Congratulations to the 2005 Honorees  click name for bios

Sportsmen Awards
Dana Hollingsworth
Jack Forehand
William "Buz" Leavitt
Bill During
John Bolger

Citizenship Award
Sue Pfister

Coaching Award

Bruce Betts

P.A.L. Award
Glenn HIghtower

Women's Award
Jessica Gelman

Special Award
Laura Blair

William A. Krause, Jr. Humanitarian Award
John M. Bieling, Jr.

National Honoree
Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo

 

Coach Paul Lane, John Bolger, Bill During, Buz Leavitt & Jack Forehand

   

Buz Leavitt, Jack Forehand, Bill During & John Bolger

John "Junior" Bieling & Bill During

   
All bios written by George Albano, assistant sports editor and columnist at The Hour Newspaper in Norwalk, CT.
 
 
BILL DURING

Bill During was a standout fullback and linebacker with the 1964 Staples football team, along with fellow Sportsmen honorees Jack Forehand, William “Buz” Leavitt and John Bolger. The foursome is considered to be one of the best backfields ever assembled in the state. During was the leading scorer on the 1964 SHS football team with 10 touchdowns and earned All-FCIAC honors. He also earned All American status as a fullback for Staples High School in 1964. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., During went on to play three years at Syracuse University, where he was a teammate of future NFL stars, Floyd Little, of the Denver Broncos and Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins. Ironically, he played against his former teammate, John Bolger, when the Orangemen played Army. One of the highlights of During’s career was when he scored two touchdowns in a game against Penn State. While at Staples, During also ran track for Paul Lane, his football coach in the fall. He finished second in the 100-yard dash in the FCIAC as a sophomore and junior, and then set a new record as a senior with a time of 9.7 seconds. After his playing days, During coached football on the high school level in the Syracuse area and had several successful teams, including the West Genesee varsity team that went 8-1 and played in the sectional finals at the Carrier Dome. He also coached boys and girls track from 1973-75. Last season, he served as a scout for Westminster HS in Denver, near his home in Thornton, Colorado. Bill is a bilingual teacher in Denver, pursuing certification as a translator/interpreter. Bill has two children: Gabrielle, 21 and Danielle, 20.


 

JACK FOREHAND

Jack Forehand was the quarterback on the 1964 Staples football team, which included fellow honorees Bill During, William “Buz” Leavitt and John Bolger in the same backfield. Forehand was the FCIAC’s top quarterback, throwing eight touchdown passes and completing 50 percent of his passes. Another All-FCIAC selection, Forehand also played defensive back and was a member of the track team where he finished second in the triple jump and long jump at the FCIAC Championships. He went on to play one season at Georgia where he later earned his master’s degree in education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history at Armstrong State College. Now a resident of Fairfield, Forehand returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in football from 1973-80, and was on the staff when the Wreckers won the 1975 state championship. He also coached JV basketball and assisted Brian Kelley and was a track assistant in 1973-74.While coaching at Staples, Jack also found time to serve Westport’s youth as a supervisor of basketball and open school programs at Greens Farms School. He, too, worked as a Westport Recreation Department assistant. Jack is versatile in his work experience, which ranges from teaching physical education to a career in the retail liquor business. He is currently the general manager of Fairgrounds Wines and Spirits in Danbury, CT. Jack and his wife, Sandy, (secretary for the Staples High School Athletic Department) have two children; Jack and Aimee.


 

WILLIAM 'BUZ' LEAVITT

William “Buz” Leavitt was a halfback in the 1964 Staples High backfield that many consider one of the best ever, and included fellow Sportsmen honorees Jack Forehand, Bill During and John Bolger. Leavitt scored eight touchdowns for the ’64 Wreckers and was a second-team All-FCIAC selection. He went on to play in college at Wake Forest, seeing time at wide receiver, halfback and fullback, and twice earning ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors for games against South Carolina and Virginia Tech. His biggest highlight, however, was beating North Carolina State in the season opener his senior year. Trailing by seven late in the game, Leavitt caught three passes to get the ball down to the one, and then threw the lead block on the next play to pave the way for the touchdown to bring Wake within one point. Leavitt then caught the two-point conversion pass to give his team the dramatic win. Now a resident of Charlotte, N.C., Leavitt was a three-sport athlete at Staples, also starting at forward on the basketball team and averaging double figures, and playing shortstop and second base on the baseball team. Leavitt currently resides in Charlotte, N.C. A marketing/sales manager with Proctor and Gamble for 31 ½ years, “Buz” is now a consultant with a sports agency with Jim Beam NASCAR Racing Association. He and his wife, Anne, have three children; Christopher, Charley, and Courtney and four grandchildren.

