FCIAC celebrates past and present at annual Recognition Program

NORWALK – It was a festive and familial affair when the FCIAC hosted its Annual Recognition Program, sponsored by Hersam Acorn Newspapers and the FCIAC, at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center on June 10.

The FCIAC inducted seven new members into its Hall of Fame, Danbury wrestling coach Ricky Shook was the Coach of the Year, while Danielle Cavaliere of Stamford High School and Katherine Kelley of Westhill High School each received the RoseMarie Carluccci Scholarship Award.

Carlucci was a teacher and a field hockey, gymnastics and girls’ tennis coach who won her share of championships at Westhill. She was also a counselor and friend to so many, she volunteered for many organizations, she championed women’s sports for a long time, and this scholarship is awarded to student-athletes who epitomize the ideals of Ro Carlucci.

Cavaliere has been a cheerleader and dancer since she was very young, participating in diverse classes such as Jazz, Ballet, Tap and Pointe, and she was a captain who led Stamford’s cheerleading squad to FCIAC and state championships. Kelley was a captain and solid goalie for Westhill’s field hockey team, a four-year member of the girls’ lacrosse team, and she volunteers for several community organizations, including participating on a Mission Trip to Appalachia.

In addition to being the conference’s Coach of the Year, Shook was also the honored as the top wrestling coach and the Most Outstanding Coach of Winter. One coach was honored in each of the 30 sports from all three seasons and three of those coaches were honored as the top coach of their respective season. Wilton field hockey coach Dierdre Hines was Most Outstanding Coach of Fall and Darien girls’ lacrosse coach Lisa Lindley was Most Outstanding Coach of Spring.

Sheila Moffett of Norwalk High and Ralph Pascale and Mike Herbst of Trumbull High received their “FCIAC Gold Card” as retiring personnel.

Joanne Eckstrom, Jim Cook, Nick Giancola, Don Usher, Dick Hawks, Rob Trifone and Jay Egan were the seven Hall of Fame inductees.

Eckstrom was a successful coach in five sports and a teacher for over 30 years in the Fairfield Public School System – first at Roger Ludlowe High School and then at Fairfield High School after the town’s consolidation of two high schools into one.

Usher coached several sports at New Canaan High School and was an excellent head basketball coach for 19 years who consistently got his Rams to overachieve. He guided them to three FCIAC finals and two state finals and had a 272-138 career record.

Hawks guided the dynasty that is the Greenwich High School girls’ swimming and diving team. He racked up many conference and state championships, had an incredible 258-5 career record and coached 50 All-Americans.

Trifone has had much success as a head football coach at Brien McMahon and Darien (the last nine years), having compiled a 183-80-2 career record with three FCIAC championships and a state championship. He also coached McMahon’s boys’ track and field team to FCIAC and state championships in 2000.

Egan made the transition of being a successful assistant football coach for Lou Marinelli to having great success with the girls’ cross country and track and field programs at New Canaan High. His outdoor track teams won 101 consecutive dual meets over the course of five seasons, and he has collected a combined nine state track championships, 10 FCIAC track championships and one cross country state championship.

Cook coached basketball and boys’ soccer at Wilton High School and guided the boys’ soccer team to state championships in 1988 and ’98.

Giancola, who was a 114-pound FCIAC champion and a 126-pound state champion wrestler at Rippowam High School (Stamford) in 1964, became the first wrestling coach at Westhill High School in the early-1970s and he guided the Vikings to much success.a

All of the inductees stressed the central theme of how they all received so much help along the way and could not have done it without the support, counsel and sacrifices of their spouses, parents and children.

Cook and Giancola served in the Marine Corps and they both said that had much to do in laying a foundation toward their values and success.

“The Marine Corps taught me to be honorable, have courage and have commitment, and that’s what I’ve tried to do for 40 years,” said Giancola, who served his country in the Vietnam War from 1970-71.

There was symmetry and a small-world feel to this year’s group of inductees, which actually serves as a microcosm of the league itself in that coaches inspire and mentor their younger colleagues and that perpetuates itself as the years and decades carry on.

“To receive this award is very humbling,” Giancola said. “It was John Kuczo (current FCIAC commissioner and a former coach and administrator in Stamford school system) who took a chance on a kid from the West Side who came out of the housing projects. He took a chance on me and gave me a career.”

Egan pointed out how fellow inductees such as Giancola and Usher mentored and inspired him.

