Friday, December 31, 2010


Two men came to me with a dream.

It seemed reasonable enough, and attainable at that. Scott Zenke and Greg Warren wanted to shed light on Farmington High football. They wanted to give the kids a chance to play on Friday nights.

The usual naysayers that such dreams encounter in every town floated to the surface like an oil spill. I was particularly dumbfounded by the lady who bought a home adjacent to Farmington High School and had the audacity to tell the Common Council that the last thing she wanted was kids walking past her house at night.

I wrote some stories and editorials. Warren and Zenke cleared all the hurdles, even that ominously large one labeled public opinion. How hard they worked and how determined they were so that the Farmington High campus could be brought to life on Friday nights in autumn.

How saddened I was to hear this week between Christmas and New Year’s that death takes no holiday. Greg Warren – strong, tall, determined and civic-minded, a loving father, a dedicated husband – will now brighten heaven’s glow.

The town will be forever in his debt because he refused to yield to shortsighted neighbors who wished to remain in darkness. Funny how nearly a decade later, I hear no outcry how their delicate lives have been irreparably interrupted. Their silence is a deafening tribute to Greg Warren.

Warren looked on proudly as his daughter Katie became one of the finest softball pitchers in Farmington High history. His son Tim quarterbacked the best FHS football team in recent memory that qualified for the Class L state final in 1999. Greg wanted to make sure future Farmington fathers would have the chance to see their kids' steps toward adulthood nurtured by the improvements that he brought about.

When their dream became reality in 2002, Warren and Zenke gave me a panorama of the football field bathed in the luster of permanent lights. The marching band is playing. The cheerleaders are lined in a row on the track facing the modest grandstands and press box. The football team is huddled beneath the south goal post. I recalled the splendid feeling in my heart as I looked at the field, its north end zone framed by the inspiration of a New England autumn, the muffled echoes that only veteran public address announcer Dennis Person can muster, the incredible spirit of a town gathered to honor its treasured youth. Thanks to Greg Warren, many others will be able to enjoy the same sensation.

The band continues to play. The cheerleaders continue to cheer. The football players continue to relish the opportunity to play ball on Friday nights under the lights. Greg Warren’s ardent spirit will forever hover over the ground that he helped hallow so that Farmington’s children could have the very best.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Press Release


Recipients to be honored at 70th annual Gold Key Dinner in April
For more information, contact Zac Boyer, President, Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, at or 860-983-6313.

The Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance is pleased to announce that four state athletic figures will receive the Gold Key in 2011.

UConn-Avery Point baseball coach Roger Bidwell, Simsbury boys golf and boys soccer coach Ed Lynch, Notre Dame-Fairfield boys hockey coach Marty Roos and retired boys soccer coach Bill Wallach will be honored at the 70th annual Gold Key Dinner in April.

Bidwell led UConn-Avery Point to a 41-10 record last season and the finals of the NJCAA Division II World Series. In 29 seasons, Bidwell is 828-327-7, has been a perennial NJCAA playoff contender and sent 21 players to play professional baseball, including Toronto shortstop John McDonald and outfielder Rajai Davis.

He has won numerous Connecticut Small College Conference, NJCAA New England and Northeast District Coach of the Year awards.

Lynch earned his 1,000th high school victory as a coach at Simsbury in October. He is 727-53-10 in 29 seasons coaching the Simsbury boys golf team, the most wins for any high school golf coach in America, and 280-102-46 in 23 seasons coaching soccer.
Along the way, Lynch has won eight Division I golf titles and three Class LL championships in soccer.

“Every little thing I get is because of the teams and the players that I’ve had,” Lynch said. “I haven’t put one ball into the back of the net or made one putt. It’s all about the kids.”

Lynch also served as a high school and college basketball referee for 32 years before retiring in 2005 to become assigning commissioner for the central board of referees. He currently assigns basketball referees for 85 schools from the high school to the elementary level. Over 100 of his players have gone on to play in colleges such as UConn, Minnesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Clemson and Maryland, but Lynch said earning the Gold Key is just as special.

