The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

History in the making: inside the mind of a UConn superfan

Fustino talks program history, travel plans for this year’s NCAA tournament
Gym+teacher+Melissa+Fustino+is+traveling+across+the+country+to+watch+UConns+basketball+games+during+the+Final+Four.
Graphic Katherine Wu
Gym teacher Melissa Fustino is traveling across the country to watch UConn’s basketball games during the Final Four.

Gym teacher and proud UConn alumna Melissa Fustino is riding the March Madness high as Algonquin’s unofficial hype woman for the university. Widely considered America’s collegiate basketball powerhouse, UConn is the only program to take home both the men’s and women’s championship in a single year–and to do it twice. As UConn continues to run laps around the majority of teams in this year’s tournament, we asked Fustino to weigh in as the face of the Huskies at Algonquin. 

How has UConn built such an impressive legacy in the past 20 years?

“It started with [Coach Jim] Calhoun way back in the ‘80s; he started building the mens’ program up to become the juggernaut that it is now. Same thing on the girls’ side with [Coach] Geno [Auriemma]. We had a couple of tough years for the men when we went to the AAC [American Athletic Conference] and we weren’t doing well. Then we went back to the Big East, got [Dan] Hurley as a coach, and we’ve been taking off ever since. We’re back to where we should be.”

If you were worried about any challenging team, who would it be?

“You never want to take anybody too light. [For the men], Purdue has the height and size like us, but we’ve got two ‘bigs’ and they only have one, so if we have to sit one we still have the advantage. We have shooters, we have guards, we have post players and we’ve got a great offense that can run. It’s tough to defend so many options. Alabama is good; they get up and down the court, they’ve got speed and they love to shoot 3’s, so if they’re really on and we’re a little off, you never know. On the womens’ side, we’re the underdogs. We’re a three-seed and [we] just beat a one-seed. Now we’re up against another one-seed with Caitlyn Clark and Iowa, so that’s going to be a challenge, especially because we don’t have a lot of players. Half the team is injured and has been all year. Our whole starting five has been out, so the fact that we’re even in the Final Four right now is very shocking and awesome.”

Have you always followed collegiate basketball?

“That’s the main reason I went to UConn: for their basketball teams. The academics were an added bonus, and there was a lot of high-quality basketball to watch. The men had just come off their first national championship in ‘99, and that sealed the deal for me to go. I was also born in Connecticut and lived there as a kid.”

What changes have you noticed in the coverage of women’s basketball?

“I think the exposure it’s gotten this year has been great. The women’s game has always been big for us Husky fans because we’ve always been so good, so we’ve always followed and watched and got excited. Recently, because there’s been more exposure, it’s been shown more and promoted more. I give a lot of credit to Kobe Bryant; he started bringing his daughter who was a huge fan of UConn to the games, so all these other NBA guys have been getting involved, bringing their kids and showing that it’s something their daughters can do and achieve. With all the accolades this year and with Clark, it’s gotten so much more buzz. It’s been great for the game because it’s good basketball.”

How do you feel about former Algonquin student Alex Karaban’s recent success as a player at UConn?

“His freshman year, I had him in class and I got to watch him play because our teams practiced together and had back-to-back games. Even then you could tell he was legit; he was good and you knew he was going places. I was thrilled when he ended up at my school. It’s been great because I’ve had season tickets for a couple of years, and now I get to watch him as part of it.”

How accurate has your bracket been?

“I always pick UConn because I can’t pick against them; it’s just not in me. Right now I’m doing pretty well; I won most of the pools last year because no one else had UConn winning. This year, I have them again for both sides. Two years ago I picked them winning and we lost in the first round, so it goes both ways.”

What are your travel plans for the next few days?

“I’m flying to Cleveland [Thursday] night and watching the women’s game, then Phoenix on Saturday morning to watch the men’s game [versus Alabama]. It’ll depend on who wins what if I’m flying back to Cleveland or if I’m staying in Phoenix.”

Check out Fustino’s twitter for more.

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$1541
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Contributed
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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

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About the Contributors
Ava
Ava "Cam" Arcona, A&E Editor
Ava has been part of the Harbinger since sophomore year, where she started as Assistant News Editor and moved to A&E editor in junior year. Her favorite topics to write about are album releases, pop culture and the arts within ARHS. Outside of Harby, Ava is president of two honor societies and is a setter for the varsity volleyball team.
Adrian Mathew
Adrian Mathew, Marketing Manager
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