The Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance will once again honor a group of dedicated individuals who have contributed their time to sports in their communities with the John Wentworth Good Sport Award at the 73rd Gold Key Dinner April 27, at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Given in memory of the longtime sports editor of the New Britain Herald, the CSWA will recognize Jason DeCarolis of Bristol, Tim Kulish of Shelton, Fran Slattery of Enfield, Fred Kelly of North Haven, David Dykes from Waterford and the father-son tandem of Les and Brett Zimmerman from Meriden.
Tickets to the 2014 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., are $75 and can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President George Albano at 203-434-2320 or Bob Ehalt at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net. Additional information is also available on the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance Facebook page.
Tim Kulish has been involved in the Shelton American Little League for 25 years, including the past 17 as the league’s president. During that time, Kulish has played a key role in the growth and development of the league.
Shelton American’s Nike Site facility, with two lighted fields, has become a popular destination for all-star tournament games. Shelton American has won eight District III Little League championships during Kulish’s years as president.
An accomplished athlete in his youth, Kulish holds the school record at Fairfield Prep for the 330-yard IM hurdles.
DeCarolis, known to everyone at Bristol Central High School and around the Central Connecticut Conference as “Coachie,” began his association in athletics at the school as a waterboy.
Then as an eighth-grader 27 years ago, he was taught how to run the basketball clock at Rams home games and has been introducing starting lineups with a personal flair all his own for the last 15.
In the fall, he can be seen wearing one of his trademark pro hockey sweaters on the sidelines of football games at Muzzy Field, where he serves as an equipment manager and works with the officials to maintain sideline decorum.
DeCarolis also spent two years working with the Bristol Central softball team and nine with the tennis squad, but 11 years ago found his lasting springtime niche with the track and field team. He works on the jumps, raking the pits, and measuring and judging right up through the CCC meet.
Slattery has spent nearly 50 years working with the young athletes of Enfield.
The 80-year-old Slattery began his involvement with youth sports in the mid-1960s when he started coaching baseball in the Hazardville Little League. His 1979 senior league team won the Connecticut state championship, and the 1980 edition was runner-up.
He began coaching the Enfield American Legion baseball team in 1980, and will shortly begin his 35th season with that organization. He has directed his teams to several in-season tournament championships, while the 2013 squad made it to the state final four.
Not limited to just the diamond, Slattery recently completed his 40th season coaching CYO basketball at St. Martha’s School in Enfield. His 1983 team won the state title, and four more teams have followed suit to play in the New England championship tournaments.
Slattery was honored by the Enfield Jaycees with its Outstanding Citizen Award in 1990, and was inducted into the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
Kelly has been a resident of North Haven for more than 60 years. During that time he has established himself as one of the kindest, most sincere and generous gentlemen North Haven has ever seen.
In fact, there are probably very few people in town who don’t know “Mr. Kelly” or at least recognize his trademark fedora hat. Kelly has exhibited a continuous dedication to the people of North Haven and particularly the student-athletes at North Haven High School.
He helped found and organize the North Haven Tomahawk Club-a booster club for male student-athletes-and has served as this organization’s president for over 50 years. The Tomahawk Club raises funds from within the community to provide deserving North Haven student-athletes with letterman jackets, sports banquets and scholarship funds.
A supporter of all North Haven athletic programs, Kelly has been inducted into the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame, while in 2010 he was unanimously selected as the inaugural winner of the North Haven High School Football Alumni Association Contributor Award. In addition, the gymnasium at NHHS is named after him.
Dykes is the longtime webmsaster of the Racing Through Time website, the culmination of a lifetime of collecting historic auto racing photographs. One of New England’s most popular sites, Dykes calls the Racingthroughtime.com website a “labor of love” and has developed relationships with many of the site’s visitors.
Antique photos from Thompson Speedway, Stafford Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl are among those found on the website, a Mecca for the growing crowd of local racing nostalgia buffs. Bridgeport, Cherry Park and West Haven speedways along with Plainville Stadium-all part of the state’s racing past-are featured as well.
A Waterford High graduate, Dykes, 55, had a brief stint as a race driver himself. Over the past decade he has been a contributor to several auto racing journals, and he is the compiler/author of The Illustrated History of Waterford Speedbowl.
Les and Brett Zimmerman
Les and Brett Zimmerman are a prime example of a family that plays together stays together. Father Les began keeping statistics for the Maloney High football team in 1990. Son Brett joined him four years later.
Les, who graduated from Platt in 1967 and SCSC in 1971, played college soccer for Gold Key-winning coach Bob Dikranian and is a 10-time Meriden Men’s City golf champion. Brett has won it three times.
Brett was a two-time All-CCC golfer and has qualified for numerous CT State Golf Association championships.
A lifelong Meriden resident, Les was a physical education instructor in Berlin for 31 years and founded the youth soccer program.
He sits on the CSGA Board of Directors. Brett, a 1999 CCSU grad, is a manufacturing engineer at Zygo Corporation in Middlefield and lives in Middletown.
In addition to the Good Sport Awards, the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance will be presenting Gold Keys to West Haven High School head football coach Ed McCarthy, UConn men’s soccer coach Ray Reid, Branford High School field hockey coach Cathy McGuirk, former Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, and one-time New Britain Rock Cats President and General Manager Bill Dowling.
Other award winners are: Cheshire girls volleyball coach Sue Bavone and Ansonia football coach Tom Brockett, the Doc McInerney High School Coaches of the Year; Southington senior quarterback Stephen Barmore and sophomore distance runner Hannah DeBalsi of Staples, the Hal Levy High School Athletes of the Year; Matt Harvey of the New York Mets, the Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year; and McKenzie Hollenbaugh, the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year.