“06880” seldom covers sports. There are way too many leagues, teams and games. Besides, newspaper sports sections, and plenty of websites, already do a good job of this.*
But “0688o” is also about people — and “the story behind the story.” So when the Staples High School football team recently named 2 new awards after legendary adults, my ears perked up.
And when I heard who the first honorees were, I knew this was “06880”-worthy.
The Coach Paul Lane Award goes to a senior who displays “the highest levels of positive energy and an unbreakable positive spirit.”
Lane served as head football coach from 1962 to ’86. His teams won the 1975 FCIAC championship and 2 FCIAC titles, and in 1967 ended Stamford Catholic’s 30-game winning streak. After retiring, Lane coached professionally in Italy and England.
Lane also coached Staples track and girls golf — and won a state crown in both. As in football, he led by quiet example.
The recipient of the Paul Lane Award is Adam Petro. A football player since 3rd grade, and last year’s leading receiver, this year he suffered a career-ending ACL injury during preseason practice.
Gridiron Club president Jim Adrian says that Adam “embraced the reality that sometimes life deals you bad breaks, and unlucky consequences beyond your control.” Yet he always encouraged his teammates from the sideline. He “never let the positive energy or pride for his teammates wane.”
The Dan DeVito Community Citizenship Award is presented to a senior player who consistently exemplifies commitment to the team over self, has strong character and leadership, and benefits the program, school and community.
DeVito — who had a long career with Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department — helped reestablish Staples’ Gridiron Club in 1994, and served as president and chairman for over 20 years.
He helped create the Wreckers Wall of Fame, chaired the Field of Dreams turf field project, and led a long campaign to install lights at Staples. He has also coached youth football, basketball and baseball.
Dylan Curran received the Dan DeVito Award. Despite disabilities, Dylan was an integral part of the Staples football program. Starting freshman year he was on the sidelines at every practice, every bus ride, every game, every team event.
Adrian said, “Dylan’s passion lifted up his teammates.” He always brought “contagious energy to the team.”
Both awards were presented at the annual banquet, held earlier this month at Giovanni’s in Darien.
* And I say this as the head coach of the Staples High School boys soccer program, which really deserves tons of publicity.