Click on the tabs below to see the Hall of Fame inductees from each year.

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees



Henry, J.J

Henry has established himself as a successful PGA tour pro over the past 19 years since making his professional debut in 1998. He has three tournament wins to his credit, including his first victory right here in Connecticut at the Buick Championship in 2006. His other two tour victories came in 2012 and 2015 at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, NV. The Fairfield High graduate also has five second place finishes to help boost his pro earnings to over $15 million. Henry represented the U.S. as a member of the Ryder Cup in 2006. Prior to becoming a touring pro, Henry had an outstanding amateur career playing out of the Patterson Club in Fairfield as he was a three-time Connecticut State Amateur Champion (1994-95, 1998). He was undefeated in high school play (76-0-2) and was a four-time all-state selection. In 1998, he was a first-team
All-American at TCU and took second in the NCAA individual golf championship.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Williams, Rita

ritawilliamsHeadcropWilliams played six years in the WNBA from 1998-2003 and rose to All-Star status in 2001 with the Indiana Fever.  She began her pro career when she was drafted in the first round and 13th overall by the Washington Mystics in 1998. After two seasons with the Mystics, she was traded to the Fever, where she became the first all star in franchise history when she led the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) assists and steals. She later played for the Houston Comets and the Seattle Storm. The Brien McMahon High grad had a stellar career at the University of Connecticut for three years, the last two as a starting point guard. As a co-captain her senior year, she was named the Big East Championship Most Outstanding Player in 1998 and is 10th all time in school history in steals with 248. Williams was elected to the FCSC’s UConn Wing of the Hall of Fame in 2009. At McMahon she was a Parade Magazine All-American and led the Senators to the 1994 Class L state title. After high school she played one season at Mitchell College and was a first-team junior college All-American
Jackie Robinson Professional

Bol, Manute

manutebolheadbestBol was not only a one-of-a kind basketball sensation, but also spent much of his life as a humanitarian and political activist in the civil war that divided his native country of Sudan. Bol’s one-season (1984-85) at the University of Bridgeport created the most excitement in the school’s sports history. The 7-foot-6 center averaged 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.1 blocks per game that year. The Division-II Purple Knights, which previously drew 500-600 spectators, routinely sold out their 1,800 seat gym when Bol was on the court. He was drafted in the second round and 31st overall by the Washington Bullets in 1985 and went on to play for four different NBA teams over the course of a 10-year career. He was one of the best shot blockers in league history, setting the rookie shot blocking record in the ’85-’86 season. Bol finished his NBA career with 2,086 blocks and is the only player to have more blocks than points scored (1,599). He passed away in 2010 at the age of 47.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Gilmore, Maurice

Gilmore was a four-sport letterman at New Canaan High, but it was in basketball that he made his name as one the legendary players of his era. He led the Rams to three consecutive state titles (1956-58), scoring a school record 697 points as a senior. While also earning varsity letters in track, golf, and football, Gilmore was heavily recruited for basketball by many college programs after being named all-state for three years. The 6-foot-6 center took his talent to the Big Eight Conference where he became a three-year starter at the University of Colorado, leading the Buffaloes to two straight conference titles in 1961 and 1962. Those same teams went on to the NCAA Elite Eight only to lose to eventual champion Cincinnati in both appearances. Gilmore averaged 14.7 pointe per game for his career and is in the school’s top 30 all-time scoring list. After being drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in the 14th round in 1962, a knee injury curtailed his professional basketball career hopes. He passed away at age 53 in 1993. 
James O’Rourke Amateur

Steinkraus, Bill

Bill Steinkraus is one of the most decorated equestrians in U.S. history. He is a five-time Olympian and
four-time medal winner, including being the first American to win an individual gold medal in equestrian jumping with his horse Snowbound in 1968. He also took home bronze in team jumping at the 1952 games as well as two team jumping silver medals at the 1960 and 1972 Olympics. Steinkraus, who was born in Westport but is a lifetime Darien resident, captained the U.S. Equestrian team for 17 years. Elected to the National Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1987, Steinkraus continued his contributions to the sport as the president of the U.S team for 10 years. He also was a television commentator from 1976-1988, a judge at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and is a noted equestrian author.
 James O’Rourke Amateur

Marinelli, Lou

Marinelli’s career as one of the state’s greatest high school football coaches began in 1981 when he came to New Canaan High after three years as a head coach in New York state. He quickly began what has become an unprecedented success run by turning a program that had been 0-29-1 into a state champion in just two years. Now entering his 36th season, Marinelli has continued his amazing success with 34 consecutive non-losing seasons, 11 state titles (1982,1993, 2001, 2002, 2006-09, 2013-15) and five FCIAC championships (1993, 2000-01, 2008, 2013). His record at New Canaan is 300-92-6 (319 coaching wins total) and he is first all time in wins of active coaches in Connecticut and third overall. Marinelli has been recognized as FCIAC Coach of the Year, National Football Foundation Coach of the Year, and in 2002, Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year. He also was a finalist twice for the National Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. In 2009, he was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was selected for the FCIAC Hall of Fame.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Walsh, Mike

Walsh’s accomplishments as both a highly-successful high school basketball coach and an equally successful career as a youth baseball coach is a rare combination. His coaching prowess at Trinity Catholic High in Stamford and with Stamford’s storied Babe Ruth baseball programs spans more than 40 years. Walsh has turned the Crusaders into one the state’s basketball powers in his 37 years there and his 596 wins rank him fifth all time in the state. His first state title came in 1996, starting an annual run to the state championship game, coming away with six state crowns in 12 total appearances, including seven consecutive from
1999-2005. Walsh has also captured six FCIAC titles in 10 appearances, including three straight championships from 2003-05. As a youth baseball coach for 40 years, he led 10 Stamford Babe Ruth All-Star teams to World Series appearances. Walsh was awarded the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance in 2012.
 J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2015 Hall of Fame



Drury, Ted

druryheadshotA nine-year NHL veteran from 1993-2001, Drury played with six different teams during his pro career, primarily with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He played in 414 games with 41 goals and 52 assists. Drury, who was a standout at Fairfield Prep for two years, was selected to play for the U.S Olympic team in ’92 & ’94. He played five pro seasons in Germany before retiring in 2007. After being drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 1989 NHL entry draft, Drury opted to play college hockey at Harvard where he was the Ivy and ECAC Player of the Year in 1992-93. Drury was elected to the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2008. 
Jackie Robinson Professional

Pacioretty, Max

maxpaciorettyheadshotphotobestPacioretty has become one of the NHL’s top players in his seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens (2008-15). The left wing has led the Habs in scoring the past four seasons, which includes three 30-goal campaigns, highlighted by a career-high 39 in 2013-14. He has also tallied a total of 10 playoff goals the past two years. Selected 22nd overall in the first round by Montreal in the 2007 draft, he played one year at Michigan, following a scholastic career that started at New Canaan High and ended at the Taft School in Watertown. Pacioretty won the Bill Masterton Award in 2012 as the NHL player that exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. His crowning achievement came last year when he was named to play for Team USA in the 2014 Olympics.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Brummel, Lisa

brummel-lisaheadshotBrummel was one of the county’s top female athletes as a four-sport standout at Staples High. From 1974-77 she starred in basketball, softball, track and field hockey, earning all FCIAC and/or all state in all four sports. She continued her multi-sport prowess in college, lettering in four sports at Yale, adding volleyball to her resume. Brummel was all-Ivy in basketball each of her four years there, still in the top 5 in several school offensive categories and was Ivy League MVP when Yale won the title in 1979. The Westport native, who was also all-Ivy for three years in softball, was an academic All-American 1981. She also played three seasons as a catcher with the Raybestos Brakettes (1976-78), winning national titles each year. Brummel was elected to the CT Women’s basketball HOF in 2013. She is currently one of the owners of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Shell, Lambert

lambertheadsn2bestShell was one of the greatest basketball players in University of Bridgeport history. He was a three-time All-American, scored 3,001 career points and had over 1,300 rebounds in leading the Purple Knights to Division II Final Fours and two national runner-up finishes in 1991 & 92. In ’91, Bridgeport lost in the finals to North Alabama but Shell was named the tournament’s outstanding player. As a senior in 1992, he was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year. He was elected to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2003) and UB’s HOF in 2006. Shell also had a pro career from 1992-2005 in the USBL, CBA and overseas.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Kvancz, Jack

jackkvanczheadsnKvancz was highly successful both on and off the basketball court, but his accomplishments as an administrator and coach defined his athletic career. The Bridgeport native and Harding High basketball standout began his coaching career with a three-year stint at Masuk High. He then moved into the collegiate ranks as an assistant coach at Brown before becoming head basketball coach and athletic director at Catholic University from 1974-82. His next stop was leading the athletic department for 12 years at George Mason. In 1994, Kvancz became the AD at George Washington and concluded his 17 years there in 2011. From 1998-2003, Kvancz was a member of the prestigious NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee. He was elected to the GW Hall of Fame (2012) as well as the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2003) for his stellar playing career at Boston College, where he played for the legendary Bob Cousy, and Harding.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Tammaro, Angela

tammaroheadcropIn 2014, Tammaro concluded her legendary coaching career at Greenwich Academy. She spent 49 years as the school’s field hockey coach and 48 as lacrosse coach, while also being the athletic director for four decades. Tammaro finished with 746 wins in field hockey and 700 in lacrosse, the most of any female coach in the country. Her teams racked up 30 consecutive league titles in field hockey and 28 total in lacrosse. She is enshrined in both the National Field Hockey and Lacrosse Hall of Fames as well as the Connecticut HOF’s for both sports. Beginning her career at Greenwich Academy in 1965, she also posted 200 wins as the basketball coach and in addition coached numerous other sports, including ice hockey and squash.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2014 Hall of Fame



Breslow, Craig

 craig-breslow-baseball-headshotBreslow is currently in his ninth year in the Major Leagues and has become one of the top left-handed set-up relievers in baseball. He was a key member of the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Championship team, pitching in 10 post-season games and winning one in the AL Divisional Series. After a standout career at Yale where he was team captain, Breslow was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 26th round in 2002. He made his pro debut with the San Diego Padres in 2005. The Trumbull High graduate, who pitched the school to a Class LL state championship in 1998, also has pitched for Cleveland. Minnesota, Arizona and Oakland. He was second in the American League in appearances by a pitcher in both 2009 (77 games) and 2010 (75 games).
Jackie Robinson Professional

Chu, Julie

 On Monday June 24 USA Womens National Hockey team selection camp in Lake Placid NY, annonced 25 players as potential Olympians for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi Russia  photo by Nancie BattagliaChu’s 14-year hockey career as a member of the U.S. National team has been filled with major accomplishments and honors. The Fairfield native, who attended Rosemary Choate during her high school years, is a four-time Olympian and four-time world champion. She has been one of the leaders of the women’s hockey program and has won 3 silver medals and a bronze in the Olympics. She received one of the highest honors a U.S. athlete can receive when she was named by fellow Team USA members to lead the team as flag bearer for the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Games in Socchi. Chu won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2007 as the best female collegiate hockey player during an illustrious career at Harvard, where she finished as the NCAA’s all-time points scorer at the time.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Domond, Nadine

 nadineheadshotDomond was one of the state greatest girls basketball players, scoring 2,300 points in her four-year career at Central High, which is still 6th best all-time in Connecticut. She was a four-time all-state player and a Parade All American and one of the five players selected for the USA Today All-USA team in 1994. She led Central to a 27-0 undefeated season and a Class LL state title as a senior in 1994. Domond played for four years at the University of Iowa and as the starting point guard led the team in assists and steals as both a junior and senior (96-97, 97-98). She was the 19th pick of the 1998 WNBA draft as a second rounder for the New York Liberty. She was elected to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.  
James O’Rourke Amateur

Connolly, Mickey

 2014 HOFConnolly is touted by many as the greatest overall athlete to come out of Norwalk. He was a five-sport high school star, with football being his ultimate focus. He played football at Boston College for legendary coach Frank Leahy and was a key player as a sophomore in BC’s undefeated 1940 national championship football team and played in two bowl games. He also played hockey and baseball at BC and turned pro briefly in the All-America Football conference for the Brooklyn Dodgers before an injury curtailed his playing career. Connolly, who is a member of the Boston College Hall of Fame, then went on to become a successful high school and college football coach and administrator. He passed away in 2006. 
James O’Rourke Amateur

