By BRIAN JENNINGS
If you walk by the entrance to the community turf field at Southington High School, you won’t see any signs, plaques, monuments, or names. You won’t see anything above the walkway, but that’s all changing.
The Southington Board of Education passed a motion to rename the walkway that leads to the community turf field at Southington High School this past week in honor of Southington legend, Dom D’Angelo, or “Coach Dom” as most people knew him.
The Board of Education determined that the naming of the walkway to the field was consistent with board policy. Members of the committee, appointed by the board, included Terri Carmody, Colleen Clark, Terry Lombardi, Rob Thomson, Mike Defeo, and Brian Stranieri.
Stranieri said that the process of planning the proposal took years. “Our committee’s goal was to honor a gentleman who did a lot for the town of Southington and for the Southington school system as a teacher, coach, and athletic director,” said Stranieri.
“Presently, all facilities are already named after great former coaches,” said Stranieri. “So we wanted to find a way to do something to honor Coach Dom and came up with this idea to create a walkway and dress it up with some nice lighting and a monument. We wanted to bring some accolades to a man who has done so much for the town of Southington.”
Coach Dom was born in Southington on June 17, 1923. He graduated from Lewis High School in Southington and was a star athlete in football, basketball and baseball. He captained the football and basketball teams under legendary coach Joe Fontana.
Coach Dom was a combat medic in World War II, serving with the 8th Armored Division under General George Patton. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor when he rescued wounded soldiers trapped by deadly artillery fire. He was later part of the force that liberated the German death camp at Dachau.
Following the war, Coach Dom graduated from Columbia University and returned to athletics by playing with the Southington Gems semi-professional football club. He accepted a graduate assistant coaching post at Stetson University in Florida and came back to Connecticut. He served as the Director of the Southington YMCA and was an educator, coach, mentor and athletic director at Southington High School. During his 15 years in that post he founded Southington’s midget football and bitty basketball leagues.
Coach Dom took a job at Southington High School and served as assistant coach in basketball under Coach Walt Lozoski. He was also an assistant football coach under Joe Orsene. He eventually joined the faculty and coaching staff of Southington High School in 1967, becoming the head football coach. At the time Southington high school was a young sports program in a small farmer’s town. But for the next 21 years, the Southington community grew and the people learned that Coach Dom was the perfect guy for the job.
Southington Lady Knights varsity basketball coach Mike Forgione played under Coach Dom and has some great memories of what kid of guy he really was. “When I think back to my high school years, I played high school football for Coach Dom in 1985, ’86, and ’87,” said Forgione. “Playing high school football at Southington for Coach Dom were some of the best memories that I have. He meant so much to me, not only as a coach, but as a person too. We all respected him so much.”
“He retired at the end of the ’87 season,” said Forgione. “And during his last year, we were able to go on a run through the conference actually win the conference championship. And as senior players, it was even more special because we were able to send Coach Dom off as a champion.”
In 1972 he was named National High School Coach of the Year for the Eastern United States, and Northeastern States Coach of the Year in 1973. In 1984, he coached Southington’s first CIAC championship game appearance.
Coach Dom’s football teams went 113-86-11, and he was 19-2 on Thanksgiving Day. He established the Gridiron Club, and served as athletic director of Southington High School from 1962-1987. He stepped down from coaching suddenly in 1987 and retired. He served for 25 years on the Southington Parks Commission, and helped form the Southington Gridiron Club. He was inducted into to the Southington Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.