A worldwide pandemic has been unable to stop Darwin Shaw and the Osgood Shootout.
For the second straight year, COVID-19 made the prestigious New Britain-based tournament unplayable, but Shaw and company still were able to work magic for the bigger cause of honoring New Britain High School students with the Albert A. Vieira Scholarship for their work in the classroom.
Receiving scholarships are Class of 2021 graduates Rozalynn Kennedy Smith, Isyss Blanco, Denzell Barnett, Isyss Timmons, Faith Dowou and Jahai Porcher.
Each scholarship is for $500.
"This is my way of giving back to the community," said Shaw. Since 1992, Shaw has been giving scholarships to New Britain graduates while also holding the Osgood Shootout, which would have had its 29th iteration of the event this summer. The tournament has received local and national media recognition, has received the approval of Erin E. Stewart, Mayor of the City of New Britain, and has seen current and former NBA pros like Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond and Jonathan Kuminga take to the courts.
"I'm a New Britain High School graduate and I wanted to do something for my community and I started this whole thing. ... Being a graduate, I feel like I have to give back," said Shaw. "This is something I do. The basketball event just happened to be something that took off and evolved to what it is now. ... I had dreams it would be big but it went above my expectations."
Shaw said one of the biggest things about the selection process for the scholarships and what made this group stand out, was that they were all great student-athletes and had a character that represented the city of New Britain well.
"The main thing was that they were all great student athletes," said Shaw. "With the pandemic, they were all able to maintain their grades and they were all worthy of the scholarships. The people that usually get them are the ones that volunteer [for the event], and they've all had some part in it. Some of them are coming from single-parent households too. Every time I give the scholarships I always have to make sure that the people that are worthy are going to understand the commitment from the city of how they've got to act and be a good student or person. All of them were worthy."
Smith was the Class of 2021 salutatorian and was on the honor roll, excelling in the classroom along with the track for New Britain. Her success in indoor and outdoor track also was paired with her work with the school marching band.
Smith was also a member of the African American Club for the school. She'll be continuing her studies at North Carolina A&T State University this fall, planning to major in bioengineering.
Blanco was also a member of the Hurricanes track team, participating for two years. She also had accolades in the classroom as a member of the Science National Honor Society, National Honor Society and the school' s Health Academy.
Blanco will be staying in New Britain to continue her studies, enrolling at Central Connecticut State University with a plan to major in human biology this fall.
Barnett was a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball for a year, track for two years and football for four years. He was a team captain his senior year and an honor roll student for all four years of his schooling.
His next step will be at American International College, where he will continue his football career this fall. He plans to major in exercise science.
Timmons was thoroughly entwined in New Britain's athletics as a member of the indoor track team for three years, outdoor track for four years and soccer team for four years. Her senior season she was also picked for captain of the soccer team.
In the classroom she was a National Honor Society member, and will continue her academic career at University of Rhode Island this fall to pursue a degree in neuroscience.
Dowou was a three-year member of the track team and soccer team for New Britain, balancing that with an academic talent that earned him National Honor Society and Science National Honors Society honors. He was also an active member in New Britain's Summer Music Workshop and was part of the school's marching band as a head section leader and drill sergeant.
University of Connecticut is the next stop for Dowou, where he plans on majoring in finance starting this fall.
Porcher was a member of the school's marching band and played for the New Britain Jr. Canes during his childhood. He also played AAU basketball in the area.
Porcher will be continuing his academic career at Tunxis Community College, where he plans on studying criminal justice.
Shaw wanted to extend his thank you to The Tomasso Group, Blaze Barber Shop, Image Ink Graphics, Wentworth, Deangelis & Kaufman; Gaffney, Bennett and Associates, JTGhamo; Attorney Bart A. Sayet, ESQ; Attorney Paul E. Zagorsky; Clinton A. Jambor, M.D. Farmington Valley Orthopedic Associates; Great American Donut, Inc., Polinsky Law Group, LLC Attorneys At Law, Shaw Chiropractic, Dr. Aryeh for their contributions in making the Osgood scholarships happen.