‘If you cut me, I bleed blue and gold’

Mike Topazio was recently inducted into the Barrington High School Athletic Hall of Fame

By Maddie Gill
Posted 7/6/24

Mike Topazio has been helping Barrington sports teams win games since the late 1970s. Topazio coached the Barrington High School boys basketball team from 1980 to 1996 and helped the Eagles win the …

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‘If you cut me, I bleed blue and gold’

Mike Topazio was recently inducted into the Barrington High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Posted

Mike Topazio has been helping Barrington sports teams win games since the late 1970s. Topazio coached the Barrington High School boys basketball team from 1980 to 1996 and helped the Eagles win the state championship in 1982. He has also coached the Unified Basketball teams and is currently the head coach of the Barrington Middle School girls basketball team. Earlier this year, Topazio was inducted into the Barrington High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

• Barrington Times: What made you interested in coaching?

• Topazio: “It falls on my dad, I am a carbon copy of him as my son is a carbon copy of me. My dad did a lot of coaching in Little League, CYO. He got me going at an early age, going to games because I lived right down the street from the old Bristol High School…”

 • BT: How have the events you experienced as a coach when you started changed how you coach now?

• Topazio: “…When I first started coaching there was no such thing as AAU, and now you can see the evolution of the student-athlete which helps you learn how you have to change as a coach. You have to be much more careful with everything you say now and everything that you do. I learned that you want to get close to the player, and the evolution of the student-athlete is what really has changed, and as a coach you have to adapt to that. There are now different expectations and interactions with parents which were not as present before… You never had to really deal with parent interaction because it was between the coach and the player and now that has changed as the years have gone on. I have noticed that it has driven so many people out of the coaching field. They are hard to find these days. They don’t want to put up with that kind of stuff.”

• BT: What success do you see in your team this year? And what improvements do you plan to make for next year?

• Topazio: “Coming into this year we had lost a few starters and had some young kids coming back, and we had many kids step in and that is the fun part. You get a new group of kids each year and work to mold them to do certain things so by the end of the year you are playing your best basketball. I did not have huge expectations but I knew we were going to be good and competitive…”

• BT: What are some of the best moments you have experienced coaching?

• Topazio: “Greatest move and best decision I had ever made was coaching the middle school team, winning the state championship for the boys in 1982, which was their first championship at the time, it was so surreal for me because I was only about 26 years old and had not really head coached anywhere before and was turned down at Bristol. When I put in for the job, people were skeptical. However, no doubt the best memories are the relationships you build with your players, those relationships that no one can take away from you which are the best memories that I have had.”

• BT: What are some of the challenges you have experienced when coaching and how did you handle them?

• Topazio: “I have never had many major challenging years, because I have been blessed with good players every year. The challenge is knowing that there are four, five, six teams out there that are going to be at the very least just as good as you if not better, and you know they are all coming after you. So the challenge is trying to get your kids to that point where they are ready for these different situations that come up in games. In the middle school it is tough because you don't have the time that you have in the high school to get yourself prepared. You have very limited practices. The main challenge is getting your team ready to compete because every year your goal is to make a state championship, so each year you have to figure out a way to get yourselves to a point where you can be that competitive.”

• BT: How do you continue to motivate your team daily within practices and/or games?

• Topazio: “Everyone wants to beat Barrington. You have targets on your backs and it's just a feather in their caps when they can come away and say that they beat Barrington, but that's the fun part. I have constantly had the older girls come and speak to the kids. My motivation to them is that you are one step away or two steps away from playing on that varsity team which is the team you go and watch on a Tuesday or Friday night, and watch the older girls play. And you have goals to reach and work to improve yourself. So, overall, I motivate them to get them ready to step in and try to fill the void that the older girls have set for them. I just want them to go out there and reach their own potential whether that comes with winning or losing.

• BT: What made you pick to coach in Barrington based on your roots in Bristol and Warren?

• Topazio: “I grew up at an age where the Bristol-Barrington rivalry was at its peak and I was a true ‘Bristolian.’ Both towns had really good teams. My goal was to make my high school team and beat Barrington. Coincidentally, when I first started teaching in Barrington, the head job opened up at Bristol High School and I put in for that job and I was told I was too young for the job, maybe in a couple of years. At the time of the interview, I was about 25. I was disappointed because that was the position that I really wanted so I came back and took the freshman coaching position in Barrington, and the next year the head job opened up and the athletic director and principal took a chance on a young 26-year-old and I took the job and we ended up winning the whole thing in my second year in the head coaching position. I wanted to coach at Bristol and nothing better than to beat Barrington, and I ended up coaching at Barrington, which worked out the complete opposite and it worked out for the best. I have lived in Bristol my whole life but if you cut me I bleed blue and gold.”

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