Tag Archives: Kyle Martino

Roundup: Real Estate, Balducci’s, Youth Sports …

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Some interesting real estate statistics, courtesy of KMS Partners @ Compass:

Between January 1 and June 30, Westport’s total volume of single-family homes was $493,710,999. An additional $17,508,061 worth of condos and townhouses was sold.

That’s a 78% jump from 2020 for homes, and a 141% increases for condos/ townhouses.

The number of sales (267 for homes, 28 for condos etc.) represents rises of 34 and 87%, respectively.

The median sales prices of homes ($1.575 million) and condos/townhouses ($493,000) are up 30 and 4 percent from 2020, respectively.

Single family homes were on the market for a median of 33 days; condos etc., 65.

The most expensive home sale recorded last week in Westport was 10 Gray Lane, off Sasco Creek Road. It fetched $10 million.

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There are changes cooking at Balducci’s.

The gourmet grocery store is changing 3 of its 6 registers to self-serve.

Staff members have been asked to stay Tuesday night, to work on the store’s remodeling. A source says, “No one in the store knows what that will be.”

Last fall, Acmme Markets bought 9 Balducci’s stores on the East Coast. They said they would not change the name — or the quality of the goods.

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Weston resident Ed Whitley is global head of content partnerships for Bridgeman Images. They represent over 2,500 museums, galleries and artists around the world.

He had a great — and pleasant surprise — yesterday, at Weston’s inaugural Art Fine Arts Festival. One of his own contemporary artists — Ben Bonart — exhibited.

Yesterday’s festival included Weston’s own José Feliciano, in his first live performance since the pandemic struck.

The Weston Fine Arts Festival continues today, through 5 p.m. on School Road.

Ben Bonart (left) at the Weston Fine Arts Festival, with Edward and Susie Whitley,

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Congratulations to Westport Little League’s champion 10U All-Star district team. They won the title Friday, beating Fairfield National. with a score of 14 to 1 beating Fairfield National.

Team members are Dylan Burdeshaw, Brody Chiupsa, Miles Delorier, Henry Ellis, Justin Goldshore, Christopher Lambert, Chase Landgraf, Jack McGratah, Luke Moneyhon, Noah Smith, Grant Theisinger, Nolan Walters and Wes Walters. Coaches are Justin Walters, Marc Theisinger and Dave Smith.

Next up: the sectional tournament.

Westport Little League district champs!

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Speaking of sports: Two soccer events yesterday highlighted the importance of the game for all youngsters, regardless of physical or mental disability, or socioeconomic status.

Staples High School boys team tri-captain Bruno Guiduli continued his fundraising and awareness campaign for TOPSoccer, a national program for players with intellectual, physical or emotional challenges.

Bruno began his efforts in November. He brought his specially made goal — with the “O” in “TOP”soccer cut out — to Wakeman Field. Four hours later, his total raised passed $3,000.

Bruno Guiduli, with some of his TOPSoccer supporters/kickers. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

A couple of hours later at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport, 1999 Staples High School grad — and former MLS pro/national team player — Kyle Martino unveiled his Over Under Initiative.

Martino designed a goal that converts any basketball court into a field for soccer, street hockey or handball. It’s easy to set up, and — through his non-profit foundation — will provide access to added recreational opportunities for millions of underserved youth.

The Cesar Batalla court is the first in the nation. Martino was joined by Bridgeport superintendent of schools Michael Testani, coaches and players from Beachside Soccer Club, and — of course — a ton of eager kids.

Youngsters play at Cesar Batalla School’s new multi-sport court. The soccer goal can be pulled out of the ground, then sunk back into the ground, with ease.

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Add one more local name to the list of 2021 Emmy nominees: Michael Lonsdale.

The longtime Westporter is up for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special. He was the production mixer on HBO’s “David Byrne’s American Utopia.

Emmy Award

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Thursday’s “06880” blog party. This guy tried to crash the event. He’s lucky he didn’t end up cooked.

(Photo/Isabelle Alvarado)

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And finally … happy 82nd birthday to Dion DiMucci. Known just by one name, Dion made his mark as a doo-wop singer with the Belmonts.

