Category Archives: Sports

Remembering Michael Brockman

Michael Brockman — a longtime Westporter, with unique interests and talents — died recently. He was 74 years old.

In the Army, he was a nuclear weapons specialist. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1975.

Michael Brockman

Michael worked as road test editor at Motor Trend Magazine. He began racing professionally in 1979, and competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans.

He went on to work as a film actor and stuntman in “Harry & Son,” “Fat Man And Little Boy” and “Road to Perdition,” among others.

After moving to Connecticut, Michael lived and worked here until his death. He was, most recently, the owner of Mazda of Milford.

Michael’s friend for 30 years, Ian Warburg, writes:

“Brock” was a legendary character. He came to live here because of his best friend and partner in crime, Paul Newman. He stayed because of his marriage to Westport native, Jennifer O’Reilly, and their children, Keleigh and Spencer. Spencer is now a noted race car driver too.

Brock was a class act through and through. A true southern gentleman with a warm heart, an easy smile and always a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Cooler than cool, this humble Florida boy packed his life with fun and adventure that took him to every corner of the globe, and had him raising jars and rubbing elbows with some of the most notable and interesting people of our times.

Michael Brockman (right) and friend.

His stories, and the telling of them, were legendary. Just ask Jack Nicholson. Or everyone who knew him, and was lucky enough to have called him their friend.

He lived a life most men might well have dreamed of, “working” as a professional race car driver, a writer for Motor Trend, an actor, a stuntman, camp counselor at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and a businessman, owning and operating Connecticut Volvo and Mazda dealerships for the better part of the last 25 years of his life.

He was a great friend to his friends, and a loving husband to his former wife, Jennifer, with whom he enjoyed a warm and caring relationship that extended beyond their run as a married couple.

More than anything he delighted in his role as the father to Keleigh and Spencer, something we often talked about over a cold Budweiser. He revolved around them with absolute joy, celebrating and supporting their dreams and wishes.

With Keleigh he shared his love of acting, and joined her as a cast member of “Blue Bloods” from time to time.

With Spencer he delighted in celebrating his “gift” for making race cars go fast — very, very fast — besting racers with more money and newer technology, and watching him stand on the podium almost every time he raced.

Michael and Spencer Brockman.

And with both he shared his love of so much, including sushi, enjoying weekly feasts as fixtures at the sushi bar at Sakura.

Brock and I got together late summer with another pal, Ian O’Malley, for what would wind up being our last beer at the Black Duck. We had a heck of a good time, raised a little hell, and traded stories and laughs, toasting to the next time we’d be together.  Turns out, it won’t be at the Duck.

Until we meet again, my friend: This Bud’s for you! Cheers.

(A celebration of Michael’s life is set for Sunday, December 8, from 2 to 6 p.m. at his dealership, 915 Boston Post Road in Milford. If you plan to attend, please email brockmaninfo@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, friends may consider a contribution in Michael’s memory to the Boggy Creek Gang Camp, 30500 Brantley Branch Rd., Eustis, FL, 32736.)

Liz Fry: Westport’s New Guinness World Record Holder

Last Thursday was Guinness World Record Day.

If you’re like me, you probably celebrated by being blissfully unaware.

If you’re Liz Fry though, it was a big deal. She was honored for 2 Guinness world records — and, for her amazing achievements, was featured on the book’s website.

The 1976 Staples High School graduate — who is as low-key as she is accomplished, so I would never have heard about this from her — was cited as both the oldest female to swim the Ocean Seven, and the oldest person of any gender to do it.

The Ocean Seven is no walk in the park. It’s a stupefying long-distance swim challenge, in some of the most difficult bodies of water in the world: the North Channel, Cook Strait, Molokai Channel, English Channel, Catalina Channel,  Tsugaru Channel and Strait of Gibraltar.

Liz is 60 years old. In 5 years she can collect Social Security. But the checks will have to be delivered by boat.

According to the Guinness website:

Accomplishing one channel is no easy feat – aside from predators in the open ocean and varying water temperatures, one who tackles all seven channels must be prepared to swim for up to 12 hours or more at a time…. It’s as dangerous as it is courageous.

Plenty of planning goes into marathon swimming. There’s training, travel, a support crew, and understanding currents and sea creatures. Jellyfish can be as dangerous as sharks.

Liz’s sister Peggy — a 1975 Staples grad now living in Seattle — often serves as crew captain (and confidante). She makes sure Liz has everything she needs: feeding pack, medication, you name it.

Liz Fry (right) and her sister Peggy, a 1975 Staples High School graduate, at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Their father — a Brit who inspired her originally, with his tales of swimming the English Channel — was there when Liz climbed ashore, after that very brutal swim.

Liz — who is not a professional swimmer (with an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s from Fordham, whe works with global markets on tax initiatives) — hopes that her Guinness record book honors will push other swimmers to achieve their own titles.

Record are made to be broken, of course. But Liz might go on breaking them too.

