Tag Archives: Staples High School football

Roundup: Hillspoint Home, Compo Cove, Christian Soriano …

Old Mill Grocery opens soon.

But that’s not the only good news on Hillspoint Road.

The home diagonally across the street — where construction was halted 2 years ago, and which has since been sheathed, half-finished, in blue, due to permit violations — may soon be completed.

As first reported by Westport Journal, last night the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a settlement with the property owners. They can resume work, including removing a chimney and cupola.

The new home will replace a decades-long succession of restaurants, including Positano and Cafe de la Plage. Before that, it was a grocery store.

Construction halted at 233 Hillspoint Road. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

======================================================

Meanwhile, around the corner, 44 Compo Mill Cove — the 1910 home standing closest to Old Mill Beach, and possibly the most photographed house in Westport — has sold.

It and its companion, a newer cottage at #42, were marketed together. The closing price of $5.29 million was the same as the asking price. The new owners are longtime Westporters and Staples High School graduates Lance and Ann Lonergan.

44 Compo Cove (Matt Murray)

======================================================

Christian Siriano moved to Westport in 2020, during COVID.

It hasn’t taken him long to feel at home. Or get involved with the community.

Last night, a large crowd turned out for the opening of his new retail concept store. The Collective West is at 940 Post Road East, opposite Earth Animal. It features furniture, accessories and art.

It carries brands the designer curates, including furniture, accessories and art.

Among the brands: Swoon Gallery, Josh Levkoff jewelry, Irene Lummertz, Snif, Franny’s Farmacy, Blossom + Stem, and Bungalow Decor.

Christian Soriano, in The Collective West.

=======================================================

Westport’s own Melissa Newman highlights tomorrow’s Jazz at the Post (Thursday, July 14, 7 and 8:30 p.m., Joseph J. Clinton VFW Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue).

Nationally, Melissa sings jingles for companies like AT&T and Chevrolet, Locally, she’s performed at the Blue Lemon, Tengda and Harvest in Westport.

She’s joined by Tony Lmbardozzi, Phil Bowler and Matt Moadel. There’s a $10 cover. Dinner is served from 6:30 p.m., by chef Derek Furino. Reservations are strongly suggested: jazzatthepost@gmail.com.

=======================================================

Young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities are invited to a STAR dance party. It’s set for this Friday (July 15, 7 to 9 p.m., STAR headquarters, 182 Wolfpit Road, Norwalk).

Snacks and drinks are provided. There is a separate lounge area for parents and caregivers to meet and socialize, if they wish to remain while allowing the young adults to enjoy supervised independence on the dance floor.

The cost is $25 per person. There is complimentary entry for siblings and peer dance buddy volunteers.

Advance registration is required; click here. NOTE: Anyone ages 15-22 can volunteer as a peer buddy, with or without a sibling or past involvement with STAR.

==================================================

Just before COVID struck, John Németh highlighted a Supper & Soul concert at the Westport Library. It was one of the best, in the long-running series.

The musician has had some setbacks since then. He writes:

“I have a new album. I recorded it before my jaw amputation. It’s called ‘Maybe The Last Time,’ cause I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now if I will ever sing or play again like I used to. I have to say the magic of this performance is beyond this world and maybe the greatest of my life.

“I am asking for a little help from. Please pre-order this CD or digital download. I am currently not working and have some staggering bills. The legendary blues guitarist and pop icon Elvin Bishop (‘Fooled Around And Fell In Love’) and famed producer Kid Andersen wanted to cut an album for me before my surgery, knowing it could be the last time we ever make music again.

“You will receive immediately upon ordering the first single ‘Maybe The Last Time.’ I will email or mail the full record to you by September 16.  This is your order link.

“My surgery has been a success so far. I still do not have feeling in my jaw or lower lip.  I hope and pray that someday I will get back to 110 percent. Thank you for enjoying my music and performances.” (Hat tip: Michael Wolfe)

John Nemeth

=====================================================

Yesterday’s Westport Rotary Club luncheon meeting included an inspiring talk by Vince Santilli.