In 1968 he shifted gears, recording a song memorializing 4 slain American heroes: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

Dion is lucky to have made it past 19. In early February 1959, he was part of a star-studded “Dance Party” tour. When asked to spend $36 on a flight from Clear Lake, Iowa to the next stop, Dion said no to the extravagance. He took the tour bus.

The plane crashed, killing all on board: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.W. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson.

 

 

Roundup: Ali Stroker, Kyle Martino, Saugatuck Rowers …

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Tony Award winner Ali Stroker (Ado Annie “Oklahoma!”) brings her magic to the Westport Country Playhouse on Saturday July 24. The live, in-person performance is next in the storied theater’s summer cabaret series.

Stroker — who recently starred in the Lifetime film “Christmas Ever After” — made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway, in 2015’s “Spring Awakening.’

Stroker has soloed at the Kennedy Center, New York’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Her mission is to improve the lives of others — disabled or not — through the arts.

Stroker’s appearance at the Playhouse has special resonance. It’s the same stage that premiered “Green Grow the Lilacs” in 1940. Richard Rogers checked it out here — and was inspired to collaborate with Oscar Hammerstein on a play that became “Oklahoma!” The rest — including Stroker’s role — is history.

Tickets for “An Evening with Ali Stroker” start at $25 for performance only.  Supporter tickets — raising funds to reopen the Playhouse — start at $150; they include VIP perks and a pre-show cocktail party. Click here for tickets, call (203) 227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

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Soccer fans have known 1999 Staples High School graduate Kyle Martino as the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, MLS pro with the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy, US national team player and NBC Sports analyst.

Soon, Bridgeport youngsters will know him as the man who brought an innovative soccer court to their city.

This Saturday (July 17, 3 p.m., Cesar Batalla Elementary School, 606 Howard Avenue), Martino introduces the Over Under Initiative. His unique invention is an in-ground goal that pops up quickly and easily, converting basketball courts into multi-sport surfaces, for soccer, handball and floor hockey. It could be a game-changer (pun intended).

The public is invited to Saturday’s ceremony at the Batalla School. For more information click here, and watch the video below.

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Speaking of sports: There are thousands of reasons to support Westport PAL — as in, the thousands of youngsters who are helped each year by their sports programs and college scholarships.

Support is especially important now. For the past 2 years, PAL’s biggest fundraiser — the July 4th fireworks — have been canceled.

So be sure to head to this Sunday’s car show (July 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., railroad station parking lot near Railroad Place and Franklin Street). In addition to cool cars, there’s food and raffle prizes.

Tickets are $15 each. But kids — that is, anyone under 12 — are free. That’s how PAL rolls: Even at their fundraiser, they’re all about the kids.

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Very talented Weston photographer Alison Wachstein is offering special “Porchtraits” — 20-minute photo sessions on her porch, and a retouched digital file posted on Facebook — for a $100 minimum contribution to International Waldenstroms Macroglobulemia Foundation. It funds research, education and support for people diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The “Share the Love” portraits can be of families, couples, siblings, best friends — even with a cherished pet. Larger groups that can’t be accommodated on the porch will be photographed in her garden.

A limited number of sessions are available. Click here for the donation link. Call 203-226-5296 for an appointment.

Alison Wachstein took this Woog family portrait in 1991.

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Three Saugatuck Rowing Club alumnae medaled at the World Rowing U23 Championships last weekend in the Czech Republic. The event included 800 rowers from 55 countries.

Two sets of medalists — the women’s pair and women’s lightweight pair — were coached by Gordon Getsinger, SRC director of rowing and junior girls head coach.

The women’s pair, including SRC’s Caitlin Esse and Lucy Koven, rowed to silver in an exciting finish. SRC rower Bonnie Pushner and Lindsey Rust raced to a bronze medal in their event. Both pairs trained in Westport under Getsinger’s watch for the past several months.

Westport resident, SRC alum and 2018 Staples High School graduate Kelsey McGinley medaled twice. She earned silver in the 4- (4 without coxswain), then 2 hours later rowed to gold in the 8+. McGinley has been training in Iowa City with the USRowing Selection Camp since early June. She rows at Stanford University, and is a first team All-American.

