Category Archives: Sports

Nate Greenberg Scores — On And Off The Field

In late summer of 2013, life was going well for Nate Greenberg. He was heading into senior year at Union College. He’d scored 50 goals for the lacrosse team, and was now captain.

Suddenly, life changed. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer.

Nate Greenberg, soon after his diagnosis.

Nate Greenberg, soon after his diagnosis.

The former Staples lax captain (and member of the state championship soccer team) endured several rounds of chemo. Surgery removed a tumor from his hip. He had a full hip replacement, and partial reconstruction of his femur.

His many friends rallied in support. The entire Union lacrosse team shaved their heads, in solidarity with their captain.

It was a brutal experience. But the disease is in remission. And this is where the story gets really interesting.

Though no longer able to play, Nate has remained active as the team’s middies coach. The other day, News10 in Albany described the profound influence he has had on the Dutchmen. Reporter Josh Sims called him “one of the most influential voices on the roster. When Greenberg talks, the team listens.”

Recently, for example, Union was losing to Nazareth at halftime of the NCAA tournament opening round .

Senior Connor Hall said Nate’s halftime speech brought tears to his eyes. “You don’t get more hyped than that.”

Nate’s message — “the tougher team is going to win” — sparked the Dutchmen to a 15-12 victory.

A screenshot of News10's interview with Nate Greenberg.

A screenshot of News10’s interview with Nate Greenberg.

Sims continued:

The word “tough” described Greenberg to a “T” after his battle with cancer.

“When he came back for games, he was pale and frail and skinny, and he wasn’t the young man that left us,” Union head coach Paul Wehrum said.

Now much stronger, Nate told Sims: “This is my time to give back to (my team) what they gave to me.”

He has a new outlook on life.

“I’m just way more focused. I know what the other side is. I’ve been close, so every day is a gift,” Nate said.

Now Nate has another gift to give.

Union College LogoA professor encouraged Nate to apply for keynote speaker at graduation. He had stiff competition — including the valedictorian — but he beat out more than 2 dozen classmates.

Learning of his selection, he told Sims, “was like scoring my first goal versus RIT. I’ve never felt anything like that, and coming from the year I’ve had, hitting that accomplishment was like nothing else.”

On June 14, Nate will address a crowd of about 10,000. He’ll tell his story. It’s sure to be inspirational. Connor Hall will probably have tears in his eyes again — along with everyone else.

Ewing’s sarcoma may have slowed Nate Greenberg down. It may have changed his college career, turning him from player to coach.

But there’s a lot more to do. After graduation he heads to Israel, then to Europe with friends. An economics major, he hopes for a career in commercial real estate.

Chances are, he’ll find time to inspire teammates, friends and total strangers for years to come.

(To see the entire TV segment on Nate Greenberg, click here.)


Eric Gallanty Follows Big Footsteps

Eric Gallanty — a Staples Class of 2011 grad, and Syracuse University senior — has won a great award. The Sportscasters Talent Agency of America just named him the nation’s outstanding collegiate sports broadcaster.

“Eric does both TV and radio play-by-play,” says STAA CEO Jon Chelesnik. “When I watched his football, I had to double-check that Eric was still in school. He is fabulous.”

Nice — but “06880”-worthy? Isn’t that a little, um, “inside baseball”?

Normally. Except for this: The former WWPT-FM and Staples Television Network star’s honor is the Jim Nantz Award. It’s named for the veteran CBS Sports broadcaster — who was a longtime Westport resident.

Eric Gallanty (left) and Jim Nantz.

Eric Gallanty (left) and Jim Nantz.

Next month’s awards ceremony in North Carolina will not be the first time Gallanty and Nantz’s paths cross. A few years ago, while still in Staples, Gallanty and 2 other rising broadcasters — DJ Sixsmith and Brandon Edelson — were invited by Nantz to lunch at Gold’s.

They expected a quick bite. But he spent 2 hours with them, talking about sports and TV.

Perhaps one day Eric and Jim will share something even more exciting than an award (and a pastrami sandwich): a broadcast booth.

The Great Race: From Disco Days To Ducks

For a number of years, Sunrise Rotary has sponsored a Great Duck Race. It’s a fun fundraiser — you bet on rubber duckies that are dumped into the Saugatuck River. The day is filled with kids’ activities like a bouncy house, a climbing wall and dunk tank.

This year’s event — on Saturday, June 13 — will be preceded by a 5K run, sponsored by Staples High School’s Interact community service club.

It’s a wonderful town event — something that makes money for good causes, and brings plenty of Westporters together.

But those who were here back in the day remember its predecessor: the Great Race. That was to the current incarnation as Gloria Gaynor is to Taylor Swift.