Chacurian, Efrain 'Chico'

 chicohead2Chacurian was a longtime college and amateur team soccer coach and a youth soccer leader throughout the state, as well as being a standout player. He coached at the collegiate level for 10 years at Southern Connecticut as an assistant and then worked for five years at Yale for both the men’s and women’s programs. After serving as a men’s assistant for six years (1983-88) at the University of Bridgeport, he became the head women’s coach at the start of that program for 5 years. Chico also managed the nationally-known Vasco da Gama amateur team in Bridgeport from 1974-80. Chacurian was a legendary player in Argentina before coming to the U.S. to become a U.S. National Team player (1953-54). He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame (1992), also CT Soccer HOF (1999).
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Laureno, John 'Sharkey'

 sharkeycropheadLaureno was a longtime baseball, basketball and football official for over 40 years, as well as a highly successful youth coach in Stamford. He was one of the founders of Stamford’s Babe Ruth league baseball and led his teams to seven World Series appearances, winning the first three Babe Ruth national titles from 1952-54. His teams won 45 straight games in New England Babe Ruth tourney. Laureno was inducted into the Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame (1975). He also coached the Stamford Boys and Girls Club to two state titles in his five years leading that program. Sharkey, who was also one of the founders of the Shoreline League, the premier softball league in the county, was elected to the CT ASA softball Hall of Fame in 2003. He passed away in 1987.  
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Roos, Marty

 martyroosphotoRoos retired in 2012 after 40 years of coaching with the most victories of any hockey coach in the state with 536. During his long coaching career he shaped two of the state’s elite programs in Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame of Fairfield. In 1971 he became the first coach at Prep, where he won 265 games and four state titles in 19 seasons. Roos spent 21 years at Notre Dame starting in 1991 and helped the Lancers move from Division II to a DI annual competitor, winning a state championship in 1999 and adding another in 2006. He won a Gold Key in 2011 and is a member of both the CT State HS Coaches (2009) and Notre Dame High HOFs. The CIAC state hockey tournament is named for Roos. 
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2012 Hall of Fame



Matthews, Wes

2012 HOFMatthews played nine seasons in the NBA, earning two championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and ’88. He was the first round draft pick of the Washington Bullets in 1980, the 14th selection overall. His rookie season produced a career-high 12.4 points per game and 5.2 assists, split between Washington and Atlanta. The speedy, 6-1 guard also played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, where he had a career-high 6.3 assists per game in 1985-86, before concluding his NBA career in 1988 with a 7.9 points per game average. The Harding High great also played professionally overseas for several years. Matthews was a standout at the University of Wisconsin, averaging 18 points per game in three seasons there. His son Wesley Jr. plays in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers. Matthews coached the Jersey G-Force in the International Basketball League last season.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Merz, Sue

2012 HOFMerz was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team for 13 years from 1990-2002. She was a defenseman on the U.S.’s gold-medal winning team in 1998 and also won a silver medal in the 2002 Olympics. In the ’98 event she scored a goal and five assists in helping the U.S. to its first and only Olympic gold. The Greenwich High graduate has six World Championships’ silver medals to go along with her Olympic awards. Along with her teammates, the 1998 team was voted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009. Merz played college hockey at the University of New Hampshire (1990-94) and also played overseas in Switzerland. She was a member of the Connecticut Polar Bears team that won the 1990 USA Hockey Girls’ Midget National Championship.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Finnegan, Ed

2012 HOFFinnegan is one of the most decorated and greatest softball players of not only the county, but our state and nation as well. His 50-year career continues as the 70-year-old is still active in playing around the country at the highest levels of competition in senior softball. Finnegan led Stratford High to the 1959 state baseball championship—playing for coach and fellow 2012 FC Hall of Famer Jim Penders Sr.—by turning in a herculean effort that saw him pitch four games and 39 innings in a week’s span. After a couple of major league tryouts and two years of a varsity baseball scholarship at the University of Bridgeport, he turned his efforts toward slow pitch softball and began one of the most illustrious careers in the sports’ history. In 1962, he started at shortstop with the Avco Lycoming team and went on to lead Avco to multiple national championships as well as earning five national MVP awards, the first in 1968, the last in 1990. Finnegan also played nationally with County Sports of Long Island and had a two-year stint (1978-79) in the American Professional Softball League. He continued past his 50th birthday to play with his current team the New York Statesmen, winning seven more national titles and five additional MVPs. He was elected to the Connecticut and National Softball HOFs in 1993 and the Senior Softball Hall of Fame in 2003.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Jensen, Harold

 2012 HOFJensen’s basketball career is sometimes defined by one game on the national stage, but it was much more than that. From 1981-83 he led Trumbull High to two FCIAC championships, was a two-time Class LL all-stater and became the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,375 points. He moved on to Villanova University and as a sophomore in 1985 played the “perfect game” in leading the Wildcats to an upset victory of Georgetown for the NCAA national title. As a key reserve, he scored 14 points in that game, shooting 5-for-5 from the floor and went 4-for-5 to help clinch the game at the free throw line, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. He was a two-year starter, all-Big East 2nd team selection as a senior and a two-time first team Academic All-American, concluding his career with 1,155 points. Drafted in the 6th round of the 1987 NBA draft by Cleveland, Jensen continues to live in Philadelphia and is a member of the Villanova Athletics and Big Five Hall of Fames.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Penders Sr., Jim

 2012 HOFPenders was a four-sport coach at Stratford High, but was best known for his highly successful baseball program that he led for 23 years. He retired in 1968 with 282 wins and four state titles, including his final season, and never had a losing record. He was also the longtime track coach at the school from 1932-45 and his team lost only two dual meets during that time. After retiring from coaching, Penders served as Stratford’s athletic director and then became a fixture in the town’s recreation department. He was one of the county’s top football officials for nearly 30 years and a premier basketball referee for over 25 years. Penders is a member of both the National High School Coaches Association and Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fames. His family coaching tree is one of the nation’s most remarkable. The patriarch joins his son Tom, one of college’s basketball’s all-time great coaches, in the FC Sports Hall of Fame. His son Jim, also a member of the National High School Coaches HOF, just retired after a legendary, 40-plus years’ baseball coaching career at East Catholic High School and his grandson Jim is the head baseball coach at the University of Connecticut. A complex of sports fields at Stratford’s Longbrook Park is named for Penders.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Strong, David

2012 HOFStrong coached six different sports at Masuk High, but his strong suit was girls’ basketball and no one in the state of Connecticut ever did it better. He retired last year after 35 years as head coach with a state record 704 victories and an .819 winning percentage. His teams made the state tournament every year since 1974, won three state titles, 19 league championships, had two undefeated seasons and a 93-game regular season win streak. As one of the deans of state girls basketball and with that kind of successful track record, he has been recognized for his accomplishments at all levels. He is enshrined in the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame (2000), New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2002), CT Women’s Basketball HOF (2004) and inducted to the National High School Coaches HOF in 2009. During his long tenure at Masuk, Strong also coached boys basketball, boys’ and girls’ tennis, softball and cross country.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2011 Hall of Fame



Bagley, John

John BagleyBagley played 11 seasons in the NBA, the first five with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who made him their first draft pick and the 12th overall in 1982. When the 6-foot point guard was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 1987, he left as the Cavs’ all-time and single season assist leader, as well as averaging a team record 9.4 assists in 1985-86. The Harding High great played two seasons with the Nets, averaging a career-high 12.0 points per game in his first year, and then spent three years with the Boston Celtics before ending his career in Atlanta in 1993. He sat out the entire ’90-91 season due to injury, and averaged 8.7 points and 6 assists for his NBA career. A member of the Boston College Hall of Fame, Bagley played three years for the Eagles, twice averaging more than 20 points per game. As a sophomore in 1981, he led BC to the Big East regular season title and the NCAA Sweet 16, earning Big East Player of the Year honors. Bagley, inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004, helped the Eagles reach the NCAA Elite Eight in his junior campaign. 

Jackie Robinson Professional

Salvatore, Bennett

 Bennett SalvatoreHeading into his 30th year as an NBA referee, Salvatore is one of the premier officials in pro basketball. He has worked 25 NBA Finals games, 228 playoff games and over 1,650 regular season games. The Stamford Catholic graduate began his NBA officiating career in 1981, after spending two years working in the CBA and 10 years of high school basketball. Salvatore has two All-Star game credits (1993 & 2002) on his resume, and worked international tournaments for the NBA in Germany (’93), Mexico (’97) and China (’04). A three-sport scholastic athlete, Salvatore was an all-state quarterback in 1967. He is the son-in-law of the late NFL Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli, also a Stamford native. 
Jackie Robinson Professional

Robustelli, Andy

2011 HOFRobustelli was is NFL Hall of Famer (1971). He played 14 seasons in the NFL (5 with Los Angeles Rams and 9 with New York Giants), missing only one game. He was a six-time All-Pro Defensive End. In 1962 Robustelli was the NFL Most Outstanding Player. He played in eight NFL title games and seven Pro Bowls. 
Jackie Robinson Professional

*Selected 2005, Inducted 2011*

DeSantis, Joe

Joe DeSantisDeSantis was one of Fairfield University’s all-time great basketball players. A four-year letterman from 1975–79, he completed his collegiate career with 1,916 points, then the school’s all-time leading scorer and now currently second. He averaged 18.4 points per game for his career and his 667 assists are also second on the Stags’ career list. DeSantis tops the Stags’ record book for career free-throw percentage at .849. In the 1977-78 season, DeSantis led the Stags to one of their best seasons ever with a 22-5 record and an NIT appearance. He was drafted by the Washington Bullets in the second round of the 1979 NBA Draft before playing in Venice, Italy, for one season. The Bronx, N.Y. native completed his professional playing career in the Continental Basketball Association. In 2004, DeSantis was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. The Tolentine High graduate also had an accomplished coaching career with 26 years of Division I experience. He played a crucial role in elevating the Quinnipiac program from the Division II level to a respected Division I mid-major during his 11-year stint as head coach. The Trumbull resident kept close ties with his alma mater, gaining his first coaching experience as an assistant at Fairfield from 1981–88 and is now the radio color commentator for Stags basketball games. 

James O’Rourke Amateur

Hopp St. Geme, Ceci

Ceci HoppOne of the best female distance runners in U.S. history, Hopp St. Geme has been a top level competitor for more than 30 years. She made her name as a scholastic star at Greenwich High, winning the National Cross Country championship in 1980 and following up with a National title in the 3,000 meter run as a senior. She still owns four FCIAC outdoor records and two state milestones. Hopp St. Geme continued her success as a collegian at Stanford, by winning the NCAA 3,000 run as a freshman in 1982 with a time of 8:57, still an American Junior record. In 1992 & 1996 she qualified for the Olympic Trials in three events, while winning the USA Track & Field national championship in the 5,000 meters event in 1994. Hopp St. Geme, who graced the cover of Runner’s World magazine seven times, remains one of the top female Masters runners and is active in 5K runs. She has been the assistant cross country and track coach for the past nine years at Corona del Mar High in Newport Beach, CA. 

James O’Rourke Amateur

Bentley, Charlie

Charlie Bentley 210For 33 years, Bentley has been the head coach of one of the country’s top high school basketball programs at Harding High, where he coached 2011 FCSC Hall of Famer John Bagley. During his tenure the Presidents have made 14 state title game appearances, winning nine championships, including five straight from 1983-87. He also has won 16 conference crowns, 11 in the MBIAC and 5 FCIAC. His total of 645 victories is second all-time in the state. Bentley’s accomplishments have been recognized numerous times in his illustrious career, including being named to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2003), awarded a Gold Key by the state sports writers’ alliance (‘07) and election to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association HOF (‘09). He also was the longtime cross country coach at Harding. 
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Loeffler, Albie

Albie Loeffler 210Loeffler was the legendary soccer coach at Staples High, but his impact on soccer there and across the country was more than just as a mere coach. Loeffler came to Staples in 1952 and originally coached basketball (12 years), baseball (11 years) and track because the Westport school did not have a soccer team. He founded the program in 1958 and shaped it over his 20 years as head coach into one of the nation’s finest. When he retired in 1978, he had amassed a then national high school record 314 wins and was twice named National Soccer Coach of the Year. Staples won 13 FCIAC titles, including five in a row, and seven state championships with five of those coming consecutively from 1969-73. The respect he commanded in the Staples soccer community, which knew him as Mr. Loeffler, not Albie, was also felt nationally as Loeffler was one of the pioneers of soccer officiating at both the scholastic and collegiate levels for 13 years. He worked five NCAA Division I finals, including the first one, and was part of the referee duo of the first two-man system in college soccer. Loeffler, who passed away at the age of 93 in September 2009, also was involved in writing the national soccer officials handbook. He is a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame as a referee and was one of the inaugural 13 members of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2010 Hall of Fame



Cobb, Gary

HOF_2010_Garry_Cobb_headshot_76 X 103By Bob Greeney

The Cobb surname is one that is synonymous with athletic excellence in Stamford.

