Category Archives: Sports

Pics Of The Day #1021

Two formal events for high school students — Counties, and Red & Whites — were held this weekend.

Among the attendees: actors from Staples Players …

(Photo courtesy of Ian Warburg)

… and a different kind of players: Staples High School soccer seniors …

Super Skeleton

Spotted on South Morningside Drive, near Greens Farms Elementary School:

(Photo/David Squires)

But the question remains: Is this guy rooting for or against the 49ers today?

Friday Flashback #178

It’s still a couple of months until the opening of the Longshore golf course.

But the other day, alert “06880” reader Phil Bancroft spotted an interesting item on an online auction site: A score card for that very course, signed by Babe Ruth.

Nearly 7 years ago, I wrote about that week in 1946 the Bambino spent at the River Lane home of Dr. Vito Caselnova, a longtime friend. The doctor was chairman of the golf committee at Longshore, at the time a private club.

Ruth played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with Caselnova; Ruth’s physician Dr. George Irwin; Norwalk police commissioner Thomas Murphy, and club pro George Buck. The Sultan of Swat shot a 79, highlighted by a 35-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole.

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

Babe Ruth at Longshore. (Photo courtesy of Norwalk Hour)

The next day, Hour sports editor Williard Williams wrote that Ruth “did not dub a shot. His drive was good, his approach shots excellent, and his putting almost perfect.

“In between his golf, he shook hands with scores of persons introduced to him on the course and took care of autographs for the youngsters who swarmed all over him. The Babe was as gracious as ever and seemed to enjoy it all.”

Ruth played several more times at Longshore that week. His partners included US Senator Brien McMahon.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George "Nookie" Powers. A nurse looks on.

Babe Ruth autographs a baseball for George “Nookie” Powers. Powers’ fiancee looks on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth also visited Norwalk Hospital, where he met Westport firefighters injured in a horrific Post Road truck blaze. He signed baseballs for — among others — brothers Nookie and Chick Powers. Both had been legendary athletes at Staples.

Just 2 years later, Ruth was dead from cancer. It started in his throat, and moved to his brain.

Caselnova’s son, Vito Jr., told Albano:

When he stayed with us he used to complain about headaches. He would come downstairs in the morning, go right to the refrigerator, and pull out a can of beer. Not to drink it, but to rub the cold can over his head. He said it made him feel better.

He said he was going to come back next year, but he never made it. He said he was going to bring another player with him, a guy named Joe DiMaggio.

Bancroft remembered all that. But he was fascinated by something more: the score card itself.

The hole numbers, distances and pars were different from today’s course. He was confused too by some of the rules.

So Bancroft went sleuthing. Comparing a 1934 aerial view (below) with one from 1965, he determined that although none of the yardages are the same, identifying the par 3s and par 5s seems to fit — if today’s 17th hole is made into the original hole number 1, and today’s 16th is the original 18th.

A1934 aerial photo. Longshore is at the center; Compo Beach at the bottom of the image.

He adds, “Rules regarding balls on the then 2nd and 3rd holes have similar rules to today’s 18th and 1st. And the roads mentioned related to then holes 13 and 17 would be today’s 11th and 15th holes.”  

Bancroft concludes that when Babe Ruth played Longshore, the road ran to the left of today’s 11th hole. Today it runs down the right hand side. Today’s 11th and 12th holes would have been “oceanfront,” with 12 having an “over-ocean tee shot at high tide, and mud at low tide.”

Fore!

The holes that Babe Ruth played.

2 For 40 Under 40

There are 169 towns and cities in Connecticut. But 2 Westporters — one current, one former — have made Connecticut Magazine’ s “40 Under 40” list. The feature celebrates 40 Nutmeggers doing interesting and/or important work, all before their 40th birthday.

Andy Friedland now lives in New Haven, but he grew up here. Here’s the magazine’s shout-out to the 2008 Staples High School graduate:

With a sharp rise in hate crimes statewide nationally and internationally in the past 3 years, Friedland’s job as associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Connecticut office keeps him busy.

