Kayla Bunge/The Janesville Gazette
(Published Dec. 21, 2007, 10:24 p.m.)
Bob Torrenga was a longtime coach and youth sports enthusiast, devoting his time and talents to both Delavan-Darien High School and Delavan Christian School.
He died of Alzheimer's disease March 11. His family has established an award in his honor.
Arlene Torrenga, Bob's wife of almost 47 years, said the award is a way of passing on her husband's light.
Bob, a native of Delavan, came from a humble, sometimes lonely childhood. But he found solace in sports. His father cut the bottom off a bushel basket and nailed it above the garage, the origin of his love for basketball.
"I think he spent a lot of hours shooting buckets," Arlene said.
He played basketball in junior high and high school. He dabbled in high school football and track and field. But a three-year stint in the Marines cut short his schooling and his playing time.
Bob never lost his love of the game, and he soon returned to the hardwood as a coach after his nephew, who attended Delavan Christian School, said the students there wished they had a basketball team.
He coached boys and girls basketball teams and served as the school's athletic director for many years.
Bob also was the official scorekeeper for the Delavan-Darien High School boys basketball team and a member of the "chain gang" during the football season.
He even earned his major letter in 1982, when he became an honorary member of the school's Varsity Club.
Arlene said Bob, who was "always for the underdog," took the greatest pride in working with kids who needed an extra push.
"He would look for the kids he could see potential in," she said. "He'd come home and tell me stories ... This kid--he's really got it, but he doesn't have the self-confidence.'"
Bob often took those kids aside and worked with them one-on-one while the rest of the team practiced. He swore that extra encouragement made all the difference.
And that's what the Torrenga family wants to do with the award they've established both at Delavan-Darien High School and Delavan Christian School.
"It gives an opportunity not necessarily for the jocks or the stars, but for those other kids to do better, to feel better about themselves," said Todd Torrenga, Bob's son. "That's just really the spirit of my father."
Arlene said the award is a way of passing on her husband's light.
"It's his legacy," she said.
The Bob Torrenga Freshman Achievement Award will be given to one freshman boy and one freshman girl who have shown improvement or achievement in physical education classes, individual sports or team sports. The award--about $300 per student--is to be used to pay for or defray the cost of a summer sports camp.
All freshmen are eligible to apply. Forms will be available in the athletic department in January. Criteria for the award include academics, attendance, sportsmanship and need.
The award will be presented at the school's spring sports award night June 2, 2008.
The Torrenga family has applied for federal non-profit status for the award at Delavan-Darien High School. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation, send a check payable to the Bob Torrenga Freshman Achievement Award to P.O. Box 561, Delavan, WI 53115.
The family is in the process of applying for federal non-profit status for the award at Delavan Christian School. Award criteria are yet to be determined.
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