“I might be 60 years old when I have completed the Ocean Seven marathon, but I feel like I’m swimming like a 40-year-old,” she says.

“It just shows how 60 really is the new 40, or there’s no reason you ever have to stop doing what you love.”

Liz Fry (farthest from the Zodiac) in New Zealand action..

Liz trains often at the Westport Weston Family Y — and in the summer, off Compo Beach. She may be remarkable, but there’s absolutely no reason to swim in Long Island Sound during the winter.

The next time you see her, tell her congratulations.

And if you happen to have a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records handy, ask Liz to autograph it.

(For the full story on the Guinness Book of World Records website, click here. Hat tip: Debbie McGinley)

Pic Of The Day #943

Co-captain Sam Liles (orange armband) frames the Staples High School boys soccer team, at halftime of yesterday’s state tournament quarterfinal match. Down 1-0, the Wreckers scored with less than 6 minutes left to tie. After 2 overtimes, the teams headed to penalty kicks. Trumbull prevailed 5-4. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Brad Tursi Scores Again

Old Dominion has a new honor.

But it’s the same as the old one.

Earlier this week, the 5-man band was named Vocal Group of the Year, at the 53rd annual Country Music Association awards.

Old Dominion won it last year too. Both times the ceremony was held in Nashville, where the band is based.

Nashville — nearly 1,000 miles from Westport — is the adopted hometown of Old Dominion lead guitarist Brad Tursi.

Brad Tursi

He got his start right here. At Staples High School, the 1997 graduate was known primarily as a soccer star. His 1996 team reached the state finals.

He always loved music though, and since college has made his mark on the country scene. Besides his current group, Tursi has written songs for other country artists.

Old Dominion is for real. They were named Sirius XM Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2015. Through albums, EPs and constant touring, they’ve developed a strong, loyal fan base.

Their third album — titled “Old Dominion” — was released last month. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

Their new single — “One Man Band” — is climbing up the Billboard Hot 100. Old Dominion performed that song at the CMA Awards.

Unlike Nashville, Westport may not be a hotbed of country music.

But we sure are proud of one man, in that one band.

(Hat tip: Jeff Lea)

Remembering Lou Dorsey

To generations of Westport students, Lou Dorsey was phys. ed.

The Saugatuck native, Staples High School graduate and longtime teacher died November 2, in Florida. He was 93 years old.

Dorsey was a member of Staples’ Class of 1943. He left school after the basketball season, to join the Navy. “It was more important to get in the war before it ended than to get my diploma,” he said in 2004.

Nine classmates (out of a graduation class of 100) also left school early, for the war. Dorsey received his diploma eventually, on leave, in a special ceremony with principal Douglas Young.

Dorsey served in the Pacific Theater, as a radioman third class. After his service he received his undergraduate degree at Arnold College (now the University of Bridgeport), and his master’s at Columbia University.

Lou Dorsey

He taught physical education for 33 years at Saugatuck and Burr Farms Elementary Schools, and Staples High School.

He was inspired to teach by his high school coaches, particularly Roland Wachob at Staples.

“Rollie would put me in charge of his 9th grade class when he’d go off on a baseball trip,” Dorsey said. “If you did that nowadays you’d get sued.”

Dorsey and his wife Pauline spent 60 summers in the western Maine mountains. They moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida 33 years ago, where Dorsey was an avid golfer.

He is survived by 4 children: Judith Dorsey and her husband Kenneth Gomberg; Kimberly Slimak and her husband Michael Slimak; Jiliane Dorsey and Louis Dorsey, Jr. and his youngest sister, Patricia Dorsey Wood, as well as 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Rangeley, Maine next summer. Click here to leave condolences.

Catch A Lift, MyTeamTriumph Join Forces Tomorrow. Everyone Wins!

For 5 years, Westport has hosted Catch a Lift fundraisers.

Yet the attendees — wounded post-9/11 service members, who heal physically and mentally thanks to the gym memberships and home fitness equipment the organization provides — give at least as much to Westport, in terms of inspiration and motivation, as they get.

Now they’re going to give even more.

Tonight (Friday, November 8, 7 p.m., Birchwood Country Club) is the CAL gala. There’s great food, beverages, a DJ, video, and more than a dozen Catch a Lift guests of honor.

Catch a Lift veterans, at a Birchwood Country Club event.

Tomorrow (Saturday, November 9, 8:30 a.m.), those same men and women head to Compo Beach.

The combat veterans — all suffering from serious PTSD, some who are double amputees — along with their friends and family members, will push disabled athletes in myTeamTriumph. The event is a fun run, of about 2 miles.

MTT is a program for children, teens and adults with disabilities who otherwise could not participate in endurance events like triathlons and road races. Volunteers “ride along,” helping them compete in — and enjoy — those endeavors.

Over the years, Catch a Lift and myTeamTriumph have formed a special bond.

Adam Vengrow — a Westporter, and vice president of the CAL board of directors — has worked closely with mTT board member Andy Berman. Combining their efforts, Vengrow says, demonstrates the power of volunteerism and collaboration.

