Category Archives: Sports

Remembering Jim Curran

Longtime, well-known and much-loved Westporter Jim Curran died Friday, surrounded by his family. He had battled cancer, and was 59 years old.

Born in Pontiac, Michigan, the son of the late Thomas and Ruth Curran, Jim grew up in Huntington, and lived in Westport for over 20 years.

He attended Fairfield Prep, and graduated from Shelton High School. After Northwood University, he began working full-time at the family-owned Curran Volkswagen dealership. He had started there at a young age. It remained his business home for over 40 years.

Jim Curran

He later became a partner, operating Curran Volkswagen with his brother Chris. He was considered by Volkswagen to be an icon, for the dedication and commitment he exhibited every day.

Jim was a loving husband and father, dedicated to the care of his family. A staple in the community, he coached his kids in Little League and basketball. He was a die-hard Boston sports fanm and enjoyed watching and attending as many Patriots and Red Sox games as possible.

His love of sports began at a young age. He played baseball, basketball, football, softball, golf, and anything in between. As an avid golfer, Jim was a longstanding member of Brownson Country Club, which became his home away from home.

He was known for his upbeat, loving, fun and hilarious personality, and will be missed by all.

In addition to the love of his life Stacie, his wife of 21 years, and his children Dylan, Shea, Carly, and Charlie, he is survived by his brothers and sisters, Kathy Hurley and her husband Tom of Boca Raton, Florida, Chris Curran and his wife Diane of Shelton, Trish Adams and her husband Bill of Boca Raton, and Michael Curran of Delray Beach, Florida, his mother-in-law Rhona Lieberson, and several nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles.

Friends are invited to an outdoor celebration of life at Brownson Country Club Golf Course in Shelton today (Monday, August 31, 1 p.m.) For information or to sign an online register, click here.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Owner Supports Players’ Boycott

The Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA today, with one of the strongest social justice statements in sports history.

And one of their owners — a Westporter — stands 100% behind them.

The players stayed in their locker room, boycotting Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic. They also called for action by the Wisconsin legislature, in the wake of Sunday’s shooting of Jacob Blake in the back by Kenosha police.

The Bucks’ decision instantly transformed the playoffs. The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to boycott their games. The WNBA followed by postponing contests.

The action spread to Major League Baseball, when the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds decided not to play.

Marc Lasry

Marc Lasry — a billionaire businessman, hedge fund manager (and Westport resident) — is one of the Bucks’ owners.

He and his fellow owners said tonight:

We fully support our players and the decision they made. Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them.

The only way to bring out change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.

The Bucks’ action — and their owners’ strong support of their players — will reverberate through the sports and political worlds for years to come.

Roundup: School Concerns, Supper & Soul, Parks & Rec & WTF Programs, More


As the reopening of school nears, stress levels are high. And they’re not just confined to adults.

Positive Directions — Westport’s not-for-profit center for counseling and mental health issues — offers tips for supporting a child with concerns about going back to school. Click here to read.


The Dead are coming to Westport.

Well, at least Terrapin: A Grateful Dead Experience, is. They draw raves, with their state-of-the-art equipment and true Garcia/Weir channeling.

They’re the next band for “Support & Soul,” the Westport- Weston Chamber of Concert/Westport Library drive-in collaboration.

Previous Supper & Soul shows — with Mystic Bowie, the Tom Petty Project and Mullett — have sold out.

Tickets are $100 per car (5 people max). The go on sale this Friday (August 28, 10 a.m.; click here). The Chamber urges concert-goers to support local restaurants, by ordering takeout for the show.


Registration began this morning for Westport’s Parks & Recreation fall programs. They include tennis clinics, Sports Squirts, IST Baseball and virtual at-home programs. Among the new programs: Skyhawks Hoopster Tots, Overtime Athletics Big Swing Whiffleball and High Fives Running Club.

Click here to see all programs, and to register.

Registration for Wakeman Town Farm’s fall programs will also be done through the Parks & Recreation department; just click here. Offerings include the Mommy (and Daddy) + Me “Little Farmers,” new Music Together classes, and programs for teens. All are safe, socially distanced and outdoors .

