STAMFORD, CT – The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame today announced its new class of inductees, naming six prominent sports figures into its three wings. With the six new honorees, the HOF has now recognized 103 county sports legends in its 16 years of existence.
The Hall of Fame, which is overseen by the Fairfield County Sports Commission, Inc., will honor the newly elected Hall of Famers at a later date to be determined. The Commission has postponed its annual Sports Night gala dinner until 2021.
The class of 2020 honorees are:
Jackie Robinson Professional Wing
MATT BARNES (BETHEL), JOHN SULLIVAN (GREENWICH)
James O’Rourke Amateur Wing
JIM FITZSIMMONS (FAIRFIELD), BARBARA REINALDA (STRATFORD)
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing
DON FOUST (STAMFORD), DIANNE NOLAN (FAIRFIELD)
With Barnes’ induction being the first selection from Bethel, a total of 20 different communities are now represented in the Hall of Fame.
Barnes is in his seventh year with the Boston Red Sox as a relief pitcher. He made his pro debut in 2014 and was a key bullpen performer in the Sox’s World Series title season in 2018. He made a team-high 10 appearances in that post-season, and gave up just one earned run to post a 2-0 record in winning Game 1 of the Series and Game 2 of the ALCS. Barnes has a 0.87 ERA with 10Ks in 11 games and 10.1 innings in his post-season efforts. For his career, including 19 games this season, the right-hander has appeared in 320 games, all but 2 in relief, has 434Ks in 333 innings pitched and 12 saves—6 this year–with a 26-21 record. The Bethel High graduate was the Red Sox number 1 draft pick, the 19th overall in 2011, after an All-American career at UConn.
Sullivan concluded his stellar 10-year NFL career in 2019 as the starting center for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. While his team lost that NFL title game to the New England Patriots, it did not tarnish Sullivan’s pro football experience one iota as the only low point of that longtime journey was losing the entire 2015 season to a serious back injury. After being selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 6th round of the 2008 draft, following his college days at Notre Dame as a four-year starter and senior captain, he quickly became a force on the team’s offensive line. In ’09 he moved into a regular starting role and made 93 starts in the 109 games he played for the Vikes through the 2014 campaign. He was one of the top graded centers in the league in pass protection and played a key blocking role in the success of running back Adrian Peterson. Sullivan was named to the Pro Football Writers All-Pro team in 2012. The back problem then wiped out all of 2015, followed the next year by accepting a backup position with just one start after signing with Washington. His decision to leave the Redskins to join the Rams proved wise as he took over as a starter there in 2017, then started in all 19 games in their run to becoming NFC champions. When the Greenwich High graduate decided to end his pro football life his career totals were 153 games played, plus eight more in post-season, and 132 starts including the playoffs.
Fitzsimmons was one of the most prolific high school basketball scorers in state history during his career at Fairfield Prep. The three-time All-MBIAC and two-time all-state pick led Prep to three straight Class L title games, including winning the crown in 1969 and a No. 1 ranking in New England. He is the only Jesuit basketball star to be named an All-American. Fitzsimmons holds the school record for career points (1,732), averaging 32.5 points per game in ‘69, and points in a single game (64), which was then a state record. After being named New England Player of the Year, he played in the prestigious Dapper Dan national high school tourney. The dead-eye outside shooter went on to lead Duke’s undefeated freshman team in scoring before transferring to Harvard, where he had to sit out a year. As a sophomore in the 1971-72 season, the 6-foot-3 guard led the team in scoring average at 24.2 ppg. (still a school record), third best in the Ivy League, and was named first team All-New England. Jim was inducted to the New England Basketball HOF in ‘06 and Prep’s HOF (2017).
