By Hal Levy, Shoreline Newspapers
Special to MaxPreps.com
The Connecticut Football Officials Association inducted its inaugural class of 19 into the state's only officials' Hall of Fame recently with a banquet at Foxon Country House in East Haven.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening on every account. The food, as always at Foxon, was superb. The speeches were mercifully brief, thanks in large part to Toastmaster George DeMaio. He did the presentations, made some funny remarks, and had 19 inductees taken care of in well under two hours.
The hit of the night was Joe Arnone. Those of you who have ever attended a basketball game at Central Connecticut (including CIAC state championships), will recognize his voice - he is Central's PA announcer. A CFOA Hall of Fame inductee himself with an exceptional football pedigree as a player, coach, official and now, rater of officials for the National Football League, Arnone is a wonderful banquet speaker.
Arnone was one of five inductees from the Central Connecticut Board along with Jim Dumais, Larry Selavka, Bob Sokolowski and the late Walt Akerly (whom I had as a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School). From the Fairfield County Board, inductees were Bob Seirup, Rob Maffei and Matt Johnson. Pete Gregory was selected form the Colonial Board (he later joined the Fairfield County group).
Chosen from the Eastern Connecticut Board were the late Larry Drew and the late Andy O'Neill, whose son, Jim, recently was a Gold Key winner from the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance. From the Western Connecticut Board, honorees were Ed Mariano (also a long-time baseball ump), Russ Hansen and Jim Carey.
New Haven Board selections were Vin Reilly, the late Fred Ghirardini (who was still umpiring high school baseball well into his 80s), Vin Morrissey, Steve Narracci and David Holdwright. Holdwright is an amazing story in his own right. Several years ago, during back surgery, he was blinded. He is still very active and the New Haven Gridiron Club now calls its officials' award the David Holdwright Profiles in Courage Award.
It was a night which combined nostalgia with laughter and those are always the best. This was a great first effort by Hall of Fame Committee chair Ed Mockus and his committee. There are other Halls of Fame which include officials among their inductees, but this is the only one just for officials. In fact, there were virtually no coaches in attendance (by design, I'm told). Maybe some other groups will take note.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) conducted its 24th annual Scholar-Athlete awards banquet last Sunday. Some 347 students representing every one of the state's high schools, were honored. The selection process varies from school to school as long as the student-athletes meet the minimum CIAC requirements.
The event was sponsored, for the 24th time, by local McDonalds owner-operators. The toastmaster was Bob Picozzi (ESPN) and the featured speaker was legendary Connecticut radio and TV sportscaster Arnold Dean of WTIC.
The steering committee for the event, which included prime rib for 1700 at the AquaTurf Club in Southington, was headed by Jerome Auclair and Dennis Siegmann, principals at Darien and Bristol Central High Schools, respectively. Their committee included principals Richard Cavallaro (Wilcox Tech-Meriden), Steve Wysocki (Coginchaug-Durham). Joe Bacewicz (Tolland) amd Amm Pratson (Laurelton Hall-Milford).
Twelve gymnasts will represent Connecticut at the National High School Gymnastics Association Senior Showcase at Eckard College (St. Petersburg, Fla.) May 24-25.
Selectees include Kristy Dougan, Jessica Gianatti, Yvette Mirando and Shannon Strachel, Southington; Justine Basley and Kasey Fillmore, Killingly; Katie Lawrence, Old Lyme; Jen Pagliaro, Jonathan Law-Milford; Laurel Pytel, Holy Cross-Waterbury; Kirsten Raccio, Masuk-Monore; Dina Savoca, Foran-Milford and Danielle Trotta, Litchfield.
Jonathan Law coach Pat Simon will be the meet director. The team's lead coach is Bethany Mihaly of New Milford, who was recently elected vice-president of the association. Other coaches include Simon, Robin Deary-Fillmore (Killingly), Bryan Knox (Southington), Maureen Pokorny (Old Lyme), Hal Rettstadt (Pomperaug-Southbury) and Catherine Yanosy (Jonathan Law).
A pair of state softball pitchers drew attention last week. Amanda Farnham of Enrico Fermi-Enfield, had back-to-back perfect games as the Falcons beat Hartford Public, 7-0 and 9-0. Both games were five innings. She struck out 19.
Rachel Fico of Masuk-Monroe went for strikeouts all day against Newtown. In an 11-inning, 1-0 win, she got 27 of her 33 outs via strikes.
Also in the milestone department, Wilcox Tech-Meriden golf coach Dan Nemergut celebrated his 300th career victory last week. Nemergut has coached at Wilcox for 10 years and was at O'Brien Tech-Ansonia, for a dozen seasons before that. This year, Wilcox is 17-0 and is seeking the Constitution State Conference tournament title.