Tiki Task Force created to raise money for Jack Phelan Scholarship fund


Courtesy of NBC Connecticut

Carving for a cause– Sophomore Thatcher Gorman (left) and junior Gabby Gorman (right) work on building a Farmington tiki for the Tiki Task Force raffle. Senior Senan Gorman created the Tiki Task Force to raise money for the Jack Phelan Scholarship fund. 

Sydney Bigelow, Opinions Editor

Continuing to mourn the loss of Athletic Director and community member Jack Phelan, students, faculty, and Farmington citizens have come together to create the Jack Phelan Scholarship fund. Still in the early stages of the scholarship, supporters of the organization have focused on creative fundraising methods, such as the Tiki Task Force. 

After recently discovering a talent in chainsaw carving, senior Senan Gorman wanted to use his skills to help a meaningful cause, such as honoring Phelan’s legacy. Gorman enlisted the help of his family and friends to make his mission possible. Dozens of Farmington athletes and community members helped in the process of carving the tiki, promoting it on social media, and collecting donations. 

“Many people don’t realize the time and the amount of students who volunteered to help through this whole process: As soon as we heard the news about Coach’s sudden death in July, we decided a Farmington tiki should be carved. The student volunteers with Tiki Task Force took part in each step [to create the tiki],” junior Gabby Gorman said.

Up until February 20, students, parents, and anyone interested in donating can purchase a $5 raffle ticket. After conducting the raffle, the Gorman family and the Tiki Task Force will announce the winner and deliver the Farmington carved tiki. All of the time and materials needed to create the tiki were donations from volunteers, the Gorman family, and the community, so 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the Jack Phelan Scholarship fund. 

Not only was Phelan a dedicated supporter of Farmington athletes, he was a hard working athlete himself. He attended Northwest Catholic High School and continued his basketball career at Saint Francis University. In the 1977 National Basketball Association draft, he was chosen by the Golden State Warriors in the sixth round, but never played in the league. After coaching the University of Hartford men’s basketball team for 11 years, he served as athletic director for 17 years. 

“Like most scholarships, there is a committee that helps develop the criteria and rules for selection. I expect the committee will have information coming out this spring with more specific details. We are confident that this scholarship fund will support many generations of students moving forward while honoring the proud legacy of Coach Phelan,” principal Scott Hurwitz said. 

The scholarship will help talented athletes like Phelan that have potential to further their athletic careers but are limited by the financial costs of academics and athletics. The Jack Phelan Scholarship fund will honor Phelan’s legacy and continue his work of supporting Farmington athletes, even though he is not here to attend every game. As monetary donations and community support continues to collect, the committee will announce their plans to directly support athletic scholarships. 

“The thought is that when we get back to normal operations without COVID-19 restrictions, we will do some fundraising along the lines of having Jack Phelan Scholarship Nights, or weeks. I anticipate that we will also sponsor fundraisers to raise money,” interim Athletic Director Ed Manfredi said.

Raffle tickets can be purchased until February 20 on the website tikitaskforce.com. As an additional source of fundraising for the scholarship, Trish Guglielmo created a GoFundMe page with a goal of $10,000. Students and parents can make direct donations to this page by locating the website on the ‘Friday Folders’.