could follow along together.

Mass went on as it always does but when it was time for Monsignor Pedone to speak his sermon, something felt somber.  Monsignor told the story of a father saying goodbye to his child at the airport.  The ‘I wish you enough’ story I have heard before, and it always bring tears to my eyes, this story of an old man knowing in his heart that he is saying goodbye to his child for the last time.   I filled up with tears as I listened to this story and thought that it was an odd theme but mass continued on as usual.

After the final blessing, Monsignor asked us all to sit.  Being asked to sit was unsettling knowing what has been going on most recently with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church.  I thought to myself, oh no, this is it, the announcement.  What happened next took me by surprise.  I expected to hear there had been a decision to close the church, what I didn’t expect was that this would be the last time any of us would attend mass at Mt Carmel.  As my girls got restless my eyes filled with tears.  I shushed them as I knew others were feeling my sadness, and that others were likely feeling anger and perhaps denial.

The sadness of this moment overwhelmed me as I realized that our beautiful Mt. Carmel would no longer be there. This beautiful church where I had gotten married and baptized two children, this church that really brought me back to church, as before attending a mass there I had been an on again off again, Christmas and Easter Catholic.

As I watch other reactions I made an observation, this loss is not unlike losing a beloved family member.  There is true grief in this process. Mass was much like a funeral on Saturday, and what I heard and have read since is all very much in line with the stages of grief.  .  I have observed many different emotions around the closing and eventual demolition of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  There has been a great deal of anger. Many blame the state for putting up I290, others blame the church leaders for letting the damages go for too long. There are others in denial, believing they will never close THIS church.  I have even heard some bargaining, we can sell that piece of land and build a new one more sturdy building on the opposite side of the land.  Of course there is the depression, this is where I land, I have been teary eyed since hearing the news and trying so hard to explain it all to my eldest daughter who is also very sad and somewhat confused.  I am working towards acceptance, I believe I am close.  As my youngest child said to her sister as she cried over this loss; “but Ceci, you don’t want to go to a broken church”.

In the end holding on to what we love is a natural reaction. We buried my 97 year old grandmother this year, I miss her dearly, but she was ready to go and we had to say goodbye.  Her legacy will live on through her family, just as the legacy of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, will live on through all of us who have loved her.


Worcester Public Schools Students are in the Holiday spirit

On Tuesday December 15th, 2015 people were treated to some performances from talented Worcester Public Schools students at the Worcester Public Schools Holiday Open House.  Communications Specialist Jennifer Roy shared some photographs with Woo Schools of the event.

The groups that performed were: 

Students perform at the Worcester Public Schools Holiday Open House
Students perform at the Worcester Public Schools Holiday Open House

Burncoat Brass Ensemble
Claremont Academy Bells
Doherty High Jazz Band
Sullivan Middle School Jazz Band
Goddard Elementary School Chorus

Schools throughout the district have been performing in front of families and classmates for the past week.  You can catch school performances on WEA-TV11 (Charter 191) or at WPS website

Other concerts happening this week are:

South High School Band & Chorus Winter Concert 

Wednesday December 16, 2015
7:00 pm
South High Auditorium

Burncoat High School Music Department Presents: A Winter Concert

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Burncoat Middle Auditorium



State to launch savings program for Worcester Students

On Monday, December 14th, State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg joined Interim Superintendent Dr. Marco C. Rodrigues, to announce a new program called $eedMA. The initiative will provide each Worcester Public School student in next year’s kindergarten class a $50 deposit for a college savings account.

$eedMA, which is being piloted in Worcester, will also provide financial education to help students and their parents better understand basics like budgeting and saving money, banking, and planning for retirement.


Below is the article written by Scott O’Connell of the Worcester Telegram

$50 per kid: State to launch savings program in Worcester

WORCESTER – How much of a difference can a bank account with $50 make in the lives of Worcester kindergartners? The state treasurer is betting it will help a generation of students go to college one day.Treasurer Deborah B.


State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg sits with with students as Interim Superintendent Marco Rodrigues looks on.
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg sits with with students as Interim Superintendent Marco Rodrigues looks on.




Worcester’s Burncoat Street Prep ‘bursting with pride’ after state confirms improvement

Worcester’s Burncoat Street Prep ‘bursting with pride’ after state confirms improvement

WORCESTER – Burncoat Street Preparatory School is one of four schools in the state that exited level 4 status in the latest accountability scores released by the state. The elementary school, which has been at level 4 since 2011, is now a level 3 school, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.