You don’t believe me? Check out this video.

You can see a lot of bizarre stuff on YouTube. But this ranks right up there.

In tones befitting Marlon Perkins on “Wild Kingdom” — or, this century, an endangered-species documentary on the National Geographic Channel — a narrator breathlessly describes what seems to be a very odd tradition in our coastal community.

“Just another lazy day along the river in Westport, Connecticut,” the 1977* video begins. “Except that this is the day of the Great Race.”

After describing the event — a 1-mile run, a 3-mile row or paddle out to Cockenoe Island, picking up 1 pound of garbage, then rowing or paddling back for a 1st-place prize of $1,000 — the narrator declares that on Great Race Day, Westport is the center of “high international drama.” (Cut to an interview with an Australian guy.)

Just a couple of Great Racers being interviewed.

Just a couple of Great Racers being interviewed.

There are classic quotes — “We run to the liquor store to get our bodies in shape” — interspersed with vintage shots of downtown, and the not-sure-if-it’s-tongue-in-cheek-or-not description of a team that trained “in a handmade aluminum craft for an entire year, just for this race.”

In fact, I’m not sure if the entire video is serious, a satire, or just a goof. When you see 2 teams fighting over a piece of garbage on Cockenoe, you’ll wonder too.

Running down Taylor Place, to the start at the Post Road bridge.

Running down Taylor Place, to the boat launch at the Post Road bridge.

But — as the narrator notes — “constant seamanship and vigilance” were keys to winning the Great Race.

And, at the end, “the townspeople have come together with their picnic lunches to cheer and debate their favorites. The memories will keep for a whole year.”

See you June 13 at the Great Duck Race!

Paddling ...

Paddling …

...and partying at a house on the river, as the racers go by.

…and partying at a house on the river, as the racers go by.

*YouTube says the video is from 1977. However, the bicentennial flag, and several comments, would indicate it is actually from 1976.

(Hat tips: Jack Whittle, Ted Friedman, Rich Stein)


Survivors Forge Active Lives After Early Deaths

Ann Karrick had a great life. She loved Westport — her home since 2002. She and her partner Don were active, adventurous and free-spirited.

Just over 2 years ago though, he collapsed on a chair lift and died. Still in her 40s, Ann was suddenly alone.

Ann Karrick and Don, on the slopes.

Ann Karrick and Don, on the slopes.

She forged ahead. But after 11 years of companionship, it was not easy. “We’d done so much together,” she recalls. “We skied, traveled, biked and hiked. Now I had no one to do those things with.”

She realized there had to be others in similar situations. But how could she find them?

Ann was not a “support group” person, nor was she seeking a dating site. She wanted to be with people who liked doing fun activities; who hoped to move forward and create new lives — but who also understood loss, and the need for “unexpected emotional letdowns.”

Her friends said “I mentioned Don a lot,” she says. “I didn’t feel like I could not talk about him. I know I can’t live in that sad space, remembering happy times, forever. But at the same time I wanted a chance to do active things with people I could relax around, who had stories like mine, where we could talk about the person who is gone without dwelling on him or her — and have ‘moments’ if we needed to.”

Which is why she started Avant-Garde. Billed as “an active Fairfield County social group for those who have lost spouses or partners,” the emphasis is on “creating a new life filled with love, joy and happiness — again!”

Avant-Garde logoThe emphasis is also on activities. Ann envisions hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding, ropes courses, ice skating, tennis, the beach, kayaking, day trips, festivals and barbecues.

“It’s not Outward Bound or Ironman competitions,” she notes. “But it is for people who like to do active things, not sit around and talk.”

Avant-Garde is not age-specific. However, Ann says, “it probably skews to ‘young widows and widowers’ below retirement age — whatever that age is.”

Friends of men and women who have lost partners are welcome. However, Ann says, “they should understand there may be conversations about people who have died.”

She chose Avant-Garde as the group’s name because it is “forward-looking.” She did not want anything that sounded like “widows, death or mourning.”

Avant-Garde is just getting off the ground. It will take its cues from members. To learn more, email, or search Facebook for “Avant Garde.”

Riding With Joy

National chain SoulCycle rode into town the other day. Dozens of Westporters packed the new Compo Acres fitness center, trying out (for free) the national chain’s offerings.

But for nearly 4 years, a more local studio has been serving the town. And that service extends far beyond riding bikes for a (stationary) spin.

When Amy Hochhauser, Debbie Katz and Rhodie Lorenz founded JoyRide in June of 2011, their business plan included a healthy dose of philanthropy. From their spot in the Crate & Barrel Shopping Center next to Greens Farms Elementary School, the women “put great value in bringing a community together to get fit, build healthy lifestyles and — on a local, national and global scale — affect change,” Amy says.