“Don’s a master coach and a master teacher. It’s amazing what he got out of his players, who weren’t the most talented players. Don’s very modest and he was a great coach,” Egan said. “And working with Nick Giancola, what you heard tonight is exactly how he presented himself as a coach. Nick was a master motivator.”

The seven new inductees increased the total to 116 FCIAC Hall of Famers since Paul Kuczo (Stamford), Jack Lockery (Stamford), Ed Crotty (Danbury), Roger Warner (Roger Ludlowe), Frank Dornfeld (Staples) and Joe Sikorski (New Canaan) where in the charter Hall of Fame induction class in 1995.

FCIAC Hall of Fame

2013 – Gerry Costello (Officials), Frank Scott (Rippowam/Stamford), Mike Walsh (Trinity Catholic), Ed Bengermino (Fairfield), Rich Albonizio (Greenwich), Christy Hayes (Wilton/St. Joseph) and Lou Marinelli (New Canaan).

2012 – Dan Borgman (New Canaan), Laurie LaRusso (Darien), Tom Kriz (Trinity Catholic), Mike Herbst (Trumbull), Mike Quick (MSG Varsity), Bruce Betts (Staples) and Vito Montelli (St. Joseph).

2012 – 50th Anniversary – Tom Scarso (Norwalk), Bill Allen (Ridgefield), Ed Reilly Sr. (Bridgeport Central), Steve Miska (Harding), Leroy Vaughn (McMahon), Herb Harrington (Bassick) and Jim Kish (Harding).

2011 – Joe Anzalone (Trinity Catholic), John Keogh (McMahon), Abe Breslow (Trumbull), Joe Madaffari (McMahon), Priscilla Schulz (New Canaan) and Bill Gonillo (Cablevision 12).

2010 – George Albano (Norwalk Hour), Jeff Gee (Wilton), Joe Schnierlein (McMahon), Ed Lane (Westhill), Dave Schulz (Fairfield Ludlowe) and Jim Girard (Darien).

2009 – Nancy Bond (Bassick), Sandy Hoddinott (Ridgefield), Ed Faulkner (McMahon), Tracy Nichols (Trinity Catholic), Steve Norris (Darien), Leon Jaiven (Announcer, Stamford) and Norm Sculley (Announcer, Norwalk).

2008 – Bob Mosley (New Canaan), Fern Tetreau (Fairfield Warde), Lynn Ryan (Westhill), Brian Kelly (Staples), Art Brown (Stamford), Bob Kennedy (Stamford Advocate) and Alan Wallack (Bridgeport).

2007 – Mary Kehoe (McMahon), Pat Spinola (Norwalk), Ray Barry (Norwalk) and Mike Ornato (Greenwich).

2006 – Jeff Lea (Staples), Becky Strominger (Darien), Vin Iovino (New Canaan) and Tom Fujitani (Wilton).

2005 – Ro Carlucci (Westhill), Al Diniz (Ridgefield), Pete Carroll (Officiating), Gus Edwards (Danbury), Bill Mongovan (Greenwich) and Sue Schwerdtle (New Canaan).

2002 – Izzy Battino (Darien), Laddie Lawrence (Staples), Winnie Hamilton (Westhill), Guy Whitten (Wilton), Jerry Courville (McMahon/Shorehaven) and Terry Lowe (Greenwich).

2001 – Norm Winnerman (Danbury), Del Mautte (Darien), Saul Pollack (Staples), Bill Murphy (New Canaan), Ed MacDowell (Greenwich) and Dr. James Forcellina (McMahon).

2000 – Ralph King (McMahon), Jack Casagrande (McMahon), Bobby Valentine (Rippowam/New York Mets), Mickey Lione Jr. (Trinity Catholic), Jerry McDougall (Trumbull) and Gail Shipp (Trumbull).

1999 – Leonard Germano (Trumbull), John Kuczo (Stamford), Patricia Small (Fairfield), Mary Kay Smith (Trinity Catholic), Nick Koules (Officiating) and Bob Mark (Ridgefield).

1998 – Robert Jackson (Fairfield), Charles Dattola (Greenwich), Jackie Hellen (Norwalk), Jack Hagan (Stamford), Williard Williams (Norwalk Hour).

1997 – Albie Loeffler (Staples), Jinny Parker (Staples), Walter “Buddy” O’Meara (Stamford), Emil Taft (Fairfield), Dan O’Grady (Danbury) and Joe Troy (Norwalk).

1996 – Carmine Tosches (Stamford), Paul Lane (Staples), William Noore (Norwalk), John Mazher (Darien), Nick Zeoli (Wilton) and Manny Merullo (Danbury).