This may be the sixth class to be inducted into the Southington Sports Hall of Fame, but 2015 will be remembered as a year of firsts. This week officials announced the 2015 inductees, but the selection committee continues to delve deeper and deeper into Southington’s rich sports history to find those pioneers, superstars, and people ahead of their times.
This fall, officials will induct nine athletes, a member of the media, a former coach, a booster, and a pair of championship teams, and the Class of 2015 includes a number of firsts: the first Southington swimmer, the first golfer, the first female coach, the first middle school coach, the first cross country team, and the first soccer team to be inducted into the local hall of fame.
Southington Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Dennis Stanek, Jr. said that this class is as strong as any previous year.
“I don’t want to keep comparing these classes to previous years because, the simple answer is that we’re still trying to play catch-up,” said Stanek. “This is a testament to the town. We’re more than just a men’s football and women’s softball school. We have gifted, gifted young people in every sport that comes through our system.”
The athletes represent the full spectrum of sports from swimming to softball with former high school and college stars. Former Southington High School athletes Jack Barry, Matt Crispino, Nicole DeFau, Ed Fernandes, Russ Laribee, Doreen Lumbra, Pete Mongillo, Chris Walsh, and Dave Walstrom will be welcomed into the local hall of fame along with a number of non-athletes.
Cathy Conway is known by Southington sports fans as the coach that launched the Lady Knights. Her work with up-and-coming female athletes in multiple sports at St. Thomas Junior High School was instrumental for Southington High School’s dynastic runs in the 1970s and 1980s. At the high school, she helped position the gymnastics team for their meteoric rise, and her work with high school gymnasts has continued at the state level to the present day.
When it comes to covering Southington sports, few can compare with Art Secondo. The former reporter and newspaper editor has been covering Southington sports since the 1960s, first as a sports writer and then as a columnist. His passion and support for Southington teams is unparalleled, and his support doesn’t stop at the final whistle.
The same can be said for Gerry Massarelli. The high school booster wasn’t in the spotlight, but his efforts were just as crucial as anybody in the headlines. Over the years, his work behind the scenes with various teams and construction projects has enabled Southington players to compete at the state level.
These 12 individuals will join the 1984 Blue Knight cross country team and the 2002 Lady Knight soccer team as the Class of 2015.
“The committee has improved, and we continue to look deeper into the statistics and the intangibles for this hall of fame,” said Stanek. “As we continue to dig deeper and deeper, we are still finding a lot of phenomenal athletes that have come through this system. We have many athletes on this list that probably could have been recognized several years earlier.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, they will be honored in an induction ceremony at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.
Tickets will be available soon and will cost $50. Contact Jim Verderame at (860) 628-7335 to reserve tickets.
“This has become the event of the year in respect to Southington sports. Over the past six years, the phone calls and emails that we get after the program are too numerous to count,” said Stanek. “We welcome all past inductees to return each year to support the hall of fame and fraternize with athletes from other generations. It’s become a tremendous amount of fun and a great part of our Southington community.”
The committee has already begun compiling statistics for next year’s induction class, and they continue to welcome nominations from the public. To nominate a team, player, booster, or media member, send a request along with supporting documentation, statistics, and contact information to: Mike Boissonneault, 115 Panthorn Trail, Southington, CT 06489, (860) 628-5225, email – firstname.lastname@example.org.