Questions about any program, or how to register online? Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

 


An alert reader writes:

“In June of 2018, my wife was checking some flowers in our garden. She heard some rustling behind a large bush, and out popped a white deer.

“This prompted a bit of research. Only 1% of deer in the Northeast are white. In various cultures the white deer has some positive mythological significance. It can be viewed as a message from another world or the hereafter. This was startling to us, but in a good way.

“Two weeks before our first sighting, our family had put to rest a loved one just up the hill in the Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery. So who knows?

“We continue to see the deer (there may now be 2) sporadically. Neighbors say  she (or they) are often sighted throughout Old Hill.”


Musicians everywhere have missed connecting with live audiences.

But when members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts and touring team attended the American String Quartet concert at MoCA Westport last month, they saw the potential in the museum’s outdoor stage, vast grounds, and the way  attendees maintained social distancing

So MoCA proudly announces a new concert event. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight features the Alexa Tarantino Quartet on Friday, September 4 (7 p.m, MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike).  

Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler and composer. Jazz Times’ Critics Poll named her a Top 5 Alto Saxophonist of 2019.

Concertgoers bring their own lawn chairs and food. There are food and drink trunks on the grounds, too. Click here for tickets, or call 203-222-7070.

Alex Tarantino


Saugatuck Rowing Club past commodore Carol Randel and her team — the Randelles — are leading a fundraiser to help people fighting cancer gain access to healthy food.

The “Row for Recovery” event addresses an unseen problem. Area residents must often decide between food and medical treatment. The pandemic has made the situation more dire.

Row for Recovery — set for Saturday, September 12 at the Rowing Club on Riverside Avenue — will help Norwalk Hospital’s Whittingham Cancer Center provide prepaid grocery store cards to people needing good nutrition during cancer treatment. $100 feeds a family of 4 for a month.

Click here to register, and for a course map.

Carol Randel


Amy Berkin writes: “I was downtown for a meeting, and wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on a bench by the river. Look at this! It’s awful that people are not throwing away trash, and no garbage cans are out. Very sad for the town, and the wildlife in the river.

(Photo/Amy Berkin)

And finally … today is National Dog Day! Arf!

Dave Briggs TV: Live Interviews With Lively Westporters

Dave Briggs is a gifted interviewer.

After a career spent in sports and political broadcasting, he knows how to make a subject feel at ease. Conversation flows naturally; insights pour forth.

After 12 years in Westport — and more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN — Briggs’ contact list bulges with big names.

Many of them live here. So it’s natural that for his new gig — an Instagram Live series of interviews for Westport Magazine — Briggs would chat with our town’s megastars.

He’s already snagged “Today” co-host Craig Melvin, best-selling author Jane Green and former NFL analyst/current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky.

But it’s a testament to Briggs’ chops as an interviewer — and his belief that his series include local names we all can relate to — that his session with Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas drew twice as many viewers as Melvin’s.

Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas, live.

If you missed that — or any of Briggs’ other interviews, like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — no problem. They live forever on Westport Magazine’s Instagram page.

You can find them — and upcoming interviews which may include CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, actress Anne Hathaway, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, musicians Nile Rodgers and Michael Bolton, billionaire businessman/Milwaukee Bucks owner Mark Lasry, and songwriter Justin Paul, plus superintendent of schools Tom Scarice, downtown developer David Waldman and police chief Foti Koskinas — by following @DaveBriggsTV on Instagram.

The Denver native did not expect to be sitting here this year, drinking bourbon (or tequila, or another beverage of choice), chatting with his neighbors.

But this year is unlike any we’ve ever known before.

Briggs always wanted to be a sportscaster. A broadcast and journalism major at the University of Colorado, he ascended the typical “pay your dues” ladder: covering high school sports and rodeo in Rapid City, South Dakota; college sports in Tulsa, and then the right-place-at-the-right-time Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics for Boston’s NBC station.

From there it was on to “a terrific” 5 years co-hosting “Fox & Friends”‘ weekend show with Camerota; handling the Rio Olympics, Stanley Cup, NASCAR and NCAA basketball for NBC Sports, and — most recently — 3 years as anchor of CNN’s “Early Start.”

