Category Archives: Sports

Special Olympics Swimming Makes A Splash

Marshall and Johanna Kiev do not see the glass as half full. The Westport couple find it overflowing.

When their daughter Chloe broke her arm playing on the monkey bars at Coleytown Elementary School, the Kievs spearheaded a drive for a better playground.

Chloe Kiev, after a recent horse show.

Chloe Kiev, after a recent horse show.

To help Chloe — who has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder that includes heart problems and developmental delays — enjoy activities with friends and classmates, Marshall and Johanna worked with the Westport school system to add Special Olympics Unified Sports to its already very successful Staples High School project. Unified Sports teams include youngsters with and without disabilities. A full elementary program begins this winter.

At the same time, the Kievs approached the Westport Weston Family Y about a more traditional Special Olympics program. They loved the idea.

The result: Registration for the Y’s new swim offering begins Monday (November 30).

Youth ages 8 to 21 years old will learn or improve their swimming abilities. They’ll compete on a team. In June, they’ll join the Special Olympics Summer Games in New Haven.

Westport Y logoSpecial Olympics Swimming will run year-round. Eight-week sessions begin in January, with sessions each Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Practices will be age- and ability-coordinated, coordinated by a certified swim coach and volunteer assistants.

The Kievs led a fundraising effort — a Halloween party — with many generous attendees. So there’s no cost to participants. The Y will help cover any additional funds.

The entire Kiev family is thrilled about the new program — but no one more than Chloe. “I’m so excited to swim and win medals and have my friends come and watch me,” she says.

(For more information on the Westport Y’s Special Olympics swim program, click here; call Jay Jaronko at 203-226-8983, or email  To read more about the Kievs and Chloe’s Williams Syndrome, click here.)

Eddie, Chloe and Ben Kiev.

Eddie, Chloe and Ben Kiev.

Gimme An “S”…!

Staples High School athletic uniforms get plenty of use. Typically, a varsity team wears a set for 3 years. They’re handed down for 3 more to the junior varsity, then maybe the freshmen. Finally, they may be tossed out.

Sometimes, a coach or parent finds a good use for them.

Or else a Staples custodian does.

Elsie Calderon has worked at the high school for many years. A native of Costa Rica, she’s a big soccer fan. Her son Jose played the sport at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High.

Every year, Elsie collects used sports equipment, from various sources. She cleans it, packs it up, and sends it to family and friends back home.

The Staples High School boys soccer team was happy to contribute old home and away jerseys. They’re now worn proudly by youth teams in Central America.

And — in a stroke of luck — the name of the town Elsie is from begins with “S.”

So the letter on the front fits perfectly.

One set of uniforms...

One set of jerseys…

...and the other.

…and the other.



Zito And Honeycutt Grab Radio Gold

It’s a good thing the Staples Media Lab is big. There’s room for TV production classes, a radio station and recording studio, plus plenty of high-tech equipment and offices.

Teachers and students need all that space to make magic. And, to store all the trophies they win for their work.

The latest hardware was handed out last weekend at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. As usual, Staples won several John Drury Awards — the country’s top honors for excellence in high school radio broadcasting.

But this year was extra special. Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito were named Co-Faculty Advisors of the Year. It’s the 1st time a school has had 2 honorees — and it came just a few months before both legends retire.

The pair were cited for their long service to WWPT-FM; their cutting-edge work, and their contributions to the school and community. Nominating letters of support poured in from Staples athletic director Marty Lisevick, citing the duo’s work in creating robust sports coverage; assistant principal James Farnen, attesting to their dynamic classroom environment, and past and present students, describing the instructors’ sometimes life-changing impact.

Mike Zito and Jim Honeycutt (rear) stand with WWPT-FM's Jack Caldwell and Cooper Boardman -- and some Drury Award trophies. Behind them is a mural -- painted by Staples art students -- on the wall outside the Media Lab.

Mike Zito and Jim Honeycutt (rear) stand with WWPT-FM’s Jack Caldwell and Cooper Boardman (and some Drury Award trophies). Behind them is a mural — painted by Staples art students — on the wall outside the Media Lab.

Sunday’s awards ceremony was emotional, Zito admits. He and Honeycutt have known one each other since the 1970s — when neither was yet teaching.

Honeycutt was a musician, who built the sound system for Barnaby’s in Bridgeport. Zito was the DJ there.

“We were in and out of each other’s lives for years,” Zito says. “Then we had the good fortune of establishing the media department at Staples.”

He arrived at the high school 14 years ago, from Coleytown Middle School. Honeycutt — formerly a Long Lots Middle School social studies and Staples computer teacher — had already moved into TV, radio and recording instruction.

WWPT- FM has won many Drury Awards. In 2011, it was named best high school station in the US.

WWPT- FM has won many Drury Awards. In 2011, it was named best high school station in the US.

The Media Lab now encompasses WWPT-FM and the Staples Television Network — both after-school activities — and classes in TV, radio, film, audio production and graphics.

Broadcast coverage includes live sports events, Staples Players’ shows, Candlelight and other concerts, graduation, even elections.

“On Back to School Night and when we talk to 8th grade parents, we like to say that there are many ways kids can find their place at Staples,” Zito says. “Some do it in arts, athletics or science. Others find a home here.”

For he and Honeycutt, being honored for helping students feel comfortable — and discover a new passion, perhaps even their life’s work — is “a real nice cap to our own careers.”

But the teachers are just as proud of the other Drury Awards won last weekend.

Cooper Boardman, Adam Kaplan and Zach Edelman were honored for Best Sports Play-by-Play radio broadcast. It was not even a Staples game — the trio earned kudos for their work on the girls basketball state finals (Wilton vs. South Windsor) at Mohegan Sun.

Boardman arranged that coverage on one day’s notice.

Boardman, Edelman and Jacob Bonn came in 2nd, in the same category, for their broadcast of the Trumbull-Stamford FCIAC basketball championship.

In addition, Boardman placed 2nd (Best Sportstalk Program) for his interview of ESPN personality Jonathan Coachman; Boardman, Edelman and Bonn took 3rd for Best Sportscast (“WWPT Sports Update”). Jack Caldwell was a national finalist for his Sportstalk interview with hockey goaltender Mike Liut.


But wait! There’s more!

Honeycutt’s Audio class and David Roth’s Theater 3 class took both 1st and 2nd place for “Best Radio Drama – Adaptation.” They were cited for parts I and II of “A Christmas Carol.”

Finally, WWPT was runnerup for Best Radio Station in the country. It’s the 6th consecutive year the FM outlet was either 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

It was quite a weekend for WWPT, and their advisors. So what’s ahead for the duo, once they retire in June?

Honeycutt will enjoy his grandchildren, who live nearby.

Zito and his wife head to Austin, Texas. “It’s a great music town,” he notes. “I hope to get into radio there.”

He will not win any more Drury Awards. But SXSW — watch out!

To watch the award-winning live radio adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” click below.



AED Alert!

Less than 2 weeks ago, a high school senior — a spectator, not a player — went into sudden cardiac arrest at halftime of a Staples soccer game.

The quick actions of one parent, who had an AED in the trunk of his car; another parent, who is a nurse; an EMT who raced over from the pool, and the school’s 2 trainers — who worked together to apply the Automated External Defibrillator and perform CPR — saved the boy’s life.

It was the 2nd such harrowing experience in 20 months.

Adam Greenlee today.

Adam Greenlee today.

In January 2014, Bedford Middle School 6th grader Adam Greenlee collapsed during gym class. School nurses, administrators and 1st responders used CPR — and the school’s AED — to bring the youngster back to life.

After surgery to implant a defibrillator into Adam’s chest, his parents and friends formed the Adam Greenlee Foundation.

Its goal is to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. It strikes over 400,000 people a year; 9 out of 10 victims do not survive.

Only 32% receive bystander CPR. A mere 2% are treated with AEDs. But when sudden cardiac arrest victims are treated quickly, survival rates climb to 38%.

Westport has taken note of these incidents. And the Adam Greenlee Foundation has taken action.

Yesterday, they announced a partnership with the Westport School District and Westport PAL. AEDs will soon be installed at all Westport public school athletic fields and gyms.

An AED on Wilton's Kristine Lilly Field. Similar devices will soon be placed at all Westport athletic fields.

An AED on Wilton’s Kristine Lilly Field. Similar devices will soon be placed at all Westport athletic fields.

Funds are also being raised to donate portable AEDs to each school, to be carried on field trips and during athletic competitions at other schools.

Every day without an AED is a disaster waiting to happen. A fundraising goal of $50,000 has been set — by November 15.

All donations are tax-deductible. 100% goes directly toward the purchase of AEDs, and the training of staff and coaches.

So don’t delay. Here’s how you can help save the life of a loved one. Or maybe your own:

Click here. Fill out your donation in the white box next to the “Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Donation.” Complete billing information; then click “Review Donation and Continue.” On the final screen click “Add Special Instructions.” In the space provided, type “The Adam Greenlee Foundation.” At the bottom of the screen, click the yellow “Donate Now” button to complete your transaction.

