A little boy with an 8 foot basket over the garage…a ball that won’t bounce because it is 15 degrees outside…a boy’s imagination that carries him to victory at the buzzer……Priceless! That is how Howard Gura explained his start in basketball and it continues to be why basketball is so special to him. “A ball and a hoop – two, if you are lucky – offer the greatest exercise anyone can ever want.”
Howard attended Shelton High School and excelled in three sports. He was voted to the All-Valley team in football in 1964 and 1965, All-League (Housatonic) in baseball in 1964, 1965, and 1966 and All-Valley in basketball in 1966. (To our knowledge, he still holds the record for most shattered peach baskets!) Howard went on to play baseball at UConn.
Howard’s coaching career was influenced and shaped by several outstanding individuals. Eventually working with his high school coach, Joe Benanto, a “once in a lifetime” coach, “was a lesson each day.” Howard’s career was also profoundly influenced by Bernice Nicolari, his teacher, colleague and coaching mentor. He considered it an honor to take over the Shelton High School Girls’ Basketball program upon her Nicolari’s retirement. “Her values and strengths permeated that program long after she coached her last game.”
Howard Gura was named the Girls Basketball Coach at Shelton High School in 1979. The Shelton girl’s basketball program was arguably one of the very best in the state of Connecticut at the time. Over the next eighteen years, the Shelton Gaelettes Shelton continued to be extremely competitive under Gura’s leadership.
During those eighteen years, the Gaelettes won 328 games and lost 104. Shelton qualified for the state tournament each year and never experienced a losing season in the competitive Housatonic League and later the Southern Connecticut Conference. The Gaelettes won a total of ten titles including five straight Housatonic League titles. In state LL tournament play, Coach Gura’s team enjoyed a 42-17 record. The Shelton Gaelettes always ventured far into the tournament -- reaching the finals in 1984, 1985 and 1994. The 1985 team won the State Championship in an overtime game that was played before one of the largest crowds in tournament history. The 1994 team was ranked second in the state and in New England behind Central High School of Bridgeport.
Howard Gura has received numerous honors from his coaching successes. The New Haven Register, the Connecticut Post and the New Haven Tap Off Club named him Coach of the Year. In 1993 he was honored as the Connecticut Coach of the Year and in 1994, Howard was a finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award in Girls’ Basketball. Howard serves on the CIAC Tournament Committee and the 2008 CIAC Girls Basketball Tournament was named in his honor.
No coach wins without talent and Coach Gura is quick to point out the talent that blessed his program. He coached seven All-Staters and 17 of his players were named to All-League first teams.