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Ray Duckler: At Pembroke, a bitter battle off the court

  • Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The mantel at the Timbas home holds photos and family mementos, including a photo of Dominic (center) in his Pembroke Academy uniform. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The mantel at the Timbas home holds photos and family mementos, including a photo of Dominic (center) in his Pembroke Academy uniform.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Jaime Timbas stands for a portrait at his home in Pembroke on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Timbas's son Dominic is a junior on Pembroke Academy's championship basketball team who was recently deemed ineligible by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assocation to play his senior year. The NHIAA said that because of his parents' decision to hold him back a year in the eighth grade, Dominic's eligibility ends this year according to their eight semester rule. Timbas and his wife Kimberly are upset at the NHIAA's decision.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The mantel at the Timbas home holds photos and family mementos, including a photo of Dominic (center) in his Pembroke Academy uniform. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The mother and her teenage son, distraught over recent events, went to dinner at Applebee’s on Saturday night, after a Granite State Raiders game at Framingham State College.

There, with a typical weekend buzz swirling, the mother asked her son about his immediate future, something many in the Pembroke School District wonder about, too.

“What do you want to do?” Kim Timbas asked her son, Dominic, a junior at Pembroke Academy.

“I want to appeal it,” Dominic Timbas answered.

And so they will.

They’ll fight a ruling last month by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association that said Timbas’s eligibility had been used up because he repeated eighth grade, at a home-schooling program in Penacook, and the bylaw says students get eight semesters to play sports once finished with eighth grade.

The Timbases claim they held Dominic back because he was socially awkward and immature, in need of another year of growth (emotionally, not height-wise) before entering high school.

Meanwhile, Pat Corbin, the NHIAA director, suspected the family sought an athletic advantage by staying back.

Welcome to a nightmare that has everyone – sports fans, non-sports fans, Concord-area residents and those from far-reaching corners of the state – talking.

Make no mistake – this is nasty, with expletives flying, phones slamming, nasty voicemails being left and a lawsuit around the corner.

That’s what the family patriarch, Jamie Timbas, told me this week, face to face. The Timbas family invited me to their townhouse to relay their side of the story.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

“This is a mob-lynching mentality,” Jamie Timbas told me at the

kitchen table, Kim seated with us. “Pat Corbin should come here and see what this has done to Dominic. We’re going to fight this to the end.”

I’m sure Corbin’s retirement, set for next month, can’t come soon enough for him.

He’s the one who made the decision not to allow Timbas, a talented 6-foot-5 forward, to play next season. He’s the one upholding the handbook’s statute, the one that says students can’t play sports for more than eight semesters once completing eighth grade, because that could mean an athletic advantage, or it could lead to someone missing the cut because another student had more time in school.

“Displacement,” Corbin called it.

Corbin is also the one whom Jamie called the other day, leaving a message on his voicemail that had something to do with bull droppings.

The backstory there, Jamie says, is that Corbin told him in their initial phone conversation that he had nothing to do with the NHIAA’s decision, and that he was actually sorry that things had worked out this way.

Then, Jamie says, he heard Corbin had made the ruling, so he called him back and got his answering machine.

“I found out Corbin was a liar,” Jamie said. “I called him a piece of s---. I asked him how he looks at himself in the mirror. I told him I was going to sue him.”

Reached later Wednesday, Corbin denied misrepresenting himself.

“Not true,” Corbin told me. “I told him absolutely that I had made the decision and it was my decision to make. So I have no clue what set him off.”

Asked about the phone message, Corbin said, “He said he was going to destroy my life. He said he was a man of means and he was going to take me to court and take everything I own. It was such a rant that I just put it off, deleted the voicemail, which was a mistake because people are going to have a hard time believing it.”

The dagger here that cuts the Timbas family deeply is the reason they claim Dominic was held back, and Corbin’s response to it.

‘Pre-first recommended’

Documents provided by the family show that Saint Catherine’s School in Manchester did, indeed, write “Pre-first recommended” in Dominic’s progress report after kindergarten.

Jamie and Kim chose not to do it, saying this week that Dominic was taller than the other kids, more awkward. They worried about taunting, aimed at the boy who was left behind.

“We didn’t want him to be subjected to the other kids making fun of him,” Kim said.

Had the family enrolled Dominic in pre-first grade, it seems, this issue would not have surfaced. The NHIAA handbook specifically states eight semesters of eligibility are permitted “beyond the eighth grade.”

Asked whether staying back before eighth grade could mean four full years of sports later, Corbin said, “Technically, I guess you could do it. That’s why we have certain people in the state allegedly keeping kids back in sixth or seventh grade, for that reason. They’ve figured out that’s the way to beat the system.”

In a juicy nugget to this drama, which readers have been citing over and over on our website, Matt Alosa, Pembroke’s coach, stayed back one year in the 1980s, before eighth grade.

Alosa later moved to the Pembroke School District after finishing at Rundlett Junior High because freshmen were not allowed to play varsity basketball at Concord High.

Alosa, who played four seasons under Ed Cloe at Pembroke, went on to break scoring records in high school and at the University of New Hampshire, and he made a nice living playing pro ball in Europe.

Fast forward, and Alosa and his father, Frank Alosa, are at the heart of the accusations swirling around Pembroke. Frank coaches the Concord-based AAU Granite State Raiders, an elite program that attracts kids from all over the state.

Critics, mainly opposing coaches and hoop fans from other areas, have long maintained that Frank’s program serves as a feeder system to Matt’s, a conveyor belt of talent that, through recruitment or not, draws players to Pembroke against NHIAA law.

For that reason, two of Pembroke’s players were declared ineligible last season. Also, Pembroke can’t find a team to play next season because athletic directors and principals have said they think Pembroke needs to monitor its basketball team more stringently.

