FARMINGTON - For 20 season, Howie Dickenman patrolled the sidelines for the CCSU menâ€™s basketball team.
He had seen it all: the good, the bad and the ugly.
And on Saturday night, more than a year after he retired from coaching, Dickenman was honored by friends and family with a unique mixture of the three - with a roast of the former head coach.
â€śIâ€™m very humbled,â€ť Dickenman said. â€śItâ€™s so nice to have everyone here.â€ť
Special guests included UConn womenâ€™s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, former UConn menâ€™s basketball coaches Jim Calhoun and Dee Rowe and Rutgers head menâ€™s basketball coach Steve Pikiell.
For two-plus hours, stories were told of the man who made such a difference to so many people during his time at places such as Hartford Community College, UConn and ultimately CCSU.
â€śHe meant so much to me,â€ť said Calhoun during the opening remarks. â€śHeâ€™d do anything you asked him to do.
â€śI feel incredibly honored to toast a guy, a man, like Howie.â€ť
And then, after the opening remarks and dinner, the moment had arrived - the roasting began.
One by one Ed Generali, the former boys basketball coach at Holy Cross High School; Dee Rowe, a special advisor for UConn athletics; Pikiell and finally Auriemma took their shots.
Whether it was making fun of his lack knowledge with tools - yes tools - or his scruffy voice and how he interacted with his players, they did not hold back.
â€śI was around for the early years of coach Dickenman at CCSU and all I can say is wow,â€ť Pikiell said. â€śHeâ€™s Santa Claus now, but back then the players werenâ€™t calling him Santa Claus.â€ť
The Bristol native went on to drop his voice to a hoarse, gruff rasp and proceeded to impersonate Dickenman for the next 20 minutes.
But perhaps one of the best stories Pikiell recounted was when he and the former head coach were trying to bring in a transfer player but had trouble with the admission office.
Said Pikiell in Dickenmanâ€™s voice, â€śI went to CCSU. Itâ€™s not exactly Harvard,â€ť to a room full of laughter.
Auriemma rounded out the roasters, reflecting on the off the court moments he had shared with Dickenman.
â€śPeople always ask me what my favorite story of Howard is and I say it depends on who I talk to,â€ť Auriemma said with a smirk.
â€śI always say I wanted to be a stand up guy and a great coach and Howie wanted to turn me into a gangster.â€ť
As Auriemma closed out his potion of the roast, he began to get emotional when thinking about what Dickenman meant to him as a friend.
â€śI love you Howie,â€ť he said.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach