In 1964, coach Jinny Parker’s 440 relay team– Joy Wassell, Mary Gail Horelick, Susan Tefft and Donna Jackson — set a national record: 53.7 seconds.
They were all Staples High School students. But they were a club team, not a varsity sport. Back then, the only official track team was for boys.
Girls had just 3 interscholastic options: field hockey in fall, basketball in winter (6-vs.-6; 3 players on each side of the court, to minimize running and sweating), softball in the spring.
Staples’ 1954-55 girls basketball team.
That’s ancient history, it seems. Today, Staples fields more girls teams than boys. Many — including soccer and field hockey — are perennial state title contenders. They draw large crowds, including proud fathers and young girls who aspire to one day be Wreckers themselves.
Staples’ girls soccer team is the defending state champion. (Photo/JC Martin)
But the growth of girls sports is relatively new. It was kick-started exactly 50 years ago — on June 23, 1972 — when President Nixon signed into law Title IX.*
The federal civil rights statute — really, just 37 words tucked inside much broader education legislation — prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives funding from the federal government.
(Interestingly, the words “sports,” “athletics” and “physical education” appear nowhere in the text.)
In 1970-71, coach Marianne Harrison’s girls basketball team played its first official FCIAC season. The rules had changed the previous year to be similar to the boys game — but they still wore bloomers.
Girls sports have evolved enormously over 5 decades. Staples now offers 19 interscholastic sports for girls, 18 for boys. Sailing is co-ed.
(Wrestling is listed as a boys sport, and competitive and sideline cheerleading for girls. Both genders are eligible to try out for those teams, though the number is small.)
There are nearly 2,000 students at Staples, in grades 9 through 12. More than half — 1,018 — played at least one interscholastic sport this year, at the varsity, junior varsity or reserve level.
There are more male athletes (573) than female (445). But that’s a lot more than the few dozen girls who competed when Title IX was enacted.
Staples’ Marisa Shorrock and a Greenwich High player fight for a loose ball in 2020. Coach Paco Fabian’s team had just won their state quarterfinal game, and were favorites to win the state title, when COVID ended the season.
So, “06880” wants to know: How has Title IX impacted your sports life?
Women: What opportunities has it offered you — or what did you miss?
Girls: Are there any differences between your sports experiences today, and those of your brothers and male friends?
Men: Are your daughters’ athletic careers any different from your sisters’, female friends — or mothers’?
Tell us your stories! Click “Comments” below.
And then raise a stein to Title IX.
You’ve come a long way, baby.
*The Watergate break-in took place on June 17, 1972 — just 6 days earlier. Less than a week separated one of the highs of President Nixon’s administration, and one of its lows.
Staples had very few girls sports before Title IX. But in the 1930s, they did have a girls rifle team. (The boys had one too.) This 1936 yearbook photo, with coach Walter Stevenson, called them “Annie Oakleys.”
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Yesterday’s 4th Westport Public Schools’ vaccine clinic was another success.
Hundreds of educators — along with their colleagues in Weston and Easton — have now received their 2nd COVID dose.
Yesterday’s event in the Staples High School fieldhouse was an “all in the family” affair. In the photo below, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice receives his injection from Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician Ben Frimmer.
Frimmer’s name may sound familiar. That’s because his day job is theater teacher and drama director at Coleytown Middle School.
Speaking of education: Eric Lawrence is the Connecticut PTA Outstanding Elementary School Teacher of the Year. The 18-year veteran is a technology instructor. Right now he also teaches 4th grade distance learning.
Yesterday, his Saugatuck Elementary School community came together to celebrate.
A parent said: “Mr. Lawrence, you have always been a truly outstanding teacher here at Saugatuck. But as we all know when we face really difficult times, the absolute best can come out in people.
“Many of us thought we could never express how much SSN (Saugatuck Seal News) meant to us from the early days of the shutdown through this year, but we hope we can express it now. The response to your nomination for this honor was overwhelming.”
She then presented him with a binder filled with letters from colleagues, parents, and leaders in the Cub Scout community, where his leadership also made a great impact.
Mr. Lawrence will be honored at a virtual celebration May 5.
You know that old mattress or box spring you’ve always meant to get rid of?
Now — well, on Saturday, May 8 (8:30 to 11 a.m.) — you can.
Earthplace hosts a free mattress recycling drop-off event. It’s sponsored by the Mattress Recycling Council, and they know what they’re doing. Each year they recycle more than 190,000 mattresses — and that’s in Connecticut.
They’re not only diverted from the waste stream. They’re used to make other products, from carpet padding and insulation to filters and mulch.
Can’t transport your mattress to Earthplace on May 8? Boy Scout Troop 36 offers free same-day pickup. Spots are limited; click here to sign up.
If you miss this event, you can bring your mattress or box spring to Park City Green in Bridgeport, a non-profit that recycles mattresses. Call for hours of operation and drop-off instructions: 203-212-3860 or 203-209-6915.
GE’s former CEO talks virtually on Thursday, April 22 (7 p.m.) about his 16 years at the helm. The Westport Library program is hosted by Westporter Steve Parrish.
Immelt’s first day on the job was September 10, 2001 — 24 hours before 9/11. His new book Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company details his proudest moments — and missteps — at the helm of the global giant.
The Westport Country Playhouse internship program began in 1946. Four years later, 19-year-old Stephen Sondheim spent the summer at the already-famous stage.
The program — now named for longtime Playhouse benefactor Joanne Woodward — continues this summer.
Interns will join the development, education and marketing teams, from June 7 to August 13. They’ll work directly with Playhouse staff, gain practical skills, and hear guest speakers including visiting designers and artists, commercial producers and more.
With a virtual season, the internships are also virtual this year. There are limited in-person requirements, based on department needs.
Application deadline is April 21. Click here for more information.
Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).
The Westport Weston Family YMCA has added over 150 live classes a week, and hundreds more on demand. They include cardio, endurance, strength, bodywork, dance, mind/body, seniors, adaptive, kids and family.
They’re all virtual of course — but available through a collaboration with 29 Y’s across Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
You must be a YMCA member, of course. For details on the “Y Wellness 24/7” program, click here.
Congratulations to Staples High School basketball co-captain Nicole Holmes. The senior was one of only 4 FCIAC players — and 10 overall — named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State team, in the “LL” (extra large schools division).
Holmes helped lead the Wreckers to a sparkling 13-3 record this winter.
Nicole Holmes (Photo courtesy of The Ruden Report)
And finally … on this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. That was the effective end of the Civil War, though skirmishes continued for several weeks.
I get over 250 emails a day. I’m pretty good at separating the real “06880” readers from the fakes, frauds and grifters.
But the “free piano” story I posted yesterday is — despite its perfect grammar and syntax — probably a scam. A reader warned me that he’d heard the same story.
I Googled “piano sale fraud,” and found this, from a music educators’ website:
I wanted CEOMTA to be aware of a recent iteration of the “free” piano scam. One of our members received an unsolicited email from someone claiming to be an elderly woman who was downsizing and looking to give away her late husband’s piano to a loving home.
The piano was a Yamaha baby grand. The email came from a legitimate sounding Gmail account and included several pictures. The teacher did have an interested student, so the student made contact and arranged the delivery with a moving company they were referred to.
However, the moving company was a fake. Although they sent a convincing invoice that included details like the size and weight of the piano, the parents realized after payment that the invoice had a different name than the company they were originally referred to.
After being contacted again regarding the discrepancy, the moving company immediately took down their website and the family were unable to get back the money they had already sent. The original email said that she got the teacher’s name from a friend in her piano teacher’s association, so please be careful if you are contacted with a similar sounding situation.
So, if you contacted “Charles Webb”: I hope you did not get into any financial transaction with “him.” If you did: cancel immediately. My profuse apologies!
The 2003 Staples High School graduate owns the Readiness Collective — an emergency training club and outfitter. He’s had a pop-up shop in Bedford Square.
Now he’s offering a special Civilian Medical Course. The material — which includes Basic Life Support and Tactical Combat Casualty Care national certifications — adapts combat life-saving techniques to everyday emergencies.
Two US Army Special Forces medics, a Special Ops surgical team leader and a flight nurse will prepare people with the skills and confidence to provide medical care to themselves and their families, in the critical time before first responders arrive.
Hiking accident? Car crash? Active shooter scenario? Whatever you worry about: Be prepared.
The course runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 5, 6 and 7 at the Readiness Collective in Norwalk’s SoNo Collection. Click here to register.
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.
Marisa Shorrock is a senior at Staples High School, and a captain of the basketball team. On Monday night, the Wreckers — ranked #1 in the state, and nearing the end of their best season in decades — defeated Glastonbury to advance to the state tournament semifinals.
Just hours later, they received devastating news: The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled the state tourney. Just like that, the season — with its dream of a title, a capstone to years of goal-setting, hard work, and playing together — was over.
Marisa — who was also a goalie on the soccer team, and will play lacrosse this spring (if there are high school sports) — wrote powerfully about the intense emotions she and her teammates felt after the cancellation. (The Staples boys team was also affected: After their best season in many years, they were eager to begin their own state tournament quest. It ended 6 hours before the opening tip-off.)
Her piece was published yesterday in The Ruden Report — the go-to platform for local high school sports, run by Staples grad Dave Ruden. It appeared yesterday morning, just hours before the Westport Public Schools announced they were closing for the foreseeable future. Marisa wrote:
As a kid, I had always dreamed of that one “great moment.”
I dreamed that I was scoring the World Cup winning goal when I practiced my penalty kicks on the “big girl” nets outside of school. I dreamed of making the buzzer-beater basket in the WNBA Finals when I counted down “3..2..1..” while trying to sink the craziest shot I could make up on the spot.
The “crowd” would go crazy. I would be running around, hands reached out to the sky, cheering at the top of my lungs.
Marisa Shorrock in action against Norwalk High earlier this year. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)
One day. That’s what I would tell myself. One day I would have my own great moment.
As I got older, I realized that great moments don’t just happen, you have to work for them. Hard. You work through school breaks and race to practice right after the final bell rings. Your muscles always ache and bruises seem to pop up in a new place on your body every day. Injuries will come and go, but you will always work your way back.
You never give up, because you know that no matter the blood, sweat, and tears that you have shed for this sport, the reward at the end will always be worth it.
But what if that reward was just stripped away? Without warning.
Marisa Shorrock battles Greenwich, in the FCIAC tournament last month. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)
I woke up yesterday [Tuesday] morning, coming off the high of a win that marked my team’s advancement into the state semifinal round, to find out that my season was over. My whole entire basketball career was done. Finished. While the CIAC will be back next year, I, and all of my fellow seniors, will not.
It took a while for the reality of the situation to fully sink in. It was like my brain couldn’t physically processes the information. How could I go from playing in front of a hundred fans to not being allowed to step foot on the court with my thirteen teammates, all in the span of less than twenty-four hours?
There would be no state tournament. No title. No celebration. No great moment. There wouldn’t even be the opportunity to lose.
When my team lost the FCIAC finals in double overtime, the core-shattering devastation felt like an out-of-body experience. I thought that I would never feel anything worse than the emotions I felt after that game. I was wrong.
Marisa Shorrock’s teammates included (from left) Nicole Holmes, Kat Cozzi and Abby Carter. They pressured Glastonbury High’s Charlotte Bassett Monday night, in what turned out to be the Wreckers’ last game of the season. (Photo/Mark Conrad for The Ruden Report)
Although I absolutely hate losing, nothing is worse than not even being able to compete. There’s no closure. It’s unsettling.
The title was right there. Two more games. Just over an hour of play time. That’s all we needed. I know that we were not guaranteed to make it to the finals and we might not have pulled off the magical finish I had always dreamed about; however, after all of the hard work and fighting through adversity, not even having the opportunity to compete was heartbreaking.
I understand that with a global health pandemic decisions need to be made. However, how is it that I am still attending a 1,900 person school every day? How is it that the same day the tournament was cancelled, my 10th grade brother was allowed to play rec basketball at Staples with hundreds of other boys and referees? When the rules don’t make any sense, that’s when I begin to question the decisions being made.
Tomorrow marks my 18th birthday, the day before what would have been Staples’ first semifinal basketball game in 25 years. Instead of spending the night as the kid that would always dream about the endless possibilities, I am left contemplating the harsh reality as I enter the adult world. There will always be a new decision to be made. There will always be controversy. The world’s not fair, but soon I, and hopefully all of my fellow seniors, will learn to accept the outcome and continue to dream for those great moments.
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