The Sports Persons of the Year are awarded to individuals who had the greatest positive impact and contribution to each of the 16 sports communities for that year. Nominations come from the Sports Commission’s 16 local town representatives who create a selection committee with members from each of their communities.

2017 Sports Persons of the Year

Click on the tabs below to see the Sports Persons of the Year from each year.

2013 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Kavey, Neil

2013 SPOTY - BridgeportIt’s only been a little more than a year since Neil Kavey became the citywide athletic director for the Bridgeport public schools, but the changes and positive steps he has instituted to reach the goal of getting the Park City teams and athletes onto more of a level playing field with their neighboring schools have started to have an impact.[br][br]Kavey had spent more than 25 years in the Bridgeport Public Schools as a physical education teacher and guidance counselor before taking the AD position. His experiences gave him a great perspective on what was needed to pull the city’s efforts together in upgrading and expanding athletic programs for youngsters from an early age.[br][br]He was primarily responsible for the development of revived sports programs in middle school, which is a key facet toward getting youngsters into a positive, familial sports situation leading up to their high school years. There were more than 600 kids that participated in the first year of the programs in sports such as baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and flag football.[br][br]These programs serve as a feeder system toward helping the high school teams and they also influence the youngsters on the importance of being focused on academics. It has led to increased participation in high school sports, which resulted in the addition of three new freshman teams. Kavey has also placed a major emphasis on upgrading the coaching staffs to include more certified teachers with the respective teams.[br][br]In addition, the 1976 graduate of the University of Bridgeport helped to create the Bridgeport Field of Dreams Foundation. One important aspect of the foundation’s mission is to support the public school athletic programs with uniform and equipment needs. 
Bridgeport

Norris, Steve

2013 SPOTY - DarienNorris has had a long and successful career as the girls’ track and field and cross country coach at Darien High School. But maybe none more rewarding than this past year.[br][br]The veteran coach led Darien to its first State Open championship ever during the indoor track season this winter, and made it a trifecta by capturing the FCIAC and Class L state titles as well. The Blue Wave were also Class L runners-up in the spring outdoor season.[br][br]
It was the first indoor championship for Norris, who has coached the Darien program for 20 years. He has also coached cross country for 35 years and outdoor track for 37 years, giving him 92 seasons in which he has directed running programs at Darien. He has also won a State Open championship in cross country. His teams have won 15 league championships in the three sports and eight Class championships.[br][br]Norris is not only an outstanding coach who has amassed 769 career victories, but a champion of girls sports as well. His most notable accomplishment in the support of young women was founding cross country as a girls sport in 1976 in the FCIAC. He has also served on various track and cross country boards for state, local and league organizations.[br][br]For his contributions to girls track and field and cross country, Norris was inducted into the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006-2007, and into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010. 
Darien

Han, Brooklee

2013 SPOTY - EastonAll of those thousands of times that she laced up her skates in the wee hours of the morning, and all of those hours upon hours she put in on the ice practicing her routines have now set the stage for a lifelong goal to possibly soon come true for Brooklee Han.[br][br]When Han competed in the 2013 International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships in March in London, Ontario, she put herself in position to reach the ultimate skaters’ goal — the Olympics. She took the next step in September by placing fifth at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy competition in Germany. This event served as a qualifier for six open Olympics spots in ladies’ figure skating.[br][br]Han has dual citizenship and was able to compete as a citizen of Australia because her father, Anthony, is from Australia. Representing Australia made it much more feasible for Han to qualify for the world championships and the Olympics. Her score of 147.16 points earned Australia a spot in the Olympics. Han, who graduated from Joel Barlow High this past spring, is considered a frontrunner to grab that spot for Australia.[br][br]At the World Championships, Han placed 21st out of a field of 35 skaters. She earned her spot in the long program by placing 20th with a score of 48.10 in the short program, which lasts a maximum of two minutes, 50 seconds. Those who placed in the top 24 in the short program qualified for the long program.[br][br]The top 20 finishers automatically qualified for the Olympic Trials so Han just missed out on that.
Easton

Allen, Cate

2013 SPOTY - FairfieldAllen staked her claim as one of the state’s premier female distance runners with a junior year filled with school records and first place finishes. The Fairfield Warde High standout is now in her senior year and the running community will be watching closely to see if she can continue that ascension.[br][br]After having played soccer during the fall seasons as a freshman and sophomore, last year was the first year Allen ran cross country and was a distance runner for three seasons in one school year. As a newcomer to cross country it didn’t take long for her to rise to elite status by winning the FCIAC Championship and state Class L title.[br][br]The versatility that her great endurance base provides allows her to excel in cross country and also have enough sprinting speed and strength to produce fast times in 400 meters and 800 meters and as a valuable member of relay teams.[br][br]After cross country ended last fall, Allen’s success continued into the indoor track and field season. She won the 1,600 and ran strong anchor legs to lead Warde’s 4×800 relay team to victory in both the FCIAC and state Class L championship meets. Allen set a school record of 4:58.74 in the 1,600 when she placed second at the State Open. She then went on to place third in the New England Championships.[br][br]During the outdoor season, Allen won the 3,200 at the Middletown Invitational with a meet-record time of 10:54.79. She also ran a 2:18.36 in the 800 in a dual meet to set a school record.
Fairfield

Borchetta, Al

2013 SPOTY - GreenwichIt was simply a love for baseball and a passion for umpiring that drove Al Borchetta.[br][br]So passionate was Borchetta about his craft that he kept at it for 66 years to become a ball field institution in lower Fairfield County.
Borchetta, 88, was called to fill in as an umpire for one game this past summer. So that extended his streak of umpiring baseball and softball to 66 straight years, which, coincidentally enough, is the same amount of years he’s been married to his lovely wife, Theresa.[br][br]“I couldn’t finish out the season. My legs were giving way. When you get old, your legs go on you,” this classy gentleman explained with a quick laugh. “I couldn’t do the game justice anymore.”[br][br]Borchetta’s summers usually consisted of umpiring gigs seven days a week for about 60 years. He loved the game and loved the camaraderie with the players and fellow umpires. He umpired games in which Bobby Valentine excelled and he always had a great time bantering with Steve Young when Borchetta was assigned to the field and Young played first base.[br][br]He graduated from Greenwich High School in 1944. He played baseball there for two years, his last year as a junior. When Borchetta was a senior he had to work part-time jobs after school to help support his large family. He was the youngest of seven boys and the second youngest of nine children. Two days after he graduated high school he was en route to Fort Devens in Danvers, Mass., for training to serve his country in the Army.[br][br]One of his greatest memories was when Borchetta, then 10, was at Yankee Stadium and he caught a home run hit by Joe DiMaggio at the end of DiMaggio’s rookie year of 1936.
Greenwich

Milone, Thomas

2013 SPOTY - MonroeA two-sport standout, Milone was a football star in the fall for Masuk High School, and in the spring his exploits on the baseball diamond earned him Gatorade Connecticut Baseball Player of the Year and a professional baseball contract.[br][br]Milone was drafted with the 97th overall selection in the third round of the amateur draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He chose to sign with their organization after weighing his decision to give serious consideration to accepting a scholarship to play for the University of Connecticut.[br][br]The professional baseball scouts were so enamored with Milone’s athletic ability that they also came to watch him play football in the fall. When spring arrived, the strong and speedy center fielder further impressed the scouts by batting .471 for coach Ralph Franco’s Panthers and stealing 28 bases in 29 attempts. Milone also hit four home runs, scored 27 runs and had a .589 on-base percentage.[br][br]A few days after his high school graduation Milone boarded a plane to Port Charlotte, Fla., where the Rays’ rookie instructional camp is located as well as their rookie minor league team in the Gulf Coast League.[br][br]Milone had a rough start at the plate, but he was advised not to put too much concern into numbers as the league is primarily about getting players acclimated to professional baseball. After the slow start, Milone batted .257 (9-for-35) in his last 10 games to finish on a high note. He was then promoted to the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades in the Class A New York-Penn League, where he was the youngest player on the team at 18, and he hit his first home run as a professional.
Monroe

New Canaan High School Baseball Team

2013 SPOTY - New Canaanif the adage that pitching and defense wins baseball championships, then the New Canaan High team epitomized how true that saying is. The Rams used that effective combo to bring home the school’s first state baseball crown since 1950.[br][br]Coach Mitch Hoffman’s Rams rolled through the CIAC Class L baseball tournament with five straight wins in which the opposition scored just five runs. The Rams captured the Class L state championship with a 3-0 victory over Waterford in the final.[br][br]It was fitting that Andrew Casali led the way. The senior captain fired a one-hitter with seven strikeouts against Waterford. Casali had a 10-1 record pitching record, batted over .500 and was the Player of the Year in the FCIAC.[br][br]The Rams opened the tourney with a 4-2 triumph over East Haven. Two straight 4-1 victories followed – the first against Bethel and the next one against Wethersfield. New Canaan then beat North Haven, 5-1, in the semifinals.[br][br]Casey Ouellette was the other senior captain who joined Casali on the All-FCIAC First Team and Class L All-State Team. Ouellette was a four-year starting catcher and was one of the top hitters on the team.
Junior shortstop Matt Toth, senior DH Brian Moran, junior pitcher J.R. Anderson (8-1) and junior right fielder Nick Cascione were all selected to the FCIAC All-East Team.
New Canaan finished with a 21-5 record and ranked second in the final New Haven Register Top 10 Baseball Poll.
New Canaan

Norwalk High School Boys Soccer Team

2013 SPOTY - NorwalkChampionship teams typically take time to mesh over the course of a season. For the Norwalk High boys’ soccer team that process started much earlier as many players on the senior-laden team began playing together when they were just youngsters.[br][br]Many of them were teammates on an Under-9 soccer team. They grew up as teammates as their soccer careers progressed. And it all came to fruition last November when they became a state championship soccer team.[br][br]Andrew Melitsanopoulos (an All-New England center back), Santiago Muriel and Alejandro Rivera were the senior captains. The other 10 seniors were Paul Soja, Mike Bonebrake, Chris Miklave, Kevin Joslyn, Matt Capomolla, Michal Nowicki, Carlos Tysseire, Nick Samperez, Nacho Navarro and Peter Garcia. Eight of those former Bears are now playing in college.
Svet Kozak, Sergio Mandujano, Brody O’Brien, Robert Gryglewski, Cory Sainsmyr, Jose Canahui, Rene Jimenez, Tyler Dalton, Geoprge Kutrubis and Luizos Karaiskos were the other players for Coach Chris Laughton’s Bears, who outscored their opposition by a 70-15 margin and had 14 shutouts (most in school history).[br][br]The top-seeded Bears, who finished 21-1-1, captured their CIAC Class LL crown with a 2-0 victory over Fairfield Prep in the final, giving the school its first state soccer title since 1966.
Norwalk also was a co-champion in the Hurricane Sandy-shortened FCIAC playoffs. The Bears earned their share of the FCIAC title when they avenged their only loss of the year with a 5-1 semifinal win over Wilton.
Norwalk

Ribas, Jack

2013 SPOTY - SheltonJack Ribas was thrilled to join the new Boys Club as a youngster back in 1956. And that organization made quite the impression on him. So much so that he stayed for a lifetime.[br][br]When he retired in December 2012, Ribas had spent the last 34 years running the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley. He oversaw the growth and expansion of the club and was the backbone of an organization that he leaves behind in safe quarter.[br][br]As a member of the initial Boys Club, which was basically just a games room in the back of the Community Center, Ribas got his first taste of what a facility dedicated to youth means to a community. He was named Boy of the Year in 1962, and then grew into several part-time jobs at the club – gym instructor, games room supervisor and referee among them.[br][br]Ribas became the first Program Director of the club and he held that position from 1971-75. After working at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Bridgeport for three years, Ribas returned to the Valley in 1978 as Executive Director of the Community Center Boys & Girls Club of Shelton-Derby.[br][br]One of his first official acts was to admit girls in 1980 as full-time members and change the name to the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Naugatuck Valley. Under his leadership the club was named one of the top clubs in the country in 2007. That same year Ribas was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame.[br][br]Under his watch, membership grew from 420 in 1976 to more than 2,300 in 2011. And that’s quite an impression he has left on all of the children who have passed through the club’s doors the past 34 years.
Shelton

Howlett, Claire

2013 SPOTY - StamfordEver so steadily and consistently, Westhill High School distance runner Claire Howlett continued to get better and better and better throughout her junior campaign during the 2012-13 school year.[br][br]It started with a successful cross country season last autumn. Howlett continued to build on that during the indoor track and field season in the winter, then continued to run faster and lower her times so often during the outdoor track and field season that she hit her peak at the end of the spring. Her accomplishments were rewarded when she was named as the Gatorade Connecticut Athlete of the Year in girls outdoor track and field.[br][br]Howlett’s outdoor postseason got rolling at the 2013 FCIAC Girls Outdoor Track and Field Championships when she was runner-up in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.[br][br]Nine days later at the CIAC Class LL championship meet, Howlett won the 3,200 with a time of 10:58.68 seconds and was runner-up in the 1,600 with a 4:56.25 at Willowbrook Park in New Britain.[br][br]Howlett’s consistent peaking throughout the postseason continued as five days later on June 4 at the same venue at the State Open meet, she put forth a pair of incredible performances while sweeping the 1,600 and 3,200. Howlett first won the 1,600 with a time of 4:53.97. Later in the meet, Howlett amazed the crowd and longtime distance running aficionados when she ran away from the field in the 3,200 and won with a clocking of 10:20.03 to shatter the year-old record of 10:35.02, which was set by Lindsay Crevoiserat of Glastonbury.[br][br]An outstanding performer in the classroom as well, Howlett has drawn interest from many colleges with top running programs, including several Ivy League schools.
Stamford

Easley, Marcus

2013 SPOTY - StratfordFor Marcus Easley it’s all about the heart.[br][br]He has the heart to give back to his community, and he has the heart of a champion that has pushed him to a career in the NFL, where he is currently a backup wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. That combination has proved to be a powerful one that has allowed him to literally overcome a problem with his real heart. [br][br]After a stellar senior season for the University of Connecticut, Easley became the first-ever UConn wide receiver to be drafted in the NFL when the Bills selected him in the fourth round in 2010. With the NFL within sight, his heart betrayed him as he made the Bills’ 53-man roster two years ago, but then had to be placed on injured reserve after being diagnosed with a heart ailment at the start of the 2011 season. But when he called on his heart to persevere to get healthy and pursue his dream, his heart came through for him this time.[br][br]The former Bunnell High standout made it all the way back to play in three games for Buffalo last year. When this preseason rolled around, he caught 12 passes for 224 yards to earn his spot on the roster and has been used as a kick returner.[br][br]His heart is always with his hometown as he has returned to Stratford each of the past three years to conduct a free football clinic for local youth. He was also inducted into the Bunnell Athletics Hall of Fame this past May.[br][br]Easley enrolled at UConn and was a walk-on player who saw minimal playing time during his first three years. Once he got the opportunity to show that heart of his, he received significant playing time as a senior and responded with 48 catches for 893 yards and eight touchdowns.
Stratford

Terio, Phil

2013 SPOTY - TrumbullTerio turned in a record-breaking year as a sophomore cornerback for the Salve Regina football team last fall and the honors that went with it were numerous.[br][br]The crowning achievement of his outstanding season was his selection to the 2012 Beyond Sports Network (BSN) Division III All-America Second Team.[br][br]Terio tied NCAA Division III records for interceptions returned for touchdowns (4) and total touchdown returns (6). He also scored on a punt return and had a 93-yard kickoff return TD.[br][br]He led Salve Regina with his seven total interceptions, while helping lead the Seahawks to their first Boyd Division championship in the New England Football Conference since 2000. Terio set school records in interceptions and return yardage (291).[br][br]Incredibly enough, Terio pulled off his “Pick Six” feat once a game for three consecutive games, including an 88-yard return in a victory over Western New England.[br][br]All of those accomplishments earned Terio the Male Athlete of the Year at Salve Regina (Newport, R.I.) when the university held its annual Seahawk Sports Award Ceremony this spring.
Terio gave a preview of his potential in 2011 when he was selected the NEFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.[br][br]Other awards and honors racked up by the Trumbull High graduate included being named NEFC Defensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year as well as a D3football.com All-American as a cornerback and return specialist.[br][br]Terio appears to be on track for another successful season as he returned a punt 61 yards for a score to open the scoring in Salve Regina’s 29-21 victory over MIT on Sept. 28.
Trumbull

Guerin, Kimmy

2013 SPOTY - WestonMany strive for perfection, but few actually reach it. Kimmy Guerin did achieve that lofty goal by concluding her four-year tennis career at Weston High with a zero in the loss column.[br][br]Guerin had an undefeated career as the Trojans’ No. 1 singles player with a perfect 97-0 record, in which she remarkably never even lost one of her 194 sets. She capped her illustrious run by winning the State Open singles championship for the fourth consecutive year, only the second time in state history that had been done. And another perfect season also earned her All-American honors.[br][br]Throughout her career since she was a young teenager, Guerin was consistently ranked No. 1 in the state and in New England by the United States Tennis Association in her respective age divisions and she also won two national open championships.[br][br]Also excelling in the classroom as well as on the tennis courts, Guerin was a blue chip recruit among the females in her Class of 2013 as the tennisrecruiting.net website had her ranked among its top 25. [br][br]Wake Forest was among those that strongly recruited Guerin, and she verbally committed to the school during March of her junior year. The aforementioned website ranked Wake Forest as having the eighth best women’s tennis recruiting class in the country this past spring.[br][br]Guerin’s success has continued in her early college career this fall. She played in two invitational tournaments during the last two weekends of September and placed third in her draw in both tourneys.
Weston

Westport Little League Baseball Team

2013 SPOTY - WestportFor the 11 players and three coaches of the Westport Little League All-Star team, their tournament ride this summer was a march through history every step of the way to its final destination of Little League heaven, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.[br][br]They just kept playing and winning, each victory leading to places Westport Little League had never ventured before. The first trip to the state championship series, then a first-ever state title and the final road to a New England crown to secure their coveted spot in the Little League World Series and a perfect 18-0 record.[br][br]And when they got to Williamsport they won some more, taking their first two games. Though the next game ended in defeat, the team will always be remembered for its amazing effort to stay alive. Facing a seven-run deficit (13-6) and just five outs away from elimination, the Westport squad rallied back for a 14-13 victory in the seventh inning to defeat the team from Washington state.[br][br]Though they lost to the California team in the championship game of the United States bracket and ended up placing fourth in the Little League World Series, the ride was as special as it gets.[br][br]Under head coach Tim Rogers and assistants Brett Reiner and Tom Whelan, it was Harry Azadian, Matthew Brown, Christopher Drbal, Chad Knight, Tatin Llamas, Ricky Offenberg, Max Popken, Alex Reiner, Drew Rogers, Charlie Roof and Matt Stone who were the players that made it happen like no other Westport team ever had.
Westport

Pearsall, Casey

2013 SPOTY - WiltonIn this age of specialization, Piersall is an anomaly. She was a standout three-sport athlete at Wilton High in lacrosse, soccer and basketball and maintained a sterling academic record to boot.[br][br]Those achievements were rewarded on the national level when she was one of 12 finalists–from a field of 48,000 seniors–for the High School Heisman Award given to the student-athlete who excelled in the classroom, athletics and community.[br][br]The only obstacle she wasn’t able to overcome for a 12th varsity letter as a four-year starter in the three sports was a knee injury in the state basketball tournament that didn’t allow her to play her senior season of lacrosse.[br][br]Lacrosse is where Pearsall shined most as a U.S. Lacrosse All-American and ranked as the eighth best high school player in the country by ESPN when she was a junior. That was enough to earn Pearsall a scholarship to play for Notre Dame. She holds Wilton’s single-season school records for most goals (77) and most points (118) by a midfielder and was two-time All-State.[br][br]Although lacrosse is her best sport, Pearsall was twice selected to the All-FCIAC, All-State and MSG Varsity All-Connecticut teams in soccer. As the starting point guard for Wilton’s girls’ basketball team, she was All-FCIAC First Team and MSG Varsity All-Connecticut last winter as a senior when she led the Warriors to a school-record 17 consecutive victories.[br][br]And when she turned her focus to academics, she put up another impressive stat by making the Honor Roll for all 16 grading quarters.
Wilton

2012 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Campbell, James

James Campbell 2012 SOY BPT 210Campbell and his Stony Brook University baseball team produced a special season this spring, culminating in a surprise trip to the College Baseball World Series. The right-handed pitcher was the backbone of the Seawolves’ staff and his superb collegiate efforts earned him a shot at a promising future in professional baseball.His outstanding junior year drew the watchful eyes of many Major League Baseball scouts and Campbell was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 12th round with the 386 overall pick of the 2012 June Amateur Baseball Draft. He is presently in the fall instructional league after pitching this summer with the Dodgers’ Class A minor league team.Campbell, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, started in seven of the 19 games he pitched for Stony Brook. He had a 5-0 record with three saves and a 3.47 earned run average. Campbell struck out 42 batters in 57 innings and opposing batters had a paltry .211 batting average against him. Stony Brook won a school-record and NCAA-best 52 games this year The Seawolves stunned LSU on its home field by winning the third game in the best-of-three Super Regional to reach the World Series.Campbell played a vital role in helping Stony Brook advance to the Super Regional. He was named the Most Outstanding Player in the America East Conference Tournament. After Maine pulled into a 6-6 tie with Stony Brook in the fourth inning of the conference championship game to decide which team would advance to the Super Regional, Campbell came on to pitch four shutout innings and Stony Brook broke the game open with seven unanswered runs in an eventual 13-6 victory.His scholastic career produced an 11-3 career record while playing two years of varsity baseball at St. Joseph High in Trumbull. As a senior, he had a 7-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and was selected to the All-FCIAC team.
Bridgeport

Crane, Rob

Rob Crane 2012 SOY Darien 210Crane spent a long apprenticeship honing his sailing skills on the waters of the Long Island Sound off of Fairfield County and all that was rewarded when he reached the pinnacle of becoming an Olympic sailor.He sailed for the United States as a skipper in the Laser class at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and he placed 29th out of 49 sailors.Crane focused on sailing Laser full time since he graduated from Hobart in 2009 with his goal of making the U.S. team for these past Olympics. That goal was fulfilled when he placed 14th at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships to earn the Olympics berth.He was born into a family of sailors as his father was a North American champion in the Lightning and Sonar class and his mother was a world champion crew in the Lightning and a national champion in the Mistrel.Born in Stamford and raised in Darien, Crane was introduced to sailing at a young age at the Noroton Yacht Club. He began his career in the Optimist and won the Optimist North American Championship when he was 12. Having hit the peak of his Optimist career, Crane moved on to the Laser Radial and after two years of Laser Radial he ascended to being the sixth best junior in North America.Crane started sailing in the Laser class in 2001 and for the next four years he concentrated on sailing during the summer months, while also participating in team sports such as ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer.The first time Crane concentrated on sailing year-round was in 2005 when he enrolled at Hobart College. He became the first Hobart sailor to qualify for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Single Handed Championship and earned a bronze in the event in 2008.
Darien

Distler, John

John Distler 2012 SOY Easton 210This past spring, John Distler had possibly the most successful season of his coaching career when he was selected the state’s Class S Coach of the Year while leading Joel Barlow High School to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class S Boys’ Lacrosse state championship. However, Distler has been making a positive impact on the sport of lacrosse in the communities of Easton and Redding for many years.Distler and his wife Cori, co-founded the RELAX (Redding/Easton Youth Lacrosse) program in 1997. John began the boys’ lacrosse program and Cori started the girls’ lacrosse program at Barlow four years later.As head coach at Barlow, Distler led the Falcons to three South-West Conference championships before taking a break from high school coaching after the 2006 season so that he could focus on watching his three children play in college. John and Cori were presented with the “Excellence in Growing the Game” Award from US Lacrosse in 2007.He returned as Barlow’s head coach in 2011 and led the Falcons to their first Class S state title this past season. During the eight years he has guided Barlow at the varsity level, the school has a 120-37 record for a .765 winning percentage. Distler’s Falcons won their SWC championships in 2004, ’05 and ’06 and the first of their two state championships (Division II) in 2002. Barlow lost to Weston in this year’s SWC championship game, but then the Falcons avenged that with a 16-4 victory in the state Class S semifinals, before defeating Somers 15-2 in the title game.Distler also had a formidable career in the sport as a player as he was a two-time All-American at Cortland State (1981) and was selected as the Division III Defenseman of the Year in 1980.
Easton

Kinsley, Craig

Craig Kinsley 2012 SOY FFLD 210Craig Kinsley got to fulfill that dream that millions of athletes have dreamt about but only a select number have been fortunate to achieve.That dream of being an Olympian came to fruition for Kinsley this summer.Kinsley was a javelin thrower for the United States Track and Field Team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Kinsley, 23, had his best throw of 78.18 meters on his third and final throw in the javelin preliminary round. That placed him 10th in Group B and was the longest throw of any American. But it did not qualify him for the next round and he placed 23rd overall.Kinsley did that after having to deal with a torn labrum in his shoulder that prevented him from throwing and training vigorously in the summer of 2011. One surgeon recommended surgery to enable him to throw farther in the long term while another surgeon reminded him that if he did have surgery, then there would be no chance of him competing in these past Olympics. That second surgeon said that if Kinsley underwent strenuous rehabilitation, he could make his shoulder strong enough where he could compete well enough to qualify for the Olympics. That is what Kinsley chose and that is what he did.Kinsley’s path to the Olympics started at Brown University, where he was a four-time Ivy League champion in the javelin, a three-time All-American, placed third in the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the next year he was the national champion.This 2007 Fairfield Prep graduate earned All-State honors in the javelin, high jump and decathlon. He was actually a baseball player at Fairfield Prep until he broke his hand and that led to him switching from baseball to track and field as his main sport during his junior year.
Fairfield

Greenwich High School Boys and Girls Golf Teams

Greenwich HS Boys Golf 2012 SOYGreenwich HS Girls Golf 2012 SOYBoth Greenwich High golf teams had stellar years, highlighted by each of them winning Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championships.Coach Jeff Santilli’s boys’ team also won a state title, finished with a perfect 21-0 record and recorded an impressive 21-stroke win over Staples in winning the FCIAC championship.Junior Danny Guise fired a 2-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors by one stroke. JP Raferty (72), Paul Pastore (73) and Chris Pavelic (76) also contributed to the conference championship. Pavelic and Stephen Pastore joined Guise on the All-FCIAC team. Guise was the FCIAC and the state’s Player of the Year. Both Pastores and Pavelic also earned All-State honors.Greenwich High also had the individual conference champion in girls’ golf and Coach Marie Shimchick was named the FCIAC Coach of Excellence. Senior captain Brooke Nethercott, who was the medalist for the third straight season, was also named the FCIAC Player of the Year for the third consecutive year.The Lady Cardinals set a new FCIAC 18-hole tournament record with a team score of 355, 17 strokes better than Staples to avenge their only regular season loss.Nethercott and her freshman teammate, Alexandra Sazhin, finished 1-2 in the FCIAC tourney. They were both named to the All-FCIAC 1st team as well as All-State. Captain Emma Lunder, Pamela Jennemyr and Kendyle Nethercott were also key members of this special team, which ended the regular season with a 17-1 record and placed 3rd in the states.
Greenwich

Cochran, Casey

Casey Cochran 2012 SOY Monroe 210When Masuk’s Casey Cochran concluded his stellar scholastic football career last fall, he left behind a legacy as one of the most prolific schoolboy quarterbacks ever from the state of Connecticut.Cochran put his name at the top of the state record book with the career mark for touchdown passes with 112, as well as the state record for career yardage (10,804).The accolades that came along with those impressive numbers included being named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight year, the first time in the 27-year history of the award that anyone won it in successive seasons. He also was named to the Walter Camp Foundation All-Connecticut team.As a junior, Cochran tossed 40 touchdown passes and threw for 3,345 yards in leading Masuk to the CIAC Class L state championship as the Panthers finished with a perfect 13-0 record.Cochran, who began his high school career at New London High and as a freshman led his team to the CIAC Class SS championship in 2008, followed up that remarkable season with a senior campaign where he completed 71% of his passes for 3,067 passing yards and 37 TDs as Masuk went 11-1.Cochran also excelled in the classroom at Masuk, where he maintained a 3.92 GPA. After wrapping up his high school career last fall, Cochran enrolled at the University of Connecticut during the spring semester of 2012 and competed in the UConn Blue-White Spring Game. He is currently recovering from a broken left thumb.
Monroe

Cole, Charlie

Charlie Cole 2012 SOY NC 210Charlie Cole first became an Olympian.Then he became an Olympic medalist.Cole won a bronze medal as a member of the United States rowing team in the Coxless Four race on Aug. 4 at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.Great Britain won the gold medal with a time of 6:03.97 and Australia earned the silver. Cole and his teammates, Scott Gault, Glenn Ochal and Henrick Rummel, won the bronze with a 6:07.20 that was a comfortable 2 minutes, 11 seconds ahead of fourth-place Belarus. It was the first time the United States earned a medal in the Men’s 4 since the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.Cole began his career in rowing when he was a student at New Canaan High. As a collegian, he was on the rowing team at Yale University, and Cole is also a graduate of Kellogg College, Oxford, where he was a member of the rowing team.Last year he was U.S. Rowing’s Athlete of the Year.Being just 26 years old, Cole is still relatively young in this sport and has great potential for continued improvement. Consequently, he is hopeful that his Olympic experience will serve him well in the future and perhaps have the opportunity for another similar experience at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.“We put in a lot of hard work since last year,” Cole said shortly after winning the bronze medal, according to the U.S. Rowing website. “We’re young guys and we have a lot to look forward to and we’ll have to think about and reflect on our performance and let the dust settle. But we have a lot to be confident about, and hopefully, a lot to look forward to in our rowing careers.”
New Canaan

Daniello, Bryan

Bryan Daniello 2012 SOY Norwalk 210In a city that has a long and storied tradition of excellent high school baseball players, Bryan Daniello solidified his status as one of the best of them all after his superb junior and senior years for Brien McMahon’s Senators.Daniello culminated his high school career this past spring by earning numerous awards. Several of the prestigious ones included being named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Player of the Year, and the New Haven Register MVP and a member of its All-State first team for the second consecutive year. Daniello was also the FCIAC MVP and selected to the Class LL All-State Team both of the last two years.Daniello excelled all over the diamond – whether it was on the pitcher’s mound, in the infield at shortstop, and most certainly in the batter’s box. He had a .403 batting average, 19 RBIs, seven home runs and a .584 on-base percentage as opposing pitchers chose to often pitch around him so he drew 27 walks. He also had a slugging percentage of .871 and 20 stolen bases.During his senior year as a pitcher, Daniello had an 8-1 record with seven complete games and a 1.22 earned run average. He had a 15-6 record and a 1.37 ERA while striking out 171 batters in 158 2/3 innings during his career.Daniello, who now plays for UConn, was a key player for the Senators during all four years in high school. He has school records in triples (12), runs scored (78) and stolen bases (68) and he and Alvin Faust are tied for the lowest career ERA of 1.37.
Norwalk

Shelton High School Baseball Team

Shelton HS Baseball 2012 SOY 210The Gaels returned to past glory when they won their first baseball championship since 1976 with a 7-2 victory over South Windsor in the championship game of the CIAC Class LL Baseball Tournament to give the school its fifth overall state title.Ryan Testani came through for the Gaels on the mound and at the plate in the state tourney final. Testani struck out nine while allowing just two hits and he also aided his cause by driving in three runs. Ryan Daiss scored two runs and drove in a run in the championship game.Testani and Daiss were dominant on the mound for all four games of the Class LL state tournament. They combined to pitch all 28 innings as Shelton allowed the opposing teams just three runs.Shelton finished 22-5 and ranked No. 1 in the state in both of the major media polls – the New Haven Register and Hartford Courant. Fourth-year head coach Scott Gura was also selected as Coach of the Year by the Register and the Connecticut Diamond Club.Ryan Zahornasky and Bryan Kondor were both named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Team. Marcello Ursini, Zahornasky, Kondor, Testani and Daiss were all Southern Connecticut Conference All-Housatonic Team picks.Gura dedicated Shelton’s state title to the late Ed Marocco and referred to Maroccco as a guardian angel looking down upon the Gaels. Marocco was Shelton’s coach for 28 years until he passed away in 2008.
Shelton

Madwed, Dan

Dan Madwed 2012 SOY Stamford 210Madwed has established himself as one of the greatest swimmers ever to come out of Stamford and the state of Connecticut.His talent and hard work was recognized this past March when he was named the 2012 Big Ten Men’s Swimmer of the Year as a senior at the University of Michigan, which is traditionally a swimming powerhouse.Madwed won four Big Ten Championships and earned five All-America honors this winter. The senior co-captain placed fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the 200-yard butterfly at the 2012 NCAA Championships. He concluded his career with 14 All-America honors along with being part of 14 Big Ten championships in either individual or relay events.He also competed in the United States Olympic Swimming Trials for the third time in his career this summer. His first one was eight years ago when he was just 15 and he also swam in the 2008 Olympic Trials. This year the 23-year-old advanced to the finals of the 200-meter butterfly and placed seventh with a time of 1:58.36. He also placed 16th in the 100-meter butterfly.Right from his freshman year at Westhill High, Madwed made a major impact on the program and he excelled for the Vikings for three years until he was a junior. He still holds the state high school record with his time of 49.75 in the 100-yard butterfly at the 2005 State Open Championships.Madwed was in Towson, Md., for his senior year in high school as that gave him the opportunity to train at the prestigious North Baltimore Aquatic Club that included Michael Phelps among its members.That helped Madwed earn his scholarship to Michigan, where he also excelled in the classroom. He was named to the Academic All Big-Ten team this year and is a four-time UM Academic Achievement award winner.
Stamford

Zurita, Zach

Zach Zurita 2012 SOY Stratford 210Zurita had a superlative four-year career for the Bunnell High School boys’ soccer team, capping it off his senior year with record-breaking accomplishments, two championships and a myriad of recognition awards.The list of honors was topped off when he was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American. Zurita was also selected by the NSCAA as the Connecticut High School Player of the Year along with being named the Gatorade Connecticut Boys Soccer Player of the Year. On the field, he led Bunnell to the South-West Conference and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class L championships. That Class L crown was Bunnell’s first state championship in school history.The 5-foot-9, 155-pound striker racked up a state-record, single-season best 43 goals and added 14 assists, including 11 goals and three assists in the CIAC Class Boys’ Soccer Tournament that culminated with Zurita collecting a goal and two assists while leading Bunnell to a 3-0 victory over Avon in the championship game. He was the MVP of that state championship game.Other honors for the team captain for both his junior and senior years, included earning All-State and All-New England laurels and the New Haven Register Boys’ Soccer MVP during both of those years. He was also the Connecticut Post Boys’ Soccer MVP in 2011. He finished with 96 goals and 42 assists for his career.Zurita, who made the All-SWC Academic Team in 2010 and was a Scholar-Athlete Award winner at Bunnell in 2011-12, is now playing Division I college soccer at Monmouth University.
Stratford

Centopani, Evan

Evan Centopani 2012 SOY Tbull 210Evan Centopani has dedicated himself to become one of the elite bodybuilders in the United States.[br][br]Centopani, 30, placed third this past March in the 2012 Arnold Classic, which is the second most prestigious bodybuilding contest in the world behind the Mr. Olympia contest. Centopani’s third-place finish qualified him for the Mr. Olympia contest. He also had earned a spot for Mr. Olympia twice before this year, but passed up each opportunity because he felt he was not yet ready to compete at such a level. He felt differently after this year’s high finish at the Arnold Classic and he headed to Las Vegas where he finished in the Top 10 with an eighth-place finish.[br][br]As a youngster, Centopani’s father gave him a weightlifting set and he caught the bug almost immediately, often heading directly to his basement after school was over to lift weights.[br][br]Seven years ago, Centopani was spotted working out at the World Gym in Trumbull by Ron Rich, a bodybuilder, and Rich mentioned to Centopani that he should consider competing in a bodybuilding contest. Rich somehow convinced Centopani that he should enter the NPC Atlantic States competition, which was then just 10 weeks away. Centopani went for it and sure enough he emerged the winner.[br][br]He placed first in several amateur contests, including the 2007 National Physique Committee Nationals in the super-heavyweight division, and that earned him his International Federation of Bodybuilders professional card.[br][br]Centopani took a year off, then made his professional debut in May of 2009 at the New York IFBB Pro Championship and he won that.[br][br]The progress continued and he placed fourth in the 2011 Arnold Classic, and eventually to the Mr. Olympia competition this year.
Trumbull

Ledwick, Sibyl

Sibyl Ledwick 2012 SOY Weston 210For the last 18 years, Sibyl Ledwick has given so much of her time and herself for the betterment of the Weston sports community that it’s likely impossible to calculate how much of her life has been spent doing so. Whether as an advocate, a coach, a fundraiser or a mentor, her impact has been felt throughout the town.She ran the Weston High School Booster Club concession program, Relay for Life and now the Special Olympics. She would shop for, stock, clean, staff and work those concession stands whether she did or did not have any of her children involved in the events.Ledwick was also the driving force behind the creation of Weston’s girls youth lacrosse programs. The fruition of that culminated with Weston High winning the state Class S championship this past spring.The respect for Ledwick as a person and her longtime contributions to the Weston sports community was perfectly conveyed in a nomination letter for the sports person of the year award co-written by WHS Boosters Club president Dawn Egan, Weston LAX president Karen Mitchell, and Brian McMahon, a past president of those two aforementioned organizations. The letter said, in part: “Sib has also been a significant supporter of Weston basketball, Weston swimming and has motivated many of us to give even more. She has never asked, nor looked for thanks.“After 18 years of having children in our schools, she has finally retired and there is nobody who can take her place and fill the shoes she is leaving behind. She is a woman of integrity, generosity and conviction. It has been an honor and privilege for all of us to have worked with her and nobody deserves this award more!”
Weston

Staples High School Indoor/Outdoor Track Teams

Staples Track 2012 SOY Westport 210Staples’ track teams were nearly Triple Crown winners for both the indoor and outdoor seasons. During the indoor they won FCIAC, CIAC Class LL and CIAC State Open team titles. Then in the outdoor campaign they fell just short finishing second in the CIAC State Open.In his five decades coaching at Staples, Coach Laddie Lawrence has had many championship teams. But never ones like this year’s talented group, that went 11-0 outdoors and was the top indoor team in the county. Both were led by one of the school’s best ever distance runners in Henry Wynne.Wynne won multiple championships over the eight-month span for the two teams, culminating with him winning the 1,600 at the New England Outdoors. Also at that meet, Wynne was part of the runner-up 4×400 relay team, along with Max Hoberman, Zach Mitchell and Jonathan Heil. That quartet had earned sprint medley relay All-American honors during the indoor season. Wynne also won the 1,600 and 800 at the three other outdoor championship meets.Dean Hefnawy was the Class L pole vault champion. At the FCIAC Outdoors, Matt Mula won the pole vault, while Hoberman won the triple jump and was joined by Heil, Mitchell and David Hoffman on the victorious 4×100 relay team. The Wreckers had 10 athletes named first-team All-FCIAC for the indoor season.
Westport

LeVander, Chelsea

Chelsea LeVander 2013 SOY Wilton 210This past winter Chelsea LeVander put the wraps on a superb career and solidified her legacy as one of the best gymnasts ever from the storied history of Wilton High School’s program, along with being one of the elite in the history of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference.LeVander was just a sophomore when she won her first FCIAC all-around championship. Then she maintained that consistency and steadily improved and defended her all-around titles the next two years to become a three-time conference champion. During her junior year, LeVander led the Warriors to their first conference crown since 1997 and this past February she helped them repeat as the team champion. LeVander swept all four events at the FCIAC Gymnastics Championships during her last two years.And there were many more school records along the way.One memorable highlight was on Feb. 16 during the final home meet of her career on Senior Night when Chelsea’s exceptional routine on the uneven bars impressed the judges so much that she received an amazing score of 9.95.In addition to that, LeVander set a school all-around record score of 38.4 and she had season-best scores of 9.8 on the balance beam and 9.7 on the floor exercise.LeVander was also the runner-up at the CIAC State Open for the second straight year and an Elite All-American this year. Other honors included being All-FCIAC all four years of her high school career, a YMCA state/regional Level 8 champion three straight years, a YMCA national Level 8 champion in 2010 and she was MSG Varsity’s FCIAC Gymnast of the Year in 2012.
Wilton

2011 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

University of Bridgeport Women's Gymnastics Team

bridgeportsoyubteampix210Coach Byron Knox’ team won its third straight U.S. Gymnastics Association Team national championship.
Bridgeport

Minicus, Mo

soydarienhead 210After another season of multiple championships, Mo Minicus earned the ultimate recognition for building her Darien High field hockey program into a dominant power over the past decade.[br][br]Everyone in Connecticut already knew how successful the Blue Wave have been under Minicus’ tutelage, but now the rest of the country is aware as well after she was named the National Field Hockey Coach of the Year at the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Convention in Baltimore, Md. Minicus was also the Mid-Atlantic Region Field Hockey Coach of the Year for the 2010 season after her Blue Wave went 22-0 for the third consecutive year.[br][br]The Blue Wave won their fourth consecutive FCIAC championship and fourth straight state Class M championship last year. Darien was voted the No. 1 team in the state in each of the previous four years. Darien has a combined 17-1 record in the previous five Class M state tournaments.[br][br]After arriving at Darien in 2000, it didn’t take long for Minicus, who brought with her a standout resume of success as a player and coach on the collegiate level, to begin the Blue Wave’s ascent to conference and state supremacy. The Wave won the first of five FCIAC titles under Minicus in 2003.[br][br]Minicus was a four-year starter for the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams at Williams College. A 1990 graduate, she was a two-time All-American in field hockey and Williams College’s first-ever first-team All-American in women’s lacrosse. She was the head field hockey coach and women’s lacrosse coach at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine from 1992-96 and a four-time Maine Coach of the Year in field hockey.
Darien

Boe-Wiegaard, Will

soyeastonnewheadshot210After a very successful career as a college player, this native of Oslo, Norway is now a professional who won his first ATP point and world ranking at the beginning of the summer. He won two matches to qualify for the main event at the $15,000 Futures tournament in Montauban, France in late June.[br][br]Boe-Wiegaard, who has played in over 150 Futures and Challenges tournaments, was ranked 1,413th in the ATP rankings in late September after having ascended throughout the summer to be ranked as high as 1,396th in early August.[br][br]He continues to travel and play in tournaments internationally in his quest to continue to climb in the ATP rankings.[br][br]“Will Boe” began playing tennis at the age of five. He was a five-time All-American at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) from 2002-2006 and he culminated that superb collegiate career by finishing as the No. 1 ranked singles player in Division III after winning the singles title at the 2006 NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships.[br][br]Boe-Wiegaard was runner-up in men’s singles in the same tournament in 2005.[br][br]The 2002 Barlow High graduate, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Nov. 9, was raised in Connecticut for the past 25 years by his mother, Ingri, an acupuncturist. His younger brother, Thomas, is a mechanical engineer. Will credits his mother for his confidence, diligence and optimism, and he credits his brother for his competitiveness, sense of humor and kindness to others.
Easton

Rog, Connor

fairfieldsoyconnor 210Rog had a fantastic junior year at Fairfield Prep as a cross country runner in the fall and as a distance runner during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. Rog was named the 2010-11 Gatorade Connecticut Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.[br][br]He got his excellent cross country postseason rolling by winning the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class LL race at Wickham Park with a time of 15:58 that was 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Alex Levine of Danbury. That performance led the Jesuits to fourth place.[br][br]The 5-foot-5 Rog then ran seven seconds faster and placed second in the State Open at Wickham Park, just one second behind winner Bryan Fowler (15:50), a senior from Tolland. Rog was the top Connecticut finisher at the New England Cross Country championships when he placed third.[br][br]Prior to that, Rog was also the individual champion at the Wickham Park Invitational, the Bethel Invitational and the Southern Connecticut Conference Cross Country Championships. He was an All-SCC, All-State and All-New England selection in cross country.[br][br]Rog also excelled during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. Rog was a double champion at the CIAC Class LL Boys Indoor Track and Field Championships. He set a meet record of 4:21.8 while winning the 1,600 and then he won the 3,200 with a 9:36.66. One week later he won the State Open 3,200 in 9:25.28.[br][br]During the outdoor season, Rog won the 3,200 by 12 seconds with a time of 9:20.98 in the CIAC Class LL Boys Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He finished up state competition by placing second in the 3,200 (9:19.07) in the State Open behind Fowler (9:09.83).
Fairfield

Mazzilli, L.J.

soygreenwichhead 210As the starting second baseman and leadoff hitter, Mazzilli was one of the catalysts for one of the most successful seasons in University of Connecticut baseball team history.[br][br]Mazzilli, 21, had a stellar regular season at the plate for UConn and he continued to wield his hot stick in the postseason while helping the Huskies maintain a sustained run in the NCAA Tournament.[br][br]The consistent Mazzilli had one 10-game hitting streak, a nine-game hitting streak twice, and he batted .338 in a team-high 275 at-bats. He had 23 doubles among his 93 hits and 43 RBIs in 65 games. The sophomore infielder also had a .392 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .491.[br][br]Mazzilli was named to the All-Big East Second Team, he was honored as an NEIBA Second Team All-Star, and he was a member of the 2011 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team that had an 11-2-1 record this past summer.[br][br]Mazzilli went 6-for-18 (a .333 batting average) with one home run and a double while helping the Huskies win the Big East championship and secure their berth in the NCAA Tournament. And he was even hotter in NCAA play, batting .364 with five RBIs. Included among his 12 hits were two doubles and one triple as he helped lead the Huskies to their first-ever Super Regional appearance.[br][br]Prior to UConn, Mazzilli graduated from the IMG Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla. He also attended Greenwich High School and Iona Prep.[br][br]LJ is the son of former Major League Baseball player, coach and manager, Lee Mazzilli, who played a valuable role as a key reserve 25 years ago while helping the New York Mets win the World Series.
Greenwich

Strong, Dave

soymonroestrongheadshot210When Strong announced his retirement in March, he had already secured his spot as a legendary coach for the Masuk High School girls’ basketball team by having record-setting success during a 35-year career bridging five decades and two centuries.[br][br]Strong is the all-time leader in Connecticut for career wins in girls’ high school basketball, with his 704-156 record computing to a winning percentage of .819.[br][br]Suffice it to say, many of those wins occurred in the championship games of conference and state tournaments. Masuk won 19 conference championships and three Class L state titles. The 1989-90 Panthers, which included his daughter, Julia, were undefeated and they gave Strong his first state crown with a 55-47 victory over New Fairfield. Masuk defended that Class L title in 1991 and Strong won his third state championship in 1995.[br][br]The Panthers had seven undefeated regular seasons, produced a 93-game winning streak in regular season games from 1993-97, and won 50 straight overall (regular season and playoffs) from 1994-96.[br][br]Strong continues to be recognized for his accomplishments, even in retirement. The long list of honors includes his selection as the National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2002. He has already been inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2000), the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2002), the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2004) and the National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2009).[br][br]While Strong’s long list of achievements is impressive, it’s the relationships he has forged and the positive impact he has had on the lives of the hundreds of young ladies he has coached throughout his 35 years that is his greatest joy.
Monroe

Higgins, Christian

soyncheadshot210Christian Higgins is in the midst of a superb swimming career as he continues to pile up accomplishments and records.[br][br]This captain on the perennially-strong Wilton YMCA Wahoos Men’s Team, who was the Connecticut Swimming Athlete of the Year in 2010, had a fantastic meet at the YMCA Short Course Championships this past spring to help lead the Wahoos to third place.[br][br]The highlight of the meet for Higgins was when he set national records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Higgins won the 100 breaststroke in 53.69 to break a two-year-old record of 54.27. Higgins added that record one day after he won the 200 breaststroke in 1:56.29 to break his own previous record of 1:57.61 that he set last year. Higgins also placed second in the 200 individual medley and third in the 400 IM.[br][br]Higgins, who graduated from New Canaan High School this past June, is now a freshman and one of the prized recruits for the defending NCAA champion California Golden Bears. A seven-time high school All-American, he has senior national cuts of 1:02.29 in the 100-meter breaststroke and 2:15.53 in the 200-meter breaststroke. His top times by yardage are 55.52 in the 200-yard breaststroke and 2:00.63 in the 200-yard breaststroke.[br][br]He currently holds 24 Connecticut state swimming records. Higgins was a member of the USA Swimming Junior World Cup Team in 2009-10 that competed in Berlin, Stockholm and Barcelona, and he was also on the USA Swimming Junior Pan Pacific Team in 2010. Team members had to be among the top two 18-and-under swimmers in their respective events to make those teams.
New Canaan

Parlanti, Jim and Joe

soynorwalkparlantis210The Parlanti brothers, Jim and Joe, truly are brothers in arms with the time and legwork they continually put in to the Norwalk youth baseball community.[br][br]Jim has been the president and treasurer for the Norwalk Athletic Association Babe Ruth Baseball, while Joe has been vice president of Babe Ruth. And together they played a vital role to ensure that Norwalk was the host site of the 13-Year-Old New England Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament this summer, which was the first one ever hosted by Norwalk.[br][br]The eight-team tournament included Norwalk as the host team, state champions from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with a champion from Western Massachusetts and a champion from Eastern Massachusetts.[br][br]It was not the first time the Parlantis have coordinated a successful tournament. Joe was president and Jim was treasurer of the Norwalk Cal Ripken League from 2003-07, an era in which they hosted five district tournaments and one state tournament.[br][br]Through the foresight of the Parlanti brothers, the Norwalk Cal Ripken League was one of the first in the state to increase the distances of the bases to 70 feet and the distance from the mound to home plate to 60 feet after the national governing body of Cal Ripken leagues authorized that the leagues may have that option. Though many leagues statewide opted to remain with the shorter distances, the Parlantis saw the value in enabling the younger boys to make a transition to a bigger field and eventually most of the other Cal Ripken leagues in the state followed their lead.[br][br]The Parlantis have also been successful coaches and administrators for several other baseball leagues in Norwalk, including Tee-ball, since the 1990s.
Norwalk

Shelton High School Girls Soccer Team

soysheltonteampix210Displaying excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community, the Shelton High girls’ soccer team was a prime example of true student-athletes.[br][br]The Gaelettes’ banner season under coach Marvin Miller was the culmination of the steady growth of the program during the previous six years. The team won Shelton High School’s first state championship in a girls’ sport in 25 years — and first ever in soccer — when they captured the CIAC Class LL title with a 3-2 victory over Fairfield Ludlowe on Nov. 17.[br][br]That state championship occurred a couple weeks after Shelton won its first Southern Connecticut Conference championship in a decade. Shelton set school records for wins and shutouts while finishing 20-2-1.[br][br]Shelton was led by senior captains Danica Foglio and Alexandra Farley, along with junior forwards Angela Ferro and Megan Manzo. Foglio had two goals and 13 assists and was selected to the Class LL All-State team. Farley proved to be a most valuable player in the postseason. Ferro racked up 25 goals and 13 assists, while Manzo had 23 goals and 10 assists.[br][br]In the classroom, the Gaelettes were equally adept as eight players were selected to the SCC All-Academic Team. The eight All-Academic honorees were team captain Sonali Rodrigues, the program’s Scholar-Athlete, along with Katie Bailey, Megan Burke, Kristen Grabarz, Molly Hanko, Mary Hunter, Sarah McNeil and Ferro.[br][br]In addition to their successes on the field and academically, the Gaelettes also proved winners in giving back to their community. They continued their long support of Special Olympics by participating in the Penguin Plunge this past March and in June they hosted their third annual soccer camp for the young girls of Shelton Youth Soccer.  
Shelton

