Tag Archives: Dan DeVito

Staples Football Honors Past, Present

“06880” seldom covers sports. There are way too many leagues, teams and games. Besides, newspaper sports sections, and plenty of websites, already do a good job of this.*

But “0688o” is also about people — and “the story behind the story.” So when the Staples High School football team recently named 2 new awards after legendary adults, my ears perked up.

And when I heard who the first honorees were, I knew this was “06880”-worthy.

The Coach Paul Lane Award goes to a senior who displays “the highest levels of positive energy and an unbreakable positive spirit.”

Lane served as head football coach from 1962 to ’86. His teams won the 1975 FCIAC championship and 2 FCIAC titles, and in 1967 ended Stamford Catholic’s 30-game winning streak. After retiring, Lane coached professionally in Italy and England.

Lane also coached Staples track and girls golf — and won a state crown in both. As in football, he led by quiet example.

The recipient of the Paul Lane Award is Adam Petro. A football player since 3rd grade, and last year’s leading receiver, this year he suffered a career-ending ACL injury during preseason practice.

Gridiron Club president Jim Adrian says that Adam “embraced the reality that sometimes life deals you bad breaks, and unlucky consequences beyond your control.” Yet he always encouraged his teammates from the sideline. He “never let the positive energy or pride for his teammates wane.”

Adam Petro, flanked by Paul Lane and his son Skip.

The Dan DeVito Community Citizenship Award is presented to a senior player who consistently exemplifies commitment to the team over self, has strong character and leadership, and benefits the program, school and community.

DeVito — who had a long career with Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department — helped reestablish Staples’ Gridiron Club in 1994, and served as president and chairman for over 20 years.

He helped create the Wreckers Wall of Fame, chaired the Field of Dreams turf field project, and led a long campaign to install lights at Staples. He has also coached youth football, basketball and baseball.

Dylan Curran received the Dan DeVito Award. Despite disabilities, Dylan was an integral part of the Staples football program. Starting freshman year he was on the sidelines at every practice, every bus ride, every game, every team event.

Adrian said, “Dylan’s passion lifted up his teammates.” He always brought “contagious energy to the team.”

Dylan Curran (right) and Staples High School assistant football coach Garret Lederman.

Both awards were presented at the annual banquet, held earlier this month at Giovanni’s in Darien.

*  And I say this as the head coach of the Staples High School boys soccer program, which really deserves tons of publicity.

It Doesn’t Just Clean Itself

Last night, Compo Beach was jam-packed. Over 10,000 people crammed every available picnic table, wall and grain of sand to watch the fireworks.

They spent plenty of time eating, drinking and playing too.

When it was over, they left. And left behind literally tons of trash. Food, bottles, shoes, umbrellas, beach chairs, beach toys — the beach was, to use the technical term, a “f—in’ mess.”

By 8 this morning — just a few hours after the last revelers left their “stuff” — the beach was perfect. Pristine. Ready for another day of illegal table-saving:

cleanup ABut it didn’t just happen. Dozens of Parks & Rec employees worked feverishly to get Compo ship-shape. They picked up garbage. They hauled it away. And they groomed the sand.

Compo Beach cleanup

Compo Beach cleanup

Stuart McCarthy, Dan DeVito and the entire Parks & Rec Department do a fantastic job all year. The post-fireworks transformation may be their most remarkable feat of all.

The next time you see those guys (and gals), give them a thumb’s-up. Or thank them.

You might even offer them a cold one.

Water, that is. They’re on the job!

Westport Rotary Drives The Compo Beach Wheelchair

Like many Westporters putting away beach chairs last fall, Dan DeVito realized he needed a replacement.

Unlike most Westporters, though, he could not just run down to Patio.com.

Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gives Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride in the new wheelchair.

As Parks & Rec operations supervisor, Dan’s chair was a beach wheelchair — specially adapted for use on sand. It had been a gift form Westport Rotary, but after 7 years of steady use — by disabled visitors, and carrying injured people in emergencies — it was rusted and falling apart.

DeVito called Peter Ferrara, former Westport Rotary president. The organization unanimously agreed to buy a replacement.

That’s just one of many good deeds done by the 88-year-old civic group. A short list of Rotary-funded projects includes the original Compo Beach playground, Levitt Pavilion, interfaith housing and a gazebo at Mahackeno.

A longer list — all the way back to Rotary’s 1st year, 1924 — is fascinating. Anson Leary, club historian from its founding until his death in 1962, wrote:

The playground of Bedford Elementary School was covered with rocks. All our members, augmented by other citizens, spent an entire Saturday (June 7, 1924) with teams, trucks and other heavy equipment clearing the area and making it into a good playground. The project cemented the ties that bound us together.

More projects soon followed. The town needed an ambulance, so Rotary raised the entire price: $3,600.

Then came a junior high fife-and-drum corps, a twilight baseball league, and several Boy Scout troops.

Rotary members built — with their own hands — the first 6 fireplaces at Compo’s South Beach; the swimming pool at Aspetuck’s Girl Scout camp, and the pavilion at Mahackeno.

The Rotary Club even organized Westport’s Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, all that work costs money. This Wednesday (June 6), Rotary sponsors a major golf and tennis fundraiser, at Longshore. To sign up for golf, call Tony Riggio (203-227-6877). For tennis, call Elaine Whitney (203-221-7335).

If you just want lunch, that’s fine too. Come to the tent outside the Inn at Longshore at noon. Everyone is welcome.

And everyone using the new beach wheelchair will soon thank Westport Rotary — and you.