Several Cobbs have excelled on the playing fields or basketball courts throughout the 1970s and ’80s in Stamford, and Garry Cobb was at the top of the list as a three-sport standout.Cobb excelled in football, baseball and basketball at Stamford High, where he graduated from in 1975. It was the sport of football where Cobb made his professional mark, spending 11 years in the NFL, after an outstanding collegiate career as a linebacker at the University of Southern California.

As a Stamford High football player he was selected to the All-Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Western Division team as a junior in 1973 and as a senior in ’74.

As a basketball player, Cobb and his cousin, Ernie, who went on to star at Boston College, were the leaders of successful Stamford High teams for coach Herm Alswanger. Garry and Ernie were two of the six selections for the 1974-75 All-FCIAC team.

And in the sport of baseball, sure enough, Cobb was a star in that, too. In the summer of 1974 he helped Stamford win state and regional championships to advance to the Senior Babe Ruth World Series in Mattoon, Ill. Cobb completed his standout athletic career at Stamford High by being selected to the 1975 All-FCIAC baseball squad. 

Scouts were impressed enough with Cobb’s baseball ability that, even after he concentrated on football at USC, he was still offered contracts by the California Angels and the Chicago Cubs shortly after he graduated from USC in 1979. 

While at USC, the Trojans won the Rose Bowl twice and earned a split of the national championship (with Alabama) among the two polls in the 1978 season when Cobb made the All-Pac 10 team. Cobb had 10 interceptions and 23 ½ sacks during his career at USC. 

Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 9th round of the 1979 draft, Cobb was released by the Cowboys and signed with the Detroit Lions, spending his first six NFL years in the Motor City. He played with the Lions until 1984 and was the team’s captain for three of those years. He was then traded to Philadelphia and played a vital role for head coach Buddy Ryan as a linebacker in Ryan’s successful ’46’ defense. Cobb was the Sports Illustrated Defensive Player of the Week after a superb performance against Atlanta when he had four sacks, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.

After his three years in Philadelphia from 1985-87, Cobb went to Dallas and racked up a career high 7½ sacks in 1988. He played his 11th and final NFL season for the Cowboys in ’89. 

Cobb moved back to Philadelphia and has made a successful professional transition as a popular sportscaster and public speaker.

He currently hosts his own show on WIP, the all-sports radio station in Philadelphia, and is the principal operator of the Eagles’ news and rumor website

Cobb was honored by President Bush in 2002 for his work mentoring troubled youth. He continues to reach out to the urban youth in the Philadelphia area by speaking at youth recreation centers, youth detention centers, churches and other venues.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Hirschbeck, John

HOF_2010_John_Hirschbeck_headshot_79 X 103By Bob Ehalt 
New Haven Register 

Usually it’s John Hirschbeck who makes the right call, yet the voters who selected this year’s inductees into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame made a highly astute judgment of their own.

Hirschbeck, a Major League Baseball umpire for 26 seasons, was chosen as one of two new entrants into the Jackie Robinson Professional Wing of the Hall of FameBorn in Bridgeport and raised in Stratford, Hirschbeck’s induction will mark another distinguished chapter in a long and celebrated career on baseball diamonds from New York to Seattle.

A graduate of Bunnell High School in Stratford, Hirschbeck has emerged as one of MLB’s more prominent umpires. He has been chosen to work in the postseason 14 times, including twice in Baseball’s Fall Classic, the World Series (in 1995 and 2006).

Currently a crew chief, he has also worked in the All-Star Game twice (1989 and 2004) and the respect he has earned among his peers was reflected in his election as the first president of the World Umpires Association in 2000. Hirschbeck has also witnessed some of Baseball’s most unforgettable moments as he was the home plate umpire when Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th career home run to surpass Hank Aaron.

Hirschbeck also made history himself in 1988 when his brother, Mark, was hired as a MLB umpire and the two Fairfield County natives became the first set of brothers to umpire in the major leagues.

Like most veteran umpires, controversy has also played a role in Hirschbeck’s career.

In 1996, Toronto’s Roberto Alomar spit in Hirschbeck’s face after the Blue Jays second baseman was ejected from a game. Amid a national uproar, Alomar was suspended for five games for his actions and ordered to donate $50,000 for medical research on adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a disease which claimed the life of Hirschbeck’s 8-year-old son, John Drew Hirschbeck, in 1993.
In later years, Hirschbeck and Alomar resolved their differences and Alomar donated another $252,000 for ALD research.

While Hirschbeck’s MLB umpiring career started in 1984, his roots as an umpire date back to his youth in Fairfield County when he worked as a Little League umpire while he was attending high school.

He would later umpire in the Florida State League (1976-77), Eastern League (1978), Instructional League (1977-78), Puerto Rico Winter League (1979-80) and International League (1982) before he was called up to the big leagues.

The rest is history, which can now be recounted in the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.

Good call, voters.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Clinkscales, Alvin

HOF_2010_Alvin_Clinkscales_headshot_95 X 103By Gary Rogo 
Connecticut Post 

In his series of stories in 2007 profiling Bridgeport’s finest athletes through the decades, Connecticut Post columnist Chris Elsberry chose Alvin Clinkscales as the best from the 1950s. It was a wise and completely understandable selection.

Clinkscales grew up playing pick-up basketball games at the Middle Street Boys Club in Bridgeport. He didn’t play organized basketball until veteran Central High coach Ed Reilly stopped him in the hallway one day and told him he was on the varsity.

“Ed Reilly told me I’d better come out, so I did and I got better and better as I went up the ladder,” Clinkscales told Elsberry. “But I wasn’t that interested in playing at the time.”

Success came quickly, for both Clinkscales and his teams.

As a senior at Central, Clinkscales was named to the all-state team. Central lost to New Britain in the state finals that year. But a week later in the Boston Garden, the Hilltoppers defeated Somerville, Mass., to win the New England Championship. He spent three seasons playing for Arnold College against such top teams as Seton Hall and St. John’s. When Arnold College was taken over by the University of Bridgeport in 1954, Clinkscales played for UB as a senior and earned Little All-America honors as the Purple Knights won the NAIA New England title. He scored 1,388 career points.

He was drafted in 1954 by the NBA’s New York Knicks and received an offer to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

It was Clinkscales’ mother, Mary, who decided things.

“My mother said to me, ‘I know what the Globetrotters are, I don’t know what this Knick business is, so you’re going to play for the Globetrotters,’” Clinkscales told Elsberry. “In those days, you did what your mother said, so I played for the Globetrotters.”

He played as part of the No. 2 squad that toured Canada, Mexico and the Southwestern United States. In 1954-55, the Globetrotters went 171-0. In 1955-56, they went 162-0. Clinkscales was going to play a third season with the Globetrotters but he was drafted into the U.S. Army. For the next two years, Clinkscales was stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., and played basketball for the Fort Dix Burros, a team that went 30-0 and 31-1 en route to winning back-to-back All-Army tournaments.
After his discharge in 1958, Clinkscales played basketball with the semi-pro Milford Chiefs against a number of barnstorming teams and a number of great players, including Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

The Globetrotters called Clinkscales and offered him another spot on the team, but by now, he was getting tired of basketball. Clinkscale, who earned his degree at UB, wanted to do other things, with teaching and coaching at the top of the list.

On Aug. 5, 1958, Clinkscales took that first step by becoming the first black coach in the state when he accepted the job of boys’ basketball coach at Notre Dame of Bridgeport. He coached from 1958-68, posting a record of 118-41. His teams won or shared four MBIAC titles and made nine CIAC appearances. The crowning moment came in 1964 when Notre Dame went undefeated (23-0) and reached the state finals against Hillhouse, losing 57-51.

Clinkscales, who now lives in Trumbull, took a job on the administrative staff at Notre Dame in 1968 before moving across Park Avenue to work in the Financial Aid Department at Sacred Heart University. Today, he is a special assistant to the Dean of Financial Assistance. 
James O’Rourke Amateur

Pape, Amanda

HOF_2010_Amanda_Pape_headshot_85 X 103By Bob Greeney 

It is uncanny, these coincidences involving Amanda Pape.

Amanda Pape plays on basketball teams in high school and college, she scores points in abundance, her teams win several championships, and Pape gets chosen to numerous all-conference teams.

Now another trend continues. Pape is inducted into another Hall of Fame. Pape is now a member of the Fairfield County Sports Commission Hall of Fame, six months after she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. 

Pape is one of the greatest players of all time for both her high school and college teams in Fairfield County.

Excelling from the outset at Trinity Catholic High in Stamford, where she played from 1999-2003, Pape made the All-FCIAC team as a freshman and eventually was so honored for the next three years. She was also All-State all four years. Pape is still the city of Stamford’s all-time leading scorer, including all male and female players, with 2,429 points.

Pape led Trinity Catholic to its first FCIAC championship in 2002. Trinity Catholic also won the state Class S championship that year.

A year later, Pape ended her high school career as a champion. Pape had 25 points and 11 rebounds in the final game of her career as the Crusaders defended their Class S state title with a 58-36 victory over East Granby. Trinity Catholic had a combined 50-5 record during Pape’s final two seasons, including a 26-2 record during her junior year.

Pape was chosen as the Gatorade Female Player of the Year in Connecticut and was nominated to the McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Team in 2003. She was an Honor Roll student during all four years at Trinity Catholic and a recipient of a Presidential Scholar Award.

When it was time to start her college career, Pape elected to remain in Fairfield County at Sacred Heart University. There, yet again, the points, the wins, the all-conference honors and team championships continued.Sacred Heart had the best four-year period in school history during Pape’s four years from 2003-07. The Pioneers posted a 87-34 record and won the Northeast Conference regular-season championship during her last two years.

Again, similar to Trinity Catholic, Pape had success from the outset. She was named the NEC Rookie of the Year after she averaged 15.1 points and 6.4 rebounds as a freshman.

During her junior year, Pape averaged 17.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, was named the NEC Conference Player of the Year, and was the MVP of the conference tourney. She led the Pioneers to their first NEC championship and the school’s initial trip to the NCAA Tournament.

As a senior, Pape was the NEC scoring champion as she averaged 19.4 points and 7.3 rebounds, and became just the third player in conference history to surpass the 2,000-point milestone in career scoring.

Pape was selected to the All-NEC first team and to the Northeast Conference Academic Honor Roll in each of her final three seasons.

Pape averaged 16.9 points and 7 rebounds during her career and established school career records in points (2,045), steals (362), field goals (219), free throws (587) and scoring average. She set single-season records in points (602), field goals (219), free throws (173) and steals (107).

Soon after she graduated, the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance named Pape the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year at the 66th Gold Key Dinner in 2007.

Tonight she writes another chapter of her illustrious basketball career by being inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame. 
James O’Rourke Amateur

Lione Jr., Mickey

HOF_2010_Mickey_Lione_headshot_71 X 103By Tom Chiappetta 
Fairfield County Sports Commission 

While Mickey Lione, Jr. was with us for much too short a time, passing away at age 59 in February 1999, his final shining hour on the field of play left a lasting memory of the legacy he has left behind. What Lione stood for was not letting any obstacle in life keep you from reaching your intended goal. And in sports, that lesson and many times the ultimate result—winning—was how Mickey left this earth with his final athletic stand.

Lione, who was head baseball and hockey coach and an assistant football coach at Trinity Catholic High for over 30 years, coached his last game on March 14, 1998. His Crusaders hockey team was in the Division I state championship game against New Canaan High, coached by one of his closest Stamford friends Bo Hickey. In three earlier meetings, the Rams had embarrassed Trinity, which was outscored 17-1, including a 9-1 drubbing in the FCIAC title game two weeks prior. It was just the setting Lione thrived on — his big underdog troops against the heavily favored enemy.

Obviously, Lione’s team, not knowing what would befell their leader less than a year later, made his final on-ice battle his most memorable as the Crusaders pulled off a 3-1 victory to give their beloved coach his 731st and final victory. It was the sixth state championship team he led, four in baseball and two in hockey.

And to add to the Lione legacy, while he was in ill health in early 1999, many of those same hockey players dedicated the season to him. And, as you would have thought, the Crusaders stood tall and won the FCIAC championship to undoubtedly put another smile on the face of their coach who was keeping a watchful eye from above.

Going out on top should have been no surprise as Lione, from his youth baseball days on through his longtime coaching career, was surrounded by success.

Lione was a standout baseball player as a youngster, playing with the Stamford Little League team which won the World Series in 1951. He then played with the 1953 and ’54 Stamford teams which won the Little Bigger League and Babe Ruth League World Series.

Learning from legendary Stamford coaches like his father, Mickey Sr., and Sharkey Laureno, Lione turned to coaching and became a true man for all seasons – baseball, hockey and football seasons.

In addition to the six state crowns as a head coach, Lione contributed to three state football championship teams as an assistant coach at Trinity and New Canaan High. He also won two FCIAC baseball titles and three more in hockey.

