Brian Sullivan: Hurricane no soft toss for Kara Nilan

Thursday November 8, 2012


Kara Nilan said her boss understood, "sort of." "But the show," said the former Taconic High and Bowdoin College softball standout, "has to go on."

Nilan, the four-time Berkshire County softball MVP who graduated from Taconic in 2007, has taken her Bowdoin degree in neuroscience to The Big Apple. She is working for an advertising firm and has relocated from her previous job in Boston to an apartment on 34th Street in New York City near the East River.

She has been displaced from her digs because of Superstorm Sandy. When she told her story this past Sunday evening, she did so from the hotel where she is living while waiting for the power to be restored to her building. Nilan had spent part of Sunday retrieving some clothes from her 14th floor apartment.

That was a good thing, said the city native. The news that wasn’t so good was the fact that the apartment building elevator wasn’t working. She trudged up those 14 floors in a stairwell in order to get some clothes for the week. Big city, bright lights? Maybe. But not now. Nilan said the situation in New York City, and the surrounding area, was a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 obviously being the worse.

"It’s true that the cutoff for those with or without power was about 24th Street," Nilan said. "And all the buildings around mine seem to have power. But a generator exploded and my building has been without power for a week."

Nilan said some of the unexpected expense has been eased by the fact that she had renter’s insurance. "Still," she said. "It’s been awful."


Nilan is part of this year’s UNICO-sponsored Berkshire County Baseball/Softball Hall of Fame inductees. That event is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m., at the Berkshire Hills Country Club. She attended an induction fundraiser at the Sideline Saloon on Fenn Street on Sunday, Oct. 27. She began her drive back to Manhattan about mid-afternoon, but never made it.

Sandy began to arrive before she did. "I was listening on the radio and they designated the area where my building is to be Zone A," Nilan said. "It was an evacuation area. So, I drove instead to a friend’s house in Niantic [Conn.]."

But that didn’t really work out so well. It was a roof over her head, but the coastal town was also without power. And Monday was a work day.

"Fortunately, I had a laptop," she said. "But I had to be creative and find places to charge it. I’d work until it died and then find another place to charge it. The people I am supervising are in different parts of the country. They were doing their jobs and it was up to me to find a way to do mine."

Nilan took a break this past weekend and flew to Baton Rouge, La., to visit her younger brother Jimmy, who is a senior at LSU. She attended Saturday night’s sensational college football clash between the host Tigers and top-ranked Alabama.

Nilan said she tried out her New York story on some locals, who she said were either blissfully unaware of the carnage associated with the disaster or simply dismissed Sandy as something that was "just a taste" of what they experienced in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. Like her co-workers located elsewhere, the total understanding of the event seemed a bit lost outside of the Tri-State area.

"It took me almost four hours to drive from Niantic to Newark [N.J.] Airport," she said. "I filled up the car with gas before I left, but by the time I hit Fairfield there was no gas available at any of the stations."

With luck, Nilan said, she hopefully will be back in her apartment this week. And we can all hope her elevator will be working.

Nilan is part of a five-member induction class this year. The other UNICO inductees include Mitch Wood (St. Joe ‘77), Heather Capitanio (PHS ‘99), Tony Procopio (St. Joe ‘41) and the late Don Gleason, who for many years was president of the Berkshire County Little League. Tickets for the event are $25 at the door. Information: Call Tony Simonelli, (413) 442-2191.

Catching up, meanwhile, on a couple of noteworthy events. The Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society (BRASS) honored founder and former Eagle business editor Lew Cuyler at a gathering Saturday evening at Patrick’s Pub. Cuyler, an avid rower for most of his life, had been nominated for a national award for his longevity and success in promoting the sport.

While he didn’t come away with national honors, kudos were heaped upon him at the local event by many whose lives he’s influenced with his passion. Lew and his wife, Harriet, are well-known in rowing circles and continue to be a striking couple.

Finally, the last Joe on the Go fundraiser at the Itam Lodge on Friday evening turned out to be a memorable event. Longtime girls’ basketball and track coach Joe Racicot, paralyzed in an accident more than 30 years ago, was in need of a new ride.

The new state-of-the-art Honda Element and a $1,000 gas card was paid for in full by an amazing summer and fall effort that raised almost $60,000. About 450 folks were jammed inside the Itam including Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and former mayors Gerald Doyle and James Ruberto.

From Joe to all comes a big and humble thanks.

Brian Sullivan can be reached at


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions