|2011 Sportsmen of Westport honorees||2011 Sportsmen of Westport scholarship recipients|
|Mark Brockwell, Mary Gail Horelick-Gristina, Nikki Zeoli-Porzio, Nell Mullen, Jay Paretzky, Carmen Arciola, Steve Doig, Jack McFarland, Al Fiore||Christopher Giunta, Michael Giunta, Courtney Garzone, Marykate VanSant, Alexandra Masiello|
Presenting the 2011 honorees... click name for bios
|Carmen Arciola||Mark Brockwell||Stephen Doig||Al Fiore|
|Jack McFarland||Nell Mullen||Jay Paretzky||Nikki Zeoli-Porzio|
|All bios written by George Albano, assistant sports editor and columnist at The Hour Newspaper in Norwalk, CT.|
This year’s recipient of the Westport Sportsmen’s PAL Award is truly representative of the successful local organization.
After all, in his role as
Chief of Police in the town of
His involvement with the local PAL organization, however, goes back even farther than that.
“Many years ago, when I was a young man, I was an assistant coach in the PAL football program,” the Chief pointed out. “That was forever ago.
Chief Fiore has been involved in several other PAL activities, most notably with the Chief Sam Luciano Scholarship Golf Outing named in honor of the late Westport Police Chief.
“I’ve been involved with that for about 25 years and that directly benefits PAL programs,” Fiore noted. “One hundred percent of the proceeds go to PAL scholarships.”
And since taking over as president in 2004, the Westport PAL program has continued to grow under his leadership.
“We put in lacrosse and we also put in a track program. Those are two new entities,” Fiore said. “Our overall numbers are increasing on a regular basis.
“We have 500 kids alone in football counting tackle, flag and cheerleading,” he added. “Our football program has really taken off. Carmen Roda has really been successful in the training of coaches and the concussion program.”
Born and raised in
He received his police
officer certification from the
Fiore is a past president of the Connecticut Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, past president of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Fairfield County, a past president of the Westport Police Benevolent Association and president of the Fairfield County Police Chiefs Association.
In addition, he currently serves on the boards of Fairfield County Safe Kids and the Staples High School Gridiron Club. For the last dozen years, he’s been a tireless worker in the concession stand at Staples home football games cooking for fans as well as the team.
“I feel that the town of
“If I can affect at least one life in a positive way, it will give me great personal satisfaction.”
Carmen Arciola Sr. has been
a part of the
“I was only 5-6. I had to be a guard,” he laughed. “I played JV as a sophomore and dressed for the varsity game. Then as a junior and senior I played on the varsity.
“I came off the bench. I wasn’t a big point scorer, but I was known for my defense. I stole the ball a lot.”
As a senior, Arciola was the sixth man on a team that advanced to the state semifinals and included players such as Jack Mitchell, Bruce Cummings, Hugo and Charlie Papstein, and Jeff Lavaty.
“Most of those guys were juniors and the next year they were rated No. 1 in the state,” Arciola pointed out.
In the spring, Arciola was a
member of the golf team coached by Mike Chappa. At the 1956 state tournament
played at the Wee Burn Country Club in
“I loved baseball and I used to play, but when I got to Staples I went out for the golf team,” he said. “I used to caddy at Longshore and at the 1955 Connecticut Open I had the honor to caddy for Art Wall Jr., who went on to win the Masters (1959). He ended up having the most holes in one in golf history.”
Arciola did play baseball during the summer, however, and was a third baseman with the Westport PAL team from 1954-56.
“We had a good team,” he said.
Following his graduation from Staples in 1956, Arciola joined the U.S. Army and upon his return home became a member of the Westport Fire Department. He would enjoy a 28-year career there before retiring in 1994.
During that time, Arciola played for the department’s recreation softball team. He was also actively involved with the Fire Department Benevolent Fund and helped set up blood banks for the Red Cross.
He was also a volunteer with Westport PAL for 25 years and worked with the annual Special Olympics in town.
Arciola, who has three children – Pamela, Jeff and Carmen Jr. –coached youth baseball in the Westport Little League and then the Junior and Senior Babe Ruth leagues in town. One summer he coached the Westport Babe Ruth 13-year-old all-stars and guided the team to three straight wins and a berth in the district semifinals.
“But I really liked working with Little League kids the best,” he said. “It’s rewarding to see them when they start off as kids and go on to become good players years later.
“One of my kids with the Babe Ruth 13 year-olds, Pat Garrigan, ended up playing with the Milwaukee Brewers. It was not because of my training. He was just good.”
Arciola, who will turn 74 in
July, has lived in
MARY GAIL HORELICK-GRISTINA
Before she embarked on a
career as a physical therapist and long before she and her husband started a
successful winery business, Mary Gail Gristina was a track star at
In fact, Mary Gail Horelick,
as she was known when she graduated from
It was in track, however,
where she made a name for herself in
Gristina’s first experience
in the sport was at
That was only a prelude of the outstanding high school career that awaited her at Staples. As a sophomore in 1964, Gristina joined Donna Jackson, Susan Tefft and Joy Wassell on the 440-yard relay team that not only captured first place but broke the national high school record.
The same quartet would break
its own record two more times that season and again in 1965, the first year they
competed nationally in
In 1966, Gristina’s senior
year, the relay team again competed nationally, but because AAU meets were
outside of the school jurisdiction, they couldn’t compete as
Since the team was not a school-sanctioned activity, it couldn’t receive any formal backing. But organizations like the Staples Booster Club and local Lions Club, and individuals like Tip Schaefer and Lou Nistico all provided financial support. Along with bake sales and flower pots set out for donations at stores throughout town, the team raised enough money to travel.
Every penny they raised was
well spent, too. At their first competition in
After that, they travelled
to Poplar Bluffs,
That effort helped the Westport team, under legendary coach Ginny Parker, win the national title in a closely contested meet that came down to the last event.
It was also during Gristina’s senior year at Staples that she broke the state record for the 100-yard dash, capping an outstanding scholastic career.
Gristina went to earn a
degree in Physical Therapy at
After seven years in the
Gristina also practiced children’s law and served on the State Board of Directors of the Spinal Cord Injury Association and as treasurer of the State Physical Therapy Association.
Her husband, Jerry, who had
a medical practice in
She would travel from her
They continue to live in
Mary Gail’s Sportsmen’s Award tonight comes 33 years after her father, Mike Horelick, received the same award in 1978.
It only took the recipient
of this year’s Sportsmen of Westport Coaching Award four seasons to rebuild the
Jack McFarland took over as head baseball coach in 2005 and by his second season he led the Wreckers back to the FCIAC and state tournaments.
Staples qualified for the
conference playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 10-8 record, but knocked off
The Wreckers then lost a 4-3
Staples returned to the state tournament in 2007 and after a one-year hiatus qualified for the FCIAC playoffs in 2008, this time as the No. 7 seed with an 11-7 conference record.
But the Wreckers again displayed some postseason magic by winning three straight playoff games to claim the school’s first FCIAC championship in baseball since 2001(when they were co-champs) and its first outright title since 1985. Staples reached the second round of the Class LL state tournament and finished 16-9 overall.
The 2009 season was another banner year for McFarland and the Wreckers, who went 14-4 in league play to win the Central Division title and earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The Westporters proved true to form as they reeled off three straight wins to capture a second straight FCIAC championship while McFarland was named the FCIAC Baseball Coach of the Year.
It was the sixth conference crown for Staples, but the first time in school history it won back to back titles. Throw in another opening-round win in the state tournament and the Wreckers finished 18-6 overall.
They would match that with another 18-win season in 2010, including a sparkling 16-2 record in the FCIAC to again claim the top seed. In addition, the Wreckers’ 18-2 overall regular-season mark earned them the No. 2 seed in the Class LL tournament. They would get upset in the first round of both postseason tourneys, but still finished with a glossy 18-4 record.
Entering the 2011 season this spring, McFarland had compiled an impressive 83-53 coaching record. With 11 wins in the first 13 games as of press time, he was closing in on 100 career victories.
But baseball isn’t the only sport McFarland has been successful in at Staples. Since 1995, he has been an assistant coach in the Wreckers’ successful football program and a part of three FCIAC championship teams, three state title-winning clubs, and four state runner-up teams.
In 2004, when Staples won both the FCIAC and Class L state championships, McFarland was named the Assistant Football Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association.
A 1984 graduate of
McFarland is currently the
Assistant Dean at Staples and resides in
More than three decades of dedicated volunteer service culminates tonight when Jay Paretzky receives the William A. Krause Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Sportsmen of Westport.
The Brooklyn-born Paretzky,
who moved to
In fact, in 2010 alone,
Paretzky volunteered over 1,500 hours in shift coverage, training and state
But it was almost an act of fate that brought Paretzky and the Westport EMS together.
“I was living in Saugatuck in the late ‘70s and one night a fire broke out at a house right down the block from us. It woke us up,” he explained. “We immediately called the police and fire departments.”
Feeling helpless as he watched the Saugatuck Volunteer Fire Department battle the flames, Paretzky was inspired to get more involved in his community.