For those accomplishments he was recognized with numerous coaching honors. He was a two-time recipient of the Connecticut Coach of the Year Award and was also awarded the prestigious New York Metropolitan Area Frank McGuire Award.

Lione also was a highly-successful youth baseball coach, leading Stamford’s Senior Babe Ruth League All-Star teams to a pair of world championships in 1968 and 1971.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Montelli, Vito

HOF_2010_Vito_Montelli_headshot_84 X 103By Chris Elsberry 
Connecticut Post 

He was going to coach baseball. That was the plan. 

Vito Montelli had just been hired at St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull in the spring of 1962, but the school didn’t have a baseball field. So, Montelli decided that he’d coach basketball instead. After all, he’d previously coached the University of Bridgeport freshman team, along with the Sacred Heart grammar school basketball team.

He knew the game. He played the game. He loved the game.

Forty nine years later, Montelli still loves the game.

Since that first season back in ‘62 until now, Montelli, 78, has been coaching basketball at St. Joseph’s. There have been 830 career wins, nine CIAC state titles — three coming with his son Tommy starting at point guard — along with six runner-up finishes. Over 30 of his players have gone on to play Division I basketball. 

“You think back … you never know what the hell’s in store for you,” Montelli said. “Do I think about the fact that I’ve been coaching for 48 years (he will begin his 49th season with the Cadets this coming winter and also spent 39 years as athletic director)? No. I still love what I do. I love the kids. People always ask, `When are you going to get out?’ It’s not my call. When it’s time, I’ll be told.”

“I’ve been fortunate for many years, having a lot of very good players. I would have to say that the three state championships that my son Tommy started on (1986, ’87, ’88) were the most important to me. That was the biggest thrill for me.

“It all started back in Berlin, Connecticut when Montelli first learned the game of basketball playing at the local CYO. A priest saw him play, asked if he was going to college and when Montelli said no, the priest took him to Bridgeport, where he took a test for entrance into Arnold College. He passed.

Montelli played basketball at Arnold for three seasons. “I was never very good at it,” he said. But for a couple of those years, he played for head coach Tuffy Maroon. 

“Great mind in basketball. I sat next to him a lot and I watched and learned,” Montelli said.

In Montelli’s senior year, 1954, Arnold merged with the University of Bridgeport. The UB athletic director at the time, Dr. Herb Glines, asked Montelli if he’d like to coach the freshman team. 

“I said, ‘I’d love to coach the freshmen.’ So that’s what I did,” Montelli said.

In addition to coaching at UB, Montelli also coached basketball and baseball at Sacred Heart grammar school before going to Notre Dame of Bridgeport High School in 1957.

He coached basketball at Notre Dame in ‘57 and baseball from 1958-1962. One of the teachers there, Monsignor Bartholomew Laurello, had become good friends with Montelli.

“He said to me, ‘I’ve been promised a high school and I want to take you with me.’ He finally took St. Joseph. When I went to St. Joe’s … they didn’t have any fields so I couldn’t run a baseball program the way I wanted to, so I coached basketball. That’s how I got into it.”

830 wins and nine state titles, Montelli is still going strong.

Montelli won a Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance in 1998, was elected into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 and the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2009 Hall of Fame



Rizzotti, Jennifer

HOF_2009_Jen_Rizzotti_headshot_125 X 153 By Bob Moseley 

Perhaps the greatest women’s basketball player Fairfield County has ever produced, Jennifer Rizzotti is also synonymous with basketball in Connecticut. She’s spent most of her athletic career in the state as a star at New Fairfield High School and the University of Connecticut, and head coach at the University of Hartford. 

Rizzotti’s remarkable career began at New Fairfield High, where she helped lead the Rebels to two state championships. As a senior in 1992, she was selected the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Connecticut.

From there it was on to the University of Connecticut, where she helped women’s basketball blossom into a national powerhouse. The Huskies won their first national title in 1995, rallying from a nine-point second-half deficit in the championship game against Tennessee. Rizzotti’s key layup with under two minutes to go sparked the 70-64 victory and capped a 35-0 season.

During the run to the national championship in 1995, Rizzotti was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The dream season ignited an explosion of interest in women’s college basketball throughout Connecticut.

UConn followed with a 34-4 season in 1995-96 and Rizzotti took home a slew of accolades. The point guard was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year and the Wade Trophy winner as college basketball’s outstanding senior player. Not only that, she was also named Big East Player of the Year and Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

During her collegiate career, Rizzotti set UConn records in assists (637) and steals (349).

After graduation, Rizzotti joined the women’s pro basketball circuit, which was just getting off the ground. She played three seasons with the New England Blizzard of the American Basketball League and five seasons in the WNBA—two with the Houston Comets, winning league titles both years, and three with the Cleveland Rockers. In the ABL she was a two-time all-star. She retired from playing in 2003.

In 1999, she was appointed head coach at the University of Hartford. At the time, she was the youngest Division I women’s basketball coach in the country. Rizzotti continues to make her mark today as a coach, building the Hawks into an America East power with four conference tournament titles, three regular-season championships, and four trips to the NCAA Tournament.  She’s the winningest coach in the school’s history with a 192-116 mark over 10 years and has been named conference coach of the year three times. Before going 20-12 last season, Hartford ran off three straight seasons with 25 wins or more.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Smith, Charles

HOF_2009_Charles_Smith_headshot_125 X 170By Chris Elsberry 
Connecticut Post

When the Orcutt Boys Club in Bridgeport finally shut its doors for the night, Charles Smith still wanted to play basketball. So he and his friends, eight or nine strong, would walk over to the outdoor courts at Father Panik Village, where, in the shadows of the lights that surrounded the courts, drug dealers did their business.

But when they saw Smith coming, the drug dealers vanished. Most of them, anyway. Maybe it was his size (he stood 6-foot-10) or maybe it was his stature as a rising high school star. Whatever it was, they left Smith alone.

Smith grew up on Dover Street, over by the General Electric plant, playing at the Orcutt Boys Club. In high school, he led Harding to three straight MBIAC titles and CIAC state championships in his junior and senior seasons.

He played four years at the University of Pittsburgh, leading the Panthers to the Big East title as a senior in 1988. In 1986, he led the United States to the gold medal in the FIBA World Championships, and in 1988, he won a bronze medal with the U.S. in the Summer Olympics.

Smith was the third pick in the 1988 NBA draft by Philadelphia before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. He spent nine seasons in the NBA, playing for the Clippers, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs.

His Harding jersey, No. 15, is retired.

His Pitt jersey, No. 32, is retired.
He is one of Bridgeport’s finest. And now he is a member of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.

“I love Bridgeport and I will always be from Bridgeport and I will never be ashamed of being from Bridgeport,” the 44-year-old Smith said. “That’s where it all started for me.”

In his final three seasons at Harding, the Presidents won three MBIAC titles. In Smith’s junior year, Harding went undefeated and won the Class LL title. The next year, the Presidents lost just once en route to a second straight state crown. He scored a reported 1,400 points, was named both a Parade Magazine and a McDonald’s All-American.

At Pitt, Smith finished with 2,045 points, 987 rebounds and 346 blocks, earning NABC second-team All-America honors in 1987-88. He was named Big East Player of the Year in 1988. The Panthers went 81-41 in his four years, playing in three NCAA tournaments and one NIT.

Smith spent four seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Knicks in 1992. He played three seasons and part of a fourth in New York – helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in 1994 – before being traded to San Antonio midway through the 1995-96 season. After battling constant knee troubles and playing in just 19 games in 1996-97, Smith retired. In his career, he played 564 games and averaged 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Currently, Smith is the executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, helping players make the transition into the real world.

In 1992, Smith created the Charles D. Smith Educational Foundation in Bridgeport, an after-school facility for kids from first to ninth grades. Today, his foundation continues providing educational programs to empower children to reach their potential and achieve their dreams.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Demmerle, Pete

HOF_2009_Pete_Demmerle_125 X 162 By Rich DePreta 
Stamford Advocate 

ne of the best compliments a wide receiver can earn is the nickname Hands.

It implies he is trustworthy and can be counted on to stand tall in the clutch.

Both in football and in life, that described the late Pete Demmerle.

The man who amazed people at New Canaan High School from 1968-1970 and went on to a distinguished career at fabled Notre Dame University (1972-1974) has been rewarded with his induction into the James O’Rourke Amateur Wing of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.

Playing in an era long before the advent of the shotgun snap and the five-wide out spread formation, the 6-foot-1 Demmerle combined with quarterback Kurt Horton to make all of New Canaan coach Bob Lynch’s radical ideas about high school football offense come true.

Demmerle, a two-time All-State and All-FCIAC selection, helped propel the Rams to state championships and FCIAC titles in 1968 & 1969. The streaks ended with Stamford High’s victory over the Rams in the FCIAC final in 1970, when as a senior Demmerle was named the state’s most outstanding player.

Demmerle’s New Canaan High career numbers are staggering, even upon review 40 years later. He had 165 receptions in three seasons (freshmen were ineligible back then) good for 28 touchdowns and 2,550 yards. As a senior, Demmerle caught 102 passes for 1,419 yards and 15 touchdowns including an 18-reception, 316-yard performance against Rippowam.

All those numbers remain New Canaan school football records, and his marks of 102 receptions in a season and 18 catches in a game are still state records today.

After his stellar scholastic career, Demmerle earned a scholarship to play for the Fighting Irish in front of Touchdown Jesus in South Bend, Indiana.

Demmerle was a favorite target of Notre Dame quarterback Tom Clements from 1972-1974. Under coach Ara Parseghian, the Irish were 29-5 those three seasons. The Irish fell to Nebraska in the 1972 Orange Bowl, but rallied to edge Alabama, 24-23 in the 1973 Sugar Bowl to cap an unbeaten campaign and win the 1973 National Championship.

In 1974, Demmerle had a team-high 43 receptions for 667 yards and six touchdowns. His final year was capped by a 13-11 victory over Alabama in the 1974 Orange Bowl. It was the final game Parseghian coached at Notre Dame and Demmerle suffered a right knee injury in the contest.

Demmerle was drafted in the 13th round by the San Diego Chargers and was cut. He went to the New York Giants training camp, but was the last receiver released. Giants owner Wellington Mara was so impressed with Demmerle he directed the academic All-American to Fordham Law School.

After passing the bar exam in 1979, Demmerle joined the international law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & McRae in New York City.

In 1999, Demmerle was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative illness Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The then-Greenwich resident became a tireless advocate for ALS. Demmerle was at the forefront of the 2002 Wings over Wall Street benefit that raised $1.9 million for ALS research.

Demmerle, along with his wife and fellow lawyer Kate as well as daughters Cara, Alice, Tessa and Nina, all fought the good fight until the ALS won out on May 24, 2007 at age 53.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Siderowf, Dick

HOF_2009_Dick_Siderowf_headshot_125 X 171By Rob Sullivan 
 Westport Minuteman 

Arguably, Westport’s Dick Siderowf could be considered the greatest amateur golfer in Connecticut golf history. Actually the case can be made that his reputation as a supreme amateur has spread across the United States and around the world.

And why not?

Siderowf’s list of tournament victories reads like a chronicle of golfing greatness with two British Amateur wins, two Northeast Amateur wins, a New England Amateur win, a Canadian Amateur win and a trio of Connecticut Open championships.

A native of New Britain, Siderowf burst on the Nutmeg State’s golf scene with a victory in the 1955 Connecticut Amateur at Wampanoag Country Club. It was the first of five victories Siderowf would record in the event, where he also prevailed in 1960, 1965, 1984 and 1985. He had preceded that first amateur win with a victory as a 16-year old in the 1954 Connecticut Junior championship at Watertown Country Club.

Siderowf then attended Duke University where he lettered for the Blue Devils golf team from 1957 to 1959. He captained the 1959 squad, which won the ACC championship. During that time, the Westport resident became the youngest winner in Connecticut Open history at age 20 when he won at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield in 1958.

After his college career, Siderowf briefly flirted with the idea of turning professional, but opted for a career in finance instead.

 In a 1976 profile in Sports Illustrated he said, “Kids today win their club championship, turn pro, get a sponsor and try the tour. Then they get to be 28, and they find out that playing the tour isn’t such an easy deal after all. Probably the most difficult time for an amateur golfer is when he gets out of college and has to decide if he’s going to play golf or go to work or combine both. It’s a bitter time for a young guy. If you can get your business going and then get back into golf, it’s not bad.”

After making his decision to become a businessman, Siderowf got down to the business of dominating the world of amateur golf for the next four decades. He won a total of 22 tournaments including four Metropolitan Amateurs and a Metropolitan Senior Amateur in 1996.The Westporter also played on four winning Walker Cup teams (1969, 1973, 1975 and 1977) and captaining a fifth winning team in 1979. He has also played in eight Masters Tournaments and four U.S. Opens and was the low amateur at the 1968 Open at Oak Hills in Rochester, N.Y.

