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Sports Person of the Week
Mingione Shows Perseverance on the Field, Diligence in the Classroom
Senior Larry Mingione has persevered through multiple injuries and is hoping to get one last chance to play football in East Haven before the school year is finished. (Photo courtesy of Larry Mingione)
Larry Mingione has spent his time on the football field learning how to hit and how to bounce back up after getting hit.
Larry is a senior who plays tight end and linebacker for the East Haven football team. Larry has spent most of his career on the defensive side of the ball, tackling opposing runners. As he’s continued to rise through the ranks, Larry has overcome numerous obstacles that helped become the football player he is today.
Larry started playing football in East Haven’s recreational league when he was in 5th grade. Larry spent a lot of time playing video games with his friends as a kid, and some of those friends were football players who encouraged him to give the sport a shot.
“I was playing video games with a lot of the kids that played. I wanted to go hang out with them,” says Larry. “That first season was tough. I was pretty bad. But I grew to like it. I really enjoyed the hitting part.”
Larry suited up as a quarterback and an outside linebacker prior to attending high school. When he joined the Yellowjackets, Larry continued playing linebacker, but moved into a receiving role on offense. Just like his first year of playing football, Larry’s freshman season at East Haven was a challenge as he tried to learn the fundamentals while competing against bigger kids.
“It was tough. There was a lot of competition,” Larry says. “I was nervous a lot when I was out on the field. I never thought that I could do the things I know I can do now. I never thought I could do it.”
After playing one year of freshman football, Larry was elevated to the JV level as a sophomore. Larry fell in love the sport during that season. He was getting playing time and competing at the level that he wanted to. However, while Larry’s season started off hot, it came to an abrupt end.
In an early season practice, Larry dislocated his left shoulder and was forced to miss a few weeks. In his first game back, Larry took a hit to his back and suffered a lacerated kidney. Although he missed the rest of the season, Larry refused to let his injury derail him and was determined to get back on the field.
“I didn’t let it bother me as much as some people might have. I knew I just had to get past it, come back, and try not to get hurt the next season,” Larry says. “I put too much work in to just quit over an injury. I wasn’t raised that way. I’ve never been coached that way to just give up. It’s not something I plan on doing. Me and my teammates have put a lot of work in. I don’t plan on giving up.”
In the summer before his junior year, Larry started lifting weights and doing conditioning to make sure that he was ready for the speed and physicality of the varsity game. Larry returned from his injury and started to see time on the varsity field, becoming a key contributor for the Yellowjackets. Unfortunately, Larry suffered another injury when he ruptured an ankle during a late-season practice and was sidelined for the rest of the year.
As Larry worked his way back, Head Coach Scott Benoit saw that the senior was showing promise during East Haven’s early practices this year. Benoit felt that Larry was ready for a strong year before the fall football season was canceled. As East Haven holds out for a potential spring season, Coach Benoit describes Larry as a player who provides versatility for the Yellowjackets’ defense.
“Larry has improved immensely since his sophomore year. He has really grown. He stands about [6 feet 2 inches] now. With his academic prowess and his athletic ability, he really has a bright future ahead of him,” says Benoit. “He can catch the ball and run. He has a lot of physical ability. He can cover, he can play the run, he is very intelligent, he’s a good tackler. He is a good player.”
Larry’s academic prowess resulted in him earning a major accolade on behalf of the Southern Connecticut Conference. Larry was recently named one of East Haven’s SCC Scholar Athletes, joining girls’ volleyball senior Tori Heaphy in receiving that honor. Larry credits his parents Jen and Larry for motivating to achieve excellence in the classroom.
“My parents got me there,” says Larry. “They push me to keep my grades up. They push me to do sports and everything I do. Without them, I wouldn’t have the grades that I do. They’re really on me about that.”
After he graduates from East Haven, Larry is planning to major in biology on the pre-med track in college. Larry is hoping to earn a scholarship and says that UConn is his No. 1 school.
Larry started playing football because he wanted to bond with his friends. As he finishes out his time with East Haven, Larry says those friends are what make playing football in his hometown so special to him.
“It means a lot really. I made a lot of friends. It’s like a family. A whole new family,” Larry says. “A lot of my best friends in the whole world, I’ve met through football. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about making friends, meeting family, and making a pact with your brothers. Playing for them.”