“Don’t Miss SportsNight: A Celebration of the Fairfield County Sports Commission”

By Rob Sullivan
Fairfield County Business Journal
Bridgeport Banner 

October 2011

One of the ways Fairfield County Sports Commission (FCSC) Director Tom Chiappetta could be described is as a bundle of energy. In his role as one of the leading promoters of health and fitness and athletics at all levels, there is always a great deal on this guy’s plate.

And this time of year is one of the busiest for Chiappetta and the Sports Commission. Less than a few weeks away is the organization’s biggest fund raiser, the 7th annual SportsNight, a “celebration of sports in Fairfield County,” and there is a great deal of legwork to be done to ensure the evening’s success.

The highlight of the gala is the induction of the annual Hall of Fame Class, which is indeed a great honor for those who are recognized. There are three wings in the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame: the James O’Rourke amateur wing, the Jackie Robinson professional wing and the J. Walter Kennedy community service wing. Each year, there are six inductees, two each entering a specific wing of the Hall.

This year’s inductees are NBA referee Bennett Salvatore and former NBA player John Bagley (Jackie Robinson), former Fairfield University basketball great Joe DeSantis and top long distance runner Ceci Hopp St. Geme (James O’Rouke) and high school coaching legends Albie Loeffler (Staples soccer) and Charlie Bentley (Harding basketball).

Other highlights of the evening include recognizing community SportsPersons of the Year, the presentation of the Chelsea Cohen Courage Award and also honoring a member of the media who has excelled at promoting local sports. In short, there is something for everyone at this event.

“We want to be the central depository for all regarding positives in sports and active healthy lifestyles,” explained Chiappetta.

One of the ways the FCSC has been able to accomplish that goal is by successfully partnering with the business community to promotes its goal of physical fitness. The organization has gotten tangible support from close to two dozen businesses and organizations if not more. The commission’s corporate partners include ESPN, Peoples United Bank, Southern Connecticut Gas, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, BevMax, News 12 Connecticut, United Illuminating and Stamford Hospital, among others.

“We are very grateful for all of our partnerships, their support has been invaluable,” Chiappetta said. “A good example is our relationship with Stamford Hospital. Their endorsement of what we do here has been a big boost to us.”

That begs the question, what exactly does the Fairfield County Sports Commission do? Well, it does a lot. But far and away the group’s largest endeavor is the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy, which is housed at the George Washington Carver Community Center in Norwalk. The award and fitness center are named for Chelsea Cohen, a former girls soccer standout from Norwalk High, who passed away in August 2006 after a long and courageous battle with a rare form of nervous system cancer.

The Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy is a countywide, collaborative effort to provide more awareness and educational focus on having underserved youth have access to a more active and healthy lifestyle.

The primary goal of the academy is to create a year-round vehicle that will offer Fairfield County youth access to the best available fitness trainers, coaches, and health and wellness programs. It is not sport specific, but attempts to get youngsters in the daily habit of leading an active, healthy lifestyle.

Chiappetta noted that the FCSC website (www.fairfieldcountysports.com) is one of the main vehicles he hopes to drive traffic to the academy.

“By creating a resource hub for health and fitness programs and services available throughout the county, the Commission web site will be a central depository for that information as well as an inventory of youth programs and fitness professionals,” he said.

The site provides a vast supply of content, including articles, fitness tips, and other educational tools, to make the site the one-stop resource for healthy living for county residents. There is much more that the FCSC undertakes, but to discuss them all would require nearly a book and not a newspaper column. Suffice to say the Fairfield County Sports Commission is one of the gems of southwestern Connecticut.

For more information or to purchase tickets to SportsNight, visit the FCSC website, email tomc@fairfieldcountysports.com or call 203-251-8481.

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