Whatever it was that Ro Carlucci did – and she did so many things as an educator, coach, meet director and gymnastics judge – she was a true leader and she excelled at virtually everything she was involved in for 35 years from the 1970s into the first decade of this century.
So many of her fellow teachers at Westhill High School and her colleagues in the FCIAC coaching community along with the thousands of former students and athletes she impacted in a most positive way will vouch for that.
The legacy of her impact was already established, but it was further cemented during this past school year in a few more ways in which she and her legacy were honored.
RoseMarie Carlucci, affectionately known as “Ro” to her family, friends and colleagues, passed away too soon when she tragically died in a car accident in 2007.
She was a successful field hockey, girls gymnastics and girls tennis coach at Westhill and she also became an excellent judge in scoring events at gymnastics meets, including major regional and national meets.
It was always Westhill High School which served as the host venue for the FCIAC Gymnastics Championships when Carlucci was coaching there because the league administrators could always confidently count on her to run the meet so smoothly, yet again, as the meet director.
This past year was the first year the conference’s gymnastics championship meet was officially called the Ro Carlucci FCIAC Gymnastics Championships, as it will continue to be called forever more.
In addition, the Ro Carlucci Award was awarded for the first time to the meet’s all-around individual champion, Greenwich’s Kelsey Fedorko, and every future all-around champion will also be known as the Ro Carlucci Award winner for that year.
When the league had its annual FCIAC Hall of Fame induction ceremony in late June, awards were also given to people who were not inductees. Carlucci was the recipient of the John Kuczo Award, which is the FCIAC’s highest award to a professional educator and recognizes someone who has made significant contributions to high school athletics while exhibiting the qualities of leadership, integrity, and professionalism which are synonymous with Kuczo.
Kuczo was a successful cross country and track and field coach who won many conference and state championships at Rippowam High School (Stamford) in the 1960s and later was the longtime commissioner of the FCIAC.
He was also closely associated with Carlucci when he was the athletic director for both public schools in Stamford for many years.
“Ro was an unbelievable asset to our league,” Kuczo said. “She filled up any vacuum. If you needed help, needed fundraising, anything, Ro was always right there for us.”
Carlucci’s family members, her former colleagues and athletes are all touched and proud that her legacy has been honored in such a way.
“This is just fantastic that they’re doing this (Kuczo Award) for Ro and our family,” Maria Carlucci, Ro’s sister, said at the June ceremony.
“When I got the letter about this, I called both of my brothers right away and said: ‘Listen guys, I want you to know that she’s still better than you guys were because she’s still getting awards,’ ” Maria Carlucci added with a laugh.
Ro Carlucci was the oldest of five children. Her brothers, Domenic and Victor, were renowned as excellent multi-sport athletes in the late-1960s at Stamford Catholic High School. Dom made the All-FCIAC Baseball Team in 1967, Vic did so in 1970, and they were teammates on the Stamford team which won the first-ever Senior Babe Ruth World Series in 1968.
Victor raved about how Ro was an excellent mentor who helped him develop his athletic skills in addition to toughening him up. “My sister was just a hard-nosed athlete,” Vic Carlucci said. “There was just no quit in her. She just wanted to win, win, win. She was named the best athlete at Stamford Catholic High School when she graduated. Then she went into coaching and did a tremendous job there.”
Ro Carlucci was a fantastic high school athlete in the 1960s and when she got into teaching and coaching she was a bellwether toward promoting sports activities and opportunities for young female athletes.
Parents of the baby boomers can well remember when Westhill hosted its annual open houses for the parents in the 1970s. Carlucci was very positive and she very much impressed the parents when she gave impassioned talks about the benefits of sports for young girls and why they should not be bashful about trying out for sports teams.
Maria Carlucci and Kuczo both likened Ro Carlucci to a pioneer in the advancement of female sports.
“Ro’s thing was the women’s movement even before it really started,” Maria Carlucci said. “She was a visionary 40 or 50 years ago. The only thing I wish is that she was still here with us.”
“Ro was a defender of female rights on the athletic circuit,” Kuczo said. “She really was a pied piper for female sports. She was a hell of a girl.”