Siderowf is certainly a student of the game. In an article in Travel and Leisure written by New Canaan’s Mike Lupica, the writer related a story told to him by famed author Dan Jenkins. One year Siderowf was playing a practice round on the Masters in front of the great Ben Hogan and every time he’d finish his hole he would wait and watch how Hogan played it. Learn from the best.

For his legendary accomplishments, Dick Siderowf was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and the Duke University Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Tonight he comes full circle when he is inducted into the James O’Rourke Amateur Wing of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Benanto, Joe

HOF_2009_Joe_Benanto_headshot_125 X 161 By Bob Ehalt 
New Haven Register 

There is one operative word that best describes the skills set that earned Joe Benanto a lasting place in the Fairfield County Sports of Hall of Fame.

It’s simply, coach.

Not basketball coach, nor football coach, nor even baseball coach.

Just coach.

For as much as Benanto excelled in guiding young men, what made his career so remarkable was his ability to embrace different sports and succeed in each of them. He wasn’t just a man who understood baseball, basketball and football. He was, in the truest sense of the word, a coach, one who could teach one sport to his players as masterfully as he could two or three others.

“I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish in more than one sport,” Benanto said. “Regardless of the sport, I never looked at it as doing something different. It was always coaching and learning new sports seemed to come easily to me.”

So did winning.

It was both the scope and quality of Benanto’s career at Shelton High School and Yale University that made him a natural fit for induction in the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame’s J. Walter Kennedy Wing for outstanding community service.

In a career that spanned five decades, Benanto built successful programs at both the college and high school levels.He started as a baseball coach at Shelton High School in 1964 and in the course of the next 15 seasons guided the Gaels to four state titles, including three in a row from 1972-74, and more than 200 wins. 

Looking back, Benanto recalls that very first championship season, 1972, as the moment he’ll always treasure most.

“That year in the semifinals we played a Naugatuck team that had won 64 straight games to set a state record. We beat them and then we went on to win the state title,” said Benanto, who works as a social studies teacher at Shelton High School. “It was my first state title and that’s always a special memory.”

During much of that time, Benanto also served as Shelton’s boys’ basketball coach, posting a record of 106-66 from 1972 through 1979.It was his keen understanding of baseball that brought him to the college ranks, where he was the head coach of the Yale baseball team from 1979-2001.The winning tradition associated with Benanto in baseball and basketball also carried over to the gridiron. As head coach of the Shelton High football team from 1994 until he retired in 2003, he led the Gaels to three state championships (1995, 2000 and 2003). Among his players on those teams was quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who propelled the University of Connecticut to victory in the 2004 Motor City Bowl and now plays for the National Football League’s Houston Texans.All told, it added up to a lifetime record of 694-424, with a perfect 7-0 mark in state championship games – and a spot alongside Fairfield County’s most famous sports figures in the Hall of Fame.“I feel very honored to have been selected,” said Benanto, a graduate of Derby High School and the University of Bridgeport who has been married to his wife, Lucille, for 49 years. “To be mentioned in the same breath as all of the great people who have been inducted in the Hall of Fame is something I just can’t describe.”Fortunately, others have a much easier time describing the reasons why Benanto was selected. He was a great coach. That says it all. 
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Lowe, Terry

HOF_2009_Terry_Lowe_headshot_125 X 170 By David Fierro 
 Greenwich Time 

ll sports dynasties have an origin and the unrivaled dominance Greenwich High School has enjoyed in the pool began with Terry Lowe’s arrival for the 1967 swim season.

Fresh out of graduate school, Lowe joined Greenwich High’s faculty as a math teacher and boys’ swimming coach.

Forty one years, more than 1,200 victories and almost 50 championships later, Lowe and Greenwich’s boys swimming and water polo teams are as powerful as ever.

The Cardinals’ swimming and water polo squads ruled the pool again last year, adding more championship hardware to the program’s collection. The swim team won the FCIAC title for the 39th time in 40 years, captured its 17th straight CIAC Class LL championship and claimed the State Open crown, the 28th in Lowe’s reign. Greenwich’s water polo team had a banner year also, winning the Eastern Interscholastic Championships for the sixth consecutive season.

After receiving his graduate degree from Wesleyan University in 1966, Lowe, who got his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, decided that Greenwich High would enable him to fulfill his love of mathematics and aquatics.

Lowe took a two-year hiatus from his teaching and coaching career at Greenwich High after being drafted by the Army. Classified as a mathematician statistician during basic training, he worked at the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Following a two-year stint in the army, Lowe resumed his position at Greenwich High in 1970 and soon after, the team began its success run.

The Cardinals won the first of their 37 consecutive FCIAC titles under Lowe in 1970 and also captured the Class LL championship that year. Since that time, GHS has claimed the LL title an eye-opening 38 times in 40 years. Greenwich’s boys swimming program has compiled an astounding record of 476-39 during Lowe’s 41-year tenure.

“The achievement he has brought to so many young athletes is remarkable,” said Field Garthwaite, a 2004 Greenwich High graduate, who swam and played water polo for Lowe. “It’s almost magical when someone is so successful for so long.”

Greenwich has produced 18 undefeated swimming seasons and numerous All-American competitors since Lowe began pacing the pool deck. While the boys swimming team began thriving in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. Lowe began the water polo team in 1974.The Cardinals’ water polo squad has become one of the premier teams in the region under Lowe’s guidance, compiling a record of 721-149-8 (an .820 winning percentage) to go along with six straight Eastern Interscholastic titles and 14 championships overall.  

Like the swimming program, the water polo team at GHS under Lowe has produced a wealth of collegiate athletes. The legendary coach was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame and FCIAC Hall of Fame. One of his highest honors came in 1983 when he was named the National Swim Coach of the Year.

Besides coaching boys swimming and water polo at Greenwich High, Lowe has developed young swimmers at Rocky Point Club the past 31 years. He’s busy each summer coaching 8-and-under, 10-and-under, 12-and-under, 14-and-under and 17-and-under teams at the club. Lowe also co-founded Greenwich Water Polo, the largest boys and girls travel water polo program in the northeast.

“I am the youngest of seven and he has coached the entire family at Rocky Point,” said Jimmy Ramaley, who graduated from GHS in the spring where he swam and played water polo. “I started swimming for him at five and I learned everything from him about swimming and water polo.”
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2008 Hall of Fame



Drury, Chris

HOF_2008_Chris_Drury_125 X 175Chris Drury becomes the first hockey player to be inducted into the county Hall of Fame. His outstanding athletic achievements started as a youngster when he led Trumbull to the Little League World Series title in 1989. He then was named college hockey’s most outstanding player in winning the Hobey Baker Award after a stellar career at Boston University. He is heading into his 10th season in the NHL, currently with the New York Rangers. Drury won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 1999 with the Colorado Avalanche, and then won a Stanley Cup two years later with the Avs. The Fairfield Prep graduate also played for Team USA in the Olympics in 2002 & 2006. Drury has 218 career goals and his reputation as a clutch post-season performer is born out by his 46 playoff goals, including 16 game-winners.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Teufel, Tim

HOF_2008_Tim_Teufel_headshot_125 X 175 Tim Teufel, a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Greenwich, played 11 seasons in the major leagues. His defining pro career highlight was as a member of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets. Teufel, who played six years with the Mets, platooned with Wally Backman at second base and batted .444 with a home run in the memorable 7-game series against the Boston Red Sox. He began his major league career in 1983 with the Minnesota Twins, who selected him as the 38th overall pick in the 1980 amateur entry draft after an All-American collegiate career at Clemson. Teufel concluded his 11 years in the big leagues with a .254 lifetime average with the San Diego Padres in 1993.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Liberatore, Gary

HOF_2008_Gary_Liberatore_headshot_125 X 175Gary Liberatore’s basketball scoring prowess is still legendary throughout New England. The lefty-sharp shooter, who played at the University of New Haven, still holds the NE scoring record for all college divisions with 3,176 points. He had a career-high 55 points versus NY Tech in 1966. Liberatore was also a center fielder on the UNH baseball squad, playing for FCSHOF inductee Frank “Porky” Vieira. From 1959-62, Liberatore was a four-sport letterman at New Canaan High playing baseball, basketball, football and running cross country. He is a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, UNH and New Canaan Hall of Fames.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Saccone, Lou

HOF_2008_Lou_Saccone_headshot_125 X 175 Lou Saccone is called by many area sports observers the “greatest overall athlete” to come out of Bridgeport. In the mid 1940’s he earned a school record 14 letters in four sports at Central High (football, basketball, baseball, track). At Central, there were some days when Saccone would run track in his baseball uniform as the two sports were scheduled on the same day. At the University of Bridgeport he was the school’s only 5-sport letter winner (also playing golf at UB). Saccone also coached baseball at UB, was the freshman basketball coach at Fairfield University (1957-65) and was head football coach at Notre Dame High for nine seasons, winning the state title in 1964. He was elected to the Notre Dame High Hall of Fame in 1985.
James O’Rourke Amateur

King, Ralph

HOF_2008_Ralph_King_headshot_125 X 175 Ralph King won over 700 games in coaching basketball and soccer at Brien McMahon in Norwalk. He started the soccer program at McMahon in 1961 and retired in 1994 with nine FCIAC titles and two state championships. He was the boys’ basketball coach at the Norwalk school from 1964-87 where he had 23 consecutive winning seasons and a total of 396 victories. McMahon captured 5 FCIAC crowns and a pair of state championships under King, who was also the athletic director at McMahon for 27 years. King is a member of the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame (1989), the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame (2006) and is an active administrator for the FCIAC. 
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Penders, Tom

HOF_2008_Tom_Penders_headshot_125 X 175 Tom Penders is one of just 28 Division I coaches to reach the 600-victory plateau. In 34 years as a college coach, Penders, who is entering his fifth year as head coach at the University of Houston, has 608 wins. Penders has made a name for himself in reviving college programs including Columbia, Fordham, Rhode Island and the University of Texas, where he won 208 games in 10 seasons and led the Longhorns to eight NCAA tourney appearances. The Stratford High alum started his basketball coaching career as a high school coach in Bridgeport for three years, and landed his first college job at Tufts in 1971. He was elected to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Penders also played minor league baseball for one season, was a 5-time national champion fast pitch softball player with the Raybestos Cardinals and is the only player to captain both the UConn baseball and basketball teams in the same season.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2007 Hall of Fame



Gminski, Mike

HOF_2007_Mike_Gminski_headshot_97 X 134Before there was the all-state career at Masuk High School, before there was the All-America career at Duke, before there was the 14-year NBA career, there was the National Punt, Pass and Kick contest.

Mike Gminski first came into our sports consciousness as an 11-year-old, when he easily won his age division in the NFL-sponsored event in 1971 at the Pro Bowl in Los Angeles. Unlike a lot of kids his age, Mike was not allowed to hone his football skills in Pop Warner. At 168 pounds — he was 6-foot — he exceeded the maximum weight by 50 pounds.

“I didn’t think the ruling was unfair,” Mike told the Bridgeport Post for a Jan. 31, 1971, story. “They’re a lot of small kids and if I hit them I’d put them all in the hospital.”

From Punt, Pass and Kick to the basketball court, the Monroe native has always excelled. At Masuk High in Monroe, Gminski won the state scoring championship his junior season, averaging 40.7 points while leading the Panthers to their third consecutive Western Connecticut Conference title.

There would be no senior season for Gminski. He had announced before his junior year that he would skip his senior year of high school to attend Duke University.

In his four seasons at Duke, Gminski continued his run of excellence. He led the team in scoring during his junior and senior years. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year (tied) in 1977. He was first-team All-ACC three years (1978, 1979, and 1980) and ACC Player of the Year in 1979. He also was named an AP second-team All-America in 1979 and 1980, and an UPI first-team All-America in 1979 and second-team All-America in 1980.

Gminski helped lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA national championship game in 1978, where they lost to Kentucky. He also was a three-time first-team Academic All-America.  He averaged a double-double for his Duke career (19 points, 10.1 rebounds) and finished with 2,323 points (fourth in school history), 1,242 rebounds (second) and 345 blocked shots (second). The school retired his No. 43 jersey.

The NBA New Jersey Nets drafted Gminski in the first round. He played for the Nets from 1981 to 1988. He went on to play with the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He reached the playoffs eight times and finished his 14-year career with 10,953 points and 6,490 rebounds in 938 games. Remarkably for his size, he converted more than 84 percent of his free-throw attempts.

Gminski, 48, now lives in Charlotte, N.C. and works as a college basketball TV analyst.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Nagy, Charles

HOF_2007_Charles_Nagy_headshot_136 X 153Whenever Fairfield’s Charles Nagy stepped on the pitcher’s mound for the Cleveland Indians, the 6’3 intense right hander brought three tremendous attributes to the table: consistency, composure and durability. Those traits were critical to Nagy as he became one of the top pitchers in baseball throughout the 1990’s.