You can also send checks payable to “The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation” to: The Adam Greenlee Foundation, 28 Maple Avenue North, Westport, CT 06880. Note on the memo line that the donation is for the The Adam Greenlee Foundation.

Questions? Email or You can also click here, or check out The Adam Greenlee Foundation page on Facebook.

Forza, Venezia!

New Yorkers know Joe Tacopina as a famous attorney. He’s defended the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Michael Jackson and Bernard Kerik. The New York Times said, “Mr. Tacopina is to the defense bar what Donald Trump is to real estate.”

Westporters know him as a friend and neighbor.

Italians know Tacopina as the man who is bringing American sports business management to some of the top soccer clubs in the world.

Joe Tacopina

Joe Tacopina

Tacopina — whose parents were born in Rome, who has dual US and Italian citizenship, and who says “soccer is in my blood” — was a director of world-renowned AS Roma, the 1st foreign-owned club in Serie A (the Italian top division).

He spent 11 months as president of Bologna — another Serie A  team.

Now he’s working his magic at Venezia. Venice’s team is languishing in Serie D — Italy’s 4th division. But Tacopina hopes to drive the side to the top.

He’s not doing it alone. His fellow investors include several Westporters.

It’s no easy task. Italian soccer is notoriously cutthroat.

And Tacopina is keeping his day job. “I sacrifice sleep,” he says. When he’s in Venice, he Skypes at night with his New York law office.

Yet, he insists, “this is a labor of passion.”

When he first went to Italy for legal work, he stayed over on weekends so he could attend professional soccer matches.

“I was captivated by the emotional experience,” he says. “You can’t explain it to someone who has never been there. Huge crowds singing and chanting in unison for 2 hours — you feel the entire stadium move. You get goosebumps.”

A typical scene in Serie A.

A typical scene in Serie A.

However, he says, a decade ago “the game and fan experience was slipping. Stadiums were antiquated and dirty.”

He wrote some suggestions for the Italian soccer federation on the back of a napkin. A friend suggested a better idea: Buy a team and fix it.

That’s what Tacopina did, again and again.

RomaImporting a North  American sports business model, he helped triple Roma’s valuation to over $400 million. In less than a year, Bologna’s valuation tripled too.

In July, Tacopina became the 1st foreigner to win the Carlino D’Oro. The annual award is presented for contributions to Italian soccer.

Venice can be “the biggest success story yet,” Tacopina says. “There’s enormous upside.”

Westport businessman Jim Daniels — whose 2 sons play Staples High School soccer — and sports attorney John Goldman are fellow investors. Financial guru Mark Gudis — another Westporter, with one Staples soccer alum and a current senior player — has consulted on the project.

Tacopina and his partners know what to do on the business side: raise brand awareness and revenues.

On the sporting side, Tacopina says, “I think I know. But I don’t try to pick all the players.” He’s hired Giorgio Perinetti — the man who brought Diego Maradona to Italy — as sporting director.

Joe Tacopina at Venezia

Joe Tacopina at Venezia

The new owners have a 5-year plan. It includes a 28,000-seat stadium project (the mayor has pledged land near the airport), and selling naming rights to major corporations.

Venice is one of the world’s most famous cities. But, Tacopina says, its fan base has been neglected and dormant for years. They’re waking up: The 1st match under the new regime drew the biggest crowd in 15 years.

This season, Venezia is undefeated — 9-0-2.

“It’s very exciting in terms of both soccer and business,” Tacopina notes. “The Wall Street Journal says that for anyone who wants to buy a professional team in an elite league, Italian soccer is the only place where something is undervalued.”

The Venezia club sold for $6 million, though the new owners will investment more in improvements.

By contrast, the Los Angeles Clippers — “the 2nd team in the city, without their own arena” — sold for $2 billion, Tacopina says.

But the money seems almost secondary to the soccer.

“This is a special project to me,” Tacopina says. “It’s my passion. And I’m doing this with my Westport friends.”



Bill Meyer Brings Westport Together — Again

Keith Stein sent an email the other day. He wanted me to promote a special event.

Because it honors Bill Meyer, I said “sure!”

Bill Meyer

Bill Meyer

The event is a reception and staged reading of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” It’s a fundraiser for the Westport Community Theatre’s Bill Meyer Scholarship.

Bill — who died last June, at 85 — was an avid WCT supporter, and served as a director.