Dave Briggs

Early is right: The show airs from 4 to 6 a.m. Briggs woke up every morning at 1:30.

That did not leave him much time to know Westport, where he, his wife Brandi and kids moved in 2008. She is deeply involved in the town: RTM representative, Westport Young Women’s League, the schools.

Briggs wanted to feel more connected. His chance came, surprisingly, from the same source that, he says, “punched my career in the face”: COVID-19.

The coronavirus put an end to his NCAA hoops work for Turner Sports. He talked to ESPN Radio about openings, but after cuts in other areas they filled those spots internally. A sports podcast called “Home & Home” was also canceled.

“It’s been a tough year for me,” Briggs admits.

But the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews have been a huge bright spot.

He’d always known that many very successful, fascinating people live here. When everyone was quarantined, disconnected and frustrated, he realized an interview series could be interesting — and doable.

Jane Green, live.

Instagram Live is the perfect platform. It’s easy to use (and users get instant notifications when an interview begins). Anyone can ask ask real-time questions. And the format could not be more casual.

Whether his guests are big names nationally or just locally, they all want to talk about their home town. Why did they move here? Why do they stay here? What’s their ideal day here?

Those are staple questions. Craig Melvin was as happy to answer those as he was talking about national issues. He also discussed what it’s like broadcasting the “Today” show from his Westport home.

“People learned he’s not just a talking head. He’s of the smartest, most knowledgeable and analytical people in the industry,” Briggs says. “Plus, he’s nice!”

Dave Briggs and Craig Melvin, live.

Briggs shared drinks and a meal with Bill Taibe, at his new Don Memo restaurant.

For Jane Green, there was tequila. Many of her devoted readers asked direct questions. Whether they lived here or not, they learned how Westport inspires her.

The interview with Staples principal Stafford Thomas offered 3 surprises for Briggs. There were many more viewers than for some bigger names. Briggs learned “there may not be a better educated principal anywhere.” And the interviewer discovered that Thomas has been to every Major League Baseball Stadium in the country.

Feedback to the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews has been superb. In fact, it’s so positive that the series — originally planned just for the summer — will continue indefinitely.

And without a 1:30 a.m. wakeup call.

Pics Of The Day #1219

Yesterday’s downpour lasted less than an hour.

That was enough to cause some Main Street flooding. Early this morning, the road was still soaked.

Susan Iseman was downtown at 7:30 a.m. A truck sped through, nearly soaking her.

(Photo/Susan Iseman)

But the rain did not bother these kids, who kept their Juniper Road street hockey game going.

Mark Mathias was as happy to watch them as they were to play.

“I’m glad to see that life is somewhat normal,” he says. “Kids in the street, not caring about the weather because they’re having a blast.”

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

At Longshore, Isaias Is Not Par For The Course

In his afternoon briefing on WWPT-FM (90.3) yesterday, fire inspector Nate Gibbons warned that golfers would find a very different course when Longshore reopens.

He’s not kidding.

Director Jen Fava’s crew has worked tirelessly to get the town jewel back in shape, after it took a particularly hard shot from Tropical Storm Isaias.

Here, for example, is — er, was — a white oak, along the end of the 18th hole fairway. Judging by its rings, it was 275 to 300 years old.

Brian Sikorski — who took the photo above — sent images of more damage, all over the course. Fortunately, no greens were damaged.

But Nate Gibbons was right. Golfers’ views are now very, very different.

(Photos/Brian Sikorski)

Pic Of The Day #1204

A rite of passage at Sherwood Mill Pond … (Photo/Richard Santalesa)

… and the weekend was busy, in the Saugatuck River near Rive Bistro (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Farmers’ Market For Kids, Westport Woman’s Club, Staples Baseball, More


The pandemic has prevented live gatherings for the “Get Growing” kids’ program at Westport Farmers’ Market.

No problem! WFM has launched “Get Growing to Go!,” a craft kit of activities youngsters can do at home. The brainchild of Mae Farrell, it includes a free package parents and caregivers pick up at the Cross Highway farm.

Each week Mae announces the craft for the following week on Instagram and Facebook, and children and parents through the week’s activity — on their own schedule.

“’Get Growing’ is dear to my heart,” says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougal.