“I met Harry Audley, the fire chief, and told him I wanted to join the volunteer fire department,” Paretzky said. “He told me the Saugatuck Volunteer Fire Department was not taking any applications at the time, but that I could join the Coleytown Volunteer Fire Department. This didn’t make any sense I told him because I live in Saugatuck.
“But then he said he had a
better idea. He told me to go see his brother Ed Audley, who was a police
sergeant and was starting a
It was too late for Paretzky
to enroll in the first class in 1979, but he got in the second class and on
“I was looking for some kind of community involvement and that just fell in place,” he said.
Paretzky has been actively involved ever since. He has twice served as president of the Westport Volunteer EMS and fulfilled four terms as vice president during his 15 years as a board member. He is currently chairman of the Connecticut EMS Volunteer Committee.
Paretzky is also Chair of the Edwin A. Audley Scholarship Committee sponsored by the Westport EMS.
His volunteer work also includes being a Westport Community Emergency Response Team founder and medical advisor, and a senior driver training officer with the National Safety Council, an organization he’s been involved with since 1983.
And since 1982, Paretzky has
been a CPR and First Aid instructor with the American Heart Association,
including serving as coordinator. While in
Paretzky was also involved in sports at one time as a member of the swim teams at Thomas Jefferson and Midwood high schools in Brooklyn, and was a lifeguard at Rockaway, N.Y., beaches from 1957-60.
A 1968 graduate of
The humanitarian award he is receiving tonight honors the memory of Bill Krause, the longtime president of the Sportsmen of Westport and for years one of the driving forces behind the Dinner of Champions. The award was established in 2005 shortly after his passing and tonight Paretzky will be the seventh recipient.
“Defense” was Mark
Brockwell’s middle name during his playing days at
A 1980 graduate, Brockwell was a defensive anchor for two successful Wreckers teams. In football, he played linebacker for three seasons and received the Block “S” Coaches Award as a senior in the fall of 1979.
He was also the starting
catcher on the Staples varsity baseball team in 1979 and ’80, and as a junior
helped the Wreckers reach the Class LL state championship game for the first
time in school history, falling to
Brockwell was also the center on long snaps for punts and kicks for the football team, but there’s no doubt he left his mark on the defensive side of the ball.
“His talent to me was always
He led the team in tackles
in 1983 and ’84, while as a senior he was voted captain by his teammates. During
that 1984 season, Brockwell helped lead
The Rams, who were also
named the ECAC Team of the Year, were awarded the Lambert-Meadowlands Cup,
emblematic of the top team in the East.
Meanwhile, Brockwell was named to the 1984 All-Yankee Conference team and was an All-American Honorable Mention. He was also selected as the ECAC Defensive Player of the Week twice during the season.
In 2005, Brockwell and the rest of the 1984 Rams football team was inducted into the URI Athletic Hall of Fame, the first time an entire team was enshrined.
Brockwell was also inducted
on the “Wall of Fame’ at
“If I had to put my finger
on one thing about Mark I would say he was a soldier,” Lane said. “He always
answered ‘Yes sir.’ He was born to listen. He would do what he was told and he
did it well. I’m sure he did the same thing at
“You don’t find many people like that,” the legendary coach added. “I think that’s why he did so well in business.”
Brockwell has worked in commercial real estate and for the past 21 years has been president of his own company, MJB Real Estates Services Corporation.
Brockwell still resides in
As a four-sport athlete during the 1950s, Nell Mullen was well ahead of her time.
Mullen played sports two decades before Title IX, the federal law that assured gender equality in athletics, was adopted in 1972.
Those obstacles, however,
didn’t deter the
“When I played sports in
high school there was no Title IX. Girls sports were not covered by the media.”
Mullen, who now resides just over the
After graduating from
Staples in 1953, Mullen attended Bouve-Boston School of Physical Education,
which was affiliated with
“At Bouve we did not play other colleges,” Mullen explained. “The competition was between the blue and white teams. In your freshman year you were assigned to either the blue or white team. You were on the team for your four years of college.
“I was on the blue team,” she added. “Competitions were held throughout the school year. If your team won you earned points for your team and at the end of the year the points were tallied and the winning team got a trophy that was displayed for the next year.”
Following her graduation,
Mullen taught at
Mullen was a physical
education teacher and a teacher of adapted physical education, as well as a
classroom teacher of the severely handicapped. During a 30-year career in
While teaching in Westport, Mullen was also an assistant professor in an adapted recreation program at Southern Connecticut State College from 1970-75, an adapted aquatics and swimming teacher at the Westport YMCA, and an instructor for the Red Cross in swimming, adapted aquatics and canoeing.
