COVID-19 has done what no opponent can: knock off Staples High School spring sports teams.
Coaches are providing workouts, and staying in touch via video conferences. Athletes are training on their own. Competitions, however, are on hold — perhaps all the way through the end of the season.
Yet one team still sails along.
Staples’ sailing squad is special in many ways. It’s coed, for one thing. Members have experience in everything from 10-foot dinghies to 50-foot sailboats. But they are from different ages, they race in the summer for different clubs, and they’re in a variety of friend groups. Working together in tight quarters, they become a close-knit bunch.
The 2019 Staples High School sailing team.
The 20 sailors meet at Cedar Point Yacht Club. They typically spend 15 hours a week practicing and racing. The vibe is “competitive yet chill,” says senior co-captain Emerson Anvari.
The team — with a bunch of talented juniors — was looking forward to this season. Then the coronavirus raced in.
That’s because coach AJ Sorenson has found intriguing out-of-the-water experiences for his sailors. The most exciting is Virtual Regatta. An online game, it simulates an actual race as much as possible (without of course real wind, sea spray and booms that can knock you into the water.
The physical engagement — the full-body workout of trying to hike and flatten the boat — is missing. Sitting home with a laptop is “serene,” Anvari admits.
But the 2 competing teams join the same group chat program to simulate the often hectic nature of a race course, when many voices call out across the water. And it sure is fun. Take a look:
Last week, Anvari says, “I found myself really getting into it, getting tingly and excited the way I do when I compete.”
Then his sister called him to dinner, and he realized he was just lying in bed playing a computer game.
Still, Anvari and co-captain Nora Dockter have received great feedback from the rest of the team. They all enjoy the break from their daily routines.
Staples has “sailed” against Greenwich High already. They’re connecting with schools in places they never could compete against in real life — like Annapolis, Maryland — for future regattas.
Cecilia Adams and Emerson Anvari, last year.
Sailing is not the only Staples team using online resources. The girls golf team “practices” at 4 p.m. every day on Facebook. Head coach Patty Kondub — who is also a certified fitness trainer — leads golf-specific workouts Mondays and Wednesdays.
On Tuesdays they focus on skills like putting and chipping, through YouTube and other videos. The girls then post their own videos, and get feedback from coaches.
Thursdays are dedicated to other aspects of the game like rules, nutrition, and mental concentration.
Kondub is even making plans for Senior Day, and and a post-season “banquet.”
It’s not the same as Longshore. But — as the Staples sailing team knows — “any port in a storm.”
Several readers have wondered about Westport real estate and personal property tax abatement or deferral (they’re due today — April 1. No fooling). I asked 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. He says:
For several weeks, our town (and others) have been exploring deferment alternatives for property owners who can demonstrate genuine hardship. This is still a work in process.
Among other things, the governor must take executive order steps to allow a local community the option to modify property tax payment penalties and deadlines. I have been in direct touch with Governor Lamont on this issue. In the meantime the April 1 quarterly tax payment date still remains, but as always, allows 30 days (until May 1) to pay without penalty.
I have not heard if utility companies plan to offer any special dispensation for hardship cases. Our Human Services Department regularly works with residents on utility payment plans if true need can be demonstrated.
In related news, Governor Lamont announced yesterday a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments, and a 60-day delay on foreclosures. Homeowners should contact their banks and/or mortgage companies for details.
Across the country, communities are coming together to ring bells in support of medical personnel and other frontline workers.
From 5:00 to 5:02 p.m. tonight, Westport families are asked to “joyously sound a bell, chime, bang pans, etc. as a reminder that while we may be physically separated, we remain united. Let’s make this a gesture of gratitude to all the people helping us overcome this present situation: the police department, fire department, first responders, town officials, teachers and healthcare workers, including the many Westport parents who leave their families to care for those in need at hospitals and medical offices.”
Greens Farms and Assumption Churches — and perhaps others — will join in. Ring them bells! (Hat tips: Jaclyn Lindsey-Noble and Staples High School PTA)
In addition, reader Mary Beth Stirling urges Westporters to fly the American flag. That — and donations to any organization that helps those in need — are both a show of support, and a way to teach children that whatever they can do (including staying home to protect lives) is a patriotic act.
