Berkshire League Backyard Sports: Community Effort Sparks Competition, Charity

NBC Universal, Inc.

It started with one simple question.

“How bored all the students and teachers and athletes must be without sports,” said Toby Denman, a teacher and boys soccer coach at Nonnewaug High School. “That led itself to what can we do out in our back yard?”

That question led to one video: one heave of a basketball from Denman over a barn in his yard. He hit the target and he had a hit, too.

“60 something videos that have been sent in and what I'm happiest about is it's been something that there's been participation in from each school in the Berkshire League,” said Denman.

All 10 schools from the regional high school sports conference are contributing to the Instagram “Berkshire League Backyard Sports.”

View this post on Instagram

Here are the Second Round matchups in the Breakfast isn’t at 2:00pm Region in the @berkshireleaguebackyardsports Big Bracket: First it’s Mount Rushmore Malaspina from Nonnewaug vs Terryville’s Sean O’Donnell @sean1477_6. If you’ve been bored like we are and happened to catch ESPN’s broadcast of the Corn Hole Championship, you might’ve noticed that @insidetailgating is one of the sponsors. This Malaspina entry got their attention. See the comments on the original post. Tough matchup here for O’Donnell, but throwing strikes is hard enough. Putting them through a spinning tire is no easy task. Worthy Round 2 opponents. Next it’s the Nonnewaug Gymnastics team @nonnegym against Housatonic’s Russell Sears @russellsears_. Doing a bottle flip, difficult. Doing it while doing a handstand? Uhh, we can’t do that. Not many (if any) can pull off what Sears did though. Fungo the basketball off the tree and in from 100 feet away. Can’t believe @sportscenter hasn’t picked that up yet. Next it’s Malaspina again against Nonnewaug colleague Toby Denman. These videos were posted together after a lengthy drought. We’ll take Mal in this one. The last matchup is a pair of trick shots from elevated spaces. It’s Denman’s balcony putt vs Ethan Ciesielski’s @ethanciesielski shot from the scaffolding. Tough call here on who the R14 faithful will support. We’ll lean Ciesielski if what cameraman @evan_nakoneczny says is true... Voting on these pairings will begin tomorrow. #berkshireleaguebackyardsports

A post shared by @ berkshireleaguebackyardsports on

“I'm not really good at trick shots or anything so I was like I'm probably not going to send in a video,” said Nonnewaug junior track and field athlete Courtney Rowland. “But then I saw all the workouts that people were sending in so… I’ll send it in and see how it goes.”

Rowland’s backyard high jump is now one of 16 videos left in a 64-video bracket.

“There are a couple of guys that I am friends with from Terryville and I saw their trick shots and I was like I can do better,” said Ethan Ciesielski, a Nonnewaug senior who played basketball and was a member of the track team.

It’s a friendly mix of competition and community. Deman saw an opportunity to add charity, too by using the platform to sell t-shirts to benefit the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation’s COVID-19 relief.

Just another reason to smile.

“I think it’s been great to just see some familiar faces,” said Denman. “Seeing the creative types of things everybody’s brain puts together.”

Contact Us