A former team leader with AmeriCorps, he is a primary responder to combat anti-Semitism, other bias incidents and all forms of bigotry. He works with schools, law enforcement and “whoever comes into the picture” to educate people about anti-Semitism and its local origins.

Friedland has led educational programs on topics such as the Holocaust and genocide and the separation of church and state. He has lobbied for and testified for the ADL’s initiative Backspace Hate for legislation to address online harassment, including cyberstalking.

Connecticut has good laws, Friedland says, but adds that it’s important to “keep laws up to date and take on the issues that are really important and dangerous.”

Andy Friedland (Photo by Harold Shapiro for Connecticut Magazine)

Dan Orlovsky grew up in Shelton, but lives here now. His writeup says:

Orlovsky has been famous in Connecticut since he was a teenager. In 2000, the senior quarterback led Shelton High School to an undefeated season and the Class LL state championship before being named state player of the year.

Despite receiving interest from traditional college football powerhouses, Orlovsky stayed in state and attended UConn. He rewrote the school’s record book — still holding every major passing mark in Huskies history to this day — and also led UConn to the program’s first bowl game, a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl in 2004. Orlovsky was named MVP of the game.

The Detroit Lions selected Orlovsky in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Serving mostly as a backup QB in his 12 years in the league, Orlovsky was uniquely preparing himself for his second career as an ESPN football analyst.

Orlovsky was already considered a rising media star when he joined the network in 2018. Now he provides color commentary in the broadcast booth (he recently called the Camping World Bowl on TV and the Rose Bowl for radio) and intelligent and insightful analysis on studio shows including Get Up!, NFL Live and SportsCenter.

Dan Orlovsky (Photo by Melissa Rawlins/ESPN for Connecticut Magazine)

Congratulations, Andy and Dan. And to all you other Westporters under 40: Get to work!

(For the full “40 Under 40” story, click here. Hat tip: Amy Schafrann)

Photo Challenge #265

“Anyone for tennis?”

That’s not quite what the sign — last week’s Photo Challenge — said.

It read: “Looking for a game?” That made it a bit harder to identify.

But Fred Cantor, Amy Bedi, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Ben Sturner and Karen Kim all knew that it hangs outside the main tennis courts at Longshore. (Click here to see.)

Last week was not exactly tennis weather. This week’s Photo Challenge is a bit more wintry. If you know where in Westport you would see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Pics Of The Day #1013

Hundreds of rowers — teens and adults, male and female —  competed in the Connecticut Indoor Rowing Championships today.

The annual event is sponsored by the Saugatuck Rowing Club. With dozens of ergometers though, it’s too big for the Riverside Avenue facility. It’s usually held in Easton. This year, the SRC kept it local: the Staples High School cafeteria.

Camaraderie was clear. The competition was keen. And the energy level — predictably — was high.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

Westport Y Puts Special Focus On Special Needs

Every day — at all hours — the Westport Weston Family YMCA pulses with activity.

The gym, pool, spin center, yoga and fitness rooms — all are filled with boys and girls, men and women, all active to whatever degree of intensity works for them.

It’s a friendly, vibrant place. Many members come regularly. They greet fellow basketball players, swimmers, runners and Zumbaists with smiles and waves.

Some of the heartiest greetings go to members with special needs. They may be in wheelchairs, or come in groups with aides. They may talk loudly, or not at all. All are welcome at the Y.

Enjoying the gym at the Westport Weston Family Y.

Their swims, workouts, classes and social interactions are among the highlights of their days. The folks who share the pool, fitness center and classrooms are happy to see them too.

The Westport Y offers group membership programs to 5 group homes in Fairfield County. Over 100 clients take advantage of the facility off Wilton Road.

Membership director Brian Marazzi says that STAR has the longest association with the Y: more than a decade. Clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities take part in a wide array of activities. Some arrive independently, to exercise.

STAR clients, outside the Westport Y.