The CEO of Bridgeport-based Homes for the Brave told members and guests at Greens Farms Congregational Church about the organization’s success sheltering people in need — especially veterans — in Bridgeport and West Haven. HFTB also provides case management, vocational guidance and housing assistance for  homeless vets. The non-profit received a Westport Rotary Club Community Grant this year.

Vince Santilli addresses the Westport Rotary Club. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

=======================================================

It’s a tight turn, coming out from the Compo Shopping Center back lot. You squeeze past the Verizon store, stop (maybe), and if you’re going to turn left into the front lot, you face plenty of traffic.

What you, I or anyone else — except this extremely entitled driver — don’t do is to make the sharp turn even sharper, then hog 3 spaces directly in front of one store.

We may think we’ve seen everything, parking-wise. Then this driver reminds us we haven’t.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

PS: Yes, that’s a handicap sticker hanging from the rear view mirror. With 3 empty spaces right in front, that does not excuse this parking job.

=======================================================

Connecticut is offering a child tax rebate of $250 per child, up to a maximum of $750 per household.

Residents must apply for the check. The deadline is July 31. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Melissa Crouch Chang)

=======================================================

Longtime and much-loved Westport PAL coach Scott Turkel died yesterday. He was 64, and suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.

A graduate of American University, Scott spent the early part of his career as an equity trader at Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros. He then launched his own hedge fund, TCM Partners. Scott spent the latter part of his career working at Turkel Investments, where he made private investments and served as a management consultant to many businesses.

While he enjoyed helping investors and businesses achieve their goals, Scott most loved helping others and serving as a mentor to many in his community.  Exceptionally philanthropic, he contributed generously to charities and causes, including the Samara Jan Turkel Clinical Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, created in memory of his late daughter.

He also made lasting impacts as a longtime coach for the Westport PAL football program. Scott kept in touch with his players through the years, and developed close relationships with many of them and their families.

Scott is survived by his sons Max, Bryan and Spencer, and his soulmate of nearly 8 years, Alyssa Rapko.

Scott’s service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, July 14, 11 a.m., Beth Israel Chabad of Norwalk 40 King Street). The family will sit shiva on Thursday (5 p.m.), Friday (4 to 6 p.m.), Saturday (7 to 9 p.m.) and Sunday (4 to 7 p.m.) at 27 White Birch Road, Weston.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

Scott Terkel

=======================================================

Former Westporter Luigi Scaramuzzo died Sunday. He was 87.

Before immigrating from Italy to the United States, Luigi helped build Alps tunnels between Switzerland, France and Italy. Here, he worked for many years at Pepperidge Farm as a shipping clerk. He was an avid gardener and fisherman.

Survivors include his son Nicola of Norwalk, daughter Anna of Norwalk, and brother Pietro of Italy. Luigi was predeceased by his wife Teresa Scirocco-Scaramuzzo, brothers Giuseppe and Michele Scaramuzzo, and sister Giuseppina.

Tomorrow (Thursday, July 14, 10 a.m., Assumption Church) there is a Mass of Christian Burial. Entombment will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. Condolences may be left online. Contributions in Luigi’s memory may to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,

Luigi Scaramuzzo

================================================

John Prenderville Jr. writes:

“Locals are discussing the number of chicks in the osprey nest at Burying Hill Beach.

“These pictures say 2. I don’t think there are 3, but I thought there was only 1. So what do I know?!”

Here’s what I know: John’s photo is a fantastic addition to our daily “Westport … Naturally” series.

(Photo/John Prenderville Jr.)

=======================================================

And finally … the story about John Németh (above) sent me scurrying to learn more. He’s the real deal, as this video shows:

 

Matt Makovsky: Staples Football Star Tackles Music

At Staples High School, Matt Makovsky was a talented athlete. He captained the football team, and ran track. Sports helped get him into an Ivy League school.

He had other talents too. He played piano, drums and violin. He sang in the choir.

Still, the Class of 2001 graduate says, he was not really in touch with his artistic side. He hung out with “the popular kids” — the jocks.

Matt Makovsky, in the 2001 Staples High School yearbook …

“I didn’t know how to reconcile both parts of my life,” he notes with regret. “I wish I had that perspective back then.”

Nearly 20 years after his last football game, Makovsky still counts his University of Pennsylvania teammates among his closest friends. Sports gave him his identity.

“There’s a reason companies recruit athletes,” he says. “They can take on a lot. They’ve learned character.”

He misses the locker room. Plus, he says, “I was in great shape.”

But now — with a degree from Columbia Business School, and years as a successful entrepreneur — Makovsky has changed careers.

He wants to be a pop star.

Makovsky has spent a lot of time thinking about his high school years. “Things were more separate than they should have been,” he says of the Staples culture.

Speaking of himself and his classmates — in every realm — he says, “We didn’t truly embrace what  was special about what others did. I wish I had spent more time developing relationships in other areas besides sports.”

He pauses. “You only have so much wisdom at 16.”

Makovsky was as talented a musician as he was an athlete. Though he says he was the best violinist, he was not named concertmaster. Mariangela Lisanti practiced more.

She also won first place in both the Intel Science Talent Search an Siemens Competition. She’s done quite well, and is now a professor at Princeton. However, Makovsky says with amazement, “at Staples I got more recognition than she did.”

At Penn, he thought about joining an an elite a cappella group.

“They were sick!” he says with awe. “But I was singularly focused on football. We all ran together. We didn’t have time for other stuff.”

Now — after shifting gears — he does.

… and today.

A friend from the business world, Jared Feldman, had also been a star athlete in New Jersey. But he’d never let go of his artistic side. When he played some beats. Makovsky was intrigued.

He wrote some lyrics. The next morning, Feldman sent a “super-polished version” of Makovsky’s beat.

Feldman arranged some studio time. “As soon as I hard my voice, I was hooked,” Makovsky recalls.

He set up a home studio. He wrote songs.

Meanwhile, he continued working as CEO with Skylabs, an innovation firm.

“I’d get my teeth kicked in by a client,” he says. “Then I’d go home and write 2, 3 or 4 hours a night. It helped me in business. But I reached a breaking point.”

Calling himself “Mak,” he released one album.

His second — “Lucid Dream” — dropped a few weeks ago. The difference this time, he says, is producer Yonatan Watts. Makovsky formed a bond with the “operatic and hip hop singer/songwriter,” who has worked with Ariana Grande — a relationship as close as he has with his former football teammates.

Making music is “an intimate process,” Makovsky says. “Those moments when it gives you chills — you can’t buy that.”

“Lucid Dreams” already has 750,000 streams. Part of that is due to Makovsky’s marketing.

“I have resources a 17-year-old can’t have,” he says. “I’m applying my business and athletic mentality to being an artist. I want to win at this too.”

Makovsky thinks about his Staples days often.

“I wasn’t able to embrace all the parts of myself,” he says. “I didn’t have the maturity or understanding. Young people have evolved more, but at 16 you still don’t understand every part of you.”

“My culture in high school didn’t provide an environment to fully be myself. I don’t blame it. I wanted to be football captain more than concertmaster.

“But nothing beats being Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande. That’s a different stratosphere.”

Matt Makovsky, making music.

At Penn — where the Quakers set a 4-year Ivy League record for football success –Makovsky played in front of 40,000 fans. He recently did his first post-quarantine show, for an audience of 100.

But, he says, “the energy was great. There’s a connection between a performer and an audience. That kind of love is amazing. If you believe in what you do, that’s a game-changer.”

And now that he thinks about it, Makovsky realizes there are plenty of connections between sports and music.

Every locker room has a sound system. And, he says, “every athlete secretly wants to be a musician.”

Long ago, Makovsky’s mother told him, “Football will end. But music will always be part of your life.”

She was right.

So his message to today’s Staples students is the same one he’d give to his 16-year-old self: “Embrace who you are. Be open. Experiment. The more well-rounded you can be, the more full person you’ll become.”

(Click here for Matt Makovsky’s Spotify link.)

Unsung Hero #210

Stephanie Mastocciolo writes:

My 13-year-old daughter attended the Staples High School football game last Friday night with a group of friends. It was her first time attending such a large fun community event on her own. She looked forward to being with her friends, while supporting our awesome team.

Unfortunately, near the end of the game she lost her wallet, with $15 cash. She  only noticed as her carpool ride was picking her up.

I was at home waiting for her when my phone rang. A young voice proceeded to ask if I had lost my wallet at the game. I quickly texted my daughter to ask her, since I was unaware.

The young voice said there was a business card with this phone number, and they hoped to find the wallet’s owner. My daughter has a small dog sitting service called  “Bianca’s Buddies,” and her business card has my cell phone.

I didn’t get the name of the young adult who was kind enough to say they would leave the wallet hidden at the scoreboard. But I want to commend this young individual for reaching out and trying to find the rightful owner.

When my daughter and I went to retrieve it, everything was inside — including the $15 cash. Thank you, kind young Westporter, for doing the right thing — and for taking a moment out of your Friday night to show us that good deeds and trustworthy individuals still exist.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Scarice Offers Update On Cheshire Football Game Bias Allegations

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice provides this update on allegations of antisemitism and racism at last Friday’s Staples High School football game, at Cheshire High: 

As the community is aware, there were allegations made on social media Friday evening including: antisemitic and racist comments made in the stands, the presence of a Confederate flag, and the waving of an Israeli flag. Since that time,  the voices of individual students throughout this investigation have given us a clearer picture of events and a constructive plan to move forward.

School administrators and law enforcement from both Cheshire and Westport immediately commenced investigations. From the outset the Anti-Defamation League, through Connecticut Regional Director Steve Ginsburg, offered and provided their support to both communities.

Over the past 5 days the town’s respective athletic directors, high school principals, first selectmen and police chiefs communicated directly with each other. I have spoken to the Cheshire Superintendent nearly every day since Friday.

The Cheshire Public Schools administration and police departments have shared their findings with our administration as a result of their interviews with eyewitnesses, including the 2 students who brought the Israeli flag to the game. Seven Staples cheer team students were interviewed by Staples principal Stafford Thomas, as well as a student of color who was the recipient of disgusting racial slurs via social media.

Screen shot of the Israeli flag, in the Cheshire High School student section. It was later removed.

Along with Chief Foti Koskinas, First Selectman Jim Marpe and Steve Ginsburg, I had the opportunity to meet with Westport area rabbis and Jewish communal leaders on Monday, as well as a group of Westport community Black leaders yesterday. This proved to be critically important, as Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue followed up by speaking directly to Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Scolnic of Temple Beth Shalom in Hamden, who knows the students who brought and waved the Israeli flag.

Finally, the time between last Friday night and today provided Westport community members the opportunity to share any eyewitness accounts, as well as their thoughts and concerns.

From the beginning, the Westport Public Schools fully committed to finishing our investigation by speaking with every student or community member personally impacted by these events. The process was thorough and comprehensive. I am confident that we have clarity on what happened Friday night, as well as a constructive plan to move forward.

An Israeli flag was waved throughout much of the game Friday night by 2 Cheshire students, particularly when Cheshire scored or Staples committed a penalty. After halftime, members of our cheer team approached the Cheshire Police to ask that the Israeli flag be taken down. Although the Cheshire Police and administration confirm they directed the students to take the flag down, there are Staples student reports of the flag waving later in the game.

After the game the social media account, “Wreckers SuperFans,” and the Staples cheer team, posted an image on Instagram of the Israeli flag waving in the Cheshire student section with a message about anti-Semitic and racist remarks and insulting chants throughout the game, as well as the waving of the Confederate flag.

Staples Superfans waved a banner in 2018.

Both school administrations confirmed that chants of “Daddy’s money” were directed at Staples students and players.  This was not done in unison with the waving of the Israeli flag. Racist or antisemitic chants were not corroborated.  There is no corroboration of the presence or sighting of a Confederate flag.

The Staples and Cheshire “SuperFans” respectfully communicated late Friday evening through social media, and the “Wreckers SuperFans” took down the post following that discussion.  The cheer team post was taken down following a communication with the Staples cheer coach.

Saturday morning, a Staples student of color who was not at the game posted a comment on a friend’s Instagram responding to the earlier post about the game.  He posted, “The audacity.” What transpired in response was a series of horrific and unspeakable racial slurs directed towards this Staples student. The source of the slurs was an untraceable “burner” account, which is a social media account used to post anonymously to avoid having posts traced. This is most disturbing, and we offered to provide support for this student.

In the investigation, the Cheshire administration shared that the 2 students who waved the Israeli flag are Jewish. and that they brought the flag to the game because it was a school spirit “Red, White & Blue Nite” in the student section. In response to doubts about this claim, in my meeting with the Westport area rabbis and Jewish communal leaders on Monday, Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue offered to speak directly to the Rabbi of Temple Beth David in Cheshire to offer his services in resolving this matter.

Rabbi Wiederhorn was referred to Temple Beth Shalom in Hamden, where the 2 boys worship, and spoke directly to Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Scolnic. Rabbi Scolnic shared that he has known the boys their entire lives, that he knows them very well, that they are not mean-spirited,  and that they are very proud Jews. Rabbi Scolnic is completely confident that there was no malice or antisemitism intended, and that unfortunately these accusations have mischaracterized the 2 boys.

Based on feedback from the Cheshire administration, the Cheshire police department, the Westport area rabbis and Jewish communal leaders, Rabbi Scolnic, and our partners with the ADL, I have no reason to question these conclusions.

High school sporting events can be raucous and intense. The school spirit from these events can be palpable. However, for visiting teams, these types of events can be intimidating. Traditionally in high school sports, the goal of the fan section is to vigorously cheer for the home team, while at times taunting and making the visiting team uncomfortable.

Some members of our community have questioned the intent of the waving of the Israeli flag. In fairness, our Staples athletes and fans have experienced antisemitism at athletic events in the past. Westport has a considerable Jewish community, and approximately one-third of the cheer team is Jewish.

The waving of the Israeli flag at a high school sporting event played against a town with a considerable Jewish population is peculiar. It is not necessarily right or wrong, but in my 25+ years in education, I have never witnessed the Israeli flag, or any other national flag except the U.S. flag, waved at a high school sports event.

The series of events, the history of antisemitism directed towards our students, the peculiarity of the waving of the Israeli flag at a football game, along with the intensity of the night, contributed to a considerable sense of threat on the part of Staples students. It is critically important to affirm the impact of the night on our students and to support them as we constructively move forward, and to meaningfully learn from these events.

Again, I have no reason to question the conclusions of the Cheshire administration, the Cheshire police department, the Westport area rabbis and Jewish communal leaders, Rabbi Scolnic of Temple Beth Shalom, and our partners with the ADL.

However, it is important to note again that heinous, racist, untraceable messages were indeed sent through social media to a Staples student of color in the aftermath of this game. These messages have been turned over to the police, and we will continue to offer support to this student.

In discussions with Cheshire Superintendent Dr. Jeff Solan, and with valuable feedback from the Staples cheer team parents and Connecticut Regional Director of the ADL Steve Ginsburg, Dr. Solan and I will offer an invitation to the Cheshire and Staples students involved to convene, facilitated by the ADL, so that amends can be made and appropriate closure can be provided to both groups of students. In dealing with young adults, there are opportunities for learning experiences in events such as these.

Finally, we invite all of the students involved to participate together in the “Walk Against Hate” on October 10 in Hartford.

The administration is committed to encouraging and supporting students who come forward with concerns about how they, or others, are treated.  Going forward, the district will clarify the reporting process for students with concerns at athletic events and extracurricular activities.

Again, it is critical that the community understands the level of transparency and thoroughness that we have taken to address this matter. We remain committed to fighting antisemitism and racism in any form.

Scarice Updates Community On Alleged Bias Incidents

Last night, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice provided an update on Friday’s allegations of antisemitic and racist behavior in Cheshire, at the Staples High School football game. He wrote:

As the community is aware, there were allegations made on social media Friday evening, including: antisemitic and racist comments made in the stands, the presence of a Confederate flag, and the waving of an Israeli flag. School administrators and law enforcement from both Cheshire and Westport immediately commenced investigations.

Because of the rise in reports of antisemitic and racist incidents, we also immediately sought input from the Anti-Defamation League office in Connecticut. ADL works with schools and law enforcement to help ensure incidents are addressed appropriately.

The Cheshire Public Schools administration and the Cheshire Police Department have been  most collaborative and in constant communication with our administration and police department, sharing information and supporting each other’s investigation.  We are most grateful for this cooperation.

Today, we were informed by Cheshire Superintendent Jeff Solan and Chief of Police Neil Dryfe that their investigation has determined that the Israeli flag was not intended to intimidate Jewish people or motivated by antisemitism. Police reports indicate that the students who brought and waved the flag are Jewish, and have shared that they brought the flag to the game because it was a school spirit “Red, White & Blue Nite” in the student section.

Screen shot of the Israeli flag, in the Cheshire High School student section. It was later removed. (Photo/Jenny Bradshaw for Inklings)

At this point in the ongoing investigation — which includes the review of photos, video, and interviews with numerous students, staff, and police officers – there is no corroborating evidence to substantiate the presence of a Confederate flag.

Additionally, we were informed by the Cheshire Superintendent and Police Chief  that when Staples High School cheerleaders observed students in the stands waving an Israeli flag, and made a complaint to a Cheshire police officer, the officer informed the Cheshire High School administration and an administrator directed the students holding the Israeli flag to put it away. Fortunately the use of police body cams have confirmed this finding.

That said, the Westport Public Schools is fully committed to finishing our investigation by speaking with every student or community member personally impacted by these events. We will listen to each first person eyewitness account of these events and will reserve actions before concluding our investigation. Receiving this information from our Cheshire colleagues is helpful, yet we must fulfill our obligations to listen to each and every account. The administration will continue these efforts and provide ongoing updates to the community.

It is critical that the community understands the level of transparency and thoroughness that we have taken.

The Westport Public Schools and ADL, along with the Cheshire Public Schools, remain committed to fighting antisemitism and racism in any form and remain united in that effort. School administrators will be available to discuss this situation with any students who wish to do so. We are continuing to gather facts from eyewitnesses, so please allow us the time needed to fully assess what occurred and determine the appropriate response. Please contact us if you have relevant information.

Scarice Addresses Allegations Of Antisemitism, Racism

Social media exploded last night, with allegations of antisemitic and racist behavior by Cheshire High School students at last night’s football game against Staples.

Images of an Israeli flag, and charges of racist chants, were shared widely. Host Cheshire defeated the visiting Wreckers in a non-league game, 42-14.

This morning, Westport Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice promised to investigate fully, and take action if necessary. At the same time, he urged caution and no rush to judgment, until all the facts are clear.

Scarice said:

“Late last night I was made aware of a number of social media posts alleging antisemitic and racist actions and comments directed towards Staples players and students during the Staples/Cheshire High School football game in Cheshire. I want to assure the community that any allegations such as these are taken with the utmost seriousness.

“I’d like to share some of the steps we’ve already taken. I received a message from the Cheshire Superintendent at 11:40pm last night, and he assured me that the district and Cheshire law enforcement are investigating this matter. We will continue to communicate until we have reached a resolution.

“I have spoken to Stafford Thomas, Staples principal, and Marty Lisevick, Staples athletic director, and they will speak with each and every Staples student or adult who has factual information about this matter.  “First Selectman Jim Marpe and I spoke this morning, and it is confirmed that our police chief, Foti Koskinas, will be in contact  with the Cheshire police chief.

“Perhaps most helpful in addressing this matter is the instant support that I received from the Director of the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, Steve Ginsburg. Steve has already spoken with me and Chief Koskinas, and to representatives from Cheshire, including their superintendent and police chief. We are all committed to cooperating, investigating, and addressing this matter.

“This incident was brought to light by some damning images and posts on social media. Given the volatility of social media, I caution all members of the community to take a measured approach in addressing matters such as these. It is necessary for the school administrations, and police departments when necessary, to gather facts before taking punitive action. If we confirm acts of anti-Semitism or race-based hate, we will assertively act. If there are misunderstandings, we will work together to learn from these events.

“Our  school administration will continue its investigation and follow up at the end of the day on Monday. If you were present at the game and have  information of any acts of antisemitism or race-based hate, please contact the Staples administration.”

Unsung Hero #207

Scott Turkel raised his children in Weston. But to hundreds of Westport youngsters, he’s their beloved PAL football coach.

Michelle Titlebaum’s son Benji is a Staples High School senior. He started his career on Scott’s 3rd grade team.

His classmates — who knocked off Trumbull last Friday, with a thrilling last-minute interception — are a tight bunch. They’ve been inspired by Scott, who coached them for 2 years. He then spent the next several years coming to all their games — in plenty of sports besides football, too.

Scott Turkel, with a Westport PAL youth team.

His former players always hug him. They’ll do the same this Friday (September 17). Scott will be honored at 7 p.m., before the Wreckers’ home game against St. Joseph.

He’s had health issues. But he’ll be uplifted when he sees his former players again.

They’ll have a special gift for him. Back in 3rd grade, Scott gave his players bricks, as motivational gifts. Most of those players still have theirs.

This time, they’ll give them back to Scott. No matter what the score that night, they — and he — are winners.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Scott Turkel last month, at the wedding of a former player’s sister.

 

 

Roundup: Wildfires, Ice Cream Parlor, Staples Sports …

======================================================

Westport Fire Department chief Robert Yost has returned from a 2-week national assignment, supporting wildland firefighters in Minnesota.

He calls this “an incredible training opportunity in large-scale incident management. Connecticut is not immune to a wildfire or large-scale natural disaster. We need to be just as prepared as our western counterparts. As the fires continue to burn, please keep all the firefighters out on assignment nationwide in your thoughts and prayers.”

When Yost arrived, the Greenwood Fire was 6,000 acres and 0% percent. During his deployment it grew to 26,000 acres, directly threatening the town of Isabella.

Yost was the medical unit leader trainee responsible for the entire incident, along with 7 fire line medics, 2 medical ATVs and 2 incident ambulances.

Chief Robert Yost at Greenwood Fire briefing.

=======================================================

Yesterday’s “Unsung Hero” story highlighted a Saugatuck Elementary School custodian, hard at work cleaning drains after Hurricane Ida.

Now we can put a name to his dedication. He’s Al Orozco, head custodian at SES. As several readers — and staff members — noted, he is a gem. And well deserving of his Unsung honor.

=======================================================

Butzi Moffitt — who as Butsy Beach owned the original ice cream parlor on Main Street in the 1950s — stopped in to Cold Fusion on Tuesday. The new gelato shop is just a few doors down from the first Ice Cream Parlor (where Brandy Melville is now).

Butzi — 93 years young — brought owners Eric and Kelly Emmert an original menu from 1954.

Bitzi Moffett shows Eric Emmert an original Ice Cream Parlor menu.

The menu.

Butzi — who also owned clothing stores on Main Street — was joined at Cold Fusion by her daughter Maggie Moffitt Rahe, a teacher at Coleytown Elementary School. Butzi also brought a photo of herself, outside the first shop.

From left: Amy Greene, and Bob and Butzi Beach, owners of the Ice Cream Parlor.

======================================================

The Staples football team’s home opener is tomorrow (7 p.m.). It should be a great game — the opponent is former coach Marce Petroccio’s Trumbull High — and getting tickets has never been easier.

Click here to purchase online; then have your phone ready to show at the gate. You can also click on the QR code below:

You can make Friday a Staples sports doubleheader, too. At 4 p.m., the boys soccer team hosts Ridgefield, in their 2021 season opener. Admission is free!

Reese Watkins, for the Wreckers. (Photo/Brian Watkins)

=====================================================

The Westport Artists Collective’s pop-up shows pop up regularly. They’re eclectic, inspiring — and fun.

The next one runs from Wednesday, September 15 through Sunday, September 19 (2 to 6 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse). There’s an artists’ talk that final Sunday, at 3 p.m.

Like any pop-up, it will pop down quickly. Be sure to get there before it goes!

=======================================================

Westport-based Fairfield County Writers’ Studio’s fall classes will be held via Zoom — at least for now.

There are some intriguing ones. Topics include Writing for Children; LGBTQ+ Workshop; Writing Your Memoir; Creative Writing; Novel Writing, and Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror.

Click here for details, and registration information.

=======================================================

Among all our woodland creatures, we tend to overlook squirrels. They’re the Muzak of our backyard lives.

But Jamie Walsh captured this intriguing shot, reminding us to not overlook every living thing in our “Westport … Naturally” world.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

=======================================================

And finally … today is September 9 — 9/9. Which means, of course:

 

 

 

[OPINION] Filled With Gratitude

A Westport woman who requests anonymity writes:

As I ran today past Longshore and Compo Beach, I was filled with gratitude. Not just for our town’s stunning beauty and incredible wealth of resources, but for the optimistically scrappy people who make a transformational difference one person at a time.

Staples High School coach Matty Jacowleff inspires the kind of compassionate trust that made our eldest son feel comfortable reaching out this winter when he was struggling to find academic motivation.

It was off season. But Coach Matty reached back immediately, normalized the anxiety, and with his signature contagious enthusiasm set up an accountability partnership where they’d check in with each other daily. Who does this? Coach Matty does.

Several years ago, our youngest son struggled with lacrosse. His skills were not up to those of his peers. He had trouble focusing, didn’t really get game IQ and felt poorly about himself. He decided lacrosse was not his sport.

Westport PAL Lacrosse board member Dan Clark told him he thought he should stick with it. He put him on his team – a team built around love of sport and camaraderie.

Dan champions the underdogs. He makes sure they aren’t overlooked. Three years later, our son is thriving. He has learned resilience without sacrificing self-worth. Working hard and having fun are not mutually exclusive, and compassion trumps winning hands down.

These are just 2 of the countless people who quietly make a ginormous difference in our children’s lives. They do it because it is what they believe – who they are. Lucky us.

Thank you,
One of the many grateful moms in our incredible town

Coming Soon: Paul Lane Field?

The Staples High School soccer field honors Albie Loeffler. The field hockey turf next to it is named for Jinny Parker. Last month, the track was dedicated to Laddie Lawrence.

What’s missing?

Paul Lane.

If a group of former athletes and fans have their way, the football field will soon bear a new name.

That would be fitting. Lane — now 93 — was not only the Wreckers’ longtime football coach. He also headed the track program. In the 1960s, one of his runners was a young Laddie Lawrence.

Paul Lane, by the Staples High School football trophy case.

A petition circulating throughout town says:

Paul Lane has served his community for as long as he has been alive.

His leadership, skills and determination has demonstrated that the dreams and abilities he has instilled on others, ripple through the world.

We have many coaches in our town, but no one other then Paul Lane is called, “Coach.” Paul Lane is a patriarch of coaches, the father of Staples High School sports, who laid the rails for Wreckers football and it’s legacy of success known throughout the Northeast.

The Staples High School football field may soon be named for Paul Lane.

Paul Lane’s biggest win was against Stamford Catholic High School in 1967, beating them 8-0 and crushing their 30 game winning streak.

Paul Lane not only served this community by being a coach and second father to many of his athletes, but also served his country in the Korean War, stationed in Germany.

Football wasn’t the only sport he coached and won state championships in, Paul Lane also coached Staples Boys Track and Staples Girl’s Golf teams.

30 years of coaching, Paul Lane would later on coach American Football in England and Italy.

Coach Paul Lane can be found everyday at his home on Soundview where he has been for decades, surrounded by his four children, ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Paul Lane is staple to Staples and this community and should be honored with his name, added to the Fifth Lane of the track as proposed by Laddie Lawrence who was coached by Paul Lane too.

The petition can be signed here. It will be presented to the Board of Education at this Monday’s meeting. It would go next to the Representative Town Meeting.