But he did much, much more. He:

  • was elected 9 times to the RTM
  • founded the Westport Little League softball program
  • served as Y’s Men president and membership chairman
  • was a director of Sunrise Rotary, Senior  Center, First Night, Westport’s AARP chapter, and 2 intercity Bridgeport agencies
  • served on the Saugatuck Congregational Church council
  • helped with Meals on Wheels
  • was a board member of Isaiah House in Bridgeport, which helps parolees transition from prison to life outside

All those are great reasons to support the Bill Meyer Scholarship. But here’s the really intriguing thing about Keith Stein’s email, asking me to publicize the event:

Bill was also a staunch Republican. Keith is the chair of Westport’s Democratic Town Committee.

The staged reading includes a cast of veteran WCT actors — and a bipartisan cast of local politicians, including Martha Aasen, Toni Boucher, Gail Lavielle, Dewey Loselle, Jim Marpe and Jonathan Steinberg.

Westport Community Theatre

“Bill was an enthusiastic cheerleader for Westport,” Keith says. “I’m involved in the Democratic Town Committee because I want to promote Westport. Sure, he was a Republican. But he transcended politics.”

So did Keith’s email.

Washington: Are you listening?

(The Westport Community Theatre’s fundraiser for the Bill Meyer Scholarship is set for Saturday, October 24 [6-9:30 p.m.] at the Westport Historical Society. It starts with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by a staged reading of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” Tickets are $50 per person. Click here or call 203-226-1983.)

After Restaurant Week, Time To Get Fit

Restaurant Week — the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s promotion of all things culinary — ends Sunday.

If you think the Chamber will celebrate the successful event with a cocktail or two, think again.

The next day — Monday, October 19 — they’ll sponsor Fitness Week.

It’s “an opportunity to learn about and set new health and wellness goals, and for participating businesses to help you achieve them.”

Aka, “work those pounds off, gluttons.”

Companies will offer free and discounted classes and memberships. There are seminars and a fair too.

Plus — why not go whole hog? — public exercise sessions.

JoyRide is one of the participants in the upcoming Fitness Week.

JoyRide is one of the participants in the upcoming Fitness Week.

The specifics:

  • Fitness Fair and Seminar (Monday, Oct. 19, 7-9 p.m., Westport Library): All participating businesses will showcase their products and special offers.
  • Qi Gong classes (Wednesday, Oct. 21, 12 p.m., Westport Historical Society): Sue Gold runs 2 free 30-minute sessions.
  • Westport Farmers Market (Thursday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot): Businesses offer demonstrations of equipment, analyses of muscle mass and flexibility, and fitness education opportunities.

It all starts Monday. So you’ve still got a few days to chow down.

(For more information — and a list of participating businesses — click here.)

Drive It!

The Longshore golf course looks great these days.

Making it even better: new signage.

Longshore signage

All that’s needed now: Something to make your golf game look as sharp as the signs.

(Hat tip and photo: Kaye Leong)

Former Staples Teachers Are Definitely Not The Retiring Types

Over 200 years of teaching experience was on display the other day, at the Newtown Country Club.

A group of educators gathered for the 1st annual Staples Retired Teachers Golf Classic — and what a classic it was.

Retired Staples teachers

In the photo above are, from left: Bruce McFadden (science), Ed Bludnicki (science, administration, adult education), Pete Van Hagen (science), Tommy Owen (special education), Jim Wheeler (art), Jeff Lea (world language), Bill Walsh (math — and not retired), Bill Brookes (science).

No word on who won. But Wheeler proudly displays his award, for “most uncooperative balls.”

See what happens when these guys leave the classroom?

One Town, One Team

For years, Westport has fielded 2 teams in each youth travel basketball age group. One was sponsored by the Westport Weston Family Y; the other by Westport PAL.

It was tough on kids, and their parents. It diluted the talent pool too.

Westport Y logoNow the 2 programs are joining forces. They’ll conduct joint tryouts, share coaching staffs and collaborate with scheduling practice time and league play, using school courts and the Y.

Following tryouts next month, boys and girls in grades 4 through 8 will be invited to play in a variety of Fairfield County Basketball League age groups and divisions, competing as “Westport PAL in association with the Westport Family YMCA teams.” There will be 15 teams in all.

Officials say the partnership is a response to parents’ concerns about having 2 separate FCBL programs for 1 community.

blog - Westport PAL

Jay Jaranko, senior program director for the Y, calls it “a win-win-win for both organizations, the town of Westport, and we think an even bigger win for the players and their teams.”

Howie Friedman, president of the PAL travel basketball program, says that the partnership with the Y is in line with his organization’s focus on maintaining the proper balance between competitiveness and fairness.

“Our PAL creed of ‘it’s all about the kids’ will truly be served by this collaboration,” he notes.

Last year's 5th grade boys Fairfield County Basketball League champs were a Westport YMCA team.

Last year’s 5th grade boys Fairfield County Basketball League champs were a Westport YMCA team.