“I was elated when I heard the news,” Lynch said. “It is the equivalent of getting to be with the elite and I don’t myself anywhere near the elite…It is the ultimate honor.”

The state record holder in wins with 528, Roos recently began his 39th season as a high school hockey coach. He began coaching at Fairfield Prep in 1972 and moved to Notre Dame-Fairfield in 1991, entering this season with an overall record of 528-283-18. He has won six state titles and has nine tournament final appearances.

A native of Switzerland, Roos is a part owner of both the Milford Ice Pavilion and Northford Ice Pavilion. He has also been involved in youth hockey programs at both facilities and was recently inducted into the Connecticut State High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

Wallach coached boys soccer at Guilford from 1975-78 and 1981-90, finishing with a record of 220-13-9 – a .944 winning percentage – and seven state and 12 Shoreline Conference titles. He coached at Quinnipiac in 1979 and New Haven in 1980, and also coached the girls soccer teams at North Branford (1991-93), Sacred Heart-Hamden (1994-96) and Guilford (1997-99).

An all-New England goalkeeper at Dean Junior College and an all-American at Springfield College, Wallach also coached girls basketball, wrestling, boys track and field and gymnastics at Guilford. He also initiated the CIAC-sponsored Unified Sports program, which partners athletes with students who have intellectual or physical disabilities.

“It is one of the most significant highlights of my career,” Wallach said. “Working with the challenged has been my motivation.”

Since 1940, the Alliance has recognized individuals from Connecticut who have achieved excellence on the youth, high school, college and professional levels. Past recipients of the Gold Key include Connie Mack (1940), Willie Pep (1961), Walt Dropo (1975), George H.W. Bush (1991), Gordie Howe (1992), Geno Auriemma (2001) and Jim Calhoun (2003). A complete list of former honorees can be found here.

The Gold Key Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, 2011 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by contacting president Zac Boyer at or by mailing a check to Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT 06085. For more information on the history of the dinner, visit the Alliance web site at Additional honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Received a call from Jack Cochran today.  He wanted to know how I thought the postseason polls would work out -- Xavier or Masuk.  Boy, that's a tough one. 

Both teams were 13-0 after winning their respective classes (Xavier -- LL; Masuk -- L).  Xavier had a close call against Hillhouse, which was good enough to win Class M, and didn't blow teams out like Masuk did. 

But Xavier plays in the SCC, which was more than likely the toughest league in the state (FCIAC is pretty darned good, too).  Masuk plays in the South-West Conference, which may well be third best, with apologies to all my friends in the CCC.

I was impressed that Jack cares enough about what we sports writers think.  It's up to us because Xavier and Masuk will not be able to settle the score on the field.  Jack's son Casey, whom I got to know years ago when his dad was coaching at New Britain, is Masuk's record-breaking quarterback.  He will wind up as one of the very best in state history.

Now everybody in Connecticut knows about the controversy that has trailed Jack through his stormy but ultra-successful coaching tenure at Bloomfield, New Britain and New London.  And I know that most people deem me as a "Cochran lover."  Truth is, everybody has a good and evil sides but most folks tend to overlook Jack's good side beyond his ridiculously unbelievable record.

Turns out Jack is as good a dad as he was a football coach, maybe better.  I haven't seen Casey in years but the recent piece in the Hartford Courant indicated that they have a very special relationship.

At this point, I don't know how the polls will turn out.  I do hope for the Cochrans' sake that it turns out in their favor, and I hope even more that Jack gets another chance to coach somewhere.  Covering nearly every one of Jack's games at New Britain was about as much fun as anything I've ever covered, and challenging, too.  I'm really glad he called Sunday because as far as I'm concerned, he's a special guy.  I wish him and Casey all the best.