Bill Clingan didn’t want to go to the pub. At 29, he’d pretty much finished the whole scene, and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the last thing he wanted to do was hit up a local watering hole that was sure to be thronged with people. Even worse, his friends have chosen perhaps his least favorite spot in town, the kind of bar fight-infested joint. But Bill had nothing else to do, so he went as a designated driver for the crew. On arrival he immediately put himself on a bar stool to watch whatever game was on TV and sip his own soft drinks. It is there, if not completely there.
Later in the evening, a relative of one of his buds, a Georgia guy with a deep Southern heart who entertains the hell out of Bill, came by and insisted that he come over and meet someone. He brought Bill up to a woman, told them, “You two need to talk,” his southern voice was pulling the front, and then he walked away. The woman was just as confused as Bill. Stacy Borini had not asked to meet him, and had no idea why the man had insisted on calling.
Bill and Stacey end up chatting all night, and before he leaves, Bill gets her number. Since it was Thanksgiving, he didn’t want to intrude on family time and planned to call after the weekend. Instead, she finds him, using whatever resources she had in the pre-1999 social media days to find out his number. “The rest is history,” Bell says now.
Bill “talks” to Stacey a lot, often seeking her advice. Like, for example, when their daughter, Olivia, started dating and Bill’s first instinct was to go full Rambo upon meeting the poor boy, he thought rather than how Stacy would handle it and adjust accordingly.
And more recently, as Bell stood nervously in the stands, near shaking as always before a UConn game, he looked past the rafters at Albany’s MVP Arena. “Anytime she sees me looking for me, I talk to her,” he says with a laugh. “Just asking for a little help here.”
It may or may not have been divine intervention that led the Huskies out of a first-round quagmire and into a Sweet 16 date with Arkansas. But there’s no denying that Stacey’s fingerprints have gone beyond UConn’s success this season.
Donovan Clingan, the 7-foot-2 budding star of the Huskies, may look like his dad. But other than that, the new big guy is all Stacy.
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(Photo: David Butler II/USA Today)
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