In addition, Mullen has
worked as a swimming instructor and life guard for the town of
Since her retirement from the Westport School System in 1995, Mullen still fills in as a substitute teacher in special education, physical education and pre-school.
During her career as a
teacher and instructor, Mullen never lost her desire to compete in sports
herself, returning to leftfield for a slow-pitch softball team in
“I did not play on a women’s team until I was in my sixties,” she proudly noted. “I think the average age was 35. I was the oldest member on the team and was referred to as ‘Grandma.’ ”
Mullen never lost her
competitive edge, either. In 1987, she won a trophy as the winner of the slow
rider race at a motorcycle meet. That came 23 years after she earned a trophy
for winning a mixed doubles badminton competition in
She also won an award from
the American Campcraft Association, and coached the
In 1995, Mullen was the recipient of the Peter Weisman Award, which recognized her work with handicapped children. She has also served on the American Red Cross Board of Directors and is a member of the Red Cross Polar Bear Club.
Now, more than half a century after her days as a four-sport athlete, Nell Mullen takes great joy in seeing how far females in sports have come.
“I am so happy that there are more opportunities for women to play team sports after graduating high school or college,” she said.
NIKKI ZEOLI PORZIO
Nikki Zeoli Porzio never played sports in high school. But afterwards the 1980 Staples graduate made her mark in athletics at the highest national level.
Porzio won the 1993 women’s national championship at the All Natural Bodybuilding Competition (ANBC) USA Nationals, not only finishing in first place in the women’s short division, but capturing top honors as the women’s overall winner.
A lifetime resident of
Nikki Zeoli’s first exposure
to athletics was at
She went on to earn a BS
degree at the
Porzio’s interest in bodybuilding began in the late ‘80s and her first ANBC competition was the East Coast Iron Classic in 1990 where she finished runner-up. She won her first championship a year later at the 1991 Colonial Classic, finishing first in the women’s short division.
Then in 1992, Porzio competed at the USA National Championships for the first time and finished eighth in the women’s short.
“I finished eighth and I was furious,” Porzio said looking back nearly two decades later. “That really lit a fire under me.”
Apparently it did. The year 1993 would be a big one for Porzio, who finished in fourth place at the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) Championships, which was a professional bodybuilding competition.
She then repeated as champion at the World Gym Classic, but this time swept both the women’s short title and overall women’s crown. One week later, she won her national championship at the USA Nationals.
Porzio went on to become a
nationally certified trainer/instructor to professional fitness trainers in
various cities throughout the
She and her husband Bert
Porzio reside in
“Motherhood is the most important job I have ever had,” she said. “My oldest daughter, Jennifer, was born with significant physical disability. I have a vision that she will walk independently one day and I am doing everything possible to make that happen.”
The 2011 Dinner of Champions
will be a reunion of sorts for Steve Doig, whose name will join those of several
The 1966 SHS graduate was on two of the more celebrated football teams in school history. Doig was one of only two sophomores to make the 1963 Staples varsity team that won the FCIAC Eastern Division championship. The Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference was only in its third year of existence and league championship games between the two division winners didn’t begin until 1966.
The quarterback on that ’63 team was Matt MacVane, a 2006 Sportsmen of Westport honoree. Then as a junior, Doig was on the ’64 Staples team that featured what many considered one of the best backfields ever assembled with quarterback Jack Forehand, fullback Bill During, and halfbacks John Bolger and William ‘Buz’ Leavitt.
Forehand was the only other
sophomore besides Doig on the ’63 team, while During, Bolger and Levitt all
transferred to Staples from other parts of the country. All four went on to play
at Division I colleges and returned to
Doig was a cornerback and
halfback on that team and as a senior the following fall was named captain of
the 1965 team, which included Win Headley, a 2007 Sportsmen honoree who played
“I particularly remember playing against a freshman Rippowam player named Bobby Valentine,” Doig said.
Doig’s final season was cut short when he tore his right quadricep in practice and spent the next couple of months on crutches. Opposing coaches thought enough of him, however, to select him to play in the annual Nutmeg Bowl, featuring the best senior players in the state, in the summer of ’66. But he was still not fully recovered from his injury and couldn’t play.
Tonight, however, Doig will in a sense be reunited with the ’64 backfield along with MacVane and Headley as he takes his place beside them on the honor roll of Sportsmen Award winners.
He went to
Doig also ran indoor and outdoor track at Staples for Lane, who often had him anchor the 440 and 880 relay teams.