The joyful smiles of Joy Riders. (Photo/Kyle Norton)

The joyful smiles of Joy Riders. (Photo/Kyle Norton)

“We have witnessed first-hand how indoor cycling can transform people’s lives, whether by improving health, becoming stronger physically and emotionally, or overcoming challenges on and off the bike,” she adds.

“The culture of JoyRide is more than fitness. It’s a culture of good health, paying it forward, supporting one another and spreading joy.”

If all this sounds a bit fluffy, consider this: In less than half a decade, JoyRide has raised more than $500,000 for charitable causes and organizations — all of them important to their riders.

When a rider asks the owners to host an event, there is no discussion of rental fees. All studio space is donated.

JoyRide logoLast March, JoyRide was the top fundraising team — for the 3rd straight year — at SpinOdyssey. Riders raised $78,472 for breast cancer research and awareness — 5 times what the 2nd-place team brought in.

Over the past 2 years, JoyRiders raised $90,500 for the Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. The organization was founded by Westporter Erin Berk and her siblings, in memory of their mother.

Last November, the studio raised nearly $20,000 to help women survivors of violence in Congo. That event featured African drummers.

In 2012, JoyRide’s team raised the most money of any satellite team in the world for Cycle for Survival, a national event for research into rare cancers.

If you’re kicking yourself for missing any of those great opportunities, don’t worry. Up ahead:

Pinko de Mayo. On Tuesday, May 5 (6 p.m.), JoyRide celebrates Cinco de Mayo by benefiting the breast cancer organization Pink Aid. Post-event festivities include food from the Bodega Taco Truck (including margaritas). Donation amount is $25.

Shatterproof Ride. On Sunday, May 17 (2 p.m.), riders will help break the stigma of addiction, with a focus on children affected by the disease. The day is organized by Westporter Ellen Mendell. Her brother-in-law founded Shatterproof, after his son committed suicide related to addiction. Minimum donation is $40.

CT Challenge. Anyone participating in this fantastic outdoor bike ride in July — which aids cancer survivors — can train for free in the early-morning and evening hours at JoyRide.

JoyRide’s founders clearly walk the talk. No, that’s not the greatest analogy to use with an indoor cycling studio — but I can’t think of a greater compliment.

(For more information on any of the upcoming JoyRide events, click here.)


Joy Ride 2 - Kyle Norton

(Photo/Kyle Norton)


Gone Fishin’

Fred Cantor captured this timeless scene yesterday, off Ford Road:

Ford Road - Fred Cantor

Kyle Martino’s Latest Kick

Westporters have always expected big things from Kyle Martino.

In 1999, the Staples senior was named Gatorade National High School
Soccer Player of the Year.

He went on to become Major Soccer League’s 2002 Rookie of the Year. On the Los Angeles Galaxy, he played alongside — and hung out with — David Beckham.

1999 Staples grad Kyle Martino on NBC Sports

1999 Staples grad Kyle Martino on NBC Sports

Martino earned caps with the US national team. After retiring from professional soccer, he joined ESPN as a color commentator. Now he’s seen every weekend as a studio analyst on NBC Sports‘ highly regarded broadcasts of Premier League matches.

Plus, he’s married to beautiful actress Eva Amurri.

But — despite his education at the University of Virginia — no one here quite expected Kyle Martino to end up with the New York Times.

Apparently, there’s nothing he can’t do.

The paper announced today that Martino will join Kristen Kish — only the 2nd female “Top Chef” winner ever — as co-hosts of “36 Hours.”

That’s a new venture the Times and Travel Channel are bringing to television.

In each 1-hour episode, Martino and Kish arrive in a new city. They’ll have 36 hours to “explore the most delicious foods and hot spots, meet fascinating local insiders, and experience the best attractions unique to each destination.”

New-York-Times-LogoEpisodes will coincide with new or updated Times “36 Hours” newspaper columns, in the Sunday Travel section. Companion editorial and video content will appear on and Travel Channel digital properties.

Martino is only 34 years old. We know he’ll be kickin’ it for many years to come.

Play Ball!

Normally, the news that 2 Westport Wreckers 13-and-Under teams — Blue and White — competed in a New Haven tournament would not be “06880”-worthy. This is a blog, not a sports section.*

But last weekend’s championship game is of interest for another reason: It was not played.

The fact that Westport fields 2 teams in the same age group has caused “issues” in the past. Parents in particular have sometimes been caught up in the competition between the 2 squads.

Yet when it became clear that both the White and Blue teams would be playing for the championship, the coaches saw a chance to put the entire program first.

Jeb Backus and Sal Latella announced that the final game would not be played. Both teams would be co-champs.

