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Sports Commentary 4/25/12

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In the late 1970’s the sun shone bright on two young soccer stars in Storrs.  Billy Morrone and Tim Masley led their E.O. Smith team to two state high school championships and headed off to greater glory across the street, literally, where they starred for the UConn soccer team under Morrone’s legendary father, Joe, for whom the UConn soccer stadium is named.  In 1981 the two high school friends would become key components of UConn’s second national championship team, the team dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “America’s Team”, for Morrone’s resistence to recruiting international stars over home grown products like his sons Joe Jr. and Billy and Tim Masely.  In the 1981 national championship game against Alabama A & M a shot got by UConn goalie Charlie McSpirit and Masely, a right back, was there to make the save at the goal line.  It was a critical moment in a game UConn would go on to win in overtime.  On a team on which he was overshadowed by his friend Billy and such UConn soccer legends as Pedro DeBrito and Elvis Comrie, it was clear that without Tim Masely this UConn team would not have been a national champion.  It was a time when the sun shone on Tim Masely’s face as he basked in the wonderful immortality of youth.  It would be the best time of his life.  Following college Masely went into the investment business in Hartford and suffered some major setbacks in the 1987 stock market crash.  He then moved to New York, where he became involved in off shore investments, a venture that led to his arrest on a security fraud charge.  His conviction on the fraud charge led to a five year term in federal prison.  In 2006 Masely paused momentarily to revisit the high times of his youth when he returned to UConn for the 25th anniversary reunion of the 1981 national champions.  Later learning of the gold mining boom in Africa, Tim traveled to Ghana on that nation’s west coast where, in 2011, he founded a gold mining company.  Last Saturday Tim Masely was found dead in Ghana.  Details of his death are sketchy, an autopsy has yet to be released, but foul play is suspected.  “Tim had a good heart for his friends”, said a longtime friend and former teammate on learning of Masely’s death, “He got involved with some people he probably shouldn’t have been involved with and he made some bad decisions.  We all warned him not to go (to Ghana).”  Joe Morrone, Tim’s legendary college coach, was reportedly heatbroken when the news of his former star’s death reached him.  Morrone was always one to accenuate the positives, even in defeat.  Knowing Joe as well as I do I know his goal now will be to celebrate the positives in Tim’s life.  Tim Masely was 50 years old.  He leaves three children.  There is nothing more tragic than a life in which the greatest glory comes at such a young age with so much promise left unrealized.  Such is the story of Tim Masely.  I’m Scott Gray.

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