Category Archives: Sports

Market Thursday

In its 10th year, the Westport Farmers Market is stronger than ever.

Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot is filled with smart (and hungry) shoppers.

Pushing strollers or wielding walkers, shoppers make their way from booth to booth. Butchers, bakers, pizza makers — and everyone in between — offers fresh food. (The definition of “farmers” is loose, but the qualifications are strict.)

The Staples boys soccer team was there today too. They volunteered to help carry bags to cars. Any tips went to the Farmers’ Market Gillespie Center project — which is run with Staples’ culinary classes, through Chef Cecily Gans.

It all comes around. And it all tastes very, very good.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer's Market's most popular attractions.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer’s Market’s most popular attractions.

Staples soccer players (from left) Sebastian Wick, Kenji Goto, Noah Schwaeber, Graham Gudis and Timmy Liles get ready to volunteer at the Westport Farmers' Market. Matteo Broccolo and Daniel Brill were also there, working elsewhere.

Staples soccer players (from left) Sebastian Wick, Kenji Goto, Noah Schwaeber, Graham Gudis and Timmy Liles volunteer at the Westport Farmers’ Market. Matteo Broccolo and Daniel Brill were also there.

Simply Delicious offers turkey meatballs, blueberry beet gazpacho, kale and corn empanadas, and much more.

Simply Delicious offers turkey meatballs, blueberry beet gazpacho, kale and corn empanadas, and much more.

The Nutty Bunny sign says it all.

The Nutty Bunny sign says it all.

Thirsty? Choose between champagne tea...

Thirsty? Choose between champagne tea…

...and "coffee for humanity."

…and “coffee for humanity.”

It doesn't get more natural than honey -- direct from the bees, with no middleman.

It doesn’t get more natural than honey — direct from the bees, with no middleman.


The Duck As You’ve Never Seen It Before

You can count on a lot of things at the Black Duck: Great wings. A down-home vibe. Sports on TV.

Almost always, that means men’s sports.

But tonight the TVs were tuned to the Women’s World Cup semifinal.

When Carli Lloyd stepped up to take a penalty kick late in the scoreless match, everyone — including the bartenders and wait staff — stopped to watch.

Black Duck - Women's World Cup

She nailed it. The US added an insurance goal, to beat Germany 2-0.

We play England or Japan on Sunday.

You know at least one place to watch the championship game.

ESPN: “Go Wreckers!”

This afternoon, Tom Haberstroh was a guest on David Lloyd’s “Sportscenter” ESPN show.

Haberstroh jokingly asked fellow NBA analyst Chris Broussard if the San Antonio Spurs could make him into a pro player.

Broussard laughed: “I don’t know. I’ve seen you play!”

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN's "Sportscenter" this afternoon.

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” this afternoon.

Lloyd — a 1979 Staples High School graduate — alertly noted that Haberstroh played hoops at Staples.

Sure, it was more than 2 decades after Lloyd graduated. But that gave Haberstroh a perfect opening. He drove the lane, and took it.

“Go Wreckers!” Haberstroh said, as the segment wound up.

Most of Sportscenter’s millions of listeners had no idea what that meant.

But Haberstroh, Lloyd and all of us do.

BONUS FUN FACT: Haberstroh also was featured on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. It’s produced by John Lawrence — another former Staples athlete. Quite a day for the Wreckers!

Remembering Jay Emmett

Jay Emmett — one of the entertainment world’s leading executives in the 1960s and ’70s, and a powerful influence in everything from Batman to the New York Cosmos — died last Monday night, at 86. The cause was heart failure, at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Emmett was a longtime resident of Westport, while he built his career in movies and sports marketing.

He began his career working for his uncle in a family-run comic book publishing company that owned the rights to a number of superheroes, including Batman and Superman.

Jay Emmett

Jay Emmett

Emmett founded the Licensing Corporation of America, which expanded from licensing comic book and cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird into sports marketing, leading to partnerships with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

In 1964 Emmett joined Warner Communications — now Time Warner — and was named president, under chairman Steve Ross.