“Luckily the real speedsters like Brad Klein and Laddie Lawrence (another past Sportsmen honoree) would build up such a lead that all I had to do was take the baton without dropping it.”
A three-sport athlete, Doig was a valuable reserve on some pretty good Staples basketball teams. But the game he remembers most wasn’t a victory.
“My most memorable game was
The summer after he
graduated in 1966, Doig’s father was transferred back to
“I only lived in
He was recruited by
While in the U.S. Army, Doig
was a combat correspondent in
He went on to a
distinguished career in journalism as a reporter at the Daytona News-Journal
form 1974-77, then as a reporter and editor at the Miami Herald from 1977-96.
Since ’96, he has been a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism
Doig was also chosen as a
Fulbright Distinguished Chair, which allowed him to spend the Fall 2010 semester
While at the Miami Herald, Doig was part of a team of reporters that won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their coverage of Hurricane Andrew.
Doig was also recognized for his investigative reporting with the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award in 1995 and the Goldsmith Prize in 1994.
Doig now lives in
Alexandra Masiello | Courtney Garzone | Michael Giunta | Christopher Giunta | Marykate VanSant
As a varsity athlete at Staples, Courtney played volleyball and softball. She has also been very active in the Staples community throughout her high school career.
She has been a part of the Student Assembly and TAG (Teen Awareness Group) for which she is vice-president this year. She is president of the Interact Club, a community service group affiliated with the Rotary Club.
Since getting her license, she has held an afterschool job working as a nanny for a family with three young children. She is currently doing a senior internship at the Strawberry Hill Animal Hospital in Norwalk.
After graduation, Courtney will atend Penn State University starting in late June, as she has been accepted into a 6-week pre-vet program this summer. Upon graduation from Penn State, Courtney hopes to continue on to Veterinary School.
Consistency would be a good word to sum up Mike Guinta’s life thus far. He is a 4-year SHS Wrecker, earning a varsity letter in both football and wresting and he held a 2-year captainship in wrestling.
He has been an assistant coach for PAL football since 9th grade as well as a Parks & Recreation employee at Longshore marina for the Town of Westport. He is an academically successful student who plans to major in Criminal Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences at Quinnipiac University beginning in September 2011.
His hope is to become a police officer (like his father who is a 30 year veteran of the Westport Police department) and potentially go to law school one day.
When asked what he credits his academic success to, he says “Sports. It’s just what Coach Petroccio says, “Learning through sports means work hard and success will follow.” Keeping with the theme of consistency, he is an identical twin and his brother Chris, will also study at Quinnipiac this fall.
Chris, like his brother, has been very active in athletics during his years at Staples, playing football for all four years. He was the starting football center on the varsity team this past season. He has also been a varsity wrestler since freshman year, was captain of the wrestling team for junior and senior years, and was honored as an Academic All American Wrestler.
Chris has worked during the summers for Westport Parks and Rec at the Compo and Longshore Marinas, and will do that again this summer. He also works part-time as a volunteer PAL Football assistant coach.
Upon graduation, he, along with his brother, Mike, will be attending Quinnipiac University in the fall. He was accepted into the School of Health and Sciences for the seven year entry-level BS/Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
Chris looks forward to graduating from Quinnipiac as a physical therapist, with the ability to heal people’s injuries, and restore their muscles and joints back to health. The Sportsmen of Westport is pleased that it can help to ease the burden of sending not one, but two two children off to college at the same time.
An avid athlete who started playing a variety of sports at a very young age, Alexandra played softball and volleyball at the varsity level while at Staples. She is a committed team player and earned MVP, the Staples BLOCK “S” in both sports.
After graduating from Staples in June, Alexandra wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and pursue a career as a teacher with a special interest in physical education.
Alexandra enjoys working with children, which she has done for several summers at the town beach camp and the Patterson Club. She is currently interning at Long Lots Elementary School during the Senior Internship program.
Alexandra will attend Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.
Marykate Van Sant
Marykate transferred to Staples High School in the middle of her sophomore year – not an easy move while in high school. We were happy to take her from St. Joe’s! The transition was difficult, but Marykate persevered, making honor roll every year. Marykate excels at sports and was a member of the varsity girls basketball and track teams. She also served as a manager for the Staples football team.
Through her summer jobs as a camp counselor and with her current experience as an intern at Long Lots, MK wants to become an elementary school teacher.
As one of Marykate’s coaches, I can say that she is one of the most hardworking, dedicated student athletes I have had the pleasure of knowing, and her strength and maturity in the face of tough times and adversity is incredible.
This year, she was the recipeint of our Girl’s Basketball Block “S” for the Coaches Award. After graduating from Staples, Marykate will attend Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.