BRISTOL - The athletic accomplishments of Bristol Central football players Dathan Hickey, Isaiah Miller and Mike Guzman are no secret throughout the area.
But perhaps what has been most impressive has been the success the three have had in the classroom during their time at the high school.
On Thursday Hickey, Miller and Guzman were rewarded for it by receiving the National Football Foundation's Scholar Athlete Award from the Northern Connecticut Chapter.
“I was excited to receive it,” Guzman said. “We’ve been working hard since we came in our freshmen year on the field and in the classroom. It’s just a byproduct of the work we put in. We don’t expect to receive anything but we just keep working hard.”
It’s rare that more than one student athlete is selected from one school for the award and three from the same school in the same year hasn’t happened in 30 years.
“It was surprising, but I was very happy,” Miller said. “We were talking about how we just came into high school expecting to work hard. We don’t try to get awards, but it’s great to see that all your hard work gets noticed by somebody.”
Academic success has become a blueprint of Bristol Central football. It’s been four years since the Rams have lost a player due to academic ineligibility, an impressive feat considering the number of players making up a football roster compared to other sports.
“Our No. 1 goal is for our guys to do well in school and go on and do bigger and better things when they leave here,” Bristol Central football head coach Jeff Papazian said. “It makes you proud as a coach and a coaching staff to see the results that we’ve been having. At the end of the day it’s a credit to the kids. They make a decision and buy in to what we’re asking them to do and we’ve seen some really good results.”
Hickey (Yale University), Miller (Wesleyan University) and Guzman (Springfield College) will all be continuing their football careers at the collegiate level in the upcoming fall.
Until then, they’ll continue doing what they’ve been doing all four years at Bristol Central - making sure their teammates and others are working just as hard in order for the all-around success to remain at the program.
“Even out of season we’re still making sure the younger football players are on the right track,” Hickey said. “Without good grades and good behavior they can’t play. So we make sure it’s big to get that in the freshmen’s heads. They’re going to be here for the next four years so they have to mentor the freshmen coming in like we have.”
The departure of the Hickey, Miller and Guzman along with the other seniors will challenge the team on the field. But one thing is for certain - the program is in a better place because of these three and the four years with them in it.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org