“High School athletics lasts for such a short period of time. It ends for people. But while it lasts, it creates this make-believe world where normal rules don’t apply. We build this false atmosphere. When it’s over and the harsh reality sets in, that’s the real joke we play on people. . . . Everybody wants to experience that superlative moment, and being an athlete can give you that. It’s Camelot for them. But there’s even life after it.”

WHEN H.G. Bissinger poetically penned the aforementioned in his 1990 classic novel Friday Night Lights, he spoke of schoolboy football in Odessa, Texas.  

Every high school athlete, in every town across America, every kid who ever picked up a bat or a ball; put on a jersey, laced up his or her cleats, or has run suicide sprints in a dingy old gym knows exactly that sentiment though. 

For me, Camelot -the pursuit of that superlative moment- was high school basketball in the mid-1990’s, playing under Bob Arremony at Plainfield High School in Plainfield, Connecticut.  

It is said that adolescence is a time in which you experience everything more intensely. During my HS playing days, no one was more intense than Coach Arremony. 

An all-state basketball and baseball scholar-athlete in the 1970’s, Coach Arremony began teaching and coaching in the Plainfield school system immediately after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University, where he also starred on the hardwood floor.

Over the next four decades, he would teach young athletes baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, softball and -of course- his beloved basketball as their coach. 

When Coach Arremony officially retired from the bench in 2022, he did so with 555 career wins, good for tenth all time among Connecticut HS basketball coaches. 

And he did so unapologetically his way.  

Skill alone wasn’t going to get you anywhere on those 1990’s Plainfield basketball teams. Under Coach Arremony, you also had to be tough -very tough- to compete. The 90’s were the hey-day of the “basketbrawl” teams in the NBA, and the slugfest games in the original Big East Conference.  

And playing for Coach Arremony, and in the old Quinebaug Valley Conference, fit right into this mold.  

It was a different era. Every practice was closed doors. No media, no observers, and especially no parents.  

Battered, bruised, bloodied… you name it. Every single one of us experienced it. We all left many practices at 5pm -physically and mentally drained- and then slept straight through until our alarm would ring the next morning.  

We were pushed past limits we could never get to ourselves. Coach Arremony didn’t just push us though, he went there with us.  

He taught us basketball and taught us how to be tough on the court, but more importantly, he was teaching us how to be tough in life. 

We entered coach’s program as 14/15-year old boys and left it as 17/18-year olds on the brink of manhood.  

He instilled a pride in us, a blue-collar work ethic, an edge -a mental toughness- that we could possess to be able to compete in life as hard as we competed on the court for him.  

After high school, I went on to Coach Arremony’s alma mater, SCSU, for college. I wasn’t highly recruited, but a call from Coach helped to land me a spot on the basketball team. The SCSU staff knew, if nothing else, a player that graduated from Coach Arremony’s program could at least compete. 

ON the morning of Wednesday, January 17th this year, four decades of scholastic athletes from Plainfield woke up to some sort of text message or phone call informing them that Coach Bob Arremony had passed away the day before.  

In death, I learned even more about Coach than I had in four years of playing for him. Countless stories from us former players, from different generations, were told and re-told.  

Old teammates, we hadn’t seen in years, reconnected. We reminisced, laughed, cried, and remembered a coach, a man, that in one way or another helped forge us into becoming who we are and where we are today. 

For four years, nothing else but basketball mattered to me. The game was my pursuit of that superlative moment. The fear of not attaining it is also what fueled the drive. As H.G Bissinger points out in Friday Night Lights, that’s the real joke we play on people, the one we play on ourselves. 

The truth is, there is life after it. For many of us, what we thought was the toughness and fortitude needed to win on the basketball court that Coach Bob Arremony relentlessly brought out in us was actually the toughness and fortitude needed to win in life.  

Thank you for that Coach, rest easy in Heaven.  

Coach Bob Arremony, photo via The Norwich Bulletin 


Matt Ribaudo is the Owner and Publisher of BostonMan Magazine. He is a graduate of Plainfield High School in Plainfield, Connecticut, where from the autumn of 1992 through the spring of 1996 he played under Coach Bob Arremony’s basketball program. To reach Matt, please message him on Instagram or email at: matt@bostonmanmagazine.com