New era begins for Tolland Eagles

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Thu., Dec. 13, 2012
Senior forward Jacqui Foreman looks for a lane in which to drive. Photos by Steve Smith.
Senior forward Jacqui Foreman looks for a lane in which to drive. Photos by Steve Smith.

It’s a new start in multiple ways for the Tolland High School girls’ varsity basketball team. After graduating all five starters who took the team to the CIAC Class M finals last season, this year’s team has an “it’s our turn” attitude, while taking to heart the lessons they learned from the class of 2012.

“I think that’s going to help this team,” said coach Vinnie Cianfarani. “They have a culture here of winning. Those core kids that are playing a lot now this year, they saw what those previous teams did, and I think they want a taste themselves.”

Cianfarani himself is also new, replacing coach Rocco Sansone, who retired from coaching after last season. Cianfarani had coached for 17 years in Windsor, but said he needed a change.

“I woke up one day, felt like I needed a change, saw that this job was open, and I was hired in July,” he said. “I’ve been amazed with the facilities here. I’m amazed with these kids. So far, their work ethic is amazing.”

Cianfarani said while he was happy with the 36-32 win over Glastonbury on Dec. 11, it was the team’s defense that stepped up. He expects his team to become more cohesive on offense as the season moves forward.

“I think we can do some damage with our height [three players are listed at 5’11”],” he said. “Some time every night we’re going to have a match-up where we’re going to have an advantage somewhere. We, as coaches, have to find that spot where we can exploit that. It’s going to be a work in progress offensively, but we’re going to get better starting tomorrow.”

Starting seniors point guard Ashley Clawson and forward Sam Olsen played in summer league with Cianfarani as their coach, so there’s some connection already. Cianfarani said he’ll likely rely on those two, as well as senior Jacqui Foreman, since the team has only those three seniors and one junior on its roster of 22.

Those 18 sophomores and freshmen give the coach even more enthusiasm about the future. “It’s another thing to be excited about as I start my new venture here,” he said. “The sky’s the limit. There’s an awful lot of talent here.”

The Eagles travel to Fermi on Dec. 18, and then to Berlin on Dec. 21. For a complete schedule, visit

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