 


JOHN BOLGER

John Bolger was another offensive threat as a running back and punter on the 1964 Staples football team where he joined fellow honorees Bill During, William “Buzz” Leavitt and Jack Forehand in one of the greatest backfields ever assembled. Bolger scored four touchdowns and was named the All-FCIAC punter. He also ran track for Paul Lane, his football coach, and was clocked in 51 seconds flat in the 440. He was a member of the Wreckers state championship 880 relay team. He would go on to West Point and play for the Army football team, seeing action at running back, wide receiver and punter. During Bolger’s three-year varsity career, Army went 29-8 and was invited to the Sugar Bowl in 1967. He later served as an assistant coach at Army with the JV football team, going 6-1 three straight seasons from 1981-83. Bolger is still vice president of the Army Football Club, which consists of 1,700 former Army football players, coaches and friends of Army football. Bolger is a 1969 graduate of the United States Military Academy and was the Commander of the United States Army Garrison at West Point from June 1993 to June 1996. In his 30 years of commissioned service, Bolger has held a variety of command and staff positions, and currently holds the title of Colonel. His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, and the Purple Heart. Born in New Mexico, Colonel Bolger continues to work at the Pentagon and resides in Virginia with his wife, Anne. They have one daughter, Michelle, who resides in Connecticut.


 

DANA HOLLINGSWORTH

Dana Hollingsworth was a standout soccer player at Staples in 1971 and ’72, helping the Wreckers to the FCIAC and state championships both years. His senior year, Staples finished 18-0-1. The talented forward was named first-team all-county and first-team all-star his juniors and senior years, as well as MVP in the state and All-American as a senior. He went on to play at St. Lawrence University, where he was a four-time first-team all-state pick, an all-American his senior year, and is still the team’s all-time leading scorer and assists leader. He was also inducted into the St. Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame. Hollingsworth also played professionally two seasons in the American Soccer League for the Connecticut Yankees, and one season with the Houston Hurricanes of the North American Soccer League. And while his name was always associated with soccer at Staples, Hollingsworth also wrestled as a sophomore in 1971, going undefeated at the 98-pound weight class while winning the FCIAC championship and finishing second in the state. He currently resides in Darien with his wife, Linherr. They have three children; Jeb, Kyle, and Ellery.


 

BRUCE BETTS

Bruce Betts is another 1965 Staples graduate, but instead of football he ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track. In fact, some of his teammates in outdoor track were Jack Forehand, John Bolger, Bill During and current Staples track coach, Laddie Lawrence. Betts was a senior captain in cross country, and a member of the 1965 state champion indoor track team, and the ’64 and ’65 outdoor track team. But it would be more than two decades later before Betts would really begin to make his mark on athletics at Staples. In 1987, Betts was one of the 12 original coaches who started boys volleyball in the state of Connecticut. He’s coached the Staples boys every since, and coming into this week had compiled a record of 222-48, including 54 straight wins and a perfect 16-0 record this season. Last season the Wreckers went 23-0. All told, Staples has won five FCIAC championships, six FCIAC runner-up finishes, four Class M state titles and three state runner-up finishes. In 2001, Betts guided the Wreckers to the first CIAC state championship in boys volleyball. Staples also won in 2002, ’03 and ’04. Betts, who lives in Newtown and teaches at Staples (currently in his 33rd year of teaching in the Westport Public Schools), has also coached the Wreckers girls volleyball team in fall since 1997, compiling a record of 98-58 with four FCIAC Central Division crowns. Prior to that he was an assistant coach with the girls team from 1985-96. Betts also coached freshmen baseball at SHS from 1985-90. Bruce and his wife, Donna, have two children; Jen and Peter and five grandchildren.


 

JESSICA GELMAN

Jessica Gelman did not arrive at Staples until her sophomore year, but she certainly left quite an impression during her three basketball seasons in Westport. Gelman rewrote the record book as she scored 1,639 career points, and is still the school’s all-time leading scorer. In fact, counting her freshman year at Highland Park High School in Chicago, Gelman finished with a remarkable 1,910 total points. In her only season in the Second City, 1989-90, she was voted one of the top 25 players in Chicago. But Chicago’s loss was Westport’s gain as Gelman helped lead the Wreckers to the 1991 and 1993 FCIAC championships. During the ’91 season she incredibly led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Her 45 points in the State semi-finals that year lives on as one of the greatest high school performances in State basketball history. She would go on to earn All-FCIAC and all-state honors all three years, was named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior as well as a Converse All-American and a two-time Street & Smith and USA Today Honorable Mention. Gelman graduated as the school record holder in points, steals, and 3-pointers made in one season and a career. Gelman then took her talents to Harvard University, where she played point guard and scored over 1,000 career points while handing out 485 assists. She led the Crimson’s women’s basketball team to back to back Ivy League titles and the school’s first two NCAA tournament appearances. She’s still in the top 10 in school history for points, assists, steals and field goals, and was named the Female Athlete of the Year. From Harvard, Gelman went on to play in the European Professional Basketball League, where she was one of only two Americans on the Israel/Russian team in the 1997-98 season. And even after her playing days were over, Gelman founded and operated Gelman’s All-American Hoopsters, a girls basketball camp in Westport from 1997-2000. Now a resident of Boston, Gelman is Director of New Business Development for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.