Andy Berman (left) and Austin enjoy a myTeamTriumph event.

Curt Lueker — another Westporter, who is founder and president of myTeamTriumph — calls the partnership “a unique match.”

Tomorrow’s event is open to anyone who wants to or walk. Click here to sign up.

We welcome our Catch a Lift guests to Westport. And we are awed by what they give us when they’re here.

PS: Last weekend, Berman finished the New York City marathon. For him, this run will be a walk in the park.

KJ’s Fitness For Kids

When Downunder closed recently, Karen Jewell was out of a job.

The former manager/kayak instructor soon began giving kayak and paddleboard lessons, rentals and tours out of nearby Bridgebrook Marina.

But the season ends soon. Karen needed another gig.

Karen Jewell

With her 30-year background in physical education — including certification as a speed and agility coach, core instructor and fitness trainer, plus her experience playing and coaching a variety of sports — and her passion for working with young kids, KJ’s Fitness for Kids Magazine seemed a natural “fit.”

The free online site is now live.

Aimed at 4- to 10-year-olds — “an overlooked group,” Karen says — it’s filled with content for athletes and non-athletes alike. Her goal is to provide information about movement and activities in a fun, engaging way.

KJ’s Magazine covers nutrition, education (what biceps and quads actually do), fun facts (how jump ropes began), and a daily fitness challenge (youngsters earn points, leading to prizes like t-shirts).

There’s a page for parents, teachers and coaches too.

Karen created the site entirely herself. She’s getting the word out through social media, networking and flyers.

Right now it’s local in scope. But she has visions of expanding far beyond this area.

Maybe even Down Under.

Pics Of The Day #926

Witches’ house at Winslow Park? (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Meanwhile, there was a special guest player at last weekend’s Challenger Little League game. (Photo/Beth Cody)

New England Hemp Farm Brings CBD Here

High-level lacrosse took a toll on Colin Bannon’s body.

The 2013 Staples High School graduate went on to star at Endicott College: 4-year varsity starter, 3-time All-American. But after majoring in business management, and earning a graduate degree in marketing and sales, his body was banged up.

His back, shoulders, hips — you name it, it hurt.

Bannon worked a couple of jobs — for a lacrosse company, and home remodeling — before being named assistant varsity coach at Staples last year.

About the same time, he discovered CBD.

Colin Bannon

Known technically as cannabidiol, CBD is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Used in products like oils, edibles and tinctures, it helps users feel relaxed and calm.

CBD is often confused with THC — the psychoactive compound in cannabis. They are very different.

THC gets users high. CBD does not.

Confusion also arises because the cannabis sativa plant has 2 primary species: hemp and marijuana. Hemp has a much higher percentage of CBD, and much lower levels of THC.

The Food and Drug Administration currently approves only one CBD medication: Epidiolex, for certain types of epilepsy. But the compound is used frequently for many other health conditions.

The legality of CBD varies from state to state. Last year, President Trump signed a farm bill that removed hemp as a Schedule I substance. It is now called an “agricultural commodity.”

The bill also removed restrictions on the sale, transportation and possession of CBD derived from hemp (with certain regulatory restrictions).

Hemp plant

Three months after Bannon began using CBD, he felt remarkably better. His back and shoulders no longer ached. His hips were better aligned. He joined a growing number of Americans touting the compound’s benefits.

Not long after, he was chatting with Brian Edmonds. Chair of New York Athletic Club’s lacrosse program, he’d recently retired from Cantor Fitzgerald after more than 30 years in finance.

Edmonds had found that CBD relieved his chronic joint pain. However, with so many competing products and brands on the market, he worried about competing claims regarding quality, purity and appropriate dosages.

Edmonds partnered with Keith Bunovsky, a lifelong Connecticut farmer, and moved from Fairfield to Mystic to start a new business: New England Hemp Farm.

Their goal is to bring high quality, guaranteed CBD products to the chaotic marketplace. They pay fair market prices to their farmers in Monroe and Canterbury. They also donate a percentage of profits to help preserve New England farms, and benefit inner-city programs.

Two of New England Hemp Farm’s many products.

They’re renovating an old firehouse on the Poquonnock River. Called “The Barn,” it will serve as their flagship retail location — and offer food and live music.

But New England Hemp Farm also has a presence at the other end of the state — right here in Westport. On November 1, they open a pop-up holiday shop on Main Street’s Brooks Corner. They’ll sell CBD topicals, tinctures, edibles, liquid capsules — even pet treats.

They had a booth at the recent Westoberfest. It was packed.

And though the store is not yet open, people have stopped by, seeking information.

Colin Bannon will not be lax describing everything CBD has done for him.

New England Hemp Farm’s pop-up store, in Brooks Corner.

Water, Water Everywhere …

As Westport prepares for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms tonight — with  coastal flooding and shoreline impacts from midnight through 4 a.m. — alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti forwarded this text:

His only comment: “Kinda ironic.”