Green’s Farms Congregational Church has a great bell to ring.
“06880” readers know Heather Bauer for her tips on eating healthy in restaurants.
Now the rest of America knows her as a COVID-19 survivor. The 42-year-old nutritionist/mother of 3/ runner of 15 marathons was in great health — until she attended a party, and got infected.
Two days ago — just a week after leaving Yale New Haven Hospital, where she spent 9 harrowing days — Heather told her story on CNN.
It’s a scary tale of fever, migraine headaches, a full body rash, even possible meningitis. It’s also a tale of great care, by a wonderful medical staff. Click below to watch. (Hat tip: Ben Sturner)
Patty Kondub’s great water aerobics classes have been beached by the coronavirus. So have dozens of other Westport Weston Family YMCA offerings, in strength training, yoga — you name it.
But members can still get exercise — on land, at home. There are offerings for all ages, in every imaginable category. Click here for info.
PS: Yesterday, I (coincidentally) got a call from the Y. They were just checking in on all members — seeing how we are, and what we need.
I really need to swim. But failing that, I’d like to say this: THANKS, Y! What a nice, friendly, community touch!
A motivational message from Patty Kondub.
Speaking of exercise, Kaia Yoga’s classes are now all online. Many are inexpensive. There are also free kids’ classes and meditations — great for parents looking for productive activities.
Kaia Yoga — which has long provided classes for Bridgeport school children –has been hit hard by the coronavirus. They employ over 70 teachers.
Speaking (again) of exercise, does anyone have an unused stationary bike they’re willing to sell? Asking for (ahem) a friend.
Every Westporter has a talent. Many are figuring out how to use their expertise to help others.
As a career coach, Jaki Suter helps clients write or refresh resumes. With so many people suddenly facing job losses, she’s doing her part: offering a “free resume refresh” to 30 Westport and Weston residents.
She’ll work with you to highlight skills and accomplishments; include new positions and details, and eliminate irrelevant details.
All you need is an existing resume no more than 5 years old. You’ll work by phone. Jaki will produce an updated resume, including a round of revisions and a final document.
To be one of the first 30 local residents, email email@example.com (subject line: “Free Resume Refresh”).
Jennifer Hrbek reports that she and Westport psychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Elsamra are helping raise $50,000 to buy 4 ventilators, to be donated to local hospitals. Click here to contribute.
Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich notes that transfer station personnel cannot assist with bulky waste. Do not bring those items to the station.
In addition, with the increase in cardboard due to online ordering, all boxes should be flattened, stacked and tied.
Tissues and gloves are being placed in recycling bins. They are not recyclable, and must be placed in the regular trash bin.
Due to the increased amount of glass containers, recycling bins are too heavy for workers to lift. For the time being, residents should separate glass into a smaller container, or put all recycling in smaller containers so workers can lift them.
Greens Farms Academy head of school Bob Whelan has gained fame — and respect — for his great snow day videos.
It’s a little tougher to pull off a clever coronavirus video. But the popular, people-first educator did.
This morning he channeled Fred Rogers, for the school’s youngest learners. Bob — whose career before education was fronting the band Angry Salad — sang for his students.
He reminded them he (and the school) were still there for them. Then, in true Mr. Rogers fashion he asked them to keep him apprised of big events, like birthdays and lost teeth.
You don’t have to be a kid — or go to GFA — to love this one.
Miriam Young writes, “As one of many COVID positive people in Westport, I hope you can tell other positive readers about efforts to collect plasma from recovered patients.”
She sent a link to a story on how plasma might help people still fighting off infection (or, preemptively, those at high risk of infection).
When Westporter John Rizzi read that a TV remote can be 20 times dirtier than your toilet, he got worried. You can’t clean it well, without taking it all apart.
But he devised a solution: cover it in plastic wrap. It takes 2 seconds; it protects the device — and you can replace the wrap over and over again.
And finally, you don’t have to be a Kopite to love this song (and video!):
As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday (Monday, March 30), Westport had 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases, up 1 from the previous day. Weston had 24, up 3.
Of Connecticut’s 2,571 confirmed cases, the largest number continues to be in the 50-59 age group. The over-80 group has the highest rate of hospitalizations and deaths. Click here for a detailed look at the statewide spread of the disease.