Kelsey McGinley (far left) with her 4- team.

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Positive Directions has a new executive director.

The Westport-based prevention, counseling and recovery support non-profit welcomes Vanessa Wilson. She spent 10 years at YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services, most recently as manager of operations.

She earned an MA from Fairfield University. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Vanessa Wilson

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Alan Hahn Eugley died June 30. He was surrounded by family at his Westport home, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

A retired banking executive, Alan graduated from Lehigh University with a BS in economics and an MS in business economics. His 45-year career included executive positions at Bankers Trust, Marine Midland Bank and Fiserv.

Alan grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, and spent summers at his family’s cottage in Lincolnville, Maine. He played guitar in college and high school bands, and later delighted in his daughter Allison’s flute performances and playing guitar with his son Seth.

During retirement, Alan spent every Sunday with his special needs daughter Elizabeth. Alan also helped with his wife Emily’s art exhibition installations.

A 27-year resident of Westport, Alan enjoyed boating and golf, and was an active member of the Longshore Men’s Golf Association. Known for his jovial and upbeat approach to life, Alan appreciated a 5 p.m. martini, no matter where he was.

Alan is survived by his wife Emily Hamilton Laux; mother Mary Louise; daughters Allison (Geoff) and Elizabeth; son Seth; sisters Gwen (Rick) and Melissa (Paul); stepchildren Madeleine and Jack; niece and nephews Nicolina, Paul and Will, and grandchildren Amelia and Brady. He is also survived by his former wife Susan McShane. His wife Karen Treadwell predeceased him.

A memorial will be held in Westport in August. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to STAR, which provides services to special-needs children and adults in Connecticut.

Alan Hahn Eugley

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Luisa Francoeur. She spotted this guy on an early morning Old Hill walk.

When she returned, he was still there — waiting, it seemed, for her.

(Photo/Luisa Francoeur)

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And finally … sure, today is Bastille Day. But I paid homage to France’s national day last year.

July 14 is also the date when, in 1881, outlaw/gunfighter/murderer Billy the Kid was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico.

Everyone of a certain age remembers Billy Joel’s “Billy the Kid.” Most of the lyrics are “artistic license” (a kind way of saying, “BS”). And of course, we’re all left to wonder: Is the “Billy” from “Oyster Bay, Long Island” in the final verse actually Billy Joel himself?

Kyle Martino Runs For President

The president of US Soccer has a big job.

He oversees all levels of the sport in the United States — from the millions of kids playing to the pros, and of course the men’s and women’s national teams. By virtue of this country’s size and wealth — if not our international soccer prowess — he’s one of the most powerful people in the global sports world.

In the coming months, his job will be bigger than ever. He’ll help lead a US bid — with Canada and Mexico — to host the 2026 World Cup.

He’s also charged with naming a new men’s national team coach, and putting together that shattered program in the wake of the Americans’ dismal failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

If things work out, that new President of US Soccer may be 1999 Staples High School grad Kyle Martino.

Kyle Martino, in the 1999 Staples High School yearbook.

The New York Times calls the Weston resident “perhaps (the) biggest name yet” to enter the race — and “the biggest threat” to current president Sunil Gulati. The 3-term president — also a Connecticut native — has not yet announced if he will run again.

Though just 36 years old, Martino has strong credentials. A Wrecker star — and Gatorade National High School Player of the Year — who went on to college powerhouse the University of Virginia, he earned Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year honors with the Columbus Crew.

He later played with the Los Angeles Galaxy — where he teamed with the legendary David Beckham — and appeared 8 times with the US national team. He scored a goal in an important World Cup qualifier against Panama.

Kyle Martino

After retiring from pro soccer, Martino became a television analyst. He covers England’s Premier League for NBC Sports, and is known for his astute insights, strong personality and great TV presence.

Martino announced a 3-pronged plan on his website, EveryonesGameUSA.com. The components include “transparency, equality and progress” in American soccer. He is particularly concerned about the financial barriers that deter some youth players, and the “mistreatment” of female athletes.