Reinalda is one of the long line of Stratford (Raybestos) Brakettes’ world-class pitchers and she tops all of those greats with the most wins in team history with 441 over her 19-year career (1976-94). In 675 games, fifth all-time for the club, she posted a 0.38 ERA, with 2,172 strikeouts, 19 perfect games and 31 no-hitters and won 11 national titles. Those numbers earned her a coveted spot in the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1999. The right-hander made an immediate impact with the perennial champions as a rookie on the 1976 team that was severely depleted by the formation of a new professional league. Reinalda pitched the Brakettes to another national title and won the pitching and batting awards with a .429 average to win MVP honors. She followed that up in ’77 by repeating as a national champion as well as MVP. Reinalda, who also played for Team USA internationally, had an outstanding collegiate career for two years at Cal-Poly Pomona (1978-79), where she was the school’s first All-American and is a member of CPP’s athletic HOF (1992). The Shelton resident was a women’s softball coach at Yale for 21 years, including eight years as the head coach
(2005-2012). She was inducted into the Connecticut Scholastic/Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Foust spent 34 years coaching basketball at all levels of the sport and also was highly successful working with both girls’ and boys’ teams. His contributions to the girl’s and women’s game earned him entry into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball HOF in 2000. After helping Stamford Catholic and Norwalk High’s boy’s teams to FCIAC titles during eight years as an assistant at the start of his coaching career in the early 70’s, Foust turned his focus to leading the girls’ program at Norwalk in 1976. He coached seven years there posting a record of 143-22 that included 58 straight FCIAC regular season wins. His Lady Bears made five straight FCIAC finals and in 1980-81 won both the FCIAC, the first of three straight league titles, and the Class L state title in a 24-1 season. His next challenge came in turning around a struggling program at the University of Bridgeport. He again spent seven years building UB into a Division II power, winning 129 games, leading the school to its first NCAA tourney appearance (1989) with a 25-5 record and being ranked in the DII Top 20 for five straight years. The Stamford native concluded his career with over 400 victories after a two-year stint at Notre Dame High (Fairfield). He also coached 10 years with boys’ and girls’ Catholic youth teams, taking
Saint Thomas School of Fairfield to a New England championship in 1998.
Nolan is one of the most successful women’s college basketball coaches in history. In her 38 years as a Division I head coach she won 575 games, including a school-record 456 during her 28-year run building the Fairfield University program into a perennial winner. She took over the Stags in 1979 and oversaw their transition to DI in 1981. She is in the Top 50 all-time in DI victories. At Fairfield, Nolan’s teams earned four NCAA tournament bids, one WNIT appearance and captured three MAAC regular season and tournament titles. She had six 20-win seasons, including three 25-win campaigns. Dianne was recognized for her accomplishments as a 5-time MAAC coach of year, Connecticut Women’s Basketball HOF (2005) and selection to the Fairfield U Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. She concluded her college head coaching career in 2015 after five seasons at Lafayette, following three years as an associate head coach at Yale. Nolan, who began her head coaching journey at St. Francis College in 1974 and is also a member of its Hall of Fame, continues her association with basketball by doing TV color commentary for MAAC and Quinnipiac games.
