Grupposo: Small in Stature, Big in Results
Dec 31, 2015 06:00AM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey
Keith Grupposo is proof positive that good things come in small packages. The former Bellingham High two-sport athlete was a mere 5-foot-6 and 140-pounds, but he was a key contributor in football and basketball. Playing primarily at cornerback and special teams in football, Grupposo had a senior season that featured him finishing the 1996 campaign No. 3 in tackles, being named as an honorable-mention Tri Valley League all-star and being honored as the team’s defensive MVP. As a freshman, he played briefly in Bellingham’s victory over Marian High in the 1993 Super Bowl.
A point guard in basketball, Grupposo was a fundamentally sound distributor who relied on excellent court vision. He rated an assist as valuable as scoring a basket. Although he didn’t dominate statistically, he helped guide the Blackhawks to a tournament berth in 1997.
“Even though I received awards in football, my top thrill was exceeding my expectations as a senior,” said Grupposo from his home in Manassas, VA. “I remember some interceptions and fumble recoveries. Our first game my senior year was against King Philip, and I intercepted a pass as they were driving on their first possession. We scored right away and that seemed to get our momentum going. Another pleasant memory was a game against Ashland as a senior. The score was close and they were driving. I managed to break up a play late in the final quarter that resulted in an interception by Tse Wai Lee to clinch the outcome.”
In basketball, Grupposo often connected on pin-point passes to forward Larry Brown. When he was forced to shoot, a consistent jump shot or a drive to the hoop usually produced points. “I could shoot a three-pointer,” he noted. “A jump shot from the right corner was my favorite. I’ll always remember my career high—17 points in a win at Hopkinton.”
Grupposo saw limited action on the gridiron at wide receiver and running back; but, as he progressed from his freshman season, coach Dale Caparaso could see a player who was not only intelligent, but also very instinctive. “Cap was a tough coach,” Grupposo said. “He had a knack for putting players in the right places. Once you knew your role, you were held accountable. I wasn’t big or exceptionally quick, so I had to do my job by getting to the ball using instincts and awareness.”
Grupposo, who played sparingly in the Super Bowl, didn’t get to duplicate that team’s 10-1 record as a senior. Bellingham had lost many veterans and finished 5-6 in a rebuilding year.
“I played with two outstanding competitors,” Grupposo said. “Justin Bernard was a power running back who was hard to stop. Also, Sonny Milani was a high-caliber inside linebacker who called all the defensive signals. Both were excellent teammates.”
After graduation, Grupposo enrolled at Syracuse but later transferred to Marymount University in Arlington, VA, where he majored in psychology. Graduating in 2005, he worked as a counselor in a juvenile detention center and later as a pre-trial supervisor and probation officer. Currently, he’s the Assistant Director of Probation for North County (Fairfax, VA).
The 36-year-old Grupposo is married, and he and his wife, Margy, have two daughters—Maggie, 3; and Sofia, 2. In his leisure time, he enjoys spending quality time with his family and playing the guitar. Grupposo’s brothers (Jeff and Peter) also played on winning Super Bowl teams.
“There’s no doubt athletics helped prepare me for tasks in real life,” said Grupposo, who was an honor-roll student. “I competed on teams where players learned how to get the most out of their ability, we set goals, and we overcame adversity. Athletics and academics can pave the way for success. I have great memories of my days in Bellingham. The schools prepared me well for college life. When I retire, I hope to return to Massachusetts, perhaps Cape Cod.”
One memory that Grupposo recalls was the relationship with his late basketball coach—Barry Hutchinson. “I played freshman and jayvee basketball for him,” Grupposo said. “On game days or for practice, I often needed a ride and he’d go out of his way to pick me up. We spent lots of time together. When he died, I felt sadness and shock. He was a very special guy who was viewed by everyone in a positive light.”
Hutchinson no doubt admired Grupposo’s competitive desire. In spite of his diminutive stature, Grupposo was fierce, never retreating when bigger opponents converged in his direction. Calling his parents (Kevin and Mary Louise) role models for their support and encouragement, Grupposo said, “I played to win. We knew if we paid the price for success, winning would follow, and that would lead to enjoyment and a desire to improve.”
Keith Grupposo was an MVP and a league all-star, and he’s proof positive that good things indeed come in small packages.