One obstacle Martino faced is that the presidency is unpaid. He and his wife — actress and blogger Eva Amurri — have 2 young children. But he’s assembled a consortium of backers; he’s launched a GoFundMe campaign, and if elected he hopes to turn the job into a salaried post. (Gulati is a senior lecturer in economics at Columbia University, and receives a stipend for sitting on FIFA’s executive committee.)

Kyle Martino and his wife, actess Eva Amurri.

Martino — who has taken a leave from NBC Sports — says, “I won’t be able to forgive myself if I don’t stand up for US Soccer right now. I didn’t dream of doing this job, but I know I have to do it.”

Other candidates include former national team players Eric Wynalda and Paul Caligiuri, among others. The election is February 10.

Win or lose, Martino will retain his affection for Staples soccer. Most recently, he led a project called “Etched in Stone,” honoring former players who died young. He did it in memory of his friend Drew Tursi, brother of Martino’s ex-teammate Brad Tursi.

Martino appeared at the dedication ceremony last month. It was one small — but important — way for him to give back to the game.

(Click here for the full New York Times story.)

Kyle Martino, at last month’s “Etched in Stone” project dedication at Staples’ Loeffler Field.

 

Staples Soccer Is Etched In Stone

In the nearly 60 years since Staples High School fielded its first boys soccer team, some legendary athletes have laced up their boots.

Plenty more played without achieving fame. But they loved the program, made great friendships and created lifelong memories.

Inevitably, a few of those players died young.

Staples soccer embraces its past. One of the program’s goals is to make sure current players feel a link to those who came before, and become in turn great role models for those who follow. (Full disclosure: I am the head coach — and a former Staples soccer player.)

Yesterday, alumni came from as far as California. They gathered together to see a game between 2 top teams — and to help dedicate Staples soccer’s “Etched in Stone” project.

It’s a permanent memorial to members of the program who died before their time. Their names are now inscribed in the terrace, at the top of The Hill.

Kyle Martino — a 1999 graduate who played on the US men’s national team, and is now a noted NBC Sports Premier League analyst — helped organize the project. His speech yesterday emphasized the importance of the Staples soccer community; the “family” bonds that have been formed across generations, and the feeling of legacy that joins current players with past (and future) Wreckers.

US soccer star and NBC Sports analyst Kyle Martino (with ball) addresses the crowd. At far left is Brad Tursi. His brother Drew’s death last winter sparked Martino and his teammates to create the “Etched in Stone” project. Drew spent many hours on The Hill, watching Brad and his friends play for Staples.

After the brief ceremony, the large crowd enjoyed a crackling match. Stamford eked out a 1-0 win, in a nail-biting finish.

Then the alums took to Loeffler Field, for a classic pick-up match.

Some things never change.

Former players from the 1980s who returned include (from left) Andy Udell, Todd Zucker, Dan Donovan, Mark Noonan, Guy Claveloux, Todd Coleman, Nathan Bird, Rob Sweetnam and Doug Fincher. Fincher’s son Ryan helps anchor the current Staples defense. Donovan and Coleman have brothers whose names are now etched in stone. (Photo/Yvonne Claveloux)

Fred Cantor, Steve McCoy and Neil Brickley — who helped win state and FCIAC championships in 1969 and ’70 — returned to Loeffler Field for the “Etched in Stone” ceremony. (Photo/Robert Brickley)

After the Staples-Stamford match, alumni, fans, family and friends lingered on the terrace at the top of The Hill. (Photo/Sam New)

Kyle Martino: Lessons And Love Learned From A Miscarriage

Kyle Martino may be the best player in Staples soccer history. As a Wrecker senior in 1999, he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. He went on to star at the University of Virginia; was named 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew; played 8 times for the US national team, and is now a noted Premier League analyst on NBC Sports.

But this post has nothing to do with soccer. Recently, Martino and his wife — actress Eva Amurri — lost their 2nd child in a miscarriage.

Eva — the daughter of Susan Sarandon — blogs regularly about her active, intriguing and holistic life. She has been very public about her miscarriage, hoping to raise awareness about that often-taboo topic. Last week, she asked Kyle to contribute his own insights.