Haggerty, Ryan

soystamfordhaggertyheadshotcrop 210Haggerty played a vital role in helping Team USA win the gold medal at the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Men’s Under-18 Championship in Crimmitschau, Germany in late April.[br]br]He got the team off and running in the first tournament game, scoring the first goal of the game to help send Team USA to a 2-1 victory over Switzerland. Team USA went 6-0 in Pool B and then won the gold medal with a 4-3 overtime victory over Sweden.[br][br]That culminated a successful experience for Haggerty in the USA Hockey youth developmental programs.[br][br]Haggerty was one of the best high school hockey players in the state when he was a freshman and sophomore at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford from 2007-2009.[br][br]He racked up 105 points (51 goals and 54 assists) during his career with the Crusaders. He had 26 goals and 33 assists during his final sophomore season while leading them to a 21-5 season. Haggerty was selected to the All-FCIAC and Division I All-State first teams during the 2008-09 season.[br][br]The USA Hockey coaches and administration targeted Haggerty as a prospect with potential and invited him and many of the best young hockey players in the country to try out for the youth national teams. Haggerty accepted the invitation and was chosen. He attended the last two years of his high school career at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.[br][br]This past winter was the second straight year that Haggerty’s national team won a gold medal. He was also on the team that won the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ontario in 2010.[br][br]Haggerty is now continuing his hockey career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Stamford

Babineau, Donna and Jeff

soystratfordpix210Donna and Jeff Babineau dealt with the heartache of losing their child, Erin, by honoring her legacy and giving back to the community while doing so.[br][br]Donna and Jeff had their lives suddenly shattered when Erin was tragically killed in a tour bus accident while on vacation in Jamaica in February of 2005.[br][br]Together, the Babineau family decided to forge ahead in life while remembering Erin. Jeff and Donna knew that her short-lived 10 years could not be in vain, so they established the Erin Babineau Memorial Fund Inc.[br][br]The broad goal was to help young athletes and programs in the community and there have been several organizations which have already benefitted from that.[br][br]Erin was an exceptional athlete herself. She loved gymnastics and softball. Erin always dreamed of playing at beautiful facilities but never had that opportunity.[br][br]Her dream is now real and her legacy is now forever honored as her parents have created “Erin’s Gym,” a large indoor turf youth athletic facility which will be gifted to the Sterling House Community Center.[br][br]Other accomplishments of the Babineau Fund include in 2010 creating a fully-fenced in first class softball field at Erin’s elementary school and refurbishing the scoreboard and press box at Bunnell High.[br][br]The Babineau family is all about sports, family, and serving the community. Daughter, Rachel, was an all-state athlete at Bunnell High School and is now a cheerleader at UConn. Cory, their 12-year-old son, is a three-sport athlete with goals of playing sports in high school. Jeff is head softball coach at St. Joseph High School.[br][br]One thing that will always reassure the Babineaus is that they know that Erin is smiling down on all of those athletes and young children that enter the doors of “Erin’s Gym.”
Stratford

Lorenti, Brittany

soytrumbullhead210Lorenti is a world class compound archer and ranked in the Top 10 in the United States. She is a four-time Collegiate All-American.
Trumbull

Pressman, Jon

soywestonhead210Pressman has been the driving force in building the Weston soccer community both on the pitch and off. Fostering a collaborative, teamwork oriented approach for both.[br][br]One of his major accomplishments is taking the nucleus of an idea to develop an adult soccer program in Weston, and molding it into the Weston Adult Soccer League (WASL), which has had 170 adults ranging in ages from 18-85 participating in soccer leagues over the last 12 months. The WASL offers fall, winter and spring programs in addition to a six-team/eight-week summer league that includes a mixture of Weston High School, college and adult players.[br][br]There are several other examples as to why this is a deserving award for an unassuming leader who steers clear of the limelight. His leadership is subtle and is based on his unflinching willingness to take on challenges, projects and initiatives that many would shy away from due to time commitments or extended involvement.[br][br]An example that typified Pressman’s style and organizational ability was how he virtually single-handedly organized a Memorial Day Soccer Event to raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which conducts research for the treatment of childhood cancer. Pressman did that on behalf of an adult player’s son who had been diagnosed with leukemia. The family did not ask for or suggest the idea, as it came to fruition simply because of Pressman’s inspiration and determination.[br][br]Pressman has also raised money for other community needs, and has given his time and expertise to the basketball, cross country and track and field programs in Weston.
Weston

Staples High School Boys Soccer Team

soywestportstaplesteam_photo300It is perfectly fitting that coach Dan Woog’s 2010 Staples boys’ soccer team is honored on the same evening that the school’s first coach, the legendary Albie Loeffler, is inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.[br][br]The relationship between Loeffler and Woog is the epitome of a mentor/protegé dynamic and it has resulted in continued excellence with the Staples High School boys’ soccer program. Loeffler began this program in 1958 and Woog is carrying on that legacy of excellence since he became the program’s third head coach in 2003. Woog kept in steady contact with Loeffler and continued to rely on Loeffler’s counsel up until Loeffler passed away at the age of 93 in September of 2009.[br][br]If there is any team that has been a dynasty in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, this Staples boys’ soccer program is certainly one of them.[br][br]The 2010 Wreckers did nothing to deter from that distinction as they won their third consecutive FCIAC championship and their fourth in the previous five years with a 2-1 victory over Fairfield Warde. It was also a record 27th FCIAC championship.[br][br]Staples lost two of its first three matches and then went undefeated in the next 20 matches (19-0-1) until the state Class LL championship game, where Staples was nipped by Farmington, 2-1. The Wreckers finished 20-3-1 and they had a combined 42-5-1 record during the previous two seasons.[br][br]Frankie Bergonzi, Sean Gallagher and Brendan Lesch were the captains of the 2010 team, and all three were voted to the All-FCIAC first team. Court Lake, Mikey Scott and Jake Krosse were selected to the FCIAC All-East team.
Westport

Francia, Mike

soywiltonheadshot210Francia was an All-American lacrosse player and led Wilton High to the Class M state title. He finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in program history as a four-year starter. He had 55 goals in the 2010 season to lead the team.[br][br]However his greatest accomplishment was overcoming cancer at the age of nine. He is in remission and continues to be an inspiration to all.
Wilton

2010 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Beverly, Erica

2010 SPOTYThis spring Beverly completed one of the greatest careers in University of Hartford women’s basketball history. It ended abruptly on a down note, but her time with the Hawks program is not over. [br][br]Beverly was having yet another strong season for the 21st-ranked Hawks, when her season and career suddenly ended this past March 7 when she tore the ACL in her right knee with three minutes remaining in Hartford’s victory over Stony Brook in the semifinals of the America East Conference Tournament. [br][br]Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti has long been impressed with Beverly’s acumen as a player and general character as a person, so Rizzotti made sure to keep Beverly involved as a key cog in this winning program by hiring Beverly as director of basketball operations this past spring soon after Beverly graduated. [br][br]Beverly’s final game was historic as she became the first player in school history to record at least 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Beverly compiled 1,298 points and a school-record 1,006 rebounds, while averaging 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds during her career. [br][br]She also has school career records in games played (135), games started (121) and blocked shots (196) in addition to holding Hartford’s single-season records in blocked shots (65 as a senior) and rebounds (271 as a freshman in 2005-06 when she was the America East Rookie of the Year). [br][br]Last year Beverly became the first player in school history to be named the America East Defensive Player of the Year. The senior tri-captain was named to the America East first team and to the conference’s All-Defensive team for the third straight season. [br][br]During her high school career at Kolbe Cathedral in Bridgeport, Beverly led the Cougars to back-to-back Class S state championships.
Bridgeport

Farren, Tony

2010 SPOTYAfter four years as president of Darien Little League and 13 years of being involved with it in other capacities, Farren is being honored for his vital role in helping guide the league to incredible success. [br][br]Success comes in several forms in the Darien Little League. The major one is that the league is the largest in North America with 1,400 youngsters involved in the softball and baseball programs, an astonishing number given the size of the town and its limited field space. [br][br]Although Farren is naturally proud of this particular honor, he is most honored because he feels this recognition is really going to the Darien Little League and the town. As far as Farren is concerned, he is simply accepting this award on behalf of all parties. [br][br]Farren says the focal point of the Darien Little League is to simply expose and involve youngsters to sports that they will enjoy for a pivotal part of their lives. [br][br]The Darien Little League did have its share of success on the field this past summer. The 12-year-old softball team won the District I championship. Four boys’ baseball teams in two divisions advanced to the semifinals in their respective district tournaments, with one of them advancing to the finals. [br][br]Farren certainly was proud of that success on the field. But there is one other thing he takes just as much pride in. [br][br]A few years ago Farren instituted the Operation DLL Cares program in which the league collects essentials and sends packages overseas to the United States troops involved in the war effort. When Farren watches the Darien Little League youngsters willingly help pack these packages during the Memorial Day Weekend, he is as proud of that as any victory on any field.
Darien

Colby, Tyler

2010 SPOTYColby’s stellar high school career as a standout two-sport athlete at Joel Barlow High came to a conclusion in June, and has already begun his quest to use his versatile talents to play two sports as a collegian. [br][br]A three-year starter for the Falcons’ football and baseball teams, Colby earned division, conference and state honors for his exploits. [br][br]As a quarterback for the football team, Colby rushed for 1,308 yards during his senior year to surpass the 3,000-yard milestone in career rushing yardage. He twice earned selection as the All-Southwest Conference quarterback and was an All-State honorable mention pick as an all-purpose player. [br][br]Perhaps the most memorable highlight of Colby’s high school football career occurred early in the 2009 season when he led an incredible comeback in the fourth quarter to help the Falcons pull out a 36-35 victory at home over New Fairfield. The Falcons scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and rallied back from a 13-point deficit. Colby rushed for a touchdown, then fired a TD pass and completed the game-winning two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter. [br][br]Colby had a career batting average of over .300 as a three-year starting outfielder for Barlow’s baseball team. He batted a robust .476 as a senior and was named to the All-SWC team. Colby was also a two-time All-Patriot Division selection and All-State in baseball. [br][br]Off the field, Colby also received recognition during his senior year being named to the All-State Academic team. Last spring he was also Barlow’s recipient of the SWC Leadership Award. [br][br]The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder, who also played basketball his senior year at Barlow, is now a defensive back for the Division III Salve Regina football team. He also plans on playing for the baseball team in the spring.
Easton

Fairfield American Little League Baseball Team

2010 SPOTYThe Summer of 2010 will be a summer to remember forever for 11 players and three coaches on the Fairfield American Little League baseball team. [br][br]Fairfield won district, state and New England regional championships to qualify for the prestigious Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Fairfield American became the first team from the town to reach the Series, winning 21 of its 24 postseason games. [br][br]The Fairfield youngsters did it with their baseball skills, naturally. But they also did it with grace, humility, pride and a special mental toughness in which they had the knack for pulling out late comeback victories. Their first three victories in the New England regional all came via dramatic comebacks. [br][br]Fairfield defeated the team from Auburn, Wash., 3-1, in its opening game of the Little League World Series before Fairfield was eventually eliminated by Auburn, 9-5, in a rematch in the losers’ bracket. [br][br]Nick Nardone, Eddie Magi, Jack Quinn, Patrick Calabrese, Connor Daley, Chris Howell, Nate Klein, Billy McGrath, Patrick O’Leary, Tom Ryan and Liam Wurzel were the 11 players who are now in their own special baseball fraternity forever. Chris Daley was the manager and his assistant coaches were Larry Klein and Brian McGrath. [br][br]Nardone was the ace of the pitching staff, he was one of Fairfield’s best hitters and he also played solid defense at shortstop when Magi, the team’s second top pitcher, or anyone else was on the mound. Nardone allowed just one hit in 5 2/3 innings and Magi struck out the final batter to seal the 1-0 victory over Cumberland, R.I. in the New England regional final. [br][br]Quinn was also a top hitter in a deep and balanced batting lineup in which many of the Fairfield players were capable of providing a big home run at a big moment.
Fairfield

Atkinson, Cam

2010 SPOTYSuccess has followed Cam Atkinson at virtually all levels of play during his hockey career. Such was the case once again last winter when the 5-foot-8, 175-pound forward  had a superb sophomore season and was a key player in leading Boston College to the NCAA championship. [br][br]Atkinson scored two goals to lead the Eagles to their 5-0 victory over Wisconsin in the Frozen Four national championship game on April 10 at Ford Field. Atkinson, who netted a goal in Boston College’s 7-1 victory over Miami in the prior semifinal game, earned All-Tournament recognition. [br][br]That was the final honor of many during a season in which Atkinson led the nation in goal scoring with 30. He also racked up a team-high 53 points, adding 23 assists while playing all 42 games. He won the Norman F. Dailey Award that goes to the program’s Most Valuable Player. Atkinson was also the recipient of the Paul Hines Award as the Most Improved Player in New England and was selected to the All-Hockey East second team. [br][br]Atkinson was the NCAA Northeast Regional Most Outstanding Player after leading the Eagles to victories over Alaska and Yale. Atkinson had three goals, an assist and a plus-5 rating in Boston College’s wild 9-7 victory over Yale that secured the Eagles their berth in the Frozen Four. [br][br]During his freshman season, after he was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the sixth round (with the 157th overall pick) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Atkinson scored seven goals and had 12 assists in 36 games and earned the Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award. [br][br]Atkinson enrolled at BC after a superb prep school career at Avon Old Farms in which he is the only player in school history to win three New England Division I Prep School championships.
Greenwich

Butler, Ed

2010 SPOTYWhether it was the sport of football, cross country or track and field, when Masuk High’s Ed Butler was coaching success was assured for every one of his teams. [br][br]Whether it was back in 1966 during his first year of coaching as an assistant track coach at Bunnell, or whether it is 45 years later to this present day as the head indoor track coach at Masuk, Butler has impacted thousands of athletes in a most positive way as a coach, teacher and mentor. [br][br]Butler has racked up 15 conference championships as a head coach throughout his career over the course of four decades. [br][br]The list of championships is a long one. He led Masuk’s football teams to Western Connecticut Conference championships in 1979 and ’82; his Masuk boys indoor track team won the 1996 Southwest Conference championship; the Masuk girls indoor track team won its first SWC title in 1996, then five more in 2000, ’01, ’03, ’04 and ’05; the Masuk girls outdoor track team won the 2002 SWC championship and defended it the following year. [br][br]Butler’s first head coaching job was guiding the Bunnell cross country team in 1972 and that team won the MBIAC championship. Butler also won MBIAC track championships in 1973 and ’74 at Bunnell. [br][br]Suffice it to say, all that success led to several awards. Butler was the Connecticut Post Football Coach of the Year in 1980. The Connecticut High School Coaches Association honored him as the Indoor Track Coach of the Year in 1998 and the Girls Track Coach of the Year in 2006. [br][br]Butler also has been a state and area leader in overseeing the sport of track and field as chairman of numerous committees over the years.
 
Monroe

New Canaan High School Girls Hockey Team

2010 SPOTYThe New Canaan High girls’ ice hockey team continued its run of supremacy by winning FCIAC and state championships. However, those titles were extra special this year as the Rams defeated arch rival Darien in both finals, avenging losses in the championship games to the Blue Wave in the 2008-09 season. [br][br]New Canaan, which had just four seniors on the team, finished 23-1. Leading the way for head coach Rich Bulan, were senior captains Maggie Burke and Shelby Barada, junior captain Jana Persky, senior four-year starting goalie Charlotte Spitzfaden, four-year starting defenseman Kelsey Durkin and freshman scoring sensation Olivia Hompe. [br][br]The other Rams included juniors Erin Dalia, Elizabeth Lewis, Bailey Wright and Caroline Falcone, sophomores Abbey Buckenheimer, Lauren Campbell, Jenny Crandall, Kellianne Hickey, Britt Gardella and Molly Robustelli, and freshmen Madzie Carroll, Bea Eppler, Bianca Schultz and Corbett Ripley. [br][br]Hompe had two goals and an assist, while Spitzfaden had 31 saves to lead the Rams to a 3-0 victory over Darien in the FCIAC title game. [br][br]Seven days later the two rivals staged a rematch in the state title game and the combination of Hompe and Spitzfaden came up big again. Hompe, who led the state in scoring with 32 goals and 22 assists, scored the only goal of the game when she converted a penalty shot with just 1:38 remaining in the third period and Spitzfaden stopped 20 shots to give the Rams the title.
 