That command and composure was established long before the Fairfield native ever donned a professional baseball uniform. Charlie developed those traits on the sandlots of his home town and the playing fields at Roger Ludlowe High School.

A three-sport star at the scholastic level, Nagy played baseball, basketball and football at Ludlowe, attracting nationwide attention for his obvious athletic skills.

Nagy opted to stay in his home state and attended the University of Connecticut. He then quickly showed that he could produce at the Division I level. Charlie was a two-time All-Big East Pitcher of the Year while at UConn, a two-time All-New England selection and posted a collegiate record of 10-7 with five saves and a 2.59 ERA. in 29 games, 19 starts. In those two seasons, the righty also struck out 194 batters. Charlie was also a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea where he led Team USA with a 1.05 ERA.

Drafted 17th overall in the first round of the June 1988 amateur draft by the Indians, he did not have to wait long before joining the big club. Possessing a 90-plus MPH fastball, along with a superb curve and change up, Charlie made his big league debut on June 29, 1990 against the California Angels.

The following season, Charlie won 10 games for a woeful Indians team that finished in last place in the A.L. East and won only 57 games overall. But he had demonstrated the ability that would take him to the pinnacle of success.

From 1994-99, Nagy won 90 games for the Indians, leading the team to two World Series and a host of playoff appearances. He was a three-time American League All-Star, and started in the 1996 game.

In 1999, the Connecticut native showed he had not forgotten his Nutmeg State roots. Charlie and his wife Jackie established an endowed baseball scholarship at UConn with a gift of $100,000.

When Nagy left the Indians after the 2002 season, there was little question that he had established himself as one of the team’s greatest pitchers. He finished his career ranked fifth in club history in strikeouts (1,235), sixth in starts (297) ands 10th in games won (129). Charlie has also been named one of the Top 100 Greatest Indians.

After a brief stint with the San Diego Padres in 2003, Charlie began his post-baseball career as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations with the Cleveland Indians. He left that position for his current post as pitching coach for the Salt Lake Bees, the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

Earlier this year, Fairfield’s own Charlie Nagy was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. At the time he told “It was a joy to be here and come to the park every day and watch Albert Belle hit home runs and Omar Vizquel turn double plays.”

Tonight it comes full circle for Charlie Nagy, when he returns to his roots and becomes one of the newest members of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Courville Sr., Jerry

HOF_2007_Jerry_Courville_Senior_headshot_131 X 151Jerry Courville Sr. left this earth in 1996 at the all-too young age of 62, a victim of cancer. But in his short time here, the Norwalk native established himself as one of the greatest amateur golfers to come out of not only Fairfield County, but the region. In fact, Courville won just about every amateur golf title in the East during his legendary career on the links.

He won his first tournament in 1952 as a junior at Norwalk High School, capturing the County Conference championship at Wee Burn, the same course he would win his first State Amateur crown 16 years later.

By that time, the name Jerry Courville was synonymous with golfing excellence. In 1961, he won the first of his record six New York Ike Tournament championships. He’s also the only golfer to win both the New York Met Amateur and Open titles.

Courville added the Connecticut Open title to his resume in 1965, the aforementioned State Amateur in 1968, and the New England Amateur in 1970. He also played in seven U.S. Amateur Championships, reaching the quarterfinals in 1974, and competed in the National Open Championships in 1967. Other major titles included the Westchester Tournament of Champions four times, the Glen Falls (NY) Invitational twice, and the Richardson Memorial, Torgerson Memorial, Quimet Memorial, and North East Amateur.

But in 1975, Courville came face to face with his most difficult opponent. He was diagnosed with cancer and a successful operation which left him with no nerves or muscles in his left shoulder jeopardized his golf career.

Forced to change his entire game, a determined Courville bounced back and resumed being a dominant force on the golf course, winning several more over the next decade. Courville also continued to rule the Shorehaven Golf Club in Norwalk, where he won his 26th club championship in 1993 to set a new national record.

Courville thought he had realized a lifelong dream in 1974 when he advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Championships, qualifying him for The Masters in 1974. That was the same year, however, the rule was changed and quarterfinalists no longer went to Augusta.

But in 1996, more than two decades later and the cancer in his spinal cord worsening, Courville finally made it to Augusta to watch his son, Jerry Jr., who won the U.S. Amateur in ’95, play at The Masters. Jerry Sr. called it “the highlight of my golfing career.”

He would pass away seven months later, leaving behind a legacy as not only a champion on the golf course, but a true gentleman on and off it.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Lopiano, Donna

HOF_2007_Donna_Lopiano_headshot_121 X 147For Donna Lopiano, the defining moment in her life came when she was 11 years old. It was 1957 and she had been chosen to be a pitcher on a Little League team in her hometown of Stamford. The euphoric joy of hearing that news, though, turned into a painful and bitter memory when she was later told that girls could not play Little League baseball.

“To this day, that still bothers me,” Lopiano said recently. “I loved baseball. I cannot believe they would want to stop a girl from playing.”

While Lopiano was denied a chance to play alongside boys in her youth, her dedicated work in subsequent years has helped ensure that female athletes across the country are no longer faced with the same barriers as she was.

A champion of equal rights for women in sports, Lopiano’s array of awards and accomplishments on a national level now includes her induction tonight into the James O’Rourke Amateur Wing of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.

“It is a great feeling to be honored in the place where it all started for you,” Lopiano said.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation for 15 years (1992-2007) and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women at the University of Texas from 1975-1992, Lopiano was at the forefront of implementing Title IX regulations that have completely changed the scope of women’s athletics.

“Donna has been a driving force and a tireless supporter of gender equity as she led the Women’s Sports Foundation through some of its most formative years,” said former tennis star and Women’s Sports Foundation founder Billie Jean King after Lopiano resigned as the group’s CEO in August.

When Lopiano arrived at Texas, she was given control of an athletic department that had a meager budget of $57,000. She quickly built Texas into one of the premier women’s programs in the nation as the Longhorns won 12 national titles in five sports during her tenure at Austin.

Prior to becoming an administrator, Lopiano enjoyed an outstanding career as an athlete and coach.

A member of Stamford High School’s Class of 1964, Lopiano played softball, basketball, volleyball and field hockey for the Black Knights on teams that bore little resemblance to their 2007 editions.

“When I played at Stamford High School there were no state playoffs for girls’ teams,” Lopiano said. “We just played four or five games a season, and that was it.”

While baseball was her love, Lopiano channeled her passion for the sport into softball. At 16, she joined the Stratford-based Raybestos Brakettes and began a brilliant 10-year career that would culminate with her induction into the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. She was a nine-time All-American and won six national championships with the Brakettes. The leading hitter in the 1972 Women’s Fast Pitch National Tournament, she was also an overpowering pitcher who registered a record of 183-18 with 1,633 strikeouts in 817 innings.

Lopiano graduated with a bachelors degree from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and went on to earn a Ph. D at USC. She also coached basketball, volleyball and softball at Brooklyn College before moving on to the University of Texas in 1975.

The rest is part of a women’s sports history that has been detailed in places like the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Now, the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame can be added to that list.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Koules, Nick

HOF_2007_Nick_Koules_headshot_127 X 145Nick Koules is a fixture on the Fairfield County sports scene, known by thousands in the area. When you’ve been an umpire and referee for more than 65 years, you get to know a lot of people.

Koules, who played basketball, baseball and softball as a youngster, dropped out of Stamford High School to help support his family. He went to work at Yale and Towne at age 17 and in 1943 joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Benham 796, a destroyer ship.

“I’m very proud that I was in the service,” Koules said. “I am proud that I served my country to the best of my ability.”

When he returned to Stamford in 1945, Koules began to umpire softball games. At age 90, he continues to officiate and even heart surgery in 2004 hasn’t slowed him down.

He talks of the “old days” when he would umpire 10 softball games a day. “Me and Sharkey (Laureno) would do that every Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

When Little League baseball started in Stamford in 1950, Koules signed up as the first umpire. Today, he’s working games of those players’ grandchildren.

As an umpire, Koules worked games at every level and was selected to umpire in the 1972 Senior Babe Ruth League World Series.

He umpired softball from rec league through the top levels of fast pitch, and was selected to work numerous Women’s Fast Pitch World Series games held in Stratford.

As a basketball referee, he worked at every level from youth league to rec league to high school where he officiated numerous state tournament championship games.

In his spare time, Koules officiated soccer from the high school to college levels.

“When I first started playing sports I was a troublemaker,” Koules said. “I always jumped on the umpires. I decided when I became an ump, I was not going to take that junk. I always said I could do a better job than the umps I had as a player. And I was right.”

One of Koules’ better-known habits is to hustle young players on and off the field between innings. “When you play baseball with me, you can’t loaf. I want to make ballplayers out of them,” Koules said.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Webster, Bruce

HOF_2007_Bruce_Webster_headshot_134 X 141For 34 years, Bruce Webster was University of Bridgeport basketball.

From 1965 until his retirement in 1999, Webster was the coach that took the program to new and unexplored heights, becoming one of the dominant Division II programs in New England. At times, coaching the Purple Knights was a dream come true. At times, it was a nightmare. Twice, in the early 1990’s, the university tried to eliminate the athletic programs and each time, the school rallied around the basketball program and Webster. He stayed positive, despite all the negatives. He stayed true to his school. And he just kept on winning.

In those 34 seasons, Webster won 549 games. He took Bridgeport to back-to-back NCAA Division II championship games in 1990-91 and 1991-1992. Five times, UB went to the Elite Eight. Three times, they reached the Final Four. Webster led the Purple Knights to 20-win seasons 10 different times and the postseason 15 times. Overall, he stands 17th all-time on the Division II wins list. In 1976, 1979 and 1992, Webster was named the Northeast District Coach of the Year, one of only two coaches to win the award three times. In 1992, he was cited as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Coach of the Year and he also won a silver medal as an assistant to Mike Jarvis at the 1991 United States Olympic Festival.

In 2003, he was named to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and in February of 2005, Webster was honored by his university as they named the basketball floor at the Hub the Bruce Webster Court.

“Those were great times,” Webster said of his days at UB after he was honored with a Gold Key by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance in 2006. “The trips to Springfield (Mass., site of the Division II championships), the three years back-to-back we made the Elite Eight … and the kids were great.”

Those 549 wins rank Webster as the second winningest coach in New England history, behind UConn’s Jim Calhoun. He stands 17th all-time in Division II wins. His career winning percentage of .575 would be a heck of a lot better if the Purple Knights hadn’t gone 5-50 in his last two seasons due to the financial instability of the university and the gloom surrounding the athletic programs.

But throughout the difficult times, Webster always has been a fighter, and not just on the basketball court. In 2002, he had his left knee replaced and six months after that, like his friend Calhoun, underwent successful prostate cancer surgery. In 2004, Webster had his right knee replaced and in recent times, he has battled bells palsy.

“Bruce’s name is synonymous with Division II basketball, no doubt,” UB athletic director Jay Moran said. “It’s time that Coach Webster got the recognition he deserves. He’s one of the most recognized figures in the history of Fairfield County sports. It’s great for Bruce and it’s great for the university. With everything that he’s done, he deserves this.”
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2006 Hall of Fame



Valentine, Bobby

HOF_2006_Bobby_Valentine_headshot_120 X 147Stamford’s Bobby Valentine is considered by many as the greatest Connecticut high school athlete ever. He was a three- sport standout at Rippowam High School where he earned All-State honors in football, baseball and track.

Valentine, who as a freshman returned a kickoff for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball, scored 53 touchdowns during his Rippowam career and became the first and only player to be named to the All-State team three times. Rip went undefeated and won the state championship in his sophomore season. In the winter months, he ran track and set a state record in winning the 60-yard dash in the state championship meet. 

For the Rippowam baseball team, Valentine was also a four-year starter at shortstop and in the outfield, had a career .402 average and was a four-time All-FCIAC selection. Following his junior season, Valentine became the youngest player in Cape Cod Baseball League history. 

Valentine, who had more than 250 offers to play college football, signed with the University of Southern California. But, after being a 1968 first-round draft selection (fifth overall), he signed with the LA Dodgers. He was twice league MVP, at Ogden and then Triple A Spokane (where he batted .340 and led the league in seven other categories), before joining the Dodgers in 1971. He played two years with LA before being traded to the California Angels.

In 1973, he was hitting over .300 for the Angels when his spikes got caught in the center field fence chasing a fly ball and he fractured the tibia and fibula in his right leg. He went on to play with the San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners, but lingering effects from the injury, which required more surgery, forced him to retire in 1980.

