When Kyle Nadeau was playing basketball for St. Anne there was a good chance Tony Paranto was in the stands at the former elementary school in Webster.
Paranto, the longtime Bartlett High boys’ basketball coach, had a strong connection to Nadeau, whose dad, Gerry, was a former assistant and is a current scout for the Indians. But he wasn’t taking any chances.
“We courted him as a seventh grader, a sixth grader, a fifth grader,” Paranto recalled Friday. “We kind of knew we were going to get him, but nowadays we didn’t know, either. So I made sure I did my due diligence. I showed up at a lot of games down there.
“You don’t want to say he was recruited, but … and when he got to Bartlett, he knew about the tradition of Bartlett High School. That was something we didn’t have to instill in him.”
Nadeau went on enhance that proud and storied tradition during a terrific, three-sport career during which he earned 14 varsity letters, in football, basketball and baseball while leading the Indians to three Central Mass. championships and a Clark Tournament title.
A two-time T&G Super Team selection in basketball and a T&G all-star in football and baseball, he was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2014, just seven years after graduating.
“I’ve got a ton of good memories,” Nadeau, 31, said last week from the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina, where he currently resides while enrolled in a training program for HealthMarkets, a health and life insurance company.
“Playing sports was my life. Basketball, baseball football — I was always playing one or the other, or both. Team-wise, it was a great experience.”
The 5-foot-8 Nadeau, who still weighs 170 — same as he did in high school — was a four-year starter in football for Bartlett, lining up at quarterback and safety. He guided the Indians to a 14-8 record over his final two seasons and led Central Mass. with 26 touchdown passes as a junior.
Nadeau started for the baseball team for five years, playing second base the first three and shortstop the last two. The sure-handed infielder led the Indians to their first CMass title in 34 years in 2006 and made it back-to-back championships when he batted .490 as a senior.
And while Nadeau loved the rhythm of changing sports with the seasons, basketball was and remains his favorite athletic outlet. Reached via phone last week, the long-range, sharpshooting guard was courtside in between pickup games.
“I can’t get away from basketball,” the easygoing Nadeau enthusiastically said. “I play pickup every day, and out here, it’s awesome. It’s way better than Worcester. I was just playing against a couple of legit D1 players.”
As for holding his own, Nadeau said, “I can still shoot it. That’s my forte. Shoot and play defense. They like that so I get to run.”
Nadeau was a key rotational player as an eighth grader at Bartlett before going on to start the next four years. The Indians won the Clark Tournament Small School championship — their first in 20 years — his junior year and lost in overtime in the final the following February.
Nadeau was immense during the 2006 title run, dropping 32, 19 and, in a 79-64 win over Bromfield in the title tilt, 36 points as he made 8 of 14 3-pointers to go with 10 steals in 32 minutes. The eight treys remains a tournament record, tied with the initial mark set by David Prouty’s Al Dion in 1988.
“There were a lot of great memories from the Clark Tournament,” Nadeau said. “That was pretty cool when I (tied) the record for 3s. I didn’t even know I had it. If coach had told me I would have chucked up a few more to try to break it.”
The undersized, but overly skilled Indians made the Central Mass. Tournament in Nadeau’s final four seasons after falling one win short when he was in eighth grade. They went 41-9 over his final two seasons, including winning the CMass Division 3 championship as a senior.
It was the program’s first CMass title in 13 years.
“One thing about our teams is we never gave up,” said Nadeau, who scored 1,440 points, good for third on Bartlett’s all-time list. “We always had a winning mindset. We always thought we were going to win, which I loved.
“And that helped me a lot in life, too. You have to prepare. The biggest thing I took out of it is it set me up perseverance-wise to be tough in life because the game of life anyways is tough on its own.”
Nadeau went to have a fabulous basketball career at WPI.
The Engineers went 85-26 and earned three NCAA Division 3 Tournament berths during his four seasons. He started from his sophomore year on and was a second-team All-NEWMAC selection as a junior.
“I have really good memories of playing in the tournament,” Nadeau said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Nadeau, who was a National Honor Society member at Bartlett, graduated with a degree in management engineering in May 2011. Exactly one year later, he became a dad as his now ex-girlfriend gave birth to a son, Nolan.
Nadeau remained in the Worcester area after graduating to be close to his son and then followed Nolan and his mom to San Diego a couple of years ago for the same reason. Father and son currently keep in touch via FaceTime as Nolan recently returned to Webster.
While Nadeau was initially apprehensive when he found out he was going to become a dad, he has eagerly and energetically embraced his role in helping to raise Nolan. He’s clearly a proud papa, lighting up while talking about the 8-year-old’s budding soccer and basketball skills and how the youngster wants to become a marine biologist.
“He’s such a smart boy,” Nadeau said. “And, honestly, he’s the best thing that has happened to me. I didn’t know it at the time, but having a kid is a bigger accomplishment than anything because you have this connection to him. It’s just like basketball and the love of the game except it’s your own child. There’s nothing like that.”
—Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.
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