New Canaan

Pierre-Louis, Kevin and Redd Jr., Silas

2010 SPOTY2010 SPOTYSilas Redd Jr. and Kevin Pierre-Louis were successful partners in high school as a pair of superstar football players who teamed up to lead King & Low-Heywood Thomas School in Stamford to two consecutive great seasons. [br][br]So it is very fitting that Redd and Pierre-Louis are paired once again as co-winners of the SOY award for their home city of Norwalk. [br][br]Redd and Pierre-Louis led King to two straight Fairchester Athletic Association championships and a combined 16-2 record during the 2008 and ’09 seasons. [br][br]The numbers that Redd put up as a big-play running back were nothing short of incredible. As a senior, Redd racked up 1,924 yards on just 120 carries, for an average of 14 yards per carry, scored 25 touchdowns and averaged 240 yards rushing per game. He ran for 1,356 yards and 15 touchdowns during his junior year to catch the attention of major college recruiters. [br][br]Redd performed so well at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl underclassmen combine during the winter of his junior year that he inevitably was ranked among the nation’s top 50 football recruits in his class. Redd chose to attend Penn State and he is now a backup running back. [br][br]Pierre-Louis culminated his career at King as an excellent middle linebacker and fullback by being named the 2009 Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year. Pierre-Louis recorded 159 total tackles, including 101 solo stops. He picked off three passes and returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns in 2009. The two-time captain also had 17 touchdowns and 914 yards rushing on offense.[br][br]Now a linebacker at Boston College, Pierre-Louis has already seen significant playing time for the Eagles this season. Against Virginia Tech, he was the second leading tackler for the Eagles with 11.
Norwalk

Gillen, Pat

2010 SPOTYIt was about a dozen years ago when Pat Gillen, all of about 5 or 6 years old at the time, would tag along with his father, Bob, to the Staples High wrestling practices when Bob was the head coach. [br][br]The Staples grapplers took young Pat under their collective wing, he’d roll around with them on the mats, and that was how he got indoctrinated into the sport. [br][br]Since then, Gillen’s accomplishments have him primed to cement his legacy as the greatest wrestler ever at Shelton High School and one of the best all-time wrestlers in Connecticut. [br][br]If he has a typical Gillen year during his upcoming senior season, and he most likely will as long as he stays healthy, Gillen is poised to break the state record for wins and pins. His current career record is 154-12 with 112 pins. [br][br]Last year, Gillen captured four championships by winning his 215-pound weight class in the SCC, state Class LL, State Open and New England championships. He was the tournament MVP in the SCC and Class LL championships, and he is a three-time SCC champion. [br][br]While copping his New England crown he pulled off the rare feat of not allowing a single point to any opponent throughout the tourney. [br][br]Gillen is a perfect 14-for-14 in winning all 14 tournaments he has wrestled in. [br][br]Off the mat, Gillen excels in the classroom and other sports as well. He is a three-time high school All-American, a three-time Academic All-American, and three-time All-State Academic selection. [br][br]Shortly after winning the New Englands last year, Gillen was out on the practice field for the lacrosse team and was a captain and the leading scorer for the Gaels.
Shelton

Westhill High School Girls Soccer Team

2010 SPOTYIt was a monumental achievement when the Westhill High girls’ soccer team won a state championship last year. [br][br]More than 20 years ago, when girls’ soccer teams in several suburban towns were having success in state tournaments, there were no high school girls’ soccer teams in Stamford. [br][br]Finally, during the early-1990s, a Westhill/Stamford cooperative team was in place. That team regularly lost by the most lopsided of margins to the established FCIAC programs. [br][br]Then the Stamford youth travel girls’ soccer teams began having success, the two high schools in Stamford eventually had their own respective teams, and Westhill became competitive. But the Vikings had never made it past the 2nd round of the state tourney. [br][br]That all changed on Nov. 20 as junior goalkeeper Jenn Osher provided the key saves and Penny Cote scored the game-winning goal to lead coach Dave Flower’s Vikings to their historic 2-1 victory over top-seeded Glastonbury in the CIAC Class LL final. It was the first county or state title ever for a girls’ high school soccer team from Stamford. [br][br]Honors come with championships as Kirsten Eriksen was named All-State and was joined on the All-FCIAC first team by Nicole Eriksen and Meghan Caldwell. [br][br]Tessa Dunster led the team with 10 goals, while Claire Mahoney was the defensive star. [br][br]Morgan Tanacea, Sarah Hartford, Lizzie VanName, Aulona Velaj, Hailey Hilsenrath, Julia Busto, C.C. Figluizzi-Bingham, Julie Cebo, Sam Cowit, Alex Maciejewski, Whitney Mantel, Jessica Tofano, Jackie Avellar, Nicole Pellicano, Allie Souza, Margo Teeters and Lainey Sidell were the other team members. 
Stamford

Sara, Lauren and Sherrod, Brandon

Lauren Sara 210Brandon Sherrod 210Lauren Sara was one of the best high school female distance runners in the state and Brandon Sherrod was the best boys’ basketball player in the state, which is why it is fitting that they are co-honorees for Stratford. [br][br]Sara had a superb career for the cross country and track and field programs at Bunnell High. Sherrod capped off his stellar basketball career at Stratford High by being named the Player of the Year in the state by several organizations. [br][br]Now a freshman member of the nationally-ranked University of Connecticut women’s cross country team, Sara kicked off her successful senior year by becoming an individual state champion in cross country when she won the Class L race. She later placed fourth in the State Open and third in the New England’s and was selected the Connecticut Gatorade Runner of the Year. [br][br]Sara solidified her status as Bunnell’s best distance runner ever in the indoor and outdoor track seasons. She earned All-State honors in the 3,200-meter run and All-American honors in the 5,000 during the indoor season. Sara placed fifth in the national meet in the 5,000. She holds four school distance running records. [br][br]Sherrod was the MVP of the New Haven Register’s All-State Team, in addition to being selected as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Player of the Year. [br][br]The 6-foot-5 Sherrod was relentless and simply too strong to handle on the inside for so many opponents. He averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots this past winter while leading Stratford to a perfect 27-0 season that included SWC and state Class L championships. [br][br]Sherrod, who is enrolled at Choate, racked up 28 double-doubles and nine triple-doubles during his career.
Stratford

DeSabia, Joe

Joe Desabia 210When you mention the Trumbull American Legion Post 141 baseball program, Joe DeSabia are the next two words to be uttered. [br][br]The Trumbull Legion program has secured its status as one of the top programs in the state under DeSabia’s guidance as either the team’s general manager or in his dual role as the GM and the team manager in the dugout for 16 years. [br][br]DeSabia has actually been involved with Trumbull Legion for 19 years, and the Trumbull senior team compiled a 542-112 record during that 16-year span that DeSabia was running the program. [br][br]As the skipper, he compiled a 231-64 record (a .783 winning percentage) when he was managing the senior legion team from 1993-99, including a state title in 1998. After finishing runner-up in 1997, DeSabia and several players returned to the state championship game the next summer and pitcher Jordan Reed earned a complete-game victory over Naugatuck to help Trumbull take the championship. [br][br]Craig Breslow, now a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, was one of the key players on that team. [br][br]DeSabia then decided that a good feeder system was important, so he began the junior legion program, coached that from 2001-08, won back-to-back state championships in 2001 and ’02, and then added a third state title in 2007. [br][br]Besides his Trumbull Legion duties, DeSabia also was the Zone 4 Chairman from 2007-2010 and he has played a vital role in helping secure funds that led to improvements at several facilities in the community as a member of the Parks Commission for the past eight years.
Trumbull

McMahon, Brian

Brian McMahon 210Brian McMahon has put his stamp on the Weston community in a productive and positive way by being integrally involved in youth sports for 20 years. [br][br]And McMahon did not have any personal agenda or show any favoritism to any specific sport. Whether it was football, soccer, or lacrosse, McMahon gave much of his time and enabled those respective programs to make significant progress in terms of having quality community venues to play in. McMahon, quite simply, is all about doing what is best for the kids and the community. [br][br]If there is a way to contribute to the growth of youth sports in Weston, McMahon has found it. He was president of the Weston Lacrosse Club and Aspetuck Wildcats Youth Football program, he built the town league soccer program in response to there not being a program for players who did not make travel teams, and he was on the Board of Directors of all of the aforementioned programs he was involved in. [br][br]The unassuming McMahon is quick to point out that there are many who have helped and he is just one of many. [br][br]McMahon became president of the Boosters Club two years ago and recently ended his term. With 30 varsity sports offered at Weston High and athletic budgets that continue to shrink, under McMahon’s leadership the Boosters Club secured the help of a multitude of supporters to raise funds that help prevent varsity programs from being cut. Additionally, the Booster Barn project and stadium stands project were initiated and completed under McMahon’s leadership. [br][br]One of his latest initiatives is linking the Weston Lacrosse Club with the Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse Club, which was honored last year by the Sports Commission for its efforts.
Weston

Davis, Bob

Bob Davis 210When you reach a certain stage in life, goals for what you want to achieve get a little simpler. For Bob Davis, who has been umpiring Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball in Westport for 42 years, his goal is as clear as many of the summer days he spends in his blue uniform. He is 82 years old and he wants to continue to umpire until he’s 85. Not too much to ask for someone who has dedicated such a large portion of his adult life to being a volunteer youth baseball umpire. [br][br]He also has worked games in Wilton, Fairfield and Stamford, but his home base all these years has been his hometown of Westport. Davis looks at his umpiring duties as community service, a chance to give back to the kids playing baseball, as well as making sure to help them learn the rules of the game as well. [br][br]While he has seen and done a lot over 42 years, he does have a couple of special moments he cherishes. On the field, it was working three straight AAA playoff games behind the plate in Wilton in 2009. However, again it’s that simple life that brings a proud smile to his face. Davis spans the generations in Westport baseball. When present day Little League coaches, who were players when he was the man in charge at their games, simply let him know that they remember him as a good umpire “way back when” that is all he needs to keep him going toward that goal of umpiring until 85. [br][br]It’s very easy to determine what Bob Davis enjoys in his life. It’s written on his hat that he can constantly be seen wearing around the baseball diamonds in the area. It simply says “Little League Umpire.” Which is all you really need to know about him, right?
Westport

Wilton High School Girls Lacrosse Team

Wilton HS Girls Lacrosse 210The Wilton High girls’ lacrosse program was blessed to have co-head coaches for the past eight years. [br][br]Cindy Wiseman and Ciara Thurlow, those two co-head coaches, and 18 players combined to form one special team that won one unforgettable championship this past spring. [br][br]The team suffered a multitude of injuries to key players either just before or during the season. But those injuries wouldn’t be used as an excuse. Undaunted, other players stepped in and the Warriors carried on. [br][br]When the 2010 All-FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Team was announced this past spring there was not one Warrior on it. [br][br]But yet the FCIAC championship plaque is now sitting in the Wilton High trophy case. [br][br]It hardly looked as though that would be the case when powerful Darien surged out to a 7-0 lead over Wilton in the FCIAC semifinals. But because of the Warriors’ resiliency, togetherness and toughness, they rallied back and forced the game into overtime. And then, in the third overtime, Tessa Howard fired in the sudden-victory goal to give Wilton a 17-16 victory. [br][br]The Warriors then defeated New Canaan, 12-8, in the FCIAC championship. [br][br]Team members were: Seniors – Caroline Arrix, Brittany Connor, Amy Drummond, Alexi Farmakis, Laura Johnson, Rachel Lowrie, Sara Murphy, Kelly Rance, Megan Wells and Howard; Juniors – Lindsey Flanagan, Christie Huidekpoer and goalie Maddie Kratz; Sophomores – Sam Blicht and Piper Logan; Freshmen – Megan Boepple, Tegan Helms and Casey Pearsall. This special group turned out to be the final team coached by Wiseman and Thurlow as both recently resigned to spend more time with their young children.
Wilton

2009 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Wilson, Don

2009 SPOTYSometimes the constant I-95 traffic county residents deal with on a daily basis can have a silver lining. For Don Wilson and the kids in Bridgeport, it turned out to be a driving force in the creation of the city’s first youth lacrosse program.Tired of battling the highway as he drove his two lacrosse-playing children to lower Fairfield County for practices, Wilson decided that he needed something closer to home. So he founded the Bridgeport Youth Lacrosse program in 2007. The organization is targeted toward middle school kids ages 7-15.It started with 40 kids at the Cardinal Shehan Center. It has evolved into a year round program with as many as 100 participants. In-house leagues have been developed and support from the lacrosse community throughout the county has been building. Local high school and college coaches and players have lent a hand in helping to secure equipment, provide clinics and mentor the future lacrosse stars.Wilson has started to take his lacrosse message to several neighborhoods in Bridgeport to bring the sport directly to the children and give more opportunities for them to participate. The first stage of getting inner-city kids exposed to the sport and introduced to its fast-pace is all but complete. Honing their skills to put them on the path toward high school lacrosse and potentially college scholarships is now becoming a reality. An elite travel team is another major step toward Wilson meeting his mission of giving kids in the Bridgeport area a much-closer-to-home opportunity to make lacrosse a big part of their lives.
Bridgeport

Darien Girls' Hockey Team

2009 SPOTYWhen you finally reach the top, there’s always a lot to celebrate, but for the Darien High School Girls Hockey team and coach Al Gurney they piled up plenty of extras to make the celebration even bigger. The DHS girls hit the pinnacle of success by winning their first ever FCIAC and CIAC state championships. And they had to take down the previously reigning top teams in the league and state to do it.As the regular season moved ahead, it looked like not much was going to change in the girls’ hockey power pecking order. New Canaan, the acknowledged kingpin, beat Darien by identical 2-1 scores in December and January. Same for another traditional winner Greenwich, knocking off Darien twice in the first two months of 2009. But all season long, a team with no senior players, improved and learned from those tough losses. Then the magic struck and the celebrations began.In the FCIAC playoffs, for the first time in school history Darien beat Greenwich, 1-0 in OT. Then in the league finals, the Wave’s arch rival finally fell for the first time as well as Darien posted a 2-1 title game win over New Canaan. Then on to the state tourney where in the semifinals another rugged FCIAC foe Ridgefield was ousted by the Wave, setting up another title match up with their backyard nemesis the NC Rams.When Aimee Rich scored early in the third period to give Darien a 3-2 lead, goaltender Katharine Macomber made it stand up and the Wave celebrated their march all the way to the top with a state crown in tow. The final frosting to the championship cake was the fact that Gurney now became the only hockey coach in the state to lead both a girls and boys team to state championships, after he coached Stamford High to a title in 1978.
Darien

Morton, Charlie

2009 SPOTYWhile Easton may epitomize a quiet American town filled with tranquility, Charlie Morton has made some loud noise across the U.S. as he makes his mark in the big leagues as a pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The former Barlow High baseball standout became the first Easton/Redding high school graduate to climb all the way to the top of the Major League Baseball mountain when the right-hander made his ML debut for the Atlanta Braves on June 14, 2008 and recorded his first career victory in that game.From the time he graduated in 2002 from Barlow, where he attracted major league scouts’ attention by posting a 1.18 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 40 innings, to his ascent through the minor leagues, Morton has made rapid progress to get to the big show. He came up through the Braves’ system before being traded to the Pirates this past June.The 25-year-old became a regular in the Bucs’ rotation this summer and won his first game in a Pittsburgh uniform on July 3 by tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit against Florida. He set the stage for next year in his last start of the season by wrapping up on the highest of notes. The 6-foot-4 righty turned in the best pitched game of his short, 33-start career, a complete-game, 4-hit, career-high 8-strikeout shutout of the Chicago Cubs on Sept 30.Morton concluded the 2009 campaign with a 5-9 record, to up his overall career win total to 9, and posted a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts. While Easton may epitomize a quiet American town filled with tranquility, Charlie Morton has made some loud noise across the U.S. as he makes his mark in the big leagues as a pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The former Barlow High baseball standout became the first Easton/Redding high school graduate to climb all the way to the top of the Major League Baseball mountain when the right-hander made his ML debut for the Atlanta Braves on June 14, 2008 and recorded his first career victory in that game.From the time he graduated in 2002 from Barlow, where he attracted major league scouts’ attention by posting a 1.18 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 40 innings, to his ascent through the minor leagues, Morton has made rapid progress to get to the big show. He came up through the Braves’ system before being traded to the Pirates this past June.The 25-year-old became a regular in the Bucs’ rotation this summer and won his first game in a Pittsburgh uniform on July 3 by tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit against Florida. He set the stage for next year in his last start of the season by wrapping up on the highest of notes. The 6-foot-4 righty turned in the best pitched game of his short, 33-start career, a complete-game, 4-hit, career-high 8-strikeout shutout of the Chicago Cubs on Sept 30.Morton concluded the 2009 campaign with a 5-9 record, to up his overall career win total to 9, and posted a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts.
Easton

Pop Warner Jr. Midget Cheerleaders

2009 SPOTYIt only took 2 minutes and 30 seconds, but in reality it was four months in the making. It took the Fairfield Giants Pop Warner Junior Midget Cheerleaders less than three minutes to produce a national championship winning routine. However, that short time was the culmination of hundreds of hours of practice and dedication that led to a once in a lifetime experience.A total of 30 girls ages 11-13, led by head coach Tina Martin, went to Florida in December to compete against 350 teams from 50 states. And when that final 2:30 was done, the cheer team had captured the first-ever national title for the town of Fairfield and the Southern Connecticut Pop Warner conference.From their first day of practice on August 1, the team committed itself to a season of excellence that they hoped would result in a trip to the national championships in Orlando in December. Most of the young girls on the squad had been cheering together for the past three years. This was going to be their last shot at a national title in their age bracket. One title after another was secured, 10 different first-place finishes in all, as Fairfield rolled through the region, state and New England qualifying, which finally gave them that coveted spot in the national finals at Disney World.That short span of time on December 10 produced plenty of excitement back in Connecticut as Fairfield honored its national champs with a parade in January and the team was invited to the state capitol in Hartford to be recognized for making short work of the rest of the nation’s cheerleading competition in 2008.
Fairfield

Jones, Connie

2009 SPOTYSuccess has followed Connie Jones wherever she has landed, and her Greenwich High boys’ tennis team is a reflection of that winning aura. A woman coaching a boys’ high school sport is not as rare as it once was, but for great coaches the gender of their pupils is a non-factor.This past year Jones was recognized not only for the long-run of success the Cardinals have had under her tutelage (142-9 since 2002), but for yet another singularly outstanding season that resulted in two more trophies in the Greenwich trophy case. In what has become somewhat matter-of-fact, Jones’ squad captured both the FCIAC and Class LL state titles in capping a 20-1 campaign. That makes seven straight conference crowns and five consecutive state championships, earning Jones both the National High School Coaches Association and Connecticut HS Coaches boys’ tennis coach of the year award.While her total success rate is obviously impressive (235-34 overall record, 9 FCIAC and 7 Class LL titles), Jones’ real gift is in spreading her knowledge of tennis to all levels of play. She is national coach for the United States Tennis Association, a tennis pro in Port Chester and this summer she coached the USTA Eastern Aces regional team in the annual World Team Tennis Junior Nationals.Her background as a Division I tennis star at Rollins College in Florida, where she is in the school’s Hall of Fame, and an ultra-successful, undefeated in four years high school player, started the winning breeding she possesses.  A stint on the Virginia Slims women’s tour in the ‘70’s gave her a chance to play against the best in the world. Now as a high school coach, she carries with her that personal philosophy of “challenge only makes you stronger,” always scheduling the toughest out-of-conference competition she can find to give her team that winning edge.
Greenwich