Connecticut’s hospitals, nursing homes and medical facilities are in desperate need of medical volunteers. The state has embarked on a campaign to urge people with healthcare or medical backgrounds. Click here to register.
Rizzuto’s, Amis and Terrain restaurants have closed, until further notice. All had provided curbside and takeout dining during the coronavirus crisis.
As healthcare workers and first responders work tirelessly to keep us healthy, we should do the same for them.
“Mission Nutrition” helps. As described by Westporter Lisa Adelmann (whose husband and 2 brothers are local physicians), the goal is to deliver healthy care packages to hospitals, nursing homes, and police and fire departments around the country.
Packages contain protein shake mix, protein bars, energy and hydration drinks, and herbal tea. Some have hand cream.
To minimize human contact, each care package is assembled in a warehouse, and shipped directly to a hospital or first responder site.
Funds are needed. No donation is too small (or too big). To donate, Venmo @missionnutrition. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The town of Westport now offers online tax preparation, with no in-person contact.
Volunteers — led by Westporter Mark Spivack — are the same IRS-certified tax preparers who have offered these services for years. The site is safely encrypted.
Users need a smartphone or computer, WiFi access, a working phone number and email address.
Though the US tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, many Westporters have time on their hands now to “be prepared.”
For more information and to access the service, click here.
Bill Vornkahl reports that although the Greens Farms Fire Company’s 69th annual Easter Egg Hunt has been canceled, the Easter Bunny will make rounds throughout town starting early afternoon on Sunday, April 12.
Be on the lookout for him! (Although, Bill says confidentially, Westport’s Bunny is really a her.)
Not the Greens Farms Volunteer Fire Company’s Easter Bunny. (Photo/Hannah Hall)
Need info on the federal government plan to distribute direct payments to individuals and families? Congressman Jim Himes sends along this link to frequently asked questions. To learn more, call his office: 203-333-6600.
Linda Hall offers a special shout-out to Sue Pfister: “My parents never expected the Senior Center director to be their Meals on Wheels delivery person. But last week, there Sue was — by herself, in a downpour.” Thank you, Sue!
Sue Pfister (seated, right), at her beloved Senior Center.
Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate Nicki Brill now works as a middle school math teacher.
She says she is “lucky to be healthy and quarantined with my family.” She wants to recruit volunteers to help neighbors in need.
Click here for her form for healthy volunteers. Click here if you should not leave home (immunocompromised, older, other pre-existing conditions, quarantined). and need help with groceries or errands.
Looking to help in other ways? Click here for a link to many great ideas.
Village Pediatrics posted this, on social media. Their “kids” do grow up!
(Dr. Nikki Gorman adds, “We really need these, to use as reusable masks over our N95s that we can wash daily with the new washer dryer we are installing in our office — and for patients’ parents and some patients who could be asymptomatic carriers of COVID.”)
COVID-19 put a brutal end to the Staples High School girls basketball team’s magical season, just hours before the state semifinal game tipped off.
Senior co-captain Marisa Shorrock wrote about that emotional end for The Ruden Report. I reposted her insightful story on “06880.”
ESPN got into the act. Her essay was featured on the sports network.
Then last night, the entire team got a shout-out on ESPN’s Senior Moments feature. Scott Van Pelt did the honors — and quoted from Marisa’s story.
It’s not the state championship they probably would have won. But it’s nice to get a bit of well-deserved national recognition! Click below (skip to 1:44, if all you care about are our Wreckers).
(Hat tip: Russell and Don Kubie)
A bogus website claims that the Greens Farms post office is closed. (Here it is — but don’t click on any links inside it. You can never be too safe!)
The cute little post office by the train station is not closed. They’re still open, still serving customers in their homey, neighborhood way. Officials are aware of the fake site, but have been unable to shut it down.
(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)
Though the awards ceremony for TEAM Westport’s annual teen diversity essay contest is postponed, the group — town’s multicultural committee — has announced the 3 finalists.
Staples High School seniors Sahiba Dhindsa and Zachary Terrillion, and sophomore Victoria Holoubek-Sebok, are in the running for prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500.
This year’s prompt asked teens to describe experiences involving stereotypes focused on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, and consider steps that organizations, schools or individuals could take to counteract those stereotypes.