Here are his sometimes painful, always loving thoughts:

“I lost the baby…”

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri

There’s no way to prepare for those words. I was standing in line to check in to my hotel – the same mindless task I sleepwalk through every weekend – when my phone rang.

Hearing those words from Eva’s mouth, I sprung awake from my traveler’s daze.

The first emotion I felt was guilt. Of course this happened while I was away – every time Eva needs me most I seem to be on a plane or in a different time zone.

Almost instantly came anger. Her phrase repeated in my head, over and over, in my ears and my soul.

Years of shielding myself from emotional discomfort has trained me to move immediately to logic. So I began the calming method of systematically breaking down the sentence I kept hearing over and over. “Baby…The Baby…lost the baby…I lost the baby…”

It was her fault. I was overcome with a quick wave of judgment and blame. Why did she let this happen? What did she do wrong? Why did she let me get on that plane?

Anger – that hollow, pointless emotion was the shield I held so not to feel what I knew I couldn’t handle.

Holding on to that anger distracted me from the actual emotion I was feeling: sadness. I wasn’t mad at Eva at all. I was mad that I wasn’t there in the moment she needed me more than ever.

I walked over to a couch in the lobby and let this sink in. I cried for the first time in my adult life. (Don’t worry, my therapist is all over that one.) I cried because Eva said “I.” “I lost the baby.”

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, "#babygirl Martino's 1st red carpet."

When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, “#babygirl Martino’s 1st red carpet.”

Of course she didn’t lose the baby. This wasn’t her fault. There was nothing she could do. In fact, she couldn’t have done more to make sure her body was the healthiest it could be to nurture life. It broke my heart that she felt responsible in that very first moment of grief. And I didn’t understand why she couldn’t see what I did: that having a healthy baby is a miracle, and we can’t choose when and where that miracle happens.

Those feelings continued through the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage. While she rewound the tape on her pregnancy and looked for errors, I appreciated her body for doing the right thing by closing the book on a miracle not meant to be.

We were on totally different pages – which drove a wedge between us. It’s the same difference that existed when Eva was pregnant with our daughter.

Eva made a connection with Marlowe well before I did. A tangible bond that only those 2 people can understand. Eva and Marlowe were soul mates the second she heard that heart beat (Eva would probably say even before that).

Being honest, I never really accepted that we were having a child until a 3rd trimester ultrasound showed Marlowe waving at the camera. It hit me in that moment that I would be a father. But Eva had long been a mother already.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

Kyle Martino and Marlowe.

When she called me with the shattering news of this pregnancy, she already knew her baby and had been taking care of it. In Eva’s mind she was already the mother of 2. That connection, the bond, was broken that day – and Eva was devastated.

I know that losing our child was not Eva’s fault, but I understand now why she felt it was. Miscarriage is a very isolating experience. Eva withdrew for a while after it happened. I tried to be there for her, but I wasn’t able to relate to her specific pain. My heart was broken in a different way– and nothing I could do or say helped. It was only when Eva decided to do something very brave, in her saddest moment, that the cloud over us lifted. Eva decided she needed to talk about it…with everyone.

Eva told our story on her blog. She put our heartache out there for all to read.

At first I thought it was a bad idea. I thought miscarriage was a rare misfortune, and the few who experienced it suffered privately with curtains drawn. As far as I knew, miscarriage wasn’t something you talked about.

No one had ever mentioned to me that they had been through it. I had never read of someone’s personal experience. Was it really safe and smart to tell so many people such intimate truths about your pain?

I didn’t voice my concerns about sharing because I had been so inept at providing support in those crucial moments so far. I knew I needed to support whatever desire she had. The decision had been made.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC's top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Kyle Martino is one of NBC’s top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.

Eva’s post went live, and we sat there silently. I could sense there was a weight lifted off her, but I feared the response could reverse the initially positive effects.

Immediately, support poured in. I’m not talking about the “I’m sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how hard that is” support (although that was very much appreciated).

I’m talking about the “we’ve been there ourselves, we are here for you if you need us” support. I was blown away by how many readers wrote back with their own deeply sad stories of pregnancy loss.