He served as third base coach for the Mets for two seasons before managing the Texas Rangers from 1985-1992. He then managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese League in 1995. He later coached with the Cincinnati Reds and then managed the Mets’ Triple A franchise.

In 1996, Valentine was named manager of the New York Mets. He led the team to the World Series in 2000 and had an overall 536- 467 through 2002. His career managerial record is 1117-1072. After working for ESPN, Valentine returned to manage the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2004 and in 2005 directed the team to its first Japan Series championship in 31 years.

Valentine, who has operated Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe in downtown Stamford since 1980, is very involved in charitable efforts both in Stamford and Japan. He has worked tirelessly for numerous causes such as the Western Connecticut Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Mickey Lione Jr. Fund, the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation and Heroes Edutainment.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Vaughn, Mo

HOF_2006_Mo_Vaughn_headshot_118 X 140Longtime baseball fans in Norwalk still talk about the titanic home runs that a 12-year-old named Maurice Vaughn used to his off the wall at Honeyhill School back in the late 1970s when he was playing in the Cranbury League.

Little did anyone know at that time – or maybe some did – that they were looking at a future Major League all-star and American League MVP.

Vaughn went on to star in the Babe Ruth and American Legion programs in Norwalk, while playing high school ball at Trinity- Pawling, a private school in New York. It was there where baseball people really began to take notice of his outstanding talent.

Among them was Seton Hall University, where Vaughn – who became known in college as ‘Mo’ – would go on to be a three-time All-American for the Pirates and was named the Big East Conference Baseball Player of The Decade in 1989.

It was also in 1989 the Boston Red Sox drafted Vaughn in the first round as the 23rd player selected overall. On June 27, 1991, a 23-year-old Vaughn would make his major league debut against the Yankees.

Just two years later, Vaughn would put together the best offensive season by a left-handed hitter in Boston in nearly 15 years, belting 29 home runs and driving in 101 runs while batting .297.

Then in 1995, Vaughn hit 39 home runs, knocked in 126 runs, scored another 98, and hit an even .300 as he captured the American League Most Valuable Player award.

He had an even better season in 1996 when he hit .326 with 44 HRs and 143 RBIs, both career highs. He also made the AL all-star team for the second year in a row, and would make it again in 1998 when he batted a career- high 337 with 40 home runs and 115 RBIs.

That would also be Vaughn’s final season in Boston. After eight years he signed with the Anaheim Angels as a free agent in 1999. He would pend two seasons on the West Coast, before returning East in a trade that sent him to the New York Mets, where he played for fellow Fairfield County Hall of Fame recipient Bobby Valentine in 2002.

Vaughn’s 2003 season was cut short after only 27 games by a knee injury that eventually forced him to retire from baseball after 12 big league seasons.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Joyce, Joan

HOF_2006_Joan_Joyce_headshot_120 X 142Joan Joyce is one of the greatest female athletes of all time. Her athletic accomplishments are legendary as she was an outstanding performer in softball, basketball, golf, volleyball and bowling. And today she continues to build on her storied career as a highly-successful college coach.

Joyce is widely recognized as the greatest softball player of all time. Her 17 seasons with the world-famous Raybestos Brakettes produced some of the most memorable moments in both her career and the organization’s history. During her stint with the team, Joan won 429 games, while losing just 27. She struck out 5,677 batters, threw 105 no-hitters, and had 33 perfect games. Her career ERA was just 0.21, and she showed her amazing versatility with a .327 career batting average. She led the team in batting six times, while hurling the Brakettes to 11 national championships.

Individual honors include being an 18-time first-team All-American and the National Championship MVP eight times. She is also among the few to beat the Brakettes in a national tournament, pitching the arch-rival Orange County Lionettes past the locals in 1965, while attending college in California. Joan and the Brakettes enjoyed their finest moment together in 1974, when they represented the US in the ISF World Championships in Stratford. Playing before 14,000 fans in the championship game, Joyce helped the Brakettes defeat Japan to win their first of three World titles.

Joyce left the Brakettes in 1976 to help start the first ever women’s pro softball league. Joyce and the Connecticut Falcons captured all four of the league’s titles before it folded in 1979. She was inducted into the ASA National Hall of Fame (1983) and the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame (1999).

Beyond softball, Joyce went on to enjoy a 19-year career on the LPGA tour, and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fewest number of putts in a pro round (17), for both men and women. Joan also was a three-time AAU basketball All-American, setting a national tournament record with 67 points in a single game in 1964. She also played on the 1965 US Women’s basketball team.

Joan continued her multi-sport career as a player-coach in the United States Volleyball Association for four years, and became a CT state champion in bowling, just three months after picking up the sport.

Currently, Joyce is the head softball coach at Florida Atlantic University. Since her arrival in 1994, she has led the Owls to nine Atlantic Sun conference titles, seven NCAA berths, and has picked up five Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year awards. She has also been the women’s golf coach at the school since 1996.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Luckett, Walter

HOF_2006_Walter_Luckett_headshot_120 X 146For basketball fans in the early 1970s, Walter Luckett defined greatness.

It was a greatness that most easily can be traced to the raw numbers: the 2,691 points scored during a brilliant four- year career at Kolbe High School in Bridgeport, a record for Connecticut and New England. But the 6-foot-5 guard could just as well dominate a game with his other skills, as a gifted passer, rebounder and ballhandler. A story and photo spread in the April 2, 1972 issue of the Bridgeport Sunday Post celebrated Luckett’s achievements. One of the story’s themes was Luckett’s unselfishness.

 “There were times in the past that I had to call time-out and tell him to shoot,” Kolbe coach Lenny Lee is quoted as saying, “because he was always feeding the ball off to the open man.”

Legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith, after watching Luckett play, said, “If he shot all the time, he could score 50 points a game.”

More than 200 colleges wanted this three-time all-state selection and first-team All-American. Luckett ultimately chose Ohio University. He was so highly thought of nationally, Sports Illustrated put him on its cover in 1972, before he had even played a game in college. He went on to score 1,651 points at Ohio and was drafted in the second round in 1975, No. 27 overall, by the NBA’s Detroit Pistons after his junior season. But a bad knee derailed his career path to pro success and he walked away from basketball.

“It was difficult,” Luckett told Chris Elsberry of the Connecticut Post for a April 29, 2002 column. “Saying goodbye to the game was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I moved forward from it.”

Moving forward meant an undergraduate degree from the University of Bridgeport, a master’s degree from the University of New Haven and a successful career in business.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Barry, Ray

 HOF_2006_Ray_Barry_headshot_115 X 139The name Ray Barry has been synonymous with Norwalk High School where he led the Bears to 19 FCIAC championships and four state titles in two sports.

But the coach with nearly 900 career victories actually began his Hall of Fame career a few miles away at Central Catholic High School. It was there in 1973 that a 30 year old Barry took over as head coach of the basketball team.

He promptly led the Cavaliers back to the state tournament after a one-year hiatus. He would lead CCHS to postseason play all four seasons he was head coach, including 1975 when the Cavs went 18-5 and reached the Class S semifinals.

After the 1976 season and a four-year record of 52-34, Barry got the call from Norwalk High School asking him to rebuild a once proud program that went 0-20 the previous season.

Barry accepted the challenge and led the Bears to an 11-8 mark his first season and a return to the state tournament. By his third season, the Bears went 22-5, the first of seven straight 20-win seasons. The following year, Norwalk won the first of eight FCIAC crowns under Barry. In 1981-82, the Bears lost in the FCIAC finals, but bounced back to win six straight games and capture the Class LL state championship.

Barry stepped down after the 1986-87 season, but returned in 1994 and by his second year led the Bears to another FCIAC title. In 1995-96, NHS went 28-0 and won its second state title under Barry. He would retire for good following the 1997-98 campaign with a 397-121 record, including 345-87 at Norwalk High.

When Barry arrived at NHS, he also took over as girls softball coach and rebuilt that program into a perennial powerhouse as well. In just his second season, the Bears went 20-3 and won the first of their record 11 FCIAC championships. By his fourth season, Barry led Norwalk to a perfect 28-0 record and the Class LL state title. Barry and the Bears would win another state crown in 1991 when they went 25-1.

After winning his 11th FCIAC title in 2003, Barry stepped down as softball coach with a record of 466-142 in 27 seasons. He also went 34-12 and won an FCIAC West Division title in two seasons as the Norwalk girls basketball coach in between his two stints as boys basketball coach.

Add it all up and Ray Barry compiled a brilliant record of 897- 275 for a remarkable winning percentage of .765.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Viera, Frank (aka Porky)

HOF_2006_Frank_Vieira_headshot_122 X 145How did he get the nickname Porky? Well, that’s a story in itself.

He was, in his own words, a pest. Not a bad kid, just …you know, a pest. A kid that could, and would, get under your skin. And back in mid-1940’s, getting under someone’s skin didn’t take much. Florindo ‘Frank’ Vieira was that pest.

There was a woman, who each time she saw Vieira, she would yell, “You little Portagee.” Portagee quickly became Porky.

It has been his nickname for the past 65 years.

If you lived in Bridgeport in the late 1940’s or early to mid-1950’s, then you knew Porky Vieira. The kid could shoot a basketball. One night at the Waterbury YMCA, Vieira scored 78 points. Another night at the old Bridgeport Armory, he scored 89. He outscored a young Wilt Chamberlain in an all-star game in the Catskills in 1955, 38 points to 33. He scored 55 against Goose Tatum’s all-star team. He scored 28, just in the first half, against Hot Rod Hundley and the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958. He could score against anyone. Anywhere. Any time. Any place.

“Sports was the great equalizer. Sports helped me survive,” Vieira said. “If you were good, you played. It didn’t make any difference what color you were, what nationality. That’s why sports have been so great to me, no one cared.”

But for the last 44 years, it was baseball, not basketball, that shaped Vieira’s life, as the head coach for the University of New Haven. Vieira posted an all-time record of 1,127-324-6. He took the Chargers to 25 NCAA tournaments, including 17 NCAA and NAIA World Series, posted 81 NCAA wins and two NCAA World Series runner-up finishes.

“Forty five years, it feels like 45 months,” Vieira, 72, said. “It’s time to go. My time is done.”

Vieira played his high school basketball at Bridgeport Central and his college basketball at Quinnipiac. In his four seasons with Quinnipiac (1953-57), Vieira scored 2,649 points. He still holds the school’s single-game record for points with 68, set against Brook- lyn Poly, on Feb. 3, 1957 and is the only player to have his jersey (44) retired. Vieira was also a longtime baseball umpire and basketball official. 
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

2005 Hall of Fame



Boros, Julius

HOF_2005_Julius_Boros_headshot_126 X 156 Watching Julius Boros play golf, one got the feeling he could hit it down the middle while reclining in a rocking chair. Perhaps no one in the history of the game had such a free and easy swing that could translate into the success enjoyed by this Fairfield native of Hungarian descent. 

The fourth of six children, Boros learned the game as a caddie at the old Greenfield Hill Country Club in Fairfield, but he did most of his playing at the Fairchild Wheeler municipal course and, on occasion, Brooklawn Country Club.

Basically self-taught, he competed in state and national events as an amateur, finishing second in the 1948 Connecticut Open. He turned pro the following year and by the early 1950s was one of the standouts of the fledgling PGA Tour. Over the course of a career that spanned four decades, he won 15 Tour events and three major championships:the 1952 and 1963 United States Opens and the 1968 PGA Championship. In the PGA, he fended off Arnold Palmer and Bob Charles to win by a stroke and become at age 48 the oldest winner of a major.

Even in his 50s, Boros continued to play at a highly competitive level. At age 53, he led the 1973 U.S. Open with nine holes to play before fading and finishing fourth.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all was his role in the formation of the Senior PGA Tour (now the Champions Tour). It happened in 1979 thanks to the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a made-for-television event that featured two-man teams of older players in best-ball matches. It was the second year of the show and Boros, teamed with Argentina’s Roberto DeVicenzo, forced a sudden-death playoff in the finals against Tommy Bolt and Art Wall with birdies on the last two holes. From then on, it was riveting theater as the teams combined for a par and four birdies before Boros and DeVicenzo won the match – which had been extended into prime time – with a birdie. The next year, the Senior Tour was born.

His awards and achievements speak for themselves:leading money winner and PGA Player of the Year in 1952 and 1963; member of four Ryder Cup teams (1959,1963, 1965 and 1967); Senior PGA champion in 1971; and election to three golf Halls of Fame (Connecticut, 1961; PGA, 1974; World, 1982).

Although he died in 1994, Boros’ legacy lives on in the form of the Julius Boros Challenge Cup, a series of matches pitting Connecticut amateurs against state professionals each May. Boros himself donated the Challenge Cup out of love for Connecticut golf.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Lilly, Kristine

HOF_2005_Kristine_Lilly_headshot_127 X 156When Kristine Lilly played soccer at Wilton High School, parents used to bring their young daughters to watch her games. Even then, before the college national championships, the Olympic gold medals and the World Cup titles, there was a sense of something special about Lilly.