“Mae has taken it to a whole new level, both in person and now virtually with the craft kits. Families are a big part of our market. We won’t let the pandemic prevent us from helping the next generation appreciate nature, farmers, and importance of a local food community.”

Parents can pre-order craft kits for pick up at WFM between Sunday and Tuesday by email: getgrowing@westportfarmersmarket.com. The first pickup is Thursday, August 13, and each Thursday thereafter from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. WARNING: Only 30 craft kits are available each week.

For an introduction and sample, click here (Facebook) or here (Instagram).


Among the recipients of the Westport Woman’s Club’s 2020 community grants: Filling in the Blanks.

The Fairfield and Westchester Counties non-profit says: “Because of you, we delivered 11,014 meal bags in the month of May. That is 44,056 individual meals for children who otherwise would not have had enough to eat. We added students in New Canaan and Norwalk last month, and will add more in Greenwich this month. Thank you from all of us at Filling in the Blanks for making it possible for us to provide this basic nutrition when it is needed most.”


The 2020 Staples High School baseball team did not get a chance to defend their state championship this spring. COVID took care of that.

But the Wrecker baseball family gathered yesterday for a ceremony today honoring the 2019 state and FCIAC champions — and the team’s unanimous #1 ranking in Connecticut.

The turnout was great. The memories were wonderful. Now the plaques will serve as an inspiration for the 2021 squad — and all that follow.


And finally … hard to believe I haven’t used this “Monday” song before. But I haven’t.

Aztec Two-Step’s New Words

The other day, WFUV’s “Mixed Bag” host/longtime Mets fans Don McGee celebrated the return of baseball by playing “Stay at Home for the Ballgame.”

It’s a new song by Aztec Two-Step’s Rex Fowler and his wife, Dodie Pettit.

Though married only 2 years, they have known each other for decades. Nearly 40 years ago, she played guitar and sang on Aztec’s 5th album. Dodie went on to a long Broadway career.

She and Rex now perform as “Aztec Two-Step 2.0.”

I loved the COVID-safe message, and asked Dodie for a link to post on “06880.” The song is so new though, that none is yet available.

But there is other Aztec Two-Step news. “Words” — released in April — dates back to 2017. Rex started writing it after his musical partner Neal Shulman’s wife died of cancer.

During the COVID lockdown, Rex and Dodie finished it. They recorded it at their Westport home, with bandmates coming in individually (wearing masks).

Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler perform together.

“We thought it would be a song of comfort,” Dodie says. She’s lived with her own tragedy: Her husband, Staples High School graduate and Broadway actor Kevin Gray, died of a heart attack in 2013 at age 55.

Dodie adds, “We wanted to do a real grown-up, thoughtful statement of how hard the aftermath is — without using any of the standard, patronizing fare.”

They’ve performed it on Facebook, for a traumatic brain injury group.

Their next song — a mash-up of Neil Young’s “Down by the River,” focused on Black Lives Matter — will be released soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy the “Words” video below.

And keep your ears open for “Stay at Home for the Ballgame.’

High School Fall Sports Still On — With Restrictions

While many states around the nation canceled high school fall sports season — or pushed them back to the spring — officials here waited.

Today, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced its plan. There will still be a fall season for public school sports. But it won’t look completely the same.

First practice dates remain the same (August 17 for football, August 27 for cross country, field hockey, boys and girls soccer, girls swimming and girls volleyball). Howcwee, there’s a progression, beginning with conditioning in cohorts of small groups.

That conditioning will gradually increase. Start dates for the regular season have been pushed back; the number of games has decreased, and “tournament experiences (format TBD)” have replaced state tournament.

Schools will now compete on a “regional” basis (based on the 10 closest schools), rather than by league, to mitigate potential spread and maximize contact tracing capability.

Each school will determine spectator policies — in other words, whether to allow fans or not.

There is much more in the document. And of course, CIAC administrators say, the plan is “fluid and in a perpetual state of evaluation.”

To read the full CIAC plan, click here.

Last year, the Staples boys soccer team shocked 3-time defending state champion Glastonbury in the state tournament. There may be no state tournaments for any fall teams, in any sports, this year. (Photo/Patrick Ostbye)