Dominic, in fact, plays for Frank and the Raiders and moved from Bedford to Pembroke three years ago.

Jamie says this is a witch hunt to punish the Alosas, mainly Frank. “He’s so obsessed with getting them that he’s lost his direction and his mind,” Jamie said, referring to Corbin. “Frank and Matt played in this area, and there are still middle-aged men who are jealous and have axes to grind. People hate winners.”

That said, don’t tell Jamie that he moved his family here for basketball reasons. Pembroke, with leaders like the Alosas and Pembroke Headmaster Mike Reardon, promote a clean community, safer than Bedford, where, Jamie said, wealth sometimes leads to unsupervised and reckless teens.

“My son was around kids that were starting to do drugs,” Jamie told me earlier this week, shortly after the story broke. “At the same time he was playing basketball for the Raiders, and my wife and I as parents decided, not because of basketball, that our son would be better off around the kids, good kids at the Raiders program.”

Further, Jamie and Kim bristle at the mention that they held Dominic back to give him time to develop his skills on the court.

They say they wanted him to develop his skills off the court.

“Where does Pat Corbin come off having the right to make an emotional decision like this that we cheated instead of looking out for the best interests of our son?” Jamie asked.

“It’s (Corbin’s) opinion,” Kim added. “And it’s a subjective opinion.”

The waiting game

So now we wait while the longtime face of the NHIAA goes toe to toe with a successful real estate developer, with luxury cars in his driveway and fire in his eyes.

Meanwhile, the Timbases are waiting for their appeal in front of an NHIAA subcommittee in August, but Jamie has already lawyered up, he’s fuming and he’s salivating over the prospect of hauling Corbin into court.

Pembroke, still without a schedule for next season, is waiting to see whether it will have teams to play after winning consecutive state championships.

And a 17-year-old boy, whose scholarship offers may be affected and who’s become the latest focal point in an ugly fight, waits to see where his life is going.

Jamie and Kim preferred I not interview Dominic.

His words, for now, should be kept within the family, they believe, for times like last Saturday night, when a mother and her son had dinner together at a restaurant.

“He’s a mess,” Kim said about the past week. “My son is an emotional mess.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Legacy Comments11

It's hard to believe that these eligibility issues are new to any parent involved with an elite team. It's far easier to believe that they feel the rules don't apply to their family. Time will tell, but they may be right. The NHIAA may roll over on this one.

The travesty of this entire situation is the following: all of the boys that have been hurt by this sad situation are hard working, smart, kind and in other words the type of children we need in this world. The kind that would make any parent proud to have done such a good job with their children. Yet we have basically attempted to ruin their careers with all of this unfounded nonsense and jealousy of winners. In retrospect, maybe if they had criminal records and were drug abusers, then many doors and helping hands would be there to help them versus disparaging them because of their god given talent and civility.

I feel horrible for the kids in this entire mess. The kids have been victimized by all of the adults involved: the parents who transferred their kids to Pembroke, the Alosas for funneling kids to Pembroke, the administration who has allowed this to happen for years, and now the Monitor who has decided to side with Pembroke in these matters. Adults decided to bend the rules of the NHIAA and put kids in the crosshairs. Adults decided to place basketball ahead of education. It is laughable that PA supporters will claim that scholarship offers will hinge on a high school season. That has not been the case for over 20 years now. AAU and club basketball is where kids are seen and offers typically come from. I have been involved in basketball in NH for over 40 years now as a player, a college player, former coach, and former official. I am ashamed of all of the adults involved in this matter from the adults at Pembroke, to the adults at the NHIAA, to the adults at the Monitor who have all placed self serving interests ahead of what is best for kids. My advice to the people of Pembroke & the school board is fire the coaches, fire the administration, and mop up this mess the adults created. Move on.

Unfortunately the mentalities that exist in small communities like this are stilted and vindictive. My son had many "upstanding" citizens in several communities say one thing to his face and then backstab him and my family behind our backs. There were many lies said to the NHIAA about the reasons my wife and son moved to Pembroke from "several" athletic directors that basically sealed my son's fate as being ineligible. I luv this state for many different reaons and have enjoyed my 14 years living here. But I am very frustrated with the feelings people harbor against their adversaries for their entire life and quite frankly it is repugnant and puts a stain on this beautiful state....very sad....

I watched the kids father at a basketball game laugh at the other team and mock them, when Pembroke got up by 40 on them. Alosa left his starters to the end. This guy thought it was great. I have no remorse for the players or the program. Not laughing anymore are we.

What this whole episode really boils down to is PA doesn't seem to care about its reputation as an ACADEMIC institution in the state. Does Mr. Timbas really believe that there aren't as many drugs in Pembroke? Really? He can say what he wants, but he moved to Pembroke for basketball pure and simple (just like the two deemed ineligible last year). This will not stop until Matt Alosa moves on. And it isn't about "middle-aged men" who are still angry. Concord High was ecstatic when Matt went to Pembroke. The problem of how they were going to handle Frank was resolved. It's too bad the kid gets caught in the middle, but from what I see, the parents should have kept the kid back when told he should be kept back, and none of this would have happened.

I have no dog in this fight - but all I read from Ray Dukler is puff pieces on the Walsh kid, the Alosa Family and now this? I know they are claiming that people are out to get the Alosas - but it looks like they have a friend on the Monitor staff. Just my observations.

Please let the record show that I am NOT "DUnkleeQ".

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Transfer" is right. First world problems . . .

What difference does it make why the student was in eighth grade twice? Eight semesters is eight semesters. It's pretty clear. It would be better for parents to teach their kids that life isn't fair (although in this case... eight semesters is the same for everyone so it actually is fair) instead of catering to their desire for exceptions.

First world problems...

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