The FCIAC will annually recognize someone who has made substantial contributions to the conference with the distinguished coach award, named for Ralph King, whose professionalism was characterized by excellence in service to the FCIAC, the CHSCA, and the CIAC.
2017 Ralph King Award Winner: Laddie Lawrence
A talented athlete for and captain of the Staples High track and field teams, Laddie Lawrence returned to his alma mater in 1978 as a Physical Education and Health teacher— a position he would hold for 35 years.
Even before beginning his tenure at Staples as a teacher, Lawrence was involved in coaching. He has served as the Staples High boys cross country head coach since 1972, the boys indoor track and field head coach since 1970, and the boys outdoor track and field coach since 1977.
He has also been involved coaching the girls cross country and indoor track and field teams at times.
During his 48 years of coaching, Lawrence has amassed a record of 1,824 wins, 395 losses, and two ties, and has led his teams through an incredible 32 undefeated seasons. He also has 73 FCIAC Division Championships, 32 FCIAC Championships, 39 CIAC Class or Open Championships, and two New England Championships.
Lawrence has coached many talented athletes, including eight National Champions.
Due to his tremendous success, Lawrence has been recognized many times, receiving a plethora of awards and honors throughout his career, including being named the National Coach of the Year for Men’s Cross Country in 1990.
Lawrence has been a committed member of the FCIAC, serving on all of the track committees, and as a meet director. He has served on a variety of other boards as well, such as President of the Connecticut Interscholastic Track Coaches Association from 1987 to 1989.
In addition to all this, Lawrence has been the coordinator of Westport’s Road Runner’s program and Track programs for decades.
The FCIAC will annually present this award to a member of the education profession who has made significant contributions to high school athletics while exhibiting the qualities of leadership, integrity, and professionalism which has been synonymous with the man to whom this award is named: John J. Kuczo, a long-time leader of the league. This is the FCIAC’s highest award to professional educators from within the FCIAC, CHSCA, and the CIAC.
2017 John Kuczo Award Winner: Patrick Spinola
The 2017 John Kuczo award recipient — for whom the Norwalk High swimming pool is named — has had a profound impact on Norwalk sports, as well as the FCIAC.
After graduating with a degree in Physical Education and Health, Patrick Spinola returned to his hometown of Norwalk and began a 36-year teaching career in Norwalk Public Schools — 30 of which were at Norwalk High.
For an amazing 26 years, he served as the school’s athletic director and also was the head swim coach for 21 years. He was recognized as a talented coach, receiving the CHSCA Outstanding Swim Coach of the Year award in 1986.
Aside from his involvement in school athletics, Spinola also brought his love of swimming to the city of Norwalk as a whole, founding the Youth Instructional Swim Program in 1971 and co-founding the Aquatic Club in 1975.
Ever looking to improve Norwalk athletics, Spinola co-chaired the committee to redesign Norwalk High School’s athletic facilities and was a part of the process to install the turf field.
He has served on the FCIAC Board of Directors — and was President of the league from 2002-2004 — and continues as the C.E.U Coordinator.
In addition to this, Spinola is also an instructor for CIAC State Coaching certification classes.
As if all this weren’t enough, Spinola has been a dedicated Red Cross Volunteer for the past 58 years.
Due to his commitment to athletics and the community, Spinola has received many honors over the years, including the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 2002 and the CAAD Robert Duncanson Meritorious Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Athletics in 2006.