Brian Conroy ’82: The Lost Jacket
In the late fall of 1981, Brian Conroy’s high school dreams arrived in the form of a varsity letterman jacket. With cream colored leather sleeves and Avon’s signature crimson-colored wool, the jacket was made perfect when Brian’s mother lovingly sewed a final detail on the back: his captain's letter.
“It was a symbol of everything I worked so hard for while at Avon,” Brian reminisced during a recent stop on campus to pick up his son, Paden ’20, and bring him home for Long Winter Weekend. “I couldn’t be more proud of that jacket.”
An excerpt from a Spring 2015 Avonian article sums up why that jacket was so important to Brian:
“Talk to Brian Conroy about his years as an Avon student and you probably won’t hear that he was Warden of the school, a consistent Dean’s List student, a varsity captain, and head of several clubs and organizations. What he’ll tell you, instead, is the tale of a 14-year-old asthmatic kid who, as a freshman, stood a mere 5’4” tall. And then he’ll tell you what Avon did for that scrawny asthmatic kid.”
“He wasted no time getting himself totally involved in every facet needed to become a man of Avon,” commented Coach Kevin Driscoll ’72, P’08. “If he was not performing in the athletic arena, Brian could be found working with the Glee Club, the yearbook, Student Council, and whatever else he could he could do to make us a better school.”
Although it must have been intimidating for Brian to share the field with some heavy hitters at Avon, the spirit of competition resonated with him. That, along with the support of his community, kept him pushing forward year after year. He started as a quarterback on the thirds and junior varsity level and realized that he would not be a quarterback at the varsity level. He proceeded to inform the coaches that he would play whatever position that was needed of him to help the team. Brian made it to the varsity level as a quarterback for Kevin Driscoll’s football team, but had never started a game. For his senior year, Coach Driscoll decided to switch Brian to the defensive end, and he began to shine.
“His hard work and determination paid off as he virtually willed himself to overcome his asthma and would finish first in every wind sprint and almost always be the leader in every drill,” said Driscoll. “We coaches and his teammates respected his leadership skills, toughness, sportsmanship, and his love for the game and most importantly for the Old Farms Brotherhood.”
The members of the team elected Brian captain of the team his senior year and the camaraderie and will to win he instilled in each and every one of his teammates made them not only better performers on and off the field, but better men.
“I never started a varsity game of football or baseball until I was a senior, and yet I was a captain,” he said. “That’s because Avon is about judging people for who they are. And I was fueled by this healthy competition, where your friends make you better because they push you. Instead of being shunned, or becoming a team manager, how cool was it that I could do that. That’s the spirit of Avon.”
Fast forward a month or two into his senior year, and Brian was attending a school dance on campus. It was a cold winter evening, and so he donned his letterman jacket to walk from his dorm to the Refectory. Once there, he stashed his jacket away in a corner where he hoped no one would bother it. Hours later, when he was ready to head back for the night, his coveted jacket was nowhere to be found.
“I was brokenhearted,” Brian shared. “I searched for it, but eventually accepted the fact that it was never to be seen again.”
But, in the late fall of 2019, Brian’s high school dreams were reborn.
“I received a package in the mail mid-December with a letter stating that my letterman jacket had been found.”
We are enclosing a very special football jacket for Avon Old Farms School from 1981/1982.
We found this jacket in our attic when we moved from Connecticut to Nevada. Our daughter remembered that a very nice young man had let her use his jacket at a game on a very cold night. Somehow that jacket ended up in our attic for many years.
We eventually tracked down the owner through the initials on the jacket. Knowing how precious something like this is, we were determined to locate the owner! We are overjoyed that we have been successful.
We just had the jacket dry cleaned - it came out great and we are very happy to be sending it to you at this time.
“I was in disbelief that after all these years, this jacket found its way back to me,” he said. “My wife always says that I was ‘born under a lucky star,’ but I think it’s more a sign that most people in the world are good people, and this family was looking to return something to me around the holidays that would bring me a lot of joy.”
It turns out that the gentleman from Nevada sent a letter to Avon Old Farms School’s Alumni and Development Office asking for assistance on identifying Brian. Thanks to the year, the captain’s letter, and the “BC” embroidered on the front right panel of the jacket, there was no doubt that the jacket belonged to Avon’s former chairman of the Board of Directors.
Brian shared that the return of his jacket seemed especially timely, as his son Paden, is now in his senior year—the same age that Brian was when he received his jacket the first time.
“It was a feeling of things coming full-circle,” he said. “Avon has been a magical place for Paden, just as it was for me during my time here as a student. Avon has a way of taking in boys from all backgrounds and circumstances, giving them the experience they need, and producing good young men. Reuniting with this jacket made all of my senior year memories come flooding back, and I know that Paden is creating his own memories right now.”
There’s an old African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” For Brian, those lines might as well be an Avonian proverb.
“My story is the same as many Avonians’. We came here as young boys who developed big goals. We reached for those goals with all our might, and many times grasped them. But, we only made it because we had each other. This jacket is a symbol of my goals, my aspirations, and my team that supported me through it all.”