St. Catherine Academy — a Fairfield-based private school — uses the warm pool for recreational swim and aqua-therapy for severely disabled clients. The group then socializes with a large group lunch in the lobby.

St. Catherine’s appreciates the family and dependent care locker room, which includes a private special needs shower and changing room. Staff also store equipment at the Y.

Ability Beyond and Keystone House clients focus on the Wellness Center. Members of Abilis — the newest group home to join the Y — primarily walk on the treadmill, and use the gym.

Some of the more independent clients come on their own. A few have become volunteers themselves, meeting and greeting guests.

But that’s only part of the way the Westport Y serves the special needs population.

Sixty kids and young adults ages 8 to 21 play basketball and floor hockey, swim and do track and field, under the guidance of paid and volunteer coaches. Many are involved in Special Olympics, but that is not a prerequisite for Y participation.

A special needs swimmer, and an equally enthusiastic volunteer.

The Sunday morning swim program is particularly popular. A 1:1 ratio of volunteers — many of them members of the Westport Water Rats team — to athletes ensures education, safety and fun. The special needs swimmers are also called Water Rats, and proudly wear the team’s logowear.

Strong bonds are clear. Over Christmas break, as volunteers returned from college, there were joyful reunions and hugs. Parents of special needs swimmers develop their own community too, as they watch from the deck or gym.

Oliver Clachko has made a special impact. He was last year’s near-unanimous choice as Westport Weston Family Y Volunteer of the Year. He enjoys working with the special needs program so much, he’s recruiting friends and classmates to help too.

This spring, the Y hosts its first-ever special needs swim meet.

The Westport Y Water Rat Special Olympics swim team.

Up in the gym, basketball players hone their skills. They compete too, in a “Hoopla” against other area Ys.

Special Needs Teen Nights are another popular event.

Marazzi says the Y has gotten very positive feedback — from clients, group home workers, parents of special needs youngsters, and other Y members too.

Occasionally, he says, members complain about noise or behavior. Marazzi quickly counters, “We love having them here. We’re very inclusive.”

It’s the Westport Weston Family YMCA, remember.

And don’t forget: There are many ways to define family.

(The Westport Y’s Special Olympics and other special needs programs rely in part on fundraising. Starting on her 10th birthday, Chloe Kiev asked that instead of gifts, friends and family donate to the effort. Click here for more information.) 

Unsung Heroes #131

The other day, Saugatuck Rowing Club marketing director Diana Kuen noticed there are a lot of kids in the youth program — but very few teachers.

She figured one reason might be cost.

That’s an easy solve. So now the Riverside Avenue facility — which includes a state-of-the-art fitness center — offers half-price off memberships.

But Kuen did not stop there. She realized there are other town employees to honor too. So the Saugatuck Rowing Club offer is extended to Westport police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders.

Best of all: This is not a one-shot, take-advantage-of-the-January-slump kind of deal. It’s good all the time, all year long.

The Saugatuck Rowing Club wins plenty of trophies on the water. Now they’re winners on land too.

Saugatuck Rowing Club (Drone photo/Ward French)

Remembering Sally Deegan

Sally Deegan — for many years the secretary to the principal of Staples High School, and part of a long-time, well known Westport family — died earlier this month. She was 93. Her family writes:

Our mother, Sally J. Deegan, passed away after a valiant battle with old age.

She was born May 28, 1926 in Ridgefield, to Marion Wakeman and Sereno Thorp Jacob. Her dad was a pioneer aviator who flew in The Lafayette Escadrille during World War I.

As a child, Sally battled numerous life-threatening illnesses and missed a lot of school. However, her determination to succeed at everything she did, saw her through. She graduated from Ridgefield High School as class valedictorian.

A child of the Great Depression, after high school she went right to New York City, and was hired as secretary to the president of Faberge Perfumes. Fable has it she was taking dictation while watching a plane crash into the Empire State Building.

