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Shpunt Honored For Four-Plus Decades Of Volunteer Work With Youth Program



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Shpunt Honored For Four-Plus Decades Of Volunteer Work With Youth Program

By Andy Hutchison

He started with a whistle and clipboard before they put a man on the moon. It was back in 1969 when he started coaching his little brother Bill’s basketball team in town. More than four decades later, Newtown Youth Basketball Association (NYBA) fixture Jack Shpunt is still at it. A volunteer for all of these years, Shpunt continues to donate his time for the betterment of not only the youth program, but Newtown basketball as a whole.

Just ask NYBA President David Hamula and Newtown High School Coach John Quinn, who spoke about Shpunt during a ceremony honoring the 63-year-old, lifelong Newtowner prior to the Newtown-Masuk boys’ basketball game at NHS on Tuesday night.

Quinn, Hamula, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, and State Representative Chris Lyddy, in addition to some of Shpunt’s family members, spoke about Shpunt and presented him with a plaque that reads: “In recognition of over 40 years of serving the youth of Newtown and his tireless efforts in promoting the sport and sportsmanship of basketball.”

Among those on hand were Shpunt’s brother Andy, whom he also coached, and his siblings Jim and Jerry. All five men, along with Shpunt’s sister, Marci, are Newtown residents and autographed a basketball, also signed by other family members, including sibling and Maryland resident Lori.

Shpunt received a standing ovation from the packed bleachers, which included dozens of youth basketball players, some of whom may someday be playing for Quinn thanks — in part — to the work of Shpunt.

“He’s kind of like my farm league manager,” said Quinn, explaining that Shpunt keeps Quinn apprised of which players to watch for as they develop in the youth ranks. “He’s been a tremendous asset to me.”

Shpunt, this winter, is coaching third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade squads. He also started a special needs program in town a handful of years ago, and has coached the high school summer league team for the past two years.

When he’s not coaching, he can be seen in the stands, cheering on the Nighthawks.

“Everywhere you go, you see Jack,” Quinn noted.

“This man has touched three generations in the right way,” Quinn said. “That’s Jack.”

“I think, as John said, the thing about Jack is that he’s really transcended three different generations of kids in town. He’s really conveyed the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship in youth sports. And, aside from all the fundamentals that every coach tries to instill upon their players to get to the next level, Jack has always gone out of his way to make sure they understood teamwork and sportsmanship,” Hamula said.

Shpunt, who has also been heavily involved with the town’s youth football program throughout the years, says he continues to do it because he likes what he’s doing.

“I’ve enjoyed it a lot — the kids are great. They’re always doing something that surprises me. And I shouldn’t be [surprised] at this point after doing it for so long, but they always come up with something new — not always good things,” Shpunt said. “And they’re always trying so hard that it makes it worthwhile for me to do it. I really enjoy it. That’s why I do it.”

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