Monroe Lions Youth Football Team

2009 SPOTYThe Monroe Lions Youth Football program has always been one of the region’s best. Affiliated with American Youth Football, the Monroe gridders have now begun a tradition that continues to prove it is one of the top football programs in the nation as well. For the third straight year, the Lions sent a team to the AYF nationals. In 2008, the 8th grade team finished as runners-up in the AYF All-American Division national championship in Orlando, Fla.Following up the 7th grade squad winning the national title in 2007, the Lions program won the Northeast regional crown with a victory over a squad from New Britain.  Monroe topped Park Ridge Falcon from Chicago, 15-8, in the national semifinal game before falling in the championship game to Charlotte, North Carolina.In 2006, that national profile started to emerge as the 6th grade team placed third in the country. Under head coach Len Bacarella, championships and high levels of success have become common place. In the last 5 years, the team has a 65-5 record, earning four Candlewood Valley Football League titles.For the 8th grade team the captains who led the Lions to the title game were: Frank Bacarella, Brandon Charney, Tom Milone, Brian Monaco, Dan Najmowich and Frank Zumbo.
Monroe

Marinelli, Lou

2009 SPOTYIf you start to list the number of awards that New Canaan High football coach Lou Marinelli has been presented in the past year, it will likely seem as many as his total victories in 28 years in leading the Rams’ vaunted program. He just reached the 225 win mark as this 2009 season has begun, and to his credit he continues to focus on football after spending a great deal of his time accepting honors from organizations throughout the area, state and beyond.All that fanfare is part of the prize when you have completed the most successful season in your brilliant career, leading the Rams to an undefeated 13-0 season, a third straight Class MM state championship and the #1 ranking in the state. Even in New Canaan’s storied tradition of success, the 2008 season may be unparalleled in the school’s history books. During the Marinelli era, this was his first team to go undefeated and capture both FCIAC and state titles.Now, about those awards. He was recognized as the Walter Camp state of Connecticut coach of the year; NFL coach of the year by the New York Giants; CT Sportswriters Alliance coach of the year; CT Post coach of the year. All this after being a finalist in 2007 for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year.He has won seven state championships and four FCIAC crowns. The titles in 2008 both came against arch rival Darien, which made them even more meaningful. And the FCIAC game was played in front of a crowd of 9,500, one of the largest in recent area history.
New Canaan

Roman, Mary

2009 SPOTYIf any young athlete is looking for inspiration, look no further than Mary Roman. What she continues to accomplish on the field as a 70-something track and field star is truly an amazing tale.Roman’s story actually begins at the “young” age of 55, when she took up competitive sports for the first time. Her late-in-life path to senior athletics success grows each year as she sets standards for her age bracket that are remarkable. She is ranked as the No. 1 female in her 70-74 age division for the national indoor shot put, and second in both weight throw (12 lbs) and super weight throw (20 lbs). She is also #1 in the shot put in the outdoor rankings. Roman holds two American records for her age in the shot put and weight throw.From January to August in 2009, she competed in 6 meets across the East Coast and the country, winning 19 total medals –12 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze. In August she won a silver medal in the hammer throw at the National Senior Olympics in California. And just to show she can compete in the track races as well as field events, Roman captured a silver medal in the 100-meter dash and a bronze in the 200-meters at the USA Masters Outdoor Championship in Wisconsin. That was on top of three gold medals in the field events.Roman’s active schedule, which also includes international meets, and incredible success has earned her recognition from the Connecticut Senior Olympics, which awarded her their Golden Spirit Award. Her story is even more inspirational as she continues to perform at peak levels after suffering a heart attack six years ago, crediting her diligent training regiment as what keeps her going strong.
Norwalk

Shelton Trails Committee

2009 SPOTYThe Shelton Trails Committee provides all residents of the town with a great service by maintaining and properly utilizing all available green and open space. The Committee is part of the Conservation Commission for the town of Shelton. It is composed of  volunteers appointed by the Mayor whose mission is to preserve and maintain the natural resources found throughout Shelton.The trails committee has created an extensive system of hiking and biking trails, including a ten-mile long network of trails in the Shelton Lakes Greenway. Having these types of trails available to Shelton’s citizenry provides quality areas where people can stay active in many different ways.Whether it’s aiding in the resurfacing of paths, creating new trails or keeping all in condition to handle the activities that take place there each day, the Trails Committee plays a key role in upgrading the quality of life in Shelton.Members of the committee are: Bill Dyer, Bob Wilkins, Lynn Reid, Richard Skudlarek, Sheri Dutkanicz, Peter Conway, Terry Gallagher, Andy Cable and Jim Taradine.
Shelton

Oakes, Alli

2009 SPOTYLet’s get this out of the way right at the start. Alli Oakes was an all-state, all FCIAC, and team MVP/captain field hockey player at Westhill High in 2008. Not to slight those accomplishments, but field hockey isn’t even her best sport. So let’s get to the real story, the dominating year that Oakes had as one of the premier golfers in the state.History-making may be a better adjective to describe Oakes’ achievements over her high school and amateur career. She capped off her senior year by winning her third straight CIAC girls championship, only the second player in the state ever to win three in a row. She also became the first female player from Stamford to win a state title when she started that string in 2007. Oakes, who plays out of Stamford’s Sterling Farms, is a four-time girls’ all-stater as well.Oakes also likely set another mark by being a four-year letter winner on the Westhill High boys golf team. Then there’s the fact that she is the youngest woman to win the Stamford City Amateur, which she won again this year after setting that standard in 2007. As a two-time winner of the WMGA/MGA Women’s Public Links tournament, she’s also the youngest winner of a non-junior event in the 110-year history of the Metropolitan Golf Association.Now playing as a freshman for the Columbia University golf team, Oakes’ likely college major? History,  of course. She’s already very good at making it on the golf course.
Stamford

Stratton, John

2009 SPOTYWhen you manage a nationally renowned team like the Brakettes, expectations are always the highest they can be. Nothing less than a national championship each year is what the final outcome is supposed to be. Being the softball equivalent of the New York Yankees, with as many titles to match, steering the Brakettes’ ship can be treacherous at times. John Stratton has managed, literally, just fine.While his team did not reach the final goal of a national crown in 2009, Stratton still had the Brakettes near the top of the softball ladder, finishing with a 49-7 record and a 4th place finish in the Women’s Major National Championship held in Stratford. He completed his 32nd year as a member of the Brakettes’ softball family, handling the field manager responsibilities since 1995. He was a coach for the Brakettes when they won eight consecutive national titles from 1971-78.During his 15-year managerial career, Stratton has compiled a 798-103 record and he has coached them to five National Championships, one runner-up finish and five third-place showings. In the off-season, he is the pitching coach at Florida Atlantic University where he assists former Brakettes All-America, National Hall of Famer and Fairfield County Sports Hall of Famer Joan Joyce.Stratton is one of the country’s top pitching clinicians and he has been inducted into both the Connecticut ASA and Collegiate Halls of Fame, while his wife Micki was the first Brakettes player inducted into the National ASA Hall of Fame.
Stratford

St. Joseph High School Girls' Soccer Team and Trumbull High School Girls' Soccer Team

2009 SPOTY2009 SPOTYThere are special moments in time when the stars line up just right. Such was the case in the sky over the city of Waterbury on Nov. 16, when both the St. Joseph and Trumbull girls’ soccer teams captured their respective division state titles. Not often do two schools from the same town, playing the same sport, and on the same field capture championships hours apart.For Trumbull, its double overtime 1-0 victory over Cheshire on a winning goal from Kristen Forster, was the program’s third straight Class LL title. Coach Daniel Uhrlass’ team might actually have been a surprise victor as they were seeded 13th coming into the tournament, but a 96-14-10 record over the last 5 years would say otherwise.St. Joseph’s program under coach Jack Nogueira is gaining ground on its traditionally stronger town rival, and when the Cadets’ 1-0 win over Nonnewaug was complete they had their second consecutive Class M state crown. Alyssa Christo provided the deciding goal, and keeper Nina Scarpetti was perfect as the Cadets didn’t allow a goal in four state tourney wins.
Trumbull

Funk, Kevin

2009 SPOTYDeciding to coach your child’s team requires a certain amount of patience and dedication that not everyone possesses.  Deciding to form an entirely new league from scratch just to give your child the opportunity to participate is quite a fatherly gesture of love.In 1991, Kevin Funk and a few other local Weston fathers wanted to provide young girls the opportunity to play softball, at a time when female sports were either in an infancy stage or nonexistent altogether. Since that inaugural season, over 4,000 girls have participated in Weston softball.Funk has been the Commissioner for Weston Babe Ruth Softball for the last 12 years, showing his commitment to the town as well as the sport. He was present when the softball fields were first constructed at Morehouse Field.His caring nature is a big part of Funk’s success. When Weston High School junior Liz Dolan tragically passed away in 2002 it was Funk who created the Liz Dolan award, now given to the 8th grade girl who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship.Seeing how many players have had the opportunity to play softball shows that Funk didn’t form the league just so his daughter could play, he did it so every girl who wanted to play softball would have the chance.  Despite the success of the program, Funk maintains perspective and says that the league is first and foremost about having fun and playing softball, and that he and the other softball administrators have always stressed good sportsmanship above all else.
Weston

Staples High School Boys' Volleyball Team

2009 SPOTYFor some teams, an FCIAC title would make the season a great accomplishment.  For others, only a state championship would do. The 2009 Staples boys’ volleyball team decided that accomplishing those goals would just be a byproduct of their real goal– to not lose a single match. So when the Wreckers closed out a perfect 22-0 record the two titles came with it. Another part of that goal was to continue an amazing success streak that has now reached 80 straight victories.The consistency of the Staples program under Coach Bruce Betts is only rivaled by the Darien High girls’ volleyball machine, whose coach Laurie LaRusso was honored at last year’s Sports Night event. The Wreckers have amassed a 316-44 record with four perfect seasons and nine conference titles during Betts’ tenure, which began in 1997. This year’s championships made it three consecutive Class L crowns and seven straight FCIACs. If Staples hasn’t won the league or state title they were playing for it with another six FCIAC runner-up finishes and three in the states.In 2006, Betts was honored as Outstanding Coach of the Year for Boys Volleyball by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. Betts is one of the original 12 coaches that started boys’ volleyball in the state.The 2009 team had two all-state and first team all-FCIAC players in Charles Winslow and Harry Strobel, who was voted the MVP of the FCIAC tournament.
Westport

Wahoos YMCA Swim Team

2009 SPOTYChampionships are an engrained part of any swimmer that has passed through the Wahoos YMCA swim team. This year the team continued its overall success and also spawned the next rising star in the Wahoos’ long chain of outstanding youth swimmers.The Wilton Y Wahoos captured their 22nd straight Connecticut YMCA swim championship during its winter season. That just set the foundation for an even more exceptional summer campaign, which featured some record-breaking efforts from Wahoos standout KC Moss.In July, 24 swimmers boosted the Wahoos to a second place finish in the YMCA Long Course National Championships in Maryland. The women’s team improved from a 7th place showing in the winter nationals to also place second, behind the 14-year-old Moss, who set national records in winning both the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke events. Those times qualified Moss for the U.S. Swimming National Youth Team.The Wahoos swimmers are champions out of the pool as well. Just hours after returning from their outstanding nationals performance, five of the team members and one of the coaches Stephen Dore, got back in their swim suits to help raise money at the Swim Across the Sound Marathon. The team finished 6th out of 23 teams, with a best ever 6 hours and 13 minute time, but more importantly raised over $4000 for the St Vincent’s Medical Center’s cancer prevention and screening programs.Randy Erlenbach, the director of Competitive Aquatics at the Y and head coach of the entire Wahoos program, took over the program earlier this year. His staff, led by senior coach Todd Stevens, continues to produce championship caliber swimmers and title banners to fill the walls of the Y pool.
Wilton

2008 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Fitzgerald, Monica

2008 SPOTYMonica Fitzgerald is not only growing her reputation as the state of Connecticut’s top female bowler, she’s working on the title of best bowler period, no gender description needed. While Fitzgerald has earned national recognition by competing in two Women’s U.S Opens and 13 national tourneys, her accomplishments in 2008 were eye-opening. Fitzgerald captured both the women’s state tournament and the Fairfield County USBC tournament, where she bested a field primarily comprised of men. In the women’s state singles she set a tourney record with an 811 scratch (including a 300 game), the first time an 800 series had been rolled in a state event. She also won the All Events state championship.She topped that performance in the County championship tourney, winning both the scratch and handicap divisions to become the first woman to ever win both titles in the 52-year history of the event.Fitzgerald has maintained a higher than 200 average for the last 10 years, and has been competing for 25 years throughout the area, state and region. She has won a host of tournaments at all those levels, and even has a pair of 300 games to her credit.While she has certainly made a name for herself bowling at the lanes, she also is very active in supporting the sport and its growth as the youngest member of the newly-formed United States Bowling Congress’ Connecticut state board of directors. Fitzgerald also was selected by the national USBC to be an Actively Engaged Athlete to represent bowlers at national meetings.
Bridgeport

LaRusso, Laurie

2008 SPOTYLaurie LaRusso completed an unprecedented double by leading both the Darien girls’ and boys’ volleyball teams to state Class M championships this past year.For the Darien girls’ team it was no surprise that it once again won a state title. Under LaRusso’s tutelage the Blue Wave has become the dominant power in Connecticut with 11 state crowns, including the last seven straight and also a matching number of consecutive FCIAC championships. In fact, the Wave spikers put together an unbelievable string of 139 straight victories starting in 2002 until that mark was finally halted early in the 2008 season.LaRusso’s incredible record of 447-78 with 15 FCIAC titles earned her entrance into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame last November. However, her greatest coaching job may have come this past spring in directing the boy’s team to its first ever state title with an 18-4 record.The boys’ squad had finished 2-16 in its inaugural season in 2006. The team improved to 13-7 in ’07, but rising all the way to the top of the state in 2008 didn’t seem possible. The major obstacle seemed to be defending state champion Lewis Mills, who the Blue Wave met in the Class M semis. Down two sets, the team rallied to win the match, and then topped Enfield 3-1 in the finals, after dropping the opening set, to complete the magic season.Winning two state championships in one year is a rare feat, but for LaRusso, who also has coached softball, girls’ basketball and skiing in her 25 years at Darien, no one should have really been surprised with her track record of success.
Darien

Kazmierczak, Luke

2008 SPOTYAt the age of 14, Kazmierczak proved this year that he is not only one of the area’s and state’s rising young soccer stars, but also that he is set to make an impact at the national level as well.Kazmierczak was selected in the first round by the United States Soccer Federation as one its youngest under-16 Academy Program players. This USSF program is the primary vehicle for identifying and developing the finest youth soccer talent in the country. He has started that national profile by playing with the South Central Academy Club of New Haven, one of 64 designated USSF clubs in the nation.Leading up to that selection, Kazmierczak developed his local and state soccer resume as a striker for his Beachside Premier Soccer club, leading the team to consecutive Connecticut state soccer championships in U-13 and U-14. He was the team’s top scorer in State Cup play with 2 goals and 4 assists during the playoff championship run this year. He also led his Fairfield Country Day School varsity team to two undefeated league seasons. Kazmierczak showed his versatility at FCDS by leading the team in scoring the past two years as a three-year starter at center midfielder. He also found time to play baseball and basketball.A product of the Easton youth soccer programs since he was 5-years-old, he is a high school freshman at Hopkins School in New Haven, where he is playing varsity soccer. Community service work is also a big part of Kazmierczak’s athletic life as he raised over $5000 in charitable contributions when he won the U-14 division of a 7-mile road race that benefited the American Heart Association’s American Stroke program.
Easton

Fairfield Warde High School Girls' Soccer Team

2008 SPOTYAfter finishing fourth in the FCIAC standings and losing a first-round playoff game to eventual league champion Greenwich, the Fairfield Warde girls’ soccer team entered Class L state tournament play as an unassuming ninth seed. Five straight wins later, the state soccer community was paying full attention as the Mustangs claimed their first ever state championship in girls’ soccer.The late-season surge gave Coach Tom Cunningham’s squad a 15-5-1 final record, but most importantly that last victory gave them something the school had never accomplished before. The 1-0 shutout of 2nd seeded and perennial girls’ power Farmington was the fourth consecutive shutout that senior co-captain goalie Julie Arduini turned in to end the season on the highest of notes.Co-captain Meg Pengue,  the tournament MVP, netted a corner kick played by Allie Davis for the only goal of the game to complete the dream season.After posting a 3-1 win over East Haven in the first round, three consecutive 2-0 triumphs over Sheehan, Wilton and Berlin propelled Warde to the finals. In the semis against Berlin, Emily Bengermino scored both goals.Leading the team in scoring throughout the season was a pair of All-FCIAC second team selections, forwards Sabrina Siciliano and Sarah Duffy. The Mustangs offense came from a ball control style of play initiated by midfielders Natalie Wagner and Michelle Pullen. Davis anchored the defense at sweeper and was a first-team All-Conference pick.
Fairfield

