Stan Sorota

Year: 1946 - 1950
Position: Guard
Hometown: Willimantic, CT

Stan Sorota was a Guard for the UConn Huskies from 1946-1950. He’s a member of the UConn Basketball All Century Ballot; he earned First Team All-Yankee Conference honors as a junior and missed only one game in four seasons. In July 2004, I had the pleasure of talking to Stan as he told me about UConn basketball in the 1940’s and what he’s been doing since.

Stan grew up in Willimantic, CT, about seven miles from UConn. He’s been following UConn sports since he was 14 or 15 years old, and he is now 82 ½. He started by listening to the radio broadcasts, and also went to UConn to watch the football, and basketball teams play when he was in high school.

“I played basketball for Windham High School and it happened to be a pretty good Windham High School team. We were undefeated until we got to the semifinals in the CT State Tournament. We lost in overtime to a team from Bridgeport, CT, who went on to win the New England Championship.” Stan accepted a basketball scholarship at Becker Business College in Worcester, MA. The school was recruiting good players hoping for a good basketball team which they would use to advertise their school throughout CT, MA, NY and RI hoping to increase enrollment. Stan played there for two years, and is a member of their Hall of Fame as a basketball player. While at Becker, World War II started, and upon graduation from Becker, Stan went into the army for 38 months. After the war he had the opportunity to go to UConn because the government was affording the GI Bill of Rights to servicemen. He decided to go to UConn, and work toward a degree in Physical Education, and play basketball.

One memorable game for Stan at UConn was his first game. It was at Madison Square Garden against New York University. In those days NYU, was one of the powers in the country. Stan said that any game against Rhode Island was memorable because those games were always very competitive. Rhode Island, at the time, had a nationally know coach, Frank Keaney, and Coach Keaney always had nice things to say about Stan and his basketball skills. Stan also remembered winning the Yankee Conference which included schools around New England. He played basketball at UConn for four years, and was co-captain of the team his junior year, captain his senior year, and played baseball for four years, receiving four letters in each sport.

After college, Stan began coaching at the high school level. He spent about 36 years coaching and teaching in CT. Stan’s coaching career began at Plainfield High School, then Portland High School and he spent most of his career, about 20 years, at Orville Platt High School in Meriden, CT. After retiring from coaching Stan took a job at Wiggin and Dana Law Firm in New Haven, CT where he handled miscellaneous office functions for about 20 years. He retired this August and wants to spend some time visiting with his children who are in Maryland, California, New Jersey and Connecticut.

I asked Stan if he still follows UConn Basketball and he replied, “Oh definitely. I don’t miss any of their games on television. I watch both the men and the women. I’m really intrigued with the women’s game because it more closely resembles the type of game we played, but, I think we could beat the girls,” he laughed. “I have a feeling we could beat them.”

When the UConn men won their first National Championship in 1999, in the Sports Illustrated Magazine that included a lot of articles about UConn basketball, there was a picture of Stan from when he used to play at UConn, on page 6. His wife bought as many copies as she could find and passed them around.

Stan’s coach at UConn was Hugh Greer who was quite different from Coach Calhoun. “Coach Greer would do the coaching in practice then he would sit through the game, and let us perform the way we normally would. Coach Calhoun is a guy who is out front, walking, and pacing up and down. They have both done a terrific job.”

Stan had some thoughts on the current teams, “I’m amazed at what happened last year. The men and the woman really out did themselves.” Stan believes the team this coming year is going to be better than they were this past year. He thinks the players coming back are good, and there are some terrific recruits coming in. During this past year Stan was able to see the UConn men play at MSG. It was a sad night for him though. His wife didn’t go to the game with him. He spoke to her over the phone after the game and she was very upbeat, but only two hours later she had a brain aneurysm that burst and she passed away.

Stan was married to his wife, Zona, for 51 years. They had 10 children; one was a twin that did not survive. The other nine were Terry, Steve, Gail, Tom, Mike, Karen, Mary, Meg, and Paul. Combined there is a doctor, a lawyer, some with MBA degrees and others. He also has 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

I asked Stan if he had anything else he wanted to tell me about his basketball memories or experiences before ending the interview, and he so nicely responded, “I think that’s about it. I normally don’t talk this much, you’ve overextended me.” We hung up the phone, and about an hour later Stan called me back and said he thought of one more important thing to tell me. During his senior year at UConn, one game night was awarded to him and called “Stan Sorota Night”. Stan was very proud of being recognized. He was given several gifts, of which one was a watch with Stan Sorota Night and the date inscribed, something he still often wears. He ended our conversations by saying, “UConn was a great experience.”