Westport musician Jon Saxon has performed for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce at Supper & Soul and the Levitt Pavilion.
Tonight at 8 p.m. he livestreams a 30-minute concert. Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting ID is 901 431 6011.
It”s free — but he encourages donations during the show (or any time!) to benefit Yale New Haven Hospital. Click here to contribute.
Many supermarkets take strong measures to guard against COVID’s spread. Stew Leonard’s goes extra far. They’ve put Plexiglas shields on all registers and express lines, and at the customer service and coffee departments. Their hot and cold bar food is all pre-packaged now, and employees serve hot food and soup.
And finally, I love the song “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers. This isn’t it. (It’s a lot less Scottish, for one thing.) But it’s almost as good.
Everyone knows Patty Kondub. And everyone loves Patty Kondub.
But she’s one of those people who everyone kind of takes for granted.
We shouldn’t. Which is why Patty Kondub is this week’s Unsung Hero.
Patty is many things. A 1981 Staples High School graduate — and proud University of Connecticut alum — she’s worked for the Westport Weston Family Y for 30 years.
Members flock to her Aquafit classes. She works hard at researching and preparing lessons. But she always welcomes members with a smile, then makes every class fun. One day she’ll wear a costume; the next day she’ll announce a game.
Patty Kondub, in her Aquafit Halloween costume.
When someone is sick, she brings a card for the class to sign. She sings “Happy Birthday” (a lot!). Whenever she sees a news story about a class member — a new book they’ve written, a promotion, or just a brief mention — she tells everyone (and posts its on the bulletin board).
As soon as Ellen Gilbertson joined Aquafit — because of a stress fracture in her foot — Patty called her doctor, so she could design the best workout. If someone is laid up at home, Patty visits (and brings food)
Every day she picks out great music, which puts everyone in a great mood. (For Halloween it was “Monster Mash.” For the Olympics, elections and many other events, she finds something appropriate. On St. Patrick’s Day, she’s got an Irish playlist — and an Irish quiz.)
Patty is no slouch. Her Aquafit students work hard. But she’s such a good teacher, they don’t even realize they’re getting a fantastic workout.
A motivational message from Patty Kondub. (Photo/Barbara Wiederecht)
Her classes get together outside the Y, to celebrate special events. (Ask about her vegetarian chili!)
Colleague Ruth Sherman says, “Patty works so hard to make aging fun. They say our community is getting younger every day, and for this we thank Patty.”
Gilbertson adds, “She goes above and beyond any teacher I’ve ever known, in so many ways.”
Sandra Long says, “Whether it’s your first class or you’ve come for 20 years, Patty knows your name and helps you. She looks out for everyone — it doesn’t even have to be related to the pool. She does whatever she can to help anyone at the Y who’s in need.”
Elsewhere at the Y, Patty helps coordinate indoor triathlons and special needs swim instruction.
Patty Kondub offers hydration tips.
Out of the water, Patty helped organize the Spin Odyssey that over 15 years raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research. Some of her Aquafit fans were involved.
In her spare time (!), Patty is the much-loved coach of the Staples girls golf team. She’s a past president of the Longshore Women’s Golf Association.
And on Saturday mornings, she teaches a class for cancer survivors at CT Challenge.
Patty Kondub always has a smile on her face. The next time you see her, smile back — and congratulate our latest Unsung Hero.
BONUS FUN FACT: As a field hockey player, Patty was part of the first University of Connecticut team to win a national championship — in any sport.
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? To nominate him or her, email email@example.com)
While many Westport students are on spring break, Staples High School athletes remain in town. They’re practicing and playing.
The Wrecker girls and boys golf team made the most of their week — and gorgeous weather — yesterday. They hosted young golfers from Bridgeport’s Sheehan and McGivney Centers.
The Stapleites introduced their guests at Longshore to the game of golf, with a fun clinic. They also gave them equipment, which had been donated through Golf to Give.
The organization is the brainchild of Sophie Carozza, a Staples junior on coach Patty Kondub’s team.
There were smiles all around yesterday, as Staples’ girls and boys golf teams hosted Bridgeport youngsters at Longshore.
Golf to Give plans more events — and they’re still collecting donations of clubs, balls, shoes, etc. They’ll even pick up at your house! Click here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)