Tammaro, Angela

2008 SPOTYNow in her 44th year at Greenwich Academy, Angela Tammaro is GA athletics. She is the school’s athletic director as well as the field hockey and girls’ lacrosse coaches. Every young lady that participates in the Academy’s highly-successful athletic programs is shaped by Tammaro’s winning philosophy.Tammaro’s efforts were twice recognized on the national stage in 2008 as she was formally inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in January, and then followed that up by being selected for the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in April. She has won over 600 games in both sports and both teams have won 24 straight regular season Fairchester Athletic Association titles.Her lacrosse team finished at 20-2 and won both the FAA regular season and playoff championships, the 23rd time the Gators have won the post-season tournament. One of those losses for the private school was a one-goal defeat to FCIAC power Darien.The lacrosse and field hockey field is deservedly named after Tammaro, who oversees 15 varsity sports as the AD. In past years she also had coached basketball, ice hockey and squash.Tammaro has earned legendary status since her lacrosse playing career at Boston University from 1960-62. She was actually inducted into the lacrosse hall of fame as a player, as she concluded her on-field activity in 1975. She has also been active in all areas of the sport, serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. national team from 1979-1988. Tammaro was also a national lacrosse umpire from 1966-1985, and served as a vice-president for six years for the United States Women’s Lacrosse Association.
Greenwich

Wallisa, Ron

2008 SPOTYIf you spent any time outdoors in the town of Monroe, without question you either knew or saw Ron Wallisa. As the town’s director of parks and recreation for 32 years, Wallisa was on the job 24-7-365. When Monroe residents now look for that familiar face they see only a vast hole in the community as wide as its centerpiece green space, Wolfe Park.In July at age 56, one of Monroe’s most prominent citizens passed on, and with him went part of the heart and soul of the town. His passion for serving the people of Monroe is what separated him from others. He was much more than a city official. He was all about creating positive experiences for his friends and neighbors, most of all the kids of Monroe.His showcase was Wolfe Park, which most will tell you is one of the area’s finest recreation facilities primarily because of Wallisa’s vision. He was the one who created the master plan to make it a place that Monroe families could spend quality leisure time.  He also made sure everyone had a chance to share in the wealth of Wolfe, parceling out the terrain to every youth and school group imaginable.Then there is the pool. Wallisa was working relentlessly to have it renovated, to provide all the amenities the Monroe community deserved. His passing will not stop that passion to get another important job done as Monroe has secured a $400,000 grant to put life back in the project and see his plans eventually come to life.Every day Ron Wallisa’s legacy is on display in Monroe. Each time someone tosses a ball or takes a stroll in the park, Wallisa will be watching. And sometime soon he surely will be watching when the first toe dips into the water at a pool that will likely have his name on it.
Monroe

New Canaan Baseball/Softball

2008 SPOTYNew Canaan Baseball/Softball is a non-profit organization that oversees the youth baseball and softball programs in the community, and provides opportunity for approximately 1,000 children between the ages of 7 and 18 to participate. In 2008, the town sent two baseball teams to their respective age divisions of the Cal Ripken Baseball World Series, and had its 11-year-olds win the state title and place third in the New Englands.In 2006, New Canaan sent its 10-year-old star team to the Ripken Series. With 10 of those youngsters now 12 years of age, they made a return trip after capturing the New England crown. They finished 1-3 in the 11-team tourney in Maryland, losing two of the games by a total on just three runs. The 12’s had a banner year with a 27-8 record in winning the district, state and regional tournaments.Behind a team batting average of nearly .400, the NC 10’s rallied to earn a World Series spot this year in Abbeville, LA, coming out of the loser’s bracket and winning three games within 24 hours in the NE regional tourney. The team dropped both its Series games in the double elimination event, with one of those losses to eventual champion West Raleigh, NC.For the 11-year old team, it went undefeated in the state title run, including a 14-4 victory over Danbury, which then went on to advance to the regional and captured the New England title.New Canaan has been a Babe Ruth league for over 50 years, and has been playing in the Bambino–now Cal Ripken–division for 12 and under since 1982.
New Canaan

Walsh, Dan

2008 SPOTYDan Walsh became only the second person from Norwalk to win an Olympic medal when he earned the bronze medal for the USA in the eight-man rowing event at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.Walsh is the first Norwalker to win an Olympic medal since an 18-year-old Marie Corridon won the gold at the 1948 Games in London by swimming the opening leg on the women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.The 29-year-old Walsh is a 1997 graduate of Brien McMahon High, where he was a two-time FCIAC wrestling champion.A few years earlier, at the age of 12, he was introduced to the sport of rowing, and when he was 13 he joined the Norwalk River Rowing Association through its Reach-Out-And-Row (ROAR) program. He continued rowing even during his high school athletic career and went on to earn a rowing scholarship at Northeastern University.Following his graduation, he moved to the U.S. training center in Princeton, New Jersey, where he’s lived since 2002.He appeared to be in line to make the 2004 U.S. Olympic rowing team, but was cut on the last day of the selection trials. Disappointed, he still went to Athens as an Olympic alternate.He re-dedicated himself and continued to work hard for four more years. At the 2006 World Championships, Walsh won a bronze medal with the U.S. men’s eight. At last year’s Worlds, he and his teammates finished fourth.Finally, on June 26 of this year, the U.S. Olympic rowing team was officially announced and Walsh learned he had secured a spot on America’s eight-man boat.
Norwalk

Marocco, Ed

2008 SPOTYWhile Ed Marocco will likely be remembered for working in the forced spotlight that surrounded the Shelton High baseball coach the last 29 years, his legacy will be his work outside of those bright lights that constantly beam down on any prominent high school coach.When the word came in April that Marocco had passed away at the age of 58 after emergency heart surgery, the immediate thoughts for many went to the on-field success his teams had during his long tenure leading the Gaels nine. He had 380 victories, an SCC title in 2000 and two trips to the state finals, among his many baseball accomplishments. But for many more people the memory they will continue to relive is all of the other positives that Marocco brought to Shelton High, its athletic programs and the community at large.Marocco was the face of Shelton High in many ways. He not only coached baseball players, he taught many of them in his U.S history class. The Shelton High graduate, class of ’67, was the voice of the Gael football team from the press box announcer’s seat. He was the scorekeeper for the school’s basketball teams. He could always been seen at not only Valley high school sporting events, but community activities as well. He gave back in real ways, like starting scholarships for the kids in town.His involvement also reached beyond both Shelton and the Valley, playing key roles in the state as a past chairman of the CIAC Baseball Committee and being on the executive board of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.Ed Marocco’s legacy will continue to shine, even though he is no longer on a ball field bathed in bright sunshine.
Shelton

Paul, Todd

2008 SPOTYTodd Paul’s steady rise to be one of the top young tennis players in the United States all started at the public courts at Scalzi Park in Stamford. His dad introduced him to the sport at an early age and Paul’s accelerated development has now put him on both a national and international stage.In 2007, Paul turned professional after a stellar four-year career at Wake Forest. During his time playing for the Demon Deacons he went from ACC Freshman of the Year to ACC Player of the Year to All-American as the #1 ranked NCAA singles player in the country. He is regarded as the greatest tennis player in Wake Forest history, and was rewarded his senior year with the prestigious Arnold Palmer Award as the school’s most outstanding male athlete.Paul, who plays left-handed, honed his tennis skills in high school at Fairfield Prep before heading south to Wake. He is now working a long way from home playing pro tournaments in Europe and around the country trying to lower his ATP ranking to become competitive on the pro tour. He also made a trip to Brazil as one of just four tennis players to represent the U.S. at the Pan Am Games.Those places are all distant from the Stamford courts he grew up on, but they are where his future will be decided. Paul has already won a pair of Futures tour doubles matches to earn his initial prize money.Paul is good friends with James Blake, the other home grown Fairfield County tennis standout, and Blake is the type of role model that surely can provide the new rising star with the type of advice he will need to make it to the top of the tennis world.
Stamford

Dudzinski, Paul

2008 SPOTYFor Stratford High basketball coach Paul Dudzinski, March 15, 2008 was “how many milestones can you put on the head of a pin day.” When success reins, it sometimes pours. When his Red Devils defeated Hartford Public for the Class M state boys basketball championship, a most significant accomplishment in any coach’s life, Dudzinski also had plenty more to celebrate.In the long history of Stratford High basketball no one had ever led the school to a state basketball championship. Just getting to the final game was reason for celebration since the last time Stratford had even been in the state final was in the 1940’s. His team’s 22nd win of the season also just happened to be his 200th career victory, quite a cap to his 11th year as the head man for the Devils. That list of historical achievements makes Stratford’s South West Conference title win over perennial champ Kolbe Cathedral a few weeks earlier seem relatively minute in comparison.Dudzinski knew his team had a chance at greatness, stacked with experienced senior leaders like co-captains Tim Martin and Joe Charles. But 14 games into the season his club was just 8-6. His team then ran off 13 straight wins to set the stage for the biggest moment in Stratford hoop history.After a run of four straight state wins, the Devils landed in the finals against one of the state’s most storied programs in Public. Stratford trailed for most of the game and was down eight points heading into the final eight minutes of its season. As the game wound down, Martin triggered the game-winning rally with a 3-point play and converting eight straight free throws to seal the historic 63-55 victory.
Stratford

D'Antona, Jamie

2008 SPOTYWhen the call finally came this July, Jamie D’Antona got his chance to play the big show, to put on a Major League Baseball uniform and fulfill a lifelong dream. D’Antona, who was a scholastic star at Trumbull High and then one of the all-time greats at Wake Forest as a collegian, became an Arizona Diamondback this summer to complete a 5 ½ year quest to get to the big leagues.D’Antona became the second Trumbull native to make it to the Majors, following 2005 Trumbull Sports Person of the Year Craig Breslow, now pitching for the Minnesota Twins. And it didn’t take long for D’Antona to make his mark, getting a pinch-hit single in his first MLB at-bat against Chicago Cubs left-hander Sean Marshall on July 22. He played in 18 games in his first tour with the DBacks, and after minor league stops in places like El Paso, Knoxville and Tucson, the third baseman is hoping Phoenix will be his final baseball destination in 2009.After an All-American career at Wake (2001-03), where he is still the all-time leader in homeruns and RBI despite playing only three seasons, D’Antona was drafted in the 2nd round and 66th overall by Arizona. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 2003 as a junior. The right-handed slugger made an immediate impact as a first baseman as a freshman, earning National Freshman of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year honors after starting all 62 games for the Demon Deacons. He led the team in homers and the ACC in RBIs.While at Trumbull High, D’Antona led the Golden Eagles to a state title as a sophomore in 1998 and was a three-year starter and two-time all-state selection.
Trumbull

Medve, Matt

2008 SPOTYIt took some time, but Matt Medve turned the Weston High track and field program from one that barely existed into one of the state’s finest.  Medve led both his boys and girls indoor track teams to state championships in 2007, and followed that up with another girls’ title in 2008. A far cry from 1997 when the indoor programs had a total of 8 boys and girls combined. Now 100 athletes strong, Weston is a model for success with Medve at the helm over the past 10 years.In 1999, Medve revived an indoor track program that had disappeared as a varsity sport at Weston in the 80’s. He first became the head coach for the girls’ outdoor track and field team in 1997, and his teams took their lumps for three years. Then his hard work began to be rewarded as from 2000-2008 the team racked up an impressive 113-15 record, including three SWC titles and three state runner-up finishes.  That run was capped in 2008 by Weston winning its first ever Class M state championship.The girls’ indoor record is just as impressive with a 77-13 record since 1998. During that stretch, the Trojans have captured four league championships, including the last three years, and will be the two-time defending Class S state champion as this year’s track and field season approaches.Not to be left behind, the boys’ indoor record is 75-15 since 1998, with four consecutive SWC championships (2004-2007).  After taking the Class S states in 2007, the Trojan boys finished second in last season’s Class S competition.
Weston

Petroccio, Marce

2008 SPOTYFor some area high school football observers, Staples High’s 8-2 record last season might be reason to herald another outstanding season for the Wreckers. In reality, at 8-2, it was the worst mark Staples has racked up in the past seven years. So why pick this year to honor head coach Marce Petroccio as the person who had the most positive impact on the Westport sports community? All you have to do is look at the standards he has set since becoming the man in charge of one of the most respected scholastic football programs in the state, and you will know why it was an easy choice.In fact, despite Staples’ down year, meaning no state or FCIAC championship, his peers thought so much of his coaching ability that he was honored as the state football coach of the year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. Other highlights from last season included an 8-0 start, with one of those wins pushing Petroccio to become the winningest football coach in the school’s history. The Wreckers also made their sixth straight state playoffs appearance.Coach “P” carries a 127-43 record into the 2008 season as he begins his 16th year at the helm. During that time, Staples has won three state titles and two FCIAC championships, and from 2002-2005 lost only one game in each of those four seasons while winning 48. That’s why there are always high expectations in Westport come the fall.Petroccio is a disciple of Fairfield County Sports Hall of Famer Jerry McDougall. He learned his winning football formula playing for the legendary McDougall at Trumbull High, and as a senior was a member of the Golden Eagles’ 11-0, No. 1 ranked team in the state.
Westport

Dartley, Ken

2008 SPOTYDartley started the Kick for Nick soccer ball donation program in honor of Pfc. Nick Madaras, a former Wilton High soccer player, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2006. What started as a local tribute to a fallen soldier has blossomed into an international story of caring.  When word was received that Nick had been killed in the line of duty in September 2006, Dartley , who had read about Nick’s passion for the sport and his desire to share this love with the Iraqi children, called Nick’s father Bill and asked if it would be appropriate to start a program of collecting soccer balls in Nick’s honor to fulfill his wish to share his passion.That was the beginning of the program “Kick for Nick”, which collects soccer balls, signs them with Nick’s name and ships them to U.S. soldiers who give them to kids in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. So far more than 9,000 balls have been donated, and the program quickly expanded to New Mexico where Nick’s aunt livesWhen national cable sports network ESPN ran a heart-warming segment earlier this year on Kick for Nick, the word spread even quicker around the country and globe. Cities all over America are now staging soccer ball donation events and sending them to Wilton to be sent overseas.Dartley continues to stay involved helping with the collection of the balls at a Wilton staging location where the balls are signed, packaged and shipped.A scholarship fund has been started so Nick’s memory can continue to live through a sport he loved, and Dartley and those keeping it alive through Kick for Nick are making sure no one forgets him by sharing his passion with the rest of the world.
Wilton

2007 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Labrador, Benji

labradorhead210For the past 17 years, Labrador has been running the successful RBI program – Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities – which has given several hundred kids in Bridgeport ages 14 to 18 a chance to play summer baseball and travel to parts of the country they would have never seen otherwise.[br][br]Since 1994, he also has found time to coach the Bridgeport Legion team, and in 2006 led his team to the state tournament for the first time in the program’s 53-year history. The Bridgeport squad was competitive again this season, just missing out on qualifying for the tourney for a second straight year. In 2005, Labrador formed another Bridgeport team and won a gold medal at the annual Nutmeg State Games.His success on the field is matched off the field in making sure that these programs are about more than just baseball. Just as importantly, it’s about instilling positive values to the kids he coaches so they can become real winners as young men in society.[br][br]But there might never have been an RBI program in Bridgeport if not for Benji Labrador, who played high school baseball at Harding. In 1991, he helped start the program, and along with his assistant coach Jimmy Meszaros, has been running it ever since.[br][br]The Bridgeport RBI baseball team has become a perennial regional power under Labrador’s guidance, winning a number of New England championships and advancing to the World Series in such places as Boston in 1993, Anaheim, Calif., in 1994, Cleveland in 1996, Denver in 1996, and Houston in 2003.
Bridgeport

Shannon, Ryan

shannonhead 210It didn’t take long for Ryan Shannon to achieve what every youth hockey player dreams about growing up – to have your name engraved alongside the greatest hockey players in the world on the Stanley Cup. The 24-year-old Shannon made his rookie season in the National Hockey League a memorable one by helping his Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup last season.[br][br]When he joined the Ducks on Oct 6, 2006, after rapidly rising through the team’s farm system following a stellar career at Boston College, Shannon likely couldn’t have imagined that eight months later he would be skating around with the Cup held high over his head. When his Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the NHL finals, he became the second player from Fairfield County to have his name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, joining Trumbull’s Chris Drury, who won the Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.[br][br]Shannon’s special debut season started just a couple of weeks after his call up to the Ducks when he scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 22 against the Los Angeles Kings.[br][br]To cap off the dream season, Shannon brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown in August to share his good fortune with family and friends from his Darien Youth Hockey Association days.[br][br]With Shannon being traded to the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season, he will be starting a new chapter in his young career, but his short stay with the Ducks will always be remembered as he already has reached one of the pinnacles of his chosen profession. It says so right on the Stanley Cup.
Darien

Lisi, Matt

lisihead 210A two-sport standout at Joel Barlow High, Matt Lisi was a team leader and top player for both the basketball and baseball teams. Lisi’s on-field performances earned him plenty of post-season honors during his four years as a Barlow athlete, but the fact that he was a two-year captain in both sports showed he was as well-respected for his off-the field leadership.[br][br]Lisi’s efforts in his senior basketball campaign lifted Barlow to 14 wins and the Class M state semifinals, where they dropped a one-point decision to Waterford. The Falcons also knocked off Class M’s top-ranked Cheney Tech in the tournament. The 5-11 sharp shooting guard, who swished 81 three-pointers during the season, averaged 21.3 points, three rebounds and 1.5 assists per game to earn All-State honors. He finished with 1,111 career points.[br][br]Other post-season accolades included being named the team MVP and All Southwest Conference for the second straight year. He was also selected to represent Connecticut in the prestigious JCC Schoolboy Classic, as well as being named first team all-area by the Danbury News Times newspaper.[br][br]While the Falcons baseball squad had a tough 2007 season, Lisi finished his four-year letter winning baseball career with All-Colonial SWC honors for the second consecutive year as the team’s starting centerfielder.[br][br]An honor roll student, Matt now attends St. Mary’s College in Maryland.
Easton

