Rocky Hill seniors Jay and Brandon Scacca
Rocky Hill seniors Brandon and Jay Scacca share a lot in common.
The twin brothers not only share the same birthday but they also share a passion for swimming.
“Brandon and Jay were such fun boys to watch grow up and mature. They are so alike yet so different," said Rocky Hill swim coach Lisa Cooney, who first met the boys as elementary-aged kids.
Cooney has watched the two blossom into honor roll students and develop into top swimming talents at the high school, “They are both kind, compassionate young men. Both care about each other, their families, their friends. They are extremely hard working, in and out of the pool, [and] extremely responsible young men for their age.”
The two, along with their sister Ashley (a former RHHS swimmer and 2018 graduate) grew up in the pool before starting to swim competitively in the fourth grade.
Their mom, Joanne, would often say that the pool was a saving grace for a mother with three kids.
Swimming provided an identify, yet it was the time outside the pool that created lasting memories at Rocky Hill High.
Brandon values the relationships that he’s built with the teachers, “Some of them have been there for you through our toughest times when you’re at your most vulnerable state. Honestly they are your best friends in the end. I’m going to miss them so much because we’ve built such valuable relationships.”
Jay will miss the bonds created with classmates, “I’ve made a lot of friends the past couple of years and I can’t believe we’re going off to college next year and we might not be able to graduate with them, at a formal graduation.”
Like the rest of the class on 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow on what the senior’s final few months of high school will look like.
It already caused the cancellation of the winter sports tournaments just few days shy of the state’s swimming and diving Class Finals.
“I talked to the whole team because we have a group chat and we were all pretty bummed about it,” recalled Brandon, who would have been competing for a fourth straight season at states, excelling in both the 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke.
News of the cancellation was especially disheartening for Jay, who was in uncharted waters heading into the state meets, “It really sucks because I had never made it to states before. This was the only year I made it and I wasn’t able to participate, so it’s a bummer.”
Jay suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder a season ago, forcing him out of competition, “Last year when it first happened I wasn’t able to swim or move it but I still participated on the team. I was just kicking the whole time. So I was still training, just not my shoulder, and I had to go to physical therapy. It was pretty hard to get back on track.”
He returned to the pool this fall, qualifying for states in the 100 Butterfly, and said the experience gave him a new perspective, “Never give up, because no matter how hard it may seem in the end it will be worth it. Especially with my injury, I felt like giving up last year and at the beginning of this year because I wasn’t at my full strength. But you always just have to persevere and get through.”
According to Cooney, the twins differed in personalities. Brandon is more outspoken and Jay a little more reserved, however both proved to be good leaders.
Cooney praised Jay for being an excellent role model for the team during his journey back from the shoulder injury, “He still came to practices and meets to be a part of the team and help out. Then this year he worked so hard to get to states. He brought his 100 Butterfly time down by over 7 seconds, and he did qualify in that event as well as being a member of the 200 Medley Relay.”
Cooney added that Brandon is the quintessential team captain, “He didn't mind saying what needed to be said even if it was not popular. [He was the] team MVP last year and this year. This year he qualified for states in 200 IM, 100 Breaststroke, and was a member of the 200 Medley Relay and the 200 Free Relay.”
The brothers were also volunteers for the Sea Cubs, which was a program started by Cooney. The weekly program helped kids with special needs learn how to swim. Both said their four years with the Sea Cubs was very rewarding and they loved doing it, calling it “one of their favorite things to do.”
For the first time in nearly two decades, the brothers will head off in different directions for the first time this fall.
Brandon will be attending the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford where he’ll swim for the Division III Blue Jays while pursuing a career in nursing.
Jay will begin working towards an Engineering degree at the University of Hartford.
Next winter will mark the first time in six years that a Scacca won’t be swimming for Rocky Hill.
Brandon, who said he considers coach Cooney a second mother, had some advice for those that will help lead Rocky Hill swimming into the future.
“You have to put in the work in order to see results and I’ve seen a lot of kids that put in countless hours of work. If you’re trying your hardest, times don’t matter, it’s just about if you tried your hardest.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin