Tag Archives: Staples High School baseball team

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.

Staples Baseball Ends “Season” In Style

The 2020 Staples High School baseball team could not defend its ’19 state and FCIAC championships — because there was no ’20 season. COVID-19 knocked out all spring sports in the state.

But the Wrecker coaches and Diamond Club boosters found a way to honor the athletes who would have played.

Yesterday, they held a traditional “Senior Day” in a very non-traditional way.

Family members lined the field — masked and socially distanced, of course.

A guest speaker — Staples alum Dave Ruden, publisher of the all-FCIAC, all-the-time sports site The Ruden Report — praised the players and the program.

Dave Ruden addresses the crowd.

Coach Jack McFarland presented the school’s 2 highest awards — Block “S” trophies — to well-deserving recipients.

Most Valuable Player honors went to all the seniors.

And the Coaches’ Award was presented to longtime manager/superfan/ inspiration Dylan Curran. He gave a gracious speech, thanking each coach and every player for always including him and making him feel a part of the team.

He promised he would always come back to cheer Staples on, from his next destination: Sacred Heart University.

Dylan Curran (Photos/Chris Greer)

The day ended with the unveiling of a plaque. It noted that the Wreckers were ranked #31 in a national pre-season poll. We’ll never know where they would have ended up, if they had actually played games.

It wasn’t the Senior Day any of the Wreckers — or their friends and families — dreamed of.

But considering the coronavirus circumstances, it was a grand slam.

Chad: Challenger Baseball’s Shining Knight

Chad Knight has a sparkling resume.

Last week the Staples High School senior captained his baseball team to their 2nd state championship in 3 years. In 2013 Chad starred on the Westport squad that reached the finals of the Little League World Series.

He’s been drafted by the New York Yankees — but he’s heading first to Duke University. He’s also an excellent piano player.

Yet one of his many other recent honors — Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year — led to an especially fine moment.

As part of Gatorade’s Play It Forward Fund, Chad was given $1,000 to pass on to any national or local youth sports organization of his choice.

He chose Westport Little League’s Challenger Division. That’s the very successful program for boys and girls with disabilities.

Chad Knight (rear, center, white shirt) and Challenger commissioner Beth Cody (front, blue shirt) join Challenger players, buddies, and Staples baseball players today.

Chad’s generosity came from the heart. Throughout the years he has served as a “buddy” to the players. He always found time to help out. He loved the youngsters, and they adored him.

In appreciation of Chad’s gift, commissioner Beth Cody announced that Gatorade is the official drink of the Westport Winners challenger team. Today at Meyer Field, she presented Chad with a bottle with his name, number and the Westport Winners name.

Starting this fall, every Challenger player will get one too.

It was a quick, fun ceremony, before Westport took on Norwalk in their final game of the season.

Then Chad headed off to his next celebration: his own graduation party.

In 2014, Chad Knight (right) was a Challenger buddy with Dylan Curran. Dylan is now manager of the state champion Staples baseball team, and still plays with the Westport Winners.

We Are The Champions. And The Champions, Champions, Champions, Champions, Champions, Champions.

I don’t normally post “lineup” photos: people in a row, smiling at the camera.

And I hate running pictures where the heads are so small you can hardly see who’s who.

But it’s not every day a school has 7 state championship teams in one year.

So — in honor of today’s Town Hall reception for Staples High School’s field hockey, boys cross country, boys squash, boys tennis, girls tennis, boys volleyball, and baseball teams: Here you go!

(Photo/Chris Greer)

Sorry — I did not get left-to-right IDs for everyone.

Strike Up Another State Title For Staples!

The state baseball title is back in Westport.

For the 2nd time in 3 years, Staples won the class LL (extra large schools) title. The Wreckers shut out Southington today 3-0, in Middletown.

Staples pitcher Chad Knight — already drafted by the New York Yankees — was his usual commanding self. He struck out 10 Blue Devils, and gave up just 3 hits, in a commanding, complete game performance.

Pitcher Chad Knight celebrates the final out … (Photo copyright by Chris Greer)

Knight and 3 teammates — Harry Azadian, Drew Rogers and Charlie Roof — are no strangers to success. In 2013 they were part of the Westport team that reached the finals of the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

Two years ago — as sophomores — they starred on the Wreckers’ state champion team.

… and is quickly joined by his teammates. (Photo copyright by Chris Greer)

Today was the last time the longtime friends played together. How wonderful for them — and their teammates, head coach Jack McFarland and his staff, and the town of Westport — that they went out on top.

And — as they’ve done for the past 6 years — they did it again today with class, poise, and plenty of smiles.

The state champion Staples baseball team. The scoreboard behind them tells the story. (Photo copyright by Chris Greer)

Hail To The (State) Champions!

It’s tough to win a state championship.

It’s even tougher to repeat.

After going 26-0, and winning both the FCIAC and state class L (large schools) boys volleyball championship last spring, everyone was gunning to take down Staples.

Their route to back-to-back titles was complicated when head coach Dan Cho — who lived and worked far upstate — resigned.

Of course — this being high school sports — the Wreckers also had to replace graduating seniors. There were 9.

But new coach John Sedlock — and the new squad was up to the task.

Last night at Shelton High School, the Wreckers faced longtime rival Darien. The Blue Wave had beaten them twice this year — including the FCIAC finals.

This time, the Westporters got revenge. It took them 5 long, nail-biting sets. But — once again — Staples is state champs.

Staples’ state champion boys volleyball team … (Photo/Gayle Gabor and Tom Carstens)

That’s not all.

Coach Paco Fabian’s girls tennis team completed a perfect 24-0 season with a 5-2 win over Wilton, to earn the class L state title. Alyssa DiMaio went on to become the first Staples girls player to win the state open singles  crown.

The Wreckers are a very young squad, so the future looks bright indeed.

… and the state champion girls tennis team …

That’s not all.

Coach Kris Hrisovulos’ boys tennis team won the state championship too — for a remarkable 4th consecutive year. Robbie Daus and Tighe Brunetti then captured the state open doubles title.

… and boys tennis, also state champs.

That’s not all.

Senior Chet Ellis set a boys outdoor track state open meet record with a phenomenal high jump: 7 feet, 1/2 inch. Obviously, that’s a Wrecker record too.

That’s not all.

There’s a chance for one more state championship this spring at Staples. Tomorrow (Saturday, June 8, 12 p.m., Palmer Field, Middletown), the Wreckers plays Southington for the LL (extra large schools) baseball crown.

Chad Knight, meanwhile, was just picked — by the New York Yankees — in the 31st round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. You won’t see him in pinstripes any time soon, though: The Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year will continue his baseball career this fall at Duke University.

Congratulations, guys and girls! There’s only one thing left to say:

From Williamsport To Westport: Last Inning For Baseball Stars

Six years ago, 11 6th and 7th grade baseball players mesmerized Westport.

The youngsters battled their way through through local, state and regional competition. They won in blowouts, and in nail-biting fashion.

They kept winning — all the way to the Little League World Series finals, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

In 2013, Westport Little League All-Stars (front from left) Tatin Llamas, Chris Drbal and Chad Knight, plus Harry Azadian (rear) celebrated one of their many wins.

The dream ended in the championship game — on national TV — but they returned home to a heroes’ welcome.

It was a fantastic run. Unfortunately, too many times in youth sports, success at an early age is a recipe for disaster later on.

All that attention turns their heads. Other kids catch up — and surpass them. They discover other interests. Or they burn out.

Not every 12-year-old gets interviewed by ESPN. Harry Azadian did.

Thankfully, that is definitely not the case here.

Six years later, the Westport Little League All-Stars have become stars of the Staples High School baseball team.

Two years ago, they won the state LL (extra large schools) championship. This year, they’re battling for it again.

It’s a bittersweet time for them — and their parents. Four of the 11 players are seniors (the other 7 graduated last year). They’ve been together since they were 9 years old.

Soon — hopefully later rather than sooner, but in a single-elimination tournament, you never know — they will play their last game together.

Drew Rogers (7) and Chad Knight (27) celebrate. (Photo copyright Chris Greer)

It’s an especially emotional time for Tim Rogers. He was their head coach, from those 9-year-old days through Williamsport, then beyond in travel baseball.

He’s watched with pride — and helped immensely — as his son Drew, and fellow seniors Harry Azadian, Chad Knight, Charlie Roof, have grown as baseball players.

And grown up, from boys into young men.

Rogers is proud of many things. One is that they handled that Little League World Series experience so well. Despite the demands of the sport — and the media — they were still kids. They met other players from around the world. They hung out, and made friends. 

Enjoying the 2013 parade, in the streets of Williamsport.

Then they took that experience, and brought it into the rest of their lives far beyond Williamsport.

Rogers is also proud that they have continued to play — and love — baseball. No one burned out. No one quit. No one peaked as a 12-year-old.

He is proud that 2 years ago — when other All-Stars, including Matt Stone, Tatin Llamas, Max Popken, Chris Drbal and Alex Reiner were still playing together — Staples beat 4-time defending state champion Amity High 5-1, in the LL title game.

Four years after the Little League World Series: pure joy, as Staples stops 4-time defending champion Amity High in the state class LL final.

All along, Rogers says, “they’ve found a way to win. They’re deep as a team, but that winning mentality is something intangible.”

He’s proud that they have become leaders. His son, Azadian and Knight are captains of this year’s Wreckers. They’re passing their competitiveness and values on to the younger players.

Rogers is proud that the Little League World Series finalists remained poised and humble. Ever since Williamsport, whenever they’re interviewed, they’ve put baseball in perspective.

Rogers may be proudest though that the longtime teammates still love being together. Through all their success — and occasional disappointments — they’ve remained close friends.

Captains (from left) Drew Rogers, Chad Knight and Harry Azadian, with Staples coach Jack McFarland. (Photo copyright Chris Greer)

Staples’ Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference is a brutal league. The Wreckers have had to fight for what they’ve gotten, every year.

This spring, they finished with the best record. On Wednesday night they avenged a regular season defeat to Fairfield Ludlowe by winning the FCIAC championship in storybook fashion.

Jake D’Amico — one of those younger players — drove in the winning run. On a 3-2 pitch. With 2 outs. In the bottom of the last inning.

Knight pitched a complete game, giving up only 2 hits and striking out 5.

Chad Knight (center) jumps for joy, as the Wreckers race onto the field after their dramatic FCIAC title win. (Photo copyright Chris Greer)

The final quest — the state championship — starts Tuesday.

Graduations are always wonderful, and hard. For Rogers — who just turned 50, and saw his oldest son graduate from college — watching Drew and his baseball teammates march down the aisle, and out of high school, will be “one more step in my process,” he laughs.

So right now, he — and all the other parents, who have been together through so much and so long — are hoping the season lasts as long as it can.

So do the boys of so many summers.

The FCIAC champion 2019 Staples High School baseball team. (Photo copyright Chris Greer)

Tim Hayes: “Staples And Westport Made Me Who I Am”

Tim Hayes is a clinical psychologist in Syracuse. He got his undergraduate degree in 1982, and earned a Ph.D. at the State University of New York-Binghamton. He has not lived in Westport for decades (though his mother is still here).

But he often think of his hometown.

As the Staples High School Class of 1977 graduate and his wife begin to plan for retirement, he realizes that where he is today is a direct result of where he grew up. He believes he’d be a very different person even if he was raised in Fairfield or Norwalk.

Tim was born and raised in Greens Farms. “His” Westport was beautiful and idyllic. Within a 3-mile radius were the “wonderlands” of Burying Hill Beach (his “personal playground”), Long Lots Junior High, Staples, downtown Westport, and much more.

Tim Hayes’ Bombers went 19-1, and won the Westport Little League championship. He’s standing, 4th from right.

He put on his first Little League uniform, instantly transforming himself into “a new personality: a baseball player.” The program had a profound impact, from the coaching he received to playing at beautiful Gault Field, on the Saugatuck River.

He starred at Staples. Coach Brian Kelley called him the best player he’d seen since Bobby Valentine. Tim earned a full Division I scholarship to Kelley’s alma mater, Seton Hall University.

“My family could not afford college for me,” Tim says. “But baseball paid for my education. I believe Westport helped that to come about.”

Tim Hayes (#6) celebrates another Staples High School baseball win.

Growing up here, Tim says he was surrounded by wealthy and famous people. But they were regular folks. When Andy Jones encouraged Tim to skip school and go downtown, Paul Newman and Robert Redford walked by. “No one seemed to care,” Tim says. “That was great.”

His Staples classmates included Harry Reasoner’s daughter Ellen, and Linda Blair (star of “The Exorcist”).

Tim remembers Cindy Bigelow too. The other day, as he and his wife were grocery shopping, her huge photo promoted Bigelow Tea. Her parents bought her a new car for graduation. “That was not my middle class experience in Westport,” he says.

Tim calls Staples “a fabulous high school that I never fully appreciated. Going out into the world, I came to realize that many American high schools did not teach psychology or Latin — my 2 favorite subjects.”

Thanks to 2 long-ago psychology classes taught by Charles Burke, Tim Hayes found his life’s work.

“I write all of this to express my deep gratitude for my beloved hometown, Westport, and my beloved Staples High School,” he writes. “They made me who I am today.”

Staples High School English teacher Karl Decker took this photo of the Hayes siblings, which they gave to their parents for Christmas. From left: Tim’s older sister Kathy, Tim, his younger sister Theresa and his older brother Larry.