McCarthy, Ed

mccarthyhead 210The list of honors Ed McCarthy accumulated in his four years as a starting offensive lineman for Yale University’s football program is seemingly endless. The accolades started his freshman year when he became the first offensive lineman to claim a major award when the Ivy League named him Rookie of the Year. By the time he completed his senior year in the 2006 season, McCarthy had etched his name deeply into the Yale football tradition.[br][br]In his four seasons he made 39 straight starts. His senior campaign, in which he led the Bulldogs to a share of the league championship with an 8-2 (6-1 Ivy record), saw him named as an Associated Press Division 1-AA First Team All-America. He was named first-team All-American by four other organizations, including the prestigious Walter Camp Foundation in New Haven, which hand out post-season awards.[br][br]His prowess in the classroom equaled his outstanding efforts on the gridiron. He had a 3.69 GPA as history major, and was a finalist for the Draddy Award, the academic Heisman of college football. That history of academic and athletic excellence began for McCarthy in high school where the Fairfield Prep graduate won the Brisette Award as Prep’s top scholar-athlete.[br][br]McCarthy continued a family tradition at Yale as his father John was a two-year offensive guard starter in the late sixties, and his uncle Ed was a starting quarterback for the Elis in 1964.
Fairfield

Cal Ripken 12-Year-Old All-Stars

2007 SPOTYWhen you have a chance to represent your community in any world championship, it’s always a thrill and an honor. For 15 youngsters and four coaches from Greenwich, that opportunity came this summer as the town’s Cal Ripken 12-year-old All-Stars captured the New England title to qualify for the Ripken World Series.The team was one of 16 teams from around the world to make it to Aberdeen, Maryland for the pool play format tournament. While the Greenwich squad finished 1-3 and did not advance to the next round, it didn’t take a bit of luster off their once-in-a lifetime achievement. A state title and New England crown still sit very well atop their collective heads.For coaches Larry Hoff, Bill Mills, Lou Ragusa and Matt Vlahovich, contributions from the entire team are what made this group successful. There was standout pitching from Jonathan Mills and Sam Dent. Excellent hitting from shortstop Dylan Callahan, right fielder Zack Mulhern and Mills, who all hit over .400 in the Series, and third baseman Brandon Muto, who led the team in batting overall. The club also had outstanding defense and plenty of speed on the base paths to engineer their victories.The Greenwich 12s joined the 2004 squad as the only other town team to reach the Ripken Series. Other team members included: Christian Fazio, Sam Fraser, Kevin Flynn, Max Hoff, Sam Latto, Ned Oliver, Liam O’Neil, Chris Ragusa, Zac Simmel, and Brett Steinberg.
Greenwich

Fico, Rachele

2007 SPOTYIn just two high school seasons, Masuk High’s Rachele Fico has started to evoke comparisons with softball pitching greats of the past. In this area, the Brakettes pitchers are the standards of excellence for comparison, and while she’s not yet in the class of former Brakettes legends Joan Joyce, Bertha Tickey or Kathy Arendsen, her incredible accomplishments as a teenager are strong indications of another legend in the making.While it seemed impossible to top her remarkable freshman season when she led Masuk to the state semifinals before losing their only game in a 25-1 season, Fico raised her level in her sophomore season to even greater heights. In pitching Masuk to the Class LL championship, the flame throwing right-hander was nearly untouchable as she went 27-1, gave up only two runs all season, threw 7 no-hitters including four perfect games, and averaged 17 strikeouts per game (486 total Ks). That gave Fico a 52-2 career record with 901 strikeouts and 26 shutouts.The 16-year-old Fico, who earned her second straight All-State honors, then moved on to the summer where she led two teams to a pair of national titles. In the Big League World Series she led a squad from Seymour to the championship, tossing a one-hit, 16-strikeout effort in a 1-0 victory in the title game over a team from Michigan. She followed that up by pitching her Stratford Breakers to the Pony U18 national crown.And just to show she’s the complete softball player, she batted an astounding .643 with two13-game hit streaks during the high school campaign.
Monroe

Casali, Curtis

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn this age when youngsters have become sports specialists, Curtis Casali’s three-sport exploits is a throwback to days gone by when athletes played different sports year round. Casali played leading roles for his New Canaan High football and baseball teams, as well being a key contributor as the sixth man in basketball.[br][br]As the Rams’ quarterback, he led the team to an 11-2 record, the Class MM state championship and a runner-up finish in the FCIAC title game. In the 53-21 championship game rout of Maloney, he ran for two scores and threw for another, after tossing five TD passes in the first half of the semifinal win. He concluded his football career as the second all-time leading passer in NC history, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns, 18 of those in the 2006 season.[br][br]Playing another key position as the catcher for the Rams baseball nine, Casali received not only local and state recognition, but national honors as well. He was a 3-time All-FCIAC pick, twice an All-Stater and named to the College Baseball All-American team in both his junior and senior years. He batted .464 with seven home runs as a senior to leave an unprecedented four-year baseball legacy with a career .427 average, 94 RBI and 18 home runs, earning him a scholarship to play baseball at Vanderbilt.[br][br]He also etched his name in the NC baseball memory book when as a junior he came in to pitch two innings of relief, after not having pitched all season, to save the FCIAC title game.[br][br]As a 6-3 forward, Casali came off the bench to help the hoop team post a 13-10 record and reach both the FCIAC and state tournament playoffs.  
New Canaan

Couch, Jack

Jack Couch, Norwalk Sports Person of the Year. Hour photo / Erik TrautmannIf there is one person responsible for the immense and rapid growth of lacrosse throughout Connecticut that individual would be Jack Couch. His time and effort in helping to develop not only the lacrosse program in Norwalk, but as a key state, regional and national figure in the sport has earned Couch the “Mr. Lacrosse” nickname.[br][br]Since the 1990’s Couch has been on the ground floor for several youth lacrosse organizations start-ups, and continues to play an active role in growing the sport at all levels. He was recognized for his longtime distinguished service by being inducted into the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame earlier this year in the administrator category.[br][br]Upon moving to the area in 1990, he quickly became involved as president of the Norwalk Junior Lacrosse program, as well as the Norwalk representative with CONNY (Connecticut/New York Youth Lacrosse Association). He has been secretary for CONNY (which has 176 teams from 42 towns in CT and southwestern NY) since 1993. When the National Junior Lacrosse Association was formed in 1994, Couch was named the CONNY representative, and then served on the committee to develop the U.S. Lacrosse bylaws.[br][br]While his influence on the sport has been felt regionally and nationally, through his 15 years as the Youth Council rep for the U.S. Lacrosse board of directors, his real impact has been here at home. After taking a break from coaching and administrative work, to watch his two sons play college lacrosse at Army, Couch has returned as a coach and Norwalk Lacrosse Association president. Local programs in Norwalk include youth boys and girls, high school, men’s open and grand masters, providing opportunities for lacrosse enthusiasts from ages 6 to 60-plus.
Norwalk

National Little League

sheltonLLphoto 210Sometimes a little adversity goes a long way. Motivated by a loss in their first District tournament game, the Shelton National Little League All-Stars reeled off a long string of victories to capture the Connecticut state championship. The Shelton squad then reached the New England title game, but fell one game short of a dream trip to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.[br][br]Championship play was nothing new for the 12 youngsters from Shelton, as two years prior, the 2005 Shelton National team won eleven straight games on its way to the State crown in the Little League 9-10 year old division. Seven players returned from that team and spearheaded this year’s run to the top.[br][br]Dropping its District 5 tourney opener to Seymour, Shelton had its back against the wall each night for two weeks in the double elimination format, but proceeded to win seven straight games to capture the District title. Manager Mark Testani’s club then went undefeated in pool play in the sectionals, and won two more games over Newington to take state laurels.[br][br]In the New England regionals in Bristol, Shelton posted a 3-1 record in pool play. After beating Portland, Maine North, 6-0 in the semi-final, the locals faced Walpole, Mass. American in a nationally televised game on ESPN for the NE title. The dream season ended there with a loss to Walpole.[br][br]The Shelton National roster: Vincent Backert, Matthew Batten, Dustin Chmielewski, Ryan Gless, Bryan Kondor, Jacob Lennertz, Nick Petrovich, David Sanchez, Jeremy Soderholm, Ryan Testani, Anthony Testi, Tyler Tice and Coach Ken Kondor.
Shelton

Ritchie, George

2007 SPOTYIf there were kids in need, George Ritchie wasn’t far behind. He dedicated his life, which ended far too prematurely with his passing at age 60 in April, to making sure that children in Stamford and beyond had opportunities to play sports.Ritchie, a lifelong Stamford resident, worked for the city as a recreation supervisor for 27 years. He was also interim director of the Parks and Recreation Department. In those capacities he helped create, support and grow programs that are the foundation of sports activities in Stamford today. For the past three years, he was the Fairfield County Sports Commission’s local Stamford community representative. One of his duties was helping to select the Stamford Sports Person of the Year, the honor he is being bestowed with tonight.Over the years he was active in Babe Ruth Baseball and the Stamford Youth Basketball program. He was an umpire. He ran softball tournaments for the Connecticut ASA. He was a member of the CASA Hall of Fame committee. He was involved everywhere, and touched lots of lives in a career dedicated to service.Ritchie also was a leader in the arts, politics and was passionate about keeping children safe through his work with the Stamford Exchange Club’s efforts to raise awareness and funds for the Child Abuse Prevention Center.His jovial nature and ability to get things done no matter what the task or obstacles will be sorely missed by the Stamford sports community, as well as all of the other organizations he gave so much time to for the kids.
Stamford

Stratford Sharks

stratfordsharks210Finding a sports-related team dedicated to giving back to others rather than looking for a symbolic trophy of its success is rare. It’s even more rare when the team consists of six high school age youngsters who all believe that time spent volunteering is just as important as time spent basking in the sports spotlight.[br][br]That’s what the Stratford Sharks swim team is all about. And they selected one of the more important athletic-oriented annual fundraising events to show people that they could be an inspiration for others to do the same. Swim Across the Sound, which raises funds to aid cancer patients and their families in a variety of ways, was the vehicle for the Sharks to make their mark.[br][br]This past August, the six local high school students – team captain Eddie Grom, Megan Dupuy, Kirk Miller, Max Mudre, Aadit Patel and Justin Stevens – formed a team to swim the 15.5 mile race from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson, NY. They set a goal to raise $9,000 and their efforts were rewarded when they exceeded that total to pull in over $10,000.[br][br]The team came in 23rd in the relay competition, as each member of the team swam in a rotation of 15 to 30 minutes. For the Sharks swimmers, some of whom were motivated to participate for personal reasons related to the cause, the experience of using their athletic ability as high school swimmers to help others in need was one they will always remember.
Stratford

Nuzie, Matt

nuziehead 210There are many ways to measure success. For a place kicker in football it simply boils down to did you make the kicks or didn’t you. During his four-year career at the University of Connecticut, the record book clearly states Matt Nuzie made a lot of them.[br][br]When the Huskies’ 2006 season ended, Nuzie was the all-time leader in all the major kicking categories. His totals of 124 extra points and 45 field goals are now the UConn marks for others to try and surpass. He also is the school’s top point scorer with 259, which also includes other players besides kickers.[br][br]Nuzie did the majority of UConn’s place kicking as a freshman, including booting a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Akron, and then had a breakout year as a sophomore. He kicked a one-season, school-record 20 field goals in 2004, including another school mark of 10 consecutive kicks. He earned second-team All-Big East honors and was named the team’s Special Teams MVP. Nuzie concluded that campaign by kicking four FGs in UConn’s Motor City Bowl victory over Toledo, to tie the Husky record for field goals in one game.[br][br]In his junior season, Nuzie again led the team in scoring with 57 points on 10 FG and 27 extra points. While he split some of the kicking duties as a senior and his numbers were not as strong as in prior years, he wrapped up his stellar career with 25 more points to become the all-time scoring leader in UConn history.
Trumbull

Scheufele, Paul

westonsoyphoto 210The success of lacrosse in the town of Weston, at both the youth and high school levels, can be directly traced to the efforts of Paul Scheufele. When he founded the Weston Lacrosse Club in 1998, Scheufele set off a chain reaction that has elevated Weston to one of the top lacrosse communities in the state. This past year the fruits of that labor were truly borne out.[br][br]Led by players groomed from the Weston youth program, the high school team won its first state championship, finishing with an 18-3 record in just their fifth year as a varsity sport.[br][br]One of the key elements of the Weston lacrosse rise is the organization’s focus on positive coaching. In 2003, the Weston Lacrosse Club received the National Youth Sports Organization Award as a model youth sports program from Stanford University’s Positive Coaching Alliance. An example of that coaching is Weston High head coach Alex Whitten, the son of legendary Wilton High coach Guy Whitten. His positive efforts in his first season in 2005 helped the Trojans move from a 6-10 record to a 12-6 mark. Two years later Weston was Class S state champions.[br][br]Winning on the field came with rising numbers of participants in both boys and girls programs. When Scheufele launched the lacrosse club there were just 30 boys playing. This past year 260 youth players played at the club level and another 110 played at the high school level.[br][br]Scheufele was an All American goalie at Middlebury College (1980). He also coached as an assistant at Dartmouth (1981) and was head coach at Babson College from 1982-83. 
Weston

Kretschmann, Erika

westportsoyhead 210It’s rare to see a 16-year-old that is an author, teacher, star athlete and creator of an innovative learning skills process. But that’s what Erika Kretschmann has been up to for the past year or so.[br][br]Now a Staples High senior, Kretschmann is making major contributions not only on the athletic fields of play, but also in classrooms around the county. She has developed a study skills program that she has turned into a 40-page tutorial book called “A Plus: Life’s a Test…Ace It.” Through A Plus, which stands for A Positive Lesson About Understanding Study Skills, Erika has begun to teach study skills to inner-city elementary school kids in Bridgeport, Stamford and most notably the Carver Center in Norwalk.[br][br]When she dedicates similar time to her golf and skiing, the results have been just as impressive. She has played three varsity seasons in both sports and has been elected captain for each team for the 2008 campaign.[br][br]In 2006, Kretschmann led the Lady Wreckers to their first FCIAC and state golf titles as they posted an undefeated 15-0 record. She earned first-team All-FCIAC and All-State honors. For the 2007 season, Staples repeated as state champions and finished second in the FCIAC, with Erika being named to the league’s second-team all-star squad.[br][br]So for opponents on the links or the slopes trying to get the book on Erika Kretschmann, they may want to read hers, which by the way she recently had 2,000 copies translated to Spanish to better serve the kids she is instructing.
Westport

De Lavis, Frankie

DeLavishead 210There may have been a more impressive college sports debut somewhere in the collegiate world, but Frankie de Lavis’ freshman season was hard to equal. Her immediate impact on the women’s college lacrosse scene was filled with records, awards and eye-opening performances.[br][br]As a frosh for the Kenyon College Ladies in Gambier, Ohio, de Lavis took the team and it’s Division III North Coast Athletic Conference by storm. She set school single-season records with 34 assists and 94 points, to go along with a team-high 60 goals to lead the team in scoring while playing in only 14 of the team’s 16 matches. Her point total as the lead attack player was 41 more than the next person on the team, who played all 16 games. She also set a NCAC record for points and assists in a game with six goals and nine assists for 15 points in a win over the University of Redlands.[br][br]With those kinds of numbers, post-season honors came flooding in. She was named the conference’s Newcomer of the Year and made first-team all-league. The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association selected de Lavis to its West Region second team. National acclaim also came calling as de Lavis was chosen by womenslacrosse.com to its Division III rookie All-American team.[br][br]After a scholastic career at Hopkins School, de Lavis decided to play at Kenyon despite a heart condition that needed surgery two days after the season to destroy tissue that was causing an abnormal heart rhythm. Doctors had cleared her to play, and she obviously showed how strong her physical and inner heart were by quickly becoming one of the top women’s lacrosse players in the country.
Wilton

2006 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Fedick, Lisa

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Bridgeport
Darien
Easton

Henry, J.J.

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Fairfield

Mongovan, Bill

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Greenwich

Murphy, John

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Monroe

Borgman, Dan

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New Canaan
Norwalk

Kudej, Stanley

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Shelton

Pia, Charles

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Stamford

Dillon, Jim

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Stratford

McMillan, Ian

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Trumbull

Charles, Carl

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Weston

Roda, Carmen

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Westport

McDonagh, Tommy

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Wilton

2005 Sports Persons of the Year

NAME

Section

Ruane, Mike

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Bridgeport

Phillips, Amber

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Darien

Cunningham, John

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Easton

McDonald, Tom

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Fairfield

Pagnano, Carolyn

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Greenwich

Cavanaugh, Brian

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Monroe
New Canaan
Norwalk

Orlovsky, Dan

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Shelton

Miller, Larry

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Stamford
Stratford

Breslow, Craig

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Trumbull

Butlein, Marc

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Weston

Baumann, John

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Westport

Vail, Sam

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Wilton