In 1946 she married our dad, Donald B. Kellogg. They lived at Compo Beach. Don passed away several years after their 4th child was born, leaving Mom a young widow with 4 kids under the age of 13. She drew on her warrior spirit, doing what she had to to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Not long after she met the love of her life, William F. Deegan. They married in 1962. He had the courage to take on 4 kids, and survived our teenage years. Bill was a crack golfer so Mom, drawing again upon her tenacious spirit, learned how to play.

Sally Deegan

After summers spent on Fairfield Beach, they pursued their dream of having a home in Vermont. They joined the Woodstock Country Club, where Mom won the club championship and chaired the women’s golf committee.

Before moving to Vermont permanently, Mom was secretary to several principals at Staples High School in Westport. No student wanted to be confronted by her.

She also formed the union for public school staff that provided health insurance benefits. She was brilliant at reading fine print, and learning the ins and outs of the insurance industry, which served her for the rest of her life.

Bill and Mom enjoyed many years in Woodstock. They played lots of golf, and made many friends. Bill passed away in 1997.

Before moving to Naples, Florida in 2001, Mom worked at The Bank of Woodstock, and was a part-time realtor.

Mom loved her hard-earned retirement years in Naples. She enjoyed lots golf, tennis, bridge, and many new friends. She played golf just before her 90th birthday, and had a wicked short game. However, old age crept up. Her final years were spent at Aston Gardens Senior Living, where she made even more friends.

Our mom was a Valkyrie. She had gumption and grit. She was smarter than most, and her intuition never failed her. Saint Peter better have his office in order, because she will see to it that his filing system is in order, and his desk clean.

She is survived by her brother, Merritt W. B. Jacob of Hendersonville, North Carolina; children Sally Kellogg (Bruce Tansey) of Naples, Florida, William Bradley Kellogg of Fairfield, Hope Kellogg Kokas (Dan) of Holderness, New Hampshire, and Donald B. Kellogg, Jr. (Anthony Arguelles) of Providence, Rhode Island, and step-daughter Sharon Deegan.

She will be missed as well by her 5 grandchildren  and 7 great-grandsons. She was Aunt Sally to the Jacob girls, residing in Connecticut and Newport, and their brother. Finally, she will be missed by her beloved cat Casper.

We will be forever grateful to Jessica Anderson for her dedication to Mom’s comfort and care for the past 6 months; the folks at AVOW Hospice, and all the staff at The Inn at Aston Gardens.

Internment will take place in Westport. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to The Humane Society of Naples or The First Tee Naples/Collier.

Remembering Mike DePalmer

Mike DePalmer — a 3-sport athlete in Staples High School’s Class of 1951, and a high school and college coach afterward — died Thursday in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was 86.

Few Westporters remember him. But in a way, he helped change youth sports in America forever.

In the 1970s — after coaching high school and college basketball and football in Florida — DePalmer and a partner established a tennis boarding school in Bradenton.

His partner was Nick Bollettieri. The DePalmer-Bollettieri Tennis Academy helped develop players like Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and Mary Pierce.

In doing so, it popularized the notion that top athletes needed specialized schooling: hours of instruction a day, along with specialized fitness training, nutrition and more, while living away from home and attending boarding school.

Mike DePalmer

It’s unclear how long DePalmer was associated with the academy. But Bollettieri sold it to the sports and entertainment company IMG in 1987. The IMG Academy now includes golf, soccer, baseball, volleyball, football and lacrosse. There was a hockey program for a while too.

Thousands of youngsters attend; their parents pay tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, hoping they’ll be the next [insert name of your favorite athlete here].

Sports were much simpler when DePalmer played football, basketball and baseball at Staples. After 3 years in the Army, he joined the basketball team at Florida State University.

Following his partnership with Bollettieri, DePalmer served as head tennis coach and assistant athletic director at the University of Tennessee.

He was honored by many organizations, including the Sportsmen of Westport.

For Mike DePalmer’s full obituary, click here.

(Hat tip: Ben Sturner)