The list of previously enshrined FCSHOF inductees follows:
JACKIE ROBINSON PROFESSIONAL WING
2005-Julius Boros (Fairfield), Kristine Lilly (Wilton), Calvin Murphy (Norwalk), Steve Young (Greenwich)
2006-Bobby Valentine (Stamford), Mo Vaughn (Norwalk)
2007-Mike Gminski (Monroe), Charles Nagy (Fairfield)
2008-Chris Drury (Trumbull), Tim Teufel (Greenwich)
2009-Jennifer Rizzotti (New Fairfield), Charles Smith (Bridgeport)
2010-Garry Cobb (Stamford), John Hirschbeck (Stratford)
2011-John Bagley (Bridgeport), Bennett Salvatore (Stamford)
*Andy Robustelli (Stamford)-selected 2005, inducted 2011
2012-Wes Matthews (Bridgeport), Sue Merz (Greenwich)
2013-James Blake (Fairfield), Mark Hirschbeck (Stratford)
2014-Craig Breslow (Trumbull), Julie Chu (Fairfield)
2015-Ted Drury (Trumbull), Max Pacioretty (New Canaan)
2016-J.J. Henry (Fairfield), Rita Williams (Norwalk)
2017-Ken Green (Danbury), Randy LaJoie (Norwalk)
2018-AJ Mleczko Griswold (New Canaan), Travis Simms (Norwalk)
2019-Charlie Morton (Redding), Heather Daly-Donofrio (Fairfield)
JAMES O’ROURKE AMATEUR WING
2005-Dorothy Hamill (Riverside), Bruce Jenner (Newtown), Bill Toomey (New Canaan)
2006-Joan Joyce (Stratford), Walter Luckett (Bridgeport)
2007-Jerry Courville, Sr. (Norwalk), Donna Lopiano (Stamford)
2008-Gary Liberatore (New Canaan), Lou Saccone (Bridgeport)
2009-Pete Demmerle (New Canaan), Dick Siderowf (Westport)
2010-Alvin Clinkscales (Bridgeport), Amanda Pape (Stamford)
2011-Joe DeSantis (Fairfield), Ceci Hopp St. Geme (Greenwich)
2012-Ed Finnegan (Stratford), Harold Jensen (Trumbull)
2013-Dennis Paglialunga (New Canaan), Allyson Rioux (Stamford)
2014-Harry “Mickey” Connolly (Norwalk), Nadine Domond (Bridgeport)
2015-Lisa Brummel (Westport), Lambert Shell (Bridgeport)
2016-Manute Bol (Bridgeport), Maurice “Wilky” Gilmore (New Canaan), Bill Steinkraus (Darien)
2017-Phil Kydes (Norwalk), Bertha Ragan Tickey (Stratford)
2018-Rashamel Jones (Stamford), Claire Beth Tomasiewicz Nogay (Weston)
2019-Pat Dufficy (Trumbull), Roger Haggerty (Stamford), Pete Tucci, Jr. (Norwalk)
J. WALTER KENNEDY COMMUNITY SERVICE
2005-Dave Bike (Bridgeport), Jerry McDougall (Trumbull)
2006-Ray Barry (Norwalk), Frank Vieira (Bridgeport)
2007-Nick Koules (Stamford), Bruce Webster (Bridgeport)
2008-Ralph King (Norwalk), Tom Penders (Stratford)
2009-Joe Benanto (Shelton), Terry Lowe (Greenwich)
2010-Mickey Lione, Jr. (Stamford), Vito Montelli (Trumbull)
2011-Charlie Bentley (Bridgeport), Albie Loeffler (Westport)
2012-Jim Penders, Sr. (Stratford), David Strong (Monroe)
2013-Don Cook (Fairfield), Earl Lavery (Fairfield)
2014-Efrain “Chico” Chacurian (Bridgeport), John “Sharkey” Laureno (Stamford), Marty Roos (Fairfield)
2015-Jack Kvancz (Bridgeport), Angela Tammaro (Greenwich)
2016-Lou Marinelli (New Canaan), Mike Walsh (Stamford)
2017-Jim Dolan (Redding), Laddie Lawrence (Westport)
2018-John Kuczo (Stamford), Paul Kuczo, Sr. (Stamford)
2019-Jack Casagrande (Norwalk), Guy Whitten (Wilton)
The Hall of Fame is housed at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. The Hall of Fame is open to the public 7 days per week during regular business hours at the sports complex.
The Fairfield County Sports Commission, Inc. is a 501c (3) non-profit charitable and educational organization that promotes fitness, an active healthy lifestyle and personal development through sports. The Commission, other than the executive director position, is an all-volunteer group dedicated to creating and supporting programs for fitness awareness education, primarily centered on the 110,000 school age children in the 16 communities it serves. Its Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy is the countywide umbrella for all of its programs. For more information, go to www.fairfieldcountysports.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: TOM CHIAPPETTA
Sunday, September 20, 2020