Then the phone started ringing. Some of my closest friends revealed to me, one by one, their own experiences with miscarriage. These were people I speak to every day, but I never had a clue.

It felt so good to talk about what we were going through. The fact that others not only knew what we were going through, but had found a way past it, was uplifting. What had felt like an action that would add shame to our heartbreak turned out to be the most cathartic experience imaginable.

I could be honest and talk with friends about the guilt I still carried for my earlier feelings of blame; the insecurity I felt about not hurting the same way as Eva did; the worry I still shoulder that it could happen to us again.

A community began, a conduit through which sadness, regret, hope, gratitude and love flowed freely.

At our wedding, Eva’s mom said something that really struck me at the time. She told us, “We are your tribe. Use us.” In the aftermath of our loss, we established a new community – a reformulation of our relationships with those already a part of it, and the addition of people met through our shared experiences.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino's new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he's never forgotten.

At his wedding, Kyle Martino’s new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he’s never forgotten.

We used this community to get through the hardest moment of our marriage. I accessed a lot of understanding through my discussions with other dads, and Eva gained a lot of strength from the strength of the women who came before her in their own grieving processes.

The encouragement, compassion and love we received from important people around us gave us the courage to turn back to each other for support, and heal the disconnect that was weakening our marriage.

As with many of our struggles, we came out the other side stronger together in our loss than we could ever be apart.

I will never feel the same way as Eva about losing our baby. I have my experience, and she has hers. I have my process, and she has hers.

I don’t think about it often – but Eva does. She thinks about the baby we lost every day. And so we move forward, 2 broken hearts on the mend– with a beautiful miracle of a child by our side, and one other just out of our reach.

(To read more of Eva Amurri’s blog, click here.)

Alex Siegenfeld: A Name You Should Know

On Monday evening, I posted a brief story about actress Linda Fiorentino’s Westport house being on the market. Longtime “06880” reader and frequent commenter Nancy W. Hunter weighed in from her home in British Columbia: “06880’s name-dropping has become so, so tiresome.”

I haven’t heard her reaction to a couple of stories I’ve done since, on Mark Naftalin‘s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Kyle Martino joining “Top Chef” star Kristen Kish on a New York Times “36 Hours” TV venture.

Maybe Nancy has sworn off my gossip site forever. If so, too bad.

Nancy: This one’s for you.

Alex Siegenfeld

Alex Siegenfeld

You’ve probably never heard the name Alex Siegenfeld before. He’s not a TMZ/Page Six boldface name, despite winning (at 17 years old) a gold medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad.

Now Alex has done something even more impressive. The Westport resident and Hopkins School graduate — today a student at MIT, heading toward a Ph.D. in physics (experimental condensed matter) — has won a $250,000 grant from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.

It’s good for up to 5 years of graduate study (with the encouragement to pursue science “for the public good”).

Alex was 1 of 12 honorees. The original pool of over 800 applicants was whittled down to 150, for a 1st round of interviews with national leaders in science and technology. Each candidate was tested on knowledge of broad scientific principles.

50 finalists were then selected, for a 2nd in-depth interview.

Hertz_logo_115h_02Hertz Fellows are free to innovate in their doctoral studies. They are not bound by traditional research funding restrictions. They have complete financial independence, under the guidance of top professors and mentors.

Hertz Fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, found over 200 companies, register more than 3,000 patents, head major universities, and hold senior positions in the U.S. military.

Take that, Linda Fiorentino, Mark Naftalin and Kyle Martino!

(Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

Rebecca Lowe Gets The Olympic Call

Rebecca Lowe has earned plenty of praise for her studio work with NBC Sports’ English Premier League soccer broadcasts.

Rebecca Lowe

Rebecca Lowe

Her fast-rising career now takes another step forward. She’s just been named live weekday and weekend host of the network’s Winter Olympics coverage.

What makes this “06880”-worthy is that when she heads to Sochi in February, it will be from Westport. The British-born sportscaster and her husband — former English professional soccer player and coach Paul Buckle — moved near downtown last spring.

Lowe told Sports Illustrated she was “floored” to be chosen for Russia.

