By Bob Montgomery – Bristol Press Correspondent
BRISTOL — Former Bristol Central All-State basketball player Malcolm Huckaby was the speaker at Nuchie’s Restaurant Tuesday during the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame’s Leadership Council breakfast.
Huckaby, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career at Boston College before playing professionally in Italy and France and with the NBA’s Miami Heat, addressed an audience about attitude.
The gathering consisted of educational leaders, Bristol Sports Hall of Fame directors and next year’s senior leaders in sports at Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern and St. Paul.
“Attitude will determine your altitude,” Huckaby said.
He talked about his early days growing up in Bristol, starting with Biddy League Basketball at the former Forestville Boys Club.
“I set a lot of dreams for myself and my parents instilled in me not to be second best in anything,” Huckaby said. “I didn’t want to be just an A or B student.”
He went on to talk about a foot injury at age 26, one in which doctors thought would lead to amputation.
“It just exploded while I was in Italy,” he said. “I finally came to Boston to see our Boston College doctor and I was told it was the worst foot injury the doctor had ever seen.”
“We’re going to have to take your foot off,” he was told.
Huckaby had two choices and less than 24 hours to decide: have the foot removed or take the option of an operation in the slight hope it would heel. He prayed and decided to take the option.
“It did heal and I went back to Italy to play basketball when Pat Riley (coach of the NBA’s Miami Heat) called me,” Huckaby said.
“When you go through life you’ll have setbacks. My attitude is everything. Attitude will determine where you go. Coach Riley calls them speed bumps in the road.”
During a second segment of the program, Huckaby fielded questions and gave some advice to the students with regards to education at the next level.
“Number one, go to a good school,” Huckaby said. “Number two, find out what you want to do after sports. Listen to your mentors, guidance counselors, teachers, and ask smart questions. Also, use your sport and don’t let your sport use you.”
In closing his remarks, Huckaby shared the wording from a card he reviews in starting each day. He then read the words from a medallion the BSHOF presented him, wording which Bob Fiondella, former chairman of the Phoenix companies and the Leadership Council sponsor, shared with listeners at the inaugural leadership breakfast three years ago. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me,” Huckaby said.
Following this, the students were asked to answer questions provided them by Bristol attorney Mark Ziogas, a BSHOF director who handled the microphone duties for the event. One question was: “What does it take to be a good leader?”
A table of students headed by BSHOF director John Fascolo and consisting of Bristol Central’s Matt Coyne, Megan Seaver and Caitlin Kish, Bristol Eastern’s Sara Plourde and David Casanova, and St. Paul’s Beth Pond and Nadine Fentner, answered after preparing a list.
“Attitude, confidence, willingness to lead by example, work ethic, character, willingness to sacrifice, drive, desire to succeed and (being) cautious of teammates’ feelings,” Kish said.
No one could have said it better.