Emmett oversaw great growth in the company’s music and movie divisions during the 1960’s and 1970’s. When the company established the original New York Cosmos, he was instrumental in signing Brazilian star Pelé. The franchise went on to draw more than 70,000 fans each game.

Emmett’s close friendship with Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams led to his meeting Larry Lucchino, a Williams protégé. Emmett helped Lucchino’s teams — the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox — set home attendance records.

Emmett’s love of sports led him to partner with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the early 1970’s. They worked to develop the Special Olympics into one of the most important charitable institutions in the world. Emmett served in a number of capacities, including as a member of its international board of directors

Family and friends in Westport remember Emmett for his charismatic personality, infectious enthusiasm for life, and his outspoken nature. In recent years, Emmett derived great pleasure from the success of his children and grandchildren.

Emmett is survived by his sons Steven and Andrew, and daughters-in-law Deborah, Marlene, and Geri. He leaves behind 6 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Martha and son Paul.

A public celebration of Emmett’s life will be held at Fenway Park this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Special Olympics.

To express condolences and/or make donations, click here.

special olympics

Orphenians Rock Yankee Stadium

It’s been quite a year for the Staples Orphenians.

In March they traveled to — and wowed — San Francisco, as part of the prestigious Chanticleer festival.

Tonight they did the same at Yankee Stadium.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

They had to wait out an hour-and-20-minute rain delay — hey, that’s show biz — but when they finally stood at home plate, they delivered a strong, sophisticated and inspiring rendition of our national anthem.

The largest crowd ever to watch the Orphenians perform gave them a loud, well-deserved hand.

Best of all, they made it onto the Jumbotron.

For the Yankees’ official high-def video, click here.

For Jim Honeycutt’s video — including scenes of the Orphenians greeting Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels before they leave the field — click here:

To see Kim Mathias’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

To see Chip Stephens’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

Saugatuck Rowers Race To National Titles

The Saugatuck Rowing Club made big waves last weekend.

The local juniors won 2 gold medals at US Rowing’s Youth National Championships in Sarasota, Florida. It’s only the 2nd time ever that a club won both the lightweight and openweight girls 8 events.

The victory by the girls openweight 8 capped an undefeated year. The crew achieved youth rowing’s Triple Crown, winning the Head of the Charles regatta, San Diego Crew Classic and Youth Nationals.

Girls openweight 8 - Saugatuck Rowing Club

SRC sent a 2nd girls openweight 8 to Florida, a rare qualifying feat. That crew placed 8th overall.

In addition, an openweight girls pair from SRC won a bronze medal. And a lightweight girls 4– composed entirely of 1st-year rowers – won the C final.

Of the 30 female rowers, 20 from Westport won medals. A number return for the 2015-16 season.

... and the national champ lightweight 8 boat.

… and the national champ lightweight 8 boat.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club does not get a lot of press. We see them working — hard — on the river. But around here crew is not exactly a spectator sport.

Congratulations to all — and to SRC junior director Sharon Kriz — on a job well done!

(Westporters on the winning boats include girls varsity 8: Lelia Boley, Grace McGinley, Alison Morrison, Katherine Ratcliffe, Willemijn ten Cate and Nica Wardell; girls varsity lightweight 8: Grace Johnson, Reni Forer, Camila Meyer-Bosse and Imogen Ratcliffe.



Staples Baseball Scores

Today at noon, the Staples baseball team plays for its 1st state championship since 2001.

The Wreckers — a strong, deep team with excellent pitching — have a great shot. But years from now, no matter how the players remember this game against Amity, chances are good they’ll remember something else from the season.

Wrecker baseballIt happened a few days ago. Staples had just defeated Hamden 7-0, in round 1 of the state tournament.

Hamden’s star player was Jim Magson, a 6-2, 190-pound shortstop with plenty of college offers. But he turned them all down.

He’s enlisting in the Marine Corps. In August, he heads to Parris Island boot camp.

The loss to the Wreckers meant that Magson had just played his last baseball game ever. During the ceremonial handshake line, Staples coach Jack McFarland impulsively invited Magson into the Wrecker dugout.

He introduced the Hamden senior, and told the players about Magson’s decision to become a Marine.

“He’s a real hero,” McFarland said. “In a few months, he could be on a mountain somewhere. He’ll be risking his life, so that you can have all the freedoms you take for granted.”

It was a powerful, teachable moment. In the glow of victory, the Staples baseball team had plenty to think about — far beyond the next game.

(The state class LL baseball championship is set for 12 p.m. today [Saturday, June 13] at Palmer Field in Middletown. The game will be broadcast and livestreamed on 90.3 WWPT-FM; click here to listen.)

The 2015 Staples baseball team.

The 2015 Staples baseball team.

Tom Owen: “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time”

As a Staples High School student in the early 1970s, Tom Owen had great teachers. But, he admits, “I wasn’t as invested in them as they were in me.”

A self-described “jock” who claims football, skiing and baseball got him through school, it’s not surprising that Owen ended up coaching at his alma mater.

It’s harder to believe he also spent the past 36 years as a teacher there.

Owen retires this month after a storied career. He coached Wrecker golfers to 3 state championships — he was an all-around jock — and “15 or 20″ boys and girls state skiing titles (he lost track during his 23- and 5-year Staples stints, with 8 years at his son and daughter’s Joel Barlow High School in between).

But his impact is even greater on countless special education students. He guided group after group from 9th grade to graduation — and remained their mentor far beyond.

Tom Owen, Staples High School Class of 1974.

Tom Owen, Staples High School Class of 1974.

It was an unlikely career for a kid who spent his freshman year at Norwich University — a private military school in Vermont.

“That didn’t go so well,” Owen laughs. “I thought I could ski every weekend, and carry on my high school shenanigans. Instead, I ended up walking thousands of tour duties.”

Transferring to Ohio University was a better choice. He joined the rugby team — a jock is a jock — and after sophomore year, told a counselor he wanted to be a phys. ed. teacher.

She suggested he look into a new field: special education. It appealed to him — particularly because he could coach after school.

Owen started as a Staples paraprofessional in 1979. That same year, Long Lots Junior High football coach Bob Yovan retired. His former school — the same place he’d met his future wife, Deb — handed the 24-year-old his 1st head coaching job.

He quickly realized how lucky he was. His 2 jobs — teaching and coaching — brought him in contact with tens of thousands of “amazing” people. “I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do this,” Owen says. “I had the greatest interactions with kids, parents and colleagues. I got to be a teacher for students, a counselor for families, an educator and a mentor.”

Tom Owen liked taking students out of the classroom. He believes learning can take place in many ways, and many places.

Tom Owen liked taking students out of the classroom. He believes learning can take place in many ways, and many places.

In the 1990s, he and longtime fellow teacher/friend/sidekick Diann Drenosky — who also retires this month — worked in a separate building near Staples’ 9 Building. “The Little House” provided an innovative way to teach both academic and living skills. The kids were tough, but Owen, Drenosky, paraprofessional Ann Rully and Westport Police youth officer Arnie de Carolis created a warm, family atmosphere there.

“It was a great program,” Owen says. “We were devastated when it ended.”

Generations of students are grateful that he and Drenosky remained a team. “We laughed a lot — at each other, and ourselves,” Owen recalls. “We cried some too. She’s a special person, and she touched so many people over the years.”

Coaching allowed Owen to reach other students, in different ways. “Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of time and emotional investment I put into it,” he says. Football and golf are demanding enough; he just shakes his head at the memory of “standing on the Southington ski slope at 9 p.m., when it’s minus-30 degrees.”

Much has changed over the past 36 years, of course. As a coach, he’s seen far greater parental involvement — for better and worse.

Tom Owen met Debbie Goustin -- his future wife -- at Long Lots Junior High School.

Tom Owen met Debbie Goustin — his future wife — at Long Lots Junior High School.

“Parents help a lot with organizing now,” he says, declining to discuss the negative aspects. “My parents basically just showed up at a few games.”

He has the special perspective of having attended the same school where he spent his entire teaching career.

“Things were so casual back then,” he says of his student days. “The stress level was way lower — maybe to a fault. The stress kids have today is over the top.

“We were much more independent. Our parents were way less involved. We solved things more on our own.”

He is not putting today’s teenagers down, he notes. “That’s just the way it is. I would have done better in school if I was under all the rules and regulations we have today. I definitely took advantage of the lack of discipline.”

But, he adds, “I wouldn’t do anything any differently.”

Owen’s free-spirited attitude continued into adulthood. At his retirement dinner, colleague Tony Coccoli said, “Every Tom Owen story ends with, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time.'”

Coach Tom Owen, on the golf course.

Coach Tom Owen, on the golf course.

Retirement will give the self-described “jock” more time for sports. He and Deb’s children, Patrick and Lex, spend winters at Jackson Hole. Owen may become a ski instructor, and/or work in a golf pro shop.

“I’m 59 years old,” he says. “I’ve ‘gone to school’ for 54 of those years. This fall will be a big adjustment.

“I look forward to it. But I feel really, really fortunate to be part of Westport for so long.

“While you’re in the middle of it, things just happen. But now as I get away from it, I realize how in many ways, this town and school defined who I am.”


Jeremy Schaap Scores Big

Lost in the uproar over FIFA’s bribery/racketeering/wire fraud/money laundering scandal is the fact that not only did Qatar probably earn its 2022 World Cup site selection the old-fashioned way — they bought it — but that they are now using slave labor to build its stadiums.

Up to 1,200 migrant workers may have already lost their lives in construction accidents. (Qatar claims the number is 0.)

Jeremy Schaap

Jeremy Schaap

Westporter Jeremy Schaap reported on the nation’s despicable work conditions for ESPN. Now, his “E:60″ story has won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, given for investigative journalism on social justice issues. It’s the 1st RFK Award ever for the sports network.

Schaap — a 1988 Staples grad who has returned to Westport to live — traveled to Qatar to investigate working and living conditions, and to Nepal, where coffins from Qatar arrive almost daily.

The 47th Annual RFK Awards for Journalism were presented at the Newseum in Washington, DC last month. For Schaap, speaking with Kennedy’s widow Ethel was both professionally rewarding and personally gratifying: His father, noted journalist Dick Schaap, wrote a biography of Robert Kennedy, published just months before the senator was assassinated in 1968.

Nice Try, Mikell!

For America’s rugby fans, the Collegiate Championship tournament is as big as basketball’s March Madness, or football’s BCS series.

Today, all of those fans are talking about Mikell Washington.

The 2012 Staples grad scored the winning try — in extra time – to give Penn State a big win in pool play, against St. Joseph’s. The match — televised lived on NBC Sports — was played at PPL Park in Philadelphia.

An exuberant Mikell Washington.

An exuberant Mikell Washington, after winning a pool game in the national championship tournament.

Mikell is one of 4 siblings who attended Westport schools throughout his career, as Open Choice students from Bridgeport.

He threw himself into Staples activities — including rugby, wrestling, football, choir and band — while working 2 jobs during the school year and 3 in the summer.

He is triple majoring at Penn State, with a goal of attending law school.

As the rugby world found out yesterday, Mikell Washington is a young man who stops at nothing to reach the goal line — or his goals.

(For the final 1:47 of the pool game — including Mikell’s winning try — click here. Hat tip: Joanne Heller.)

Mikell Washington (center) in Staples High School's 2011 Candlelight Concert. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Mikell Washington (center) in Staples High School’s 2011 Candlelight Concert. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)