Westport's Blue and White 13-and-Under baseball team: New Haven tournament co-champs.

Westport’s Blue and White 13-and-Under baseball team: New Haven tournament co-champs.

In years to come they’ll have plenty of opportunities to play together, for more important prizes. They’re great athletes, and “06880” will follow their progress with interest.

Even if we don’t post the results of every game.

*No offense to every other baseball, softball, football, lacrosse, soccer, hockey (ice and field), gymnastics, tennis, golf, swim and other parent who contacts me about every other championship, meet, match, game and practice.

A Few Hours To Honor The Minute Men

They’re called the Minute Men, but they spent 8 years fighting the Revolutionary War.

It took a couple of years to renovate Westport’s Minute Man statue.

The annual Minute Man Road Race is actually 2 races — 5K or 10K — which take considerably longer than a minute to run.

So it’s fitting that Westport will celebrate “Minute Man Day” next (Sunday, April 26), with a series of activities that take 300 minutes (5 hours, if you failed math).

Minute Man Road RaceThe activities — commemorating the 238th anniversary of the British march from Compo Beach to Danbury and back again (our Minute Men did a pretty good job against them), and celebrating the renovation of Henry Daniel Webster’s 105-year-old statue — begin at noon on Sunday, April 26, soon after the Minute Man Race.

Departing every 15 minutes from 12 to 1:30 p.m., Westport Historical Society docents (including yours truly) will lead guided tours. We’ll start at the Ned Dimes Marina (definitely not a Revolutionary War facility), and make stops at the old cemetery and Minute Man statue. There are special children’s activities at the marina. Net proceeds from a suggested donation of $10 (ages 13 and up) go toward the ongoing care of the statue.

From 1-5 p.m., a recreated Revolution militia encampment will be set up on Jesup Green. The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution color guard performs musket demonstrations. This event is free.

At 2:30 p.m. in the Westport Library, conservator Francis Miller will describe how he restored the Minute Man statue. This one is free too.

The Minuteman statue. In the distance is Minuteman Hill.

The Minuteman statue. In the distance is Minuteman Hill.

At 3 p.m. — also in the library — history lecturer Ed Hynes discusses the Danbury raid. He’ll talk about the 4-day adventure, which included noted brigadier general Benedict Arnold. If you don’t know which side he was on — or even if you do — this promises to be very educational.

In fact, the entire day is worth more than a few minutes of our time.

Minute Man Day

$1 Million Hoop Dreams

There are a few ways to make $1 million in basketball.

You can be an NBA star, which pretty much means planning before birth to have 7-foot parents.

You can win your NCAA bracket, which pretty much means having as much luck as having 7-foot parents.

Or you can win The Tournament. That’s the path a pair of Westporters hope plan to take.

The Tournament is a 5-on-5, winner-take-all event. There is no entry free. 18 teams, in each of 4 US regions, are selected by fan votes. Another 6 in each region get at-large bids.

The winning team earns $950,000. The other 5% goes to its fans — including $5,000 to the fan who recruits the most other fans.

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur was in the Tournament stands last year, in Philadelphia. The 2001 Staples graduate — a former Wrecker basketball (and soccer) star, who went on to an impressive hoops career at Union College — was impressed by the level of play, and the professional uniforms, refereeing and organization.

For the past year, he’s plotted how to get in. He knew he could put together a team of guys he plays with, in his regular 5:30-7 a.m. game.

But he graduated from college 10 years ago. The more he thought about it, the more Schur realized that, as general manager, he could form a much better squad.

That is not an idle idea. Schur became a FIBA-certified international basketball agent in 2011. It was a hobby — in real life he’s a lawyer — but he enjoyed placing American players with overseas teams.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

One of the players he knew of was John DiBartolomeo. In 2009, Schur tried to recruit the Staples standout for Union. DiBartolomeo ended up at the University of Rochester — where he earned 1st team All-America honors, and was named Division III National Player of the Year.

After graduating, he signed a professional contract in Spain — and in his 1st season was named MVP of the 3rd Division league. This year’s he’s in the 2nd Division.

In February, Schur sent out feelers to a few players. DiBartolomeo leaped at the idea. He sent Schur a list of top players from overseas. Schur has signed up 7 so far, including guys from Japan, Israel and Egypt.

He’ll find 3 more players. It’s unlikely any others will have a Staples connection.

But “06880” readers can still be involved. The more fans Schur’s team has, the more chance they’ll have of being able to compete for that $1 million.

And remember: fans share in the prize money. There’s up to $5,000 in it for you.

Just click this link:

It’s a far easier way to make money than playing in the NBA. Or even filling out a bracket.