The parents picked a good role model. After helping Wilton win three state championships and three conference titles, the small midfielder with the magical dribbling skills, the thunderous left foot and the never-ending work ethic was just getting started.

She went to North Carolina and teamed with Mia Hamm to win four straight NCAA Division I championships, earning a Hermann Award as the country’s top collegiate player. She was also part of the nucleus that led the U.S. Women’s National Team to the inaugural World Cup championship in 1991 and the first soccer gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Another World Cup and Olympic title came later, as Lilly established a record for most international appearances by a player — male or female. Although many of her teammates from that 1991 World Cup-winning team have retired, Lilly is still going strong. Soccer is what she loves, and she still loves it.

When she eventually decides to stop playing, Lilly will leave behind a legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats. She will be remembered as a player who could score goals, create them and prevent them.

She will also be remembered for her humility and community involvement. Each summer, Lilly returns to Wilton and coaches at her annual camp. It is her way of staying connected to the town she grew up in. The place where she was once a role model as a teenager and now a bigger one as an adult. 
Jackie Robinson Professional

Murphy, Calvin

HOF_2005_Calvin_Murphy_headshot_124 X 153Even after being away for 35 years, Calvin Murphy still calls Norwalk ‘Home.’ 

Which makes tonight’s induction into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame all the more meaningful for the 57-year-old basketball great who put Norwalk and Fairfield County on the map. The legend of Calvin Murphy really began to take shape at Norwalk High School, where he started all three years there from 1964-66 and scored a then-state record 2,192 points. People around here still talk about his senior year, the 1965-66 season, when he led all of New England with a 40.3 scoring average, another state record. He led Norwalk to a 23-1 record that season, ringing up 30 or more points in 22 of the 24 games, over 40 points 10 times and over 50 five times, including an FCIAC record 62 points in a 126-53 win over Roger Ludlowe. His next-highest game came in the state final when he scored 59 points to lead NHS over South Catholic in the final game of his brilliant scholastic career.

From Norwalk High, Murphy went onto play at Niagara University, where he was an All-American three straight sea- sons and as a sophomore scored a school-record 68 points against Syracuse, the third-highest single game in NCAA history. He would score 2,548 points and average 33.1 (fourth highest in NCAA history at the time) for his career. And that’s not counting the 48.9 he averaged on the freshmen team (freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity back then). Even at 5-foot-9, Murphy caught the attention of several NBA teams, and the San Diego Rockets selected him in the second round with the 18th overall pick. Of course, there were those who said Murphy would never make it in the NBA because of his size, many of them the same skeptics who predicted he would never make it in college.

But Murphy proved them all wrong. He not only made the Rockets,but played in all 82 games that 1970-71 season, averaging 15.8 points,and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.

It would be the first of 13 seasons in the NBA,all with the same franchise,which moved to Houston his second season.

Perhaps more importantly, however, as the NBA’s first little man, Calvin Murphy paved the way for future generations of “small players.”

He still holds numerous team records with the Rockets, including 17,949 career points, as well as career field goals, free throws, assists, steals and games played. On March 18, 1978, 12 years to the day of his 59-point game for Norwalk in the state finals, Murphy scored a career-high 57 points against the New Jersey Nets. That was the same season he would average a career-high 25.6 points, and the following season he was selected to play in the 1979 NBA All-Star Game for the Western Division.

Then in the 1980-81 season, the same season he helped lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals, Murphy set two NBA records with 78 consecutive free throws made, and the highest free throw percentage in a season, .958, which still stands. In fact, Murphy would lead the league in free throw percentage twice while finishing second eight times. What’s more, his career percentage of .892 is second best in NBA history. Murphy retired following the 1983 season with a career average of 17.9 points, and the following season he became the first Rocket to have his jersey – No. 23 – retired. But the ultimate honor came 10 years later on May 10, 1993 when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield,Mass.

Tonight, Calvin Murphy will be inducted into another Hall of Fame, this one closer to home.

“Even though I’ve been away for 35 years now, my heart is still in Norwalk,” Murphy said. “I started there and when the Lord calls me home, I’ll still be from there.” 
Jackie Robinson Professional

Young, Steve

HOF_2005_Steve_Young_headshot_123 X 166 Before Steve Young started winning Super Bowls and MVP awards with the San Francisco 49ers, he was running through defenses all over Fairfield County as a Greenwich Cardinal. Young played for Greenwich and coach Mike Ornato from 1978-79. 

After Greenwich, it was off to BYU for the great-great-great- grandson of Brigham Young. Young was eighth on the depth chart as a freshman and watched as starter Jim McMahon set 73 NCAA passing records. Young was named the starter his junior year and would lead the Cougars to back-to-back appearances in the Holiday Bowl, defeating Missouri 21-17 his senior year. Young finished as the runner-up to Mike Rozier in the 1983 Heisman trophy balloting.

After BYU, Young would join the Los Angeles Express of the fledgling USFL, signing a then-record $40 million, 43-year contract. When the USFL folded, Young was chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL’s supplemental draft. Following two uneventful seasons with Tampa, Young was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 1987. Young would sit behind future Hall of Famer Joe Montana for four seasons, watching from the sidelines as the 49ers won two more Super Bowls.

Finally in 1991,Young became the 49ers’ starting quarterback. Young would rewrite the record books during his time under center. He threw for a still-record six TDs in Super Bowl XXIX, leading the 49ers to a 49-26 win over the Chargers on his way to MVP honors. Young was a two-time league MVP (1992, 1994) and was named to the All-Pro team three times. He was named to seven Pro Bowls over the course of his career and at the time of his retirement in 1999, he held seven NFL passing records, including the highest career (96.8) and single season (112.8) passer ratings.

On Aug. 7,Young officially became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2005.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Hamill, Dorothy

HOF_2005_Dorothy_Hamill_headshot_123 X 180 Few athletes of any generation have endeared themselves with the American public as deeply as did a fresh-faced teenage girl from Riverside, Conn., named Dorothy Hamill.

The then 19-year-old Hamill earned a permanent spot in American sports lore by capturing the 1976 gold medal in women’s figure skating at the Innsbruck Olympics with such a charismatic flair that to this day she remains one of the nation’s most beloved athletes. Hamill, in notching a perfect score of 6.0 for artistic presentation at the Winter Games, captivated millions of fans around the world with her grace and brilliance on the ice – and infectious charm off it.

A three-time national champion (1974-76) and 1976 world champion, Hamill’s nationally televised triumphs earned her the title of “America’s Sweetheart”as her bobbed wedge haircut became as famous as her trademark “Hamill Camel” spin.

Hamill started on her path to glory when she learned to skate as an 8-year-old on the frozen Binney Park pond in Old Greenwich. Her career following the Olympics included skating as Ice Capades’ star performer for eight years and winning five straight World Professional championships (1983-87).

She was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991 and the World Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. Though currently a resident of Maryland, the 49-year-old Hamill is still fondly remembered in Greenwich, where the town’s skating rink is named in her honor. Now, with her inclusion among the inaugural class selected for the James O’Rourke Amateur Wing of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame, Connecticut gets one more chance to salute its unforgettable “Golden Girl.”
James O’Rourke Amateur

Jenner, Bruce

HOF_2005_Bruce_Jenner_headshot_124 X 166Fairfield County was a relatively short one, he made a big impact during that time. Attending Newtown High, he used his days on the track and field team there as a foundation to set the stage for becoming the world’s greatest athlete.

Jenner, who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, was a three-sports star at Newtown High, after his family moved to Connecticut from Tarrytown, NY. In 1968 he won the CIAC state open championship in the high jump and the pole vault. That was just the beginning step toward winning the gold with a then-world record 8,618 points.

After attending Graceland College in Iowa on a football scholarship, he turned his full-time efforts to the decathlon and the rest is history.

For his exploits in 1976 he was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year and the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.

He is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (1986) and U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame (1980).

Following his athletic career, Jenner has gone on to success as a sports commentator, TV personality and motivational speaker.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Toomey, Bill

HOF_2005_Bill_Toomey_headshot_116 X 159Coming from a town which celebrates all athletic achievements, New Canaan’s Bill Toomey reached heights that were literally of Olympic proportions.

A 1956 graduate of New Canaan High School, where he was an all-around athlete and was persuaded by his football coach, the late Joe Sikorski, to come out for the track and field team, Toomey found his greatest success at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, winning the decathlon gold medal. Arguably one of sports’ more grueling competitions, the decathlon tests a variety of skills over a two-day span and the winner is dubbed the greatest athlete in the world.

The United States won six consecutive gold medals in the decathlon from 1932 through 1960, a streak that was snapped in 1964. Toomey had been fourth at the U.S. Olympic trials in 1964 and apparently saved his best for last on that international stage. Four years later, at the age of 29. Toomey won the decathlon’s final event, the 1,500-meter run, running his point total in the 10 events to 8,193 points to win the gold medal. His time of 45.6 seconds in the 400-meter run set a new record, as did his first day score of 4,526 points.

That was the coup de grace for Toomey, who had already had a stellar career at NCHS, winning eight gold medals at State championship meets during his junior and senior years and setting several Connecticut records in the process.

After graduating from NCHS, Toomey moved on to the University of Colorado, where he won the Big Eight Conference long jump title twice. He won five National AAU pentathlon titles from 1960-1964 prior to shifting gears and capturing a record five consecutive AAU decathlon championships from 1965-1969. In 1969, he won the Sullivan Award, presented annually to the nation’s top amateur athlete. That was the year, he set a world record in the decathlon. Toomey was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Bike, Dave

HOF_2005_Dave_Bike_headshot_119 X 159For the past 27 years, the name Dave Bike has been synonymous with New England college basketball success. As the head coach of the Sacred Heart University Pioneers, Bike has posted a resume that others can only dream about. Over 400 wins. Eight NCAA Regional appearances. Five NCAA New England Regional crowns. An ECAC Division II title. A NCAA Division II National Championship.

Bike, 56, a Bridgeport native, grew up playing basketball at the Shehan Center. When he was 12, Bike was part of a Bridgeport team that captured the 1958 National Biddy Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. The next year, as the host team of the event, Bike helped Bridgeport to a third place finish.

At Notre Dame High School, he played baseball along with basketball (where he was chosen as an All-New England and All-State player). It was in baseball, though, where Bike garnered his greatest athletic success. Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1965, Bike spent seven seasons playing professional baseball, climbing as high as the Class AAA level with the Toledo Mud Hens in 1972.

His coaching career had started when he was as student at Sacred Heart, learning under Don Feeley, from 1965-67. In 1974, he was named as an assistant at Seattle University, where he worked for four seasons before returning back to SHU in 1978 to replace Feeley as the Pioneers head coach. The high water mark for Bike and the program came in the 1985-86 season, when the Pioneers went 30-4 and captured the NCAA Division II National Championship in Springfield, Mass., with a 93-87 victory over Southeast Missouri State. In 1999, Bike began the challenge of bringing Sacred Heart into the Division I era as the Pioneers look to make their mark in the Northeast Conference. In the final game of the 2002-03 season, Bike posted his 400th career victory over Long Island University. Heading into the 2005-06 season, Bike’s career mark is a stellar 416-370.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

McDougall, Jerry

HOF_2005_Jerry_McDougall_headshot_121 X 170Jerry McDougall’s induction into the Fairfield County Hall of Fame as a member of the first class so honored rendered the former Trumbull High athletic director, football and baseball coach speechless.

“I’m in awe of the whole thing,” McDougall said of his entry into the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing.”It is a humbling experience and I’m not only surprised, but honored to be inducted with this group. I feel like a minor leaguer in comparison.”

McDougall coached football for 37 years, 31 at Trumbull, and his teams compiled a 265-126-8 record, won four state titles, five FCIAC championships, and were state runners-up on four occasions.

He coached baseball for 30 seasons and his teams won 442 games, earned two state titles, 10 FCIAC crowns, and were state runners-up three times.

McDougall’s accomplishments earned him several other awards.

His achievements include National High School Football Coach of the Year in 1995 and his Hall of Fame inductions include the National High School Coaches in 1999.

In 1976, the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) honored him as an Outstanding Coach in football. In 1995, the same group recognized him for baseball.

In 1984, McDougall received the Past President’s Appreciation Award, and in 1997 he was the recipient of the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers’Alliance.

He is also a member of several halls of fame including the CHSCA, NHSACA, Connecticut Sports Museum, University of Bridgeport, and Trumbull High School.McDougall contributed more to the Trumbull High sports program as the athletic director for 29 years (1972-2001).
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service