 

GLENN HIGHTOWER

Glenn Hightower is probably best known for his three decades as principal at Bedford junior high and middle schools, where he was from 1969 to 2000, and he is currently principal of Westport Adult and Continuing Education. But this year’s PAL Award winner has almost always been involved with sports. Born in Oklahoma City, Hightower played quarterback for his high school team from 1954-56, while in the spring he was a catcher on the baseball team and earned all-state Honorable Mention. Hightower attended Oklahoma State University and played baseball his freshman year. A medical condition eventually ended his formal sports participation as an athlete, but didn’t keep him away from the sports scene. From 1970 to the present, he competed in area and national 4-wall handball tournaments. He has also successfully completed 24 marathons, including the New York Marathon 15 times 1974-88 with a best time of 3 hours & 8 minutes. He has also completed 10 Ultra (50 mile) Marathons. In addition, Hightower coached a number of Little League Girls Softball teams in Westport from 1978-97, winning several championships and even serving as commissioner for the minors and majors. From 1996 to the present, Glenn has been active in PAL Football in Westport, playing a key role in the growth of that league. He is most proud of the expansion of the PAL program from the time of scarcely having enough players for a grade 7/8 team to having two teams at each level. In his work with the youth of Westport, Glenn has always emphasized participating and competing to the best of one’s ability while maintaining the commitment to the team concept and sportsmanship as the goal. Glenn resides in Westport with his wife, Beverly, and they have three daughters; Holly, Julie, and Heather.


 

SUE PFISTER

Since 1987, Sue Pfister has been the director of the Westport Center for Senior Activities, and has spent her career in the field of human services with a focus on healthy aging. Sue earned her bachelor of science degree in social work at Sacred Heart University and was accepted onto the National Dean’s list. She went on to complete her master’s degree at Fordham University in social work as well, where she graduated with academic distinction. Pfister is a member of United Way’s Aging Successfully Committee, served as co-chairperson of the Coordinating Committee for Westport Senior Services, working closely with those who work with the elderly, and has chaired the Senior Nutrition Advisory Council. She has also been an active member of the Commission for Senior Services. It was under Pfister’s direction and leadership that the new 11,059 square foot Center for Senior Activities in Westport became a reality. Pfister was recently recognized as a “Hometown Hero” by News 12, and also had the honor of having the dining room at the center dedicated in her name – “Sue’s Café.” And although she’s being honored by the Sportsmen for her work in the community, Pfister has an impressive background in sports as well. A native of Norwalk, she played softball at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk and earned All-FCIAC honors as an infielder. She still plays softball in the town of Westport, as well as for a women’s slow-pitch team in a Recreation league in Fairfield, where she resides.


 

LAURA BLAIR

Laura Blair is receiving a special Sportsmen Award recognizing her as Staples High School’s No. 1 sports fan. Blair attends and supports most of the Wreckers’ girls sports events – especially soccer, basketball and softball – as well as football, soccer and wrestling on the boys’ side. She has also earned the nickname of the “Candy Lady” for providing post-game treats for the players on the girls teams. Laura’s pleasant disposition and never say die attitude as a supporting fan is, and has been, greatly appreciated by all coaches and players representing the Navy blue and white of the Wreckers. At most games she’s accompanied by a young woman who is handicapped, whom Laura cares for on many days and weekends. Laura provides her care and companionship and is sensitive to her needs. Together they spend countless hours in helping to make Staples games more lively and home-like though they may be miles on the road. Blair, a native of California who now lives in Wilton, played sports herself at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. She was a goalie on the field hockey team from 1977-80 and was named the team MVP in 1979.Whenever possible, Laura still assists the Wreckers field hockey team by volunteering her time to work and play at the squad’s annual winter camp. During her active playing career, she also played basketball and volleyball for the Crusaders of St. Luke’s. A paraprofessional for the physically challenged, Blair has worked at both Coleytown elementary and middle schools as well as at Staples, and currently works at Bedford Middle School.

 


BRUCE BETTS  

Bruce Betts is another 1965 Staples graduate, but instead of football he ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track. In fact, some of his teammates in outdoor track were Jack Forehand, John Bolger, Bill During and current Staples track coach, Laddie Lawrence. Betts was a senior captain in cross country, and a member of the 1965 state champion indoor track team, and the ’64 and ’65 outdoor track team. But it would be more than two decades later before Betts would really begin to make his mark on athletics at Staples. In 1987, Betts was one of the 12 original coaches who started boys volleyball in the state of Connecticut. He’s coached the Staples boys every since, and coming into this week had compiled a record of 222-48, including 54 straight wins and a perfect 16-0 record this season. Last season the Wreckers went 23-0. All told, Staples has won five FCIAC championships, six FCIAC runner-up finishes, four Class M state titles and three state runner-up finishes. In 2001, Betts guided the Wreckers to the first CIAC state championship in boys volleyball. Staples also won in 2002, ’03 and ’04. Betts, who lives in Newtown and teaches at Staples (currently in his 33rd year of teaching in the Westport Public Schools), has also coached the Wreckers girls volleyball team in fall since 1997, compiling a record of 98-58 with four FCIAC Central Division crowns. Prior to that he was an assistant coach with the girls team from 1985-96. Betts also coached freshmen baseball at SHS from 1985-90. Bruce and his wife, Donna, have two children; Jen and Peter and five grandchildren.