Joe Madaffari, the longtime athletic director at Brien McMahon High School, will be honored as the Athletic Director of the Year and three coaches from the FCIAC will be honored as the Outstanding Coach of the Year in the respective sports when the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) hosts its 54th annual recognition dinner on Thursday night.
The event takes place in Kay’s Pier at the Aqua Turf in Southington and it begins at 7 p.m., May 10.
New Canaan’s girls lacrosse coach Kristin Woods, Danbury’s veteran baseball coach Shaun Ratchford and Greenwich’s boys golf coach Jeff Santilli are among the 24 total coaches statewide who will be Outstanding Coaches of the Year recipients.
Madaffari was Brien McMahon’s boys baseball coach before he replaced the retiring Ralph King as McMahon’s AD in 1995.
“This is a real honor,” said Madafarri, who is also a finalist to be selected the national Athletic Director of the Year this summer. “To be up there for the national award makes me feel very special, to represent Brien McMahon and the FCIAC.
“That puts me in a different group of people. You’re talking about people like (past national AD honorees) Ralph King and John Kuczo from our conference. I feel real honored to be up for the national award and I feel very proud to be honored for this award by the state.”
Madaffari became just the third AD at McMahon since the school opened in 1960. Frank Morgan was the first AD and King was a very successful boys soccer and boys basketball coach for the Senators when he became McMahon’s second AD and eventually received his national award.
Before Madaffari took over as AD he was McMahon’s baseball coach who often met with Ratchford and umpires at home plate to exchange lineup cards and pre-game pleasantries.
Ratchford has long guided the Danbury baseball program and led the Hatters to their two FCIAC championships.
Last year Ratchford’s Hatters gave an example of the strength of the league. Though they did not get one of the eight playoff berths in FCIAC Tournament, the Hatters were seeded 20th in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class LL Baseball Tournament and advanced to the semifinals, where they were eliminated by top-seeded Amity.
Ratchford, a former player at Danbury, led his alma mater to a 2004 state championship. His second-seeded Hatters defeated top-seeded Norwich Free Academy, 2-1, and consequently they were ranked first in the final state poll. Danbury went 5-0 in that state tournament, winning three games by one run and two games by two runs.
Ratchford was selected the FCIAC Baseball Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2010. He led Danbury to its first FCIAC championship in 2003 and the Hatters captured their second conference crown in 2013.
Woods was an excellent all-around athlete at Wilton High School in the late 1990’s and now she is coaching her New Canaan Rams to try to beat her former high school team in the bordering town.
Her New Canaan teams won state championships in 2010, ’12, ’13, ’15 and ’16.
Always a prominent contender in the FCIAC, New Canaan won back-to-back conference championships in 2011 and ’12 and the Rams played in six more conference championship games from 2008-16.
Woods made the All-FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Team in 1998 and ’99 when she starred at Wilton. She was a team captain at Penn State and selected to the Big 10 All-Academic Team. Woods also established CT LAX in 2005 to provide lacrosse skills development for girls in grades kindergarten-through-9.
Santilli, an excellent golfer in his own right, has helped his Greenwich Cardinals have great success since he took over the program in 2000.
Last spring his Cardinals won him his eighth FCIAC championship and he was named the FCIAC Boys Golf Coach of the Year.
The 2001 Cardinals gave him his first conference championship, they defended it the next year, won in 2007 and ’09, then won three straight from 2012-14 before winning their fourth FCIAC championship in six years last year.
The 2017 Cardinals were 15-0 in the regular season and finished second to Xavier at the CIAC Division I Golf Tournament.
And one thing that is certain is Santilli’s players know he can still practice what he preaches with quality.
Santilli had one of his most fun and cherished achievements on Aug. 8, 2016 when he teamed up with one of his former Cardinals, Paul Pastore, and they won the British Victory Cup Championship at The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson (N.Y.) when they shot a 4-under-par 67 in the two-man, best-ball event.