I wasn’t expecting it. It is very easy to pigeonhole people and I think being a female back in the UK, I was pigeonholed as one of the females who does football (soccer) only. It’s very difficult to show people that you can actually do other things …. I’d like the opportunity to say maybe I’m not just all about soccer, even as much as I love the sport. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping I can show that.

SI’s Richard Deitsch notes, “Last year she became the first woman to front the FA Cup Final for a U.K audience. She has been remarkably good in her first three months on air in the States.”

Lowe told SI:

I come in with an open brain and an appetite to learn. My head will be in the books and I am not somebody who does something in life not fully prepared. My Dad [Chris Lowe, a longtime BBC presenter] always said you can never over-prepare enough. I will let this become my world.

Speaking of her father: He visited Lowe this fall. Together, they attended a Staples High School soccer match.

Call it a busman’s and buswoman’s holiday.

Two Westporters in the NBC Sports soccer studio. Rebecca Lowe is joined by Staples Class of 1999 graduate -- and former US national team player -- Kyle Martino.

Two Westporters in the NBC Sports soccer studio. Rebecca Lowe is joined by Staples Class of 1999 graduate — and former US national team player — Kyle Martino.

Martin Montana: Finance Is No Laughing Matter

It’s mixing metaphors, but NBC Sports’ telecasts of England’s Premier League soccer is a home run.

Helping raise ratings are a host of Westporters. Jeff Clachko is in marketing. Mike Carey provides real-time research. Rebecca Lowe is an on-air personality. Former US national team player Kyle Martino is a studio analyst.

Covering all bases, even one of the ads has a Westport twist. Martin Montana does the voiceover for MotoX. He not only graduated from Staples in 1997; he was friendly with Martino when both attended the University of Virginia.

But this is not a story about the Westport/EPL connection. It’s about how Montana made his way from the Staples High School basketball program, to the world of finance, then into comedy, acting and voiceovers. All in the space of 15 years.

Martin Montana

Martin Montana

At Staples, Martin captained the basketball team. He’d been a stand-up fan since the 1st days of Comedy Central, and had always been “the funny dude” in school — but was too shy to actually perform.

At UVa, Martin broke out of his shell. He took acting classes, kept notebooks of interesting jokes and did short sketches. Still, he never took the stage.

After graduation, he had student loans. So he moved to Boston, for a “regular job” in finance. At 25, he ran his company’s San Diego office.

“Things happened fast,” Martin recalls. “I made money. Life was good.”

But he felt unfulfilled. In 2006, “I realized I was at a fork. I could stay in the financial world, and cruise to the finish line when I was 55 years old. Or I was still young enough to start over.”

The next year he quit his job, and moved back to Boston. His friends wondered why he’d left such a sweet gig.

“I got it,” Martin says. “What I did was not real logical.”

But it was what he wanted. He worked harder than ever. His 1st comedy gig was at a bowling alley.

Soon, though, he was performing 4 or 5 times a week, at downtown clubs.He went from opening shows to hosting, then headlining.

Three years ago, he moved to New York. His career took off. Martin has worked at top clubs, and been a semifinalist in the city’s Funniest Stand-Up competition. He does colleges and corporate gigs, and appeared on Sirius XM. He’s getting ad work too, like the MotoX voiceover.

His style is “myself,” Martin says. “I’m not a political, heavy guy.” Favorite topics include his parents, dating and sports.

As funny as comedy is, it’s deadly serious. “My job is to make people laugh, from the minute I get the mic,” Martin notes. “The feedback is live. There’s no place to hide.” He thrives on the challenge, and the immediacy of what he does.

“The crowd can be great, lots of energy, or there can be 17 people in the audience,” he says. “It’s totally raw. Whatever it is, you have to give it your best.”

Back in his Staples basketball days, Martin might have wanted to play at Madison Square Garden. Now he’d love to perform comedy there.

Funny. Life changes like that.

Kyle Martino’s Cupcake Wars

Kyle Martino is everywhere.

Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri. (Photo: Jeff Vespa/Wire Images via ESPN Page 2)

The 1999 Staples graduate’s October wedding to actress Eva Amurri —  Susan Sarandon’s daughter — was covered by People Magazine (in a story written by, of all people, Kyle’s classmate Jen Garcia).

Last week, as an ESPN2 analyst covering the Major League Soccer college draft, the former national team player gave a shout-out to Staples soccer. He told a national TV audience how much he enjoyed the camaraderie with his teammates, and hearing the cheers of the large crowds on the Loeffler Field hill.

In between, Kyle served as a cupcake judge.

Last Sunday, the Food Network featured him in an episode of Cupcake Wars. (Never seen the show? Each week 4 of the country’s top bakers face off in  elimination challenges. The sweet prize: $10,000, and the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at the winning gig.)

In Kyle’s episode, the winner took cupcakes to the Major League Soccer championship game in Los Angeles.

Kyle — one of the league’s most popular players during his career with the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy (where his teammate was the even more popular David Beckham) — told ESPN Page 2:

I probably ate 5 entire cupcakes. Each cupcake was like a 3-course meal. Hey, if I had stayed off sweets, I probably would still be playing soccer.

I was blessed with a good metabolism. Younger, I was running 8 miles a day and still able to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But that was then. These days, I might be the only ex-professional athlete who gets winded going up the stairs.

Waving Flag

Westporters live in a bubble.  Whether by choice or circumstance, our lives are disconnected from the overwhelming majority of people on the planet.

We don’t know how they live, or what they think.  Their concerns have nothing to do with ours.

Starting tomorrow — and continuing for the next 30 days — Westport has a golden opportunity to join the world.

The World Cup kicks off this morning in South Africa — the 1st time the global event has ever been held on that continent.  Whether you love soccer, hate it, or never think about it, you should join the magic.

For a month, the eyes of the world will focus on a country that less than 2 decades ago was banned from international sports competition.  Uruguyans, Koreans, Serbians, Cameroonians — fans of the 32 nations lucky enough to be competing for the trophy — will watch game after game, cheering and agonizing and laughing and crying as the long tournament (think March Madness on steroids) unfolds.

Fans of the nearly 200 nations that did not qualify (fun fact:  more countries try to win the World Cup than are members of the U.N.) will be equally transfixed.

Tomorrow afternoon in Westport, hundreds of soccer fans will jam the Staples auditorium to watch the US take on England — something that has not happened in 60 years.  (Fun fact:  In 1950 we pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating the Brits 1-0.)

Win or lose — and a win, though unlikely, is possible — the excitement will build.  Our next opponents are Slovenia and Algeria.  Though minnows in global politics, they have the potential to derail our soccer team.  In Brazilian favelas, Dutch head shops and Ivory Coast villages, people will talk about our games.

And in Westport, we’ll talk about theirs.

In 2002, people I barely knew stopped me on the street to ask how I thought our team would do.  (Poorly, I said.  Unfortunately, I was right.)

In 2006, hundreds of Staples students — athletes in all sports, musicians, debaters — gathered around TVs in the cafeteria and hallways to watch.  They knew the US players — and those on Argentina, France and Italy.  Some even followed countries like Angola and Japan.

Westport's Kyle Martino will announce World Cup games on ESPN radio, with occasional forays into the television booth.

Interest in the World Cup is at an all-time American high — and for once, Westport is not bucking a national trend.  (An added bonus:  ESPN radio and occasional TV analyst Kyle Martino is a Staples graduate, a former professional and national team player — and a good friend of David Beckham.)

I said it before:  Whether you love soccer, hate it or never think about it, give this World Cup a chance.

Watch this morning’s opening match (10 a.m., ESPN, South Africa vs. Mexico).  Thrill to see 91-year-old Nelson Mandela in the stands, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Listen to the joyful vuvuzelas — South Africa’s horn that will blare joyfully at every match.

And — if you’re still on the fence — click here to watch the most spine-tingling video you’ll ever see.  If K’naan’s “Waving Flag” doesn’t make you want to leave your Westport bubble and join the world in watching The Beautiful Game, you may not be human after all.

(Click on the Westport Soccer Association website for registration information on tomorrow’s USA-England telecast at Staples.  Click here for an amazing interactive calendar that tells you all you need to know about the entire World Cup tournament.)