Sharing old memories with former high school teammates, catching up with ex-players, and reminiscing about their playing and coaching days, some of Norwalk's finest athletes, coaches and others involved in sports from years past were honored by the Norwalk Old Timers' Athletic Association at the 50th Annual Sports Awards Presentation at Continental Manor on Nov. 15.
Dennis D'Amato, president of the Old Timers' organization, noted that those who created the organization a half-century ago couldn't have known just how big their creation would become. With this year's eight honorees, there are 339 men and women who have had a tremendous impact on Norwalk athletics, who have earned Old Timers' Athletic Association recognition. The organization of the annual awards ceremony is a lot of work, D'Amato notes.
"It's worth it to see everybody get to spend time with their friends," he said.
Ron Dominici, Paul Gerken, Bobby Miller, Frank Moffett, Wayne Mones, Leo Motyka, Andrea Seger and Tom Shostak were all chosen as Old Timers honorees, and Art Bobrowsky received the Mike Errico Award. Bobrowsky is the longest-serving active member of the Old Timers' Athletic Association's Executive Board and was recognized for his 29 years of service.
George Albano served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. The Old Timers' Athletic Association provides scholarships to high school students and youth athletes in the city.
Mones, current athletic director at Norwalk High School, was a star athlete at Brien McMahon High. He scored the game-winning goal in the 1969 FCIAC championship soccer game against Staples.
"I'm just honored and humbled by being here. It's great to see old friends and my former players -- guys I coached and competed with," Mones said.
Mones' former teammate, John Penberthy, was on hand as a guest and brought with him some old stats and newspaper clippings, including a Stamford Advocate article from that big win.
"I live in New York City. I don't get out here too much so it's good to reacquaint myself with old friends," Penberthy said.
Mones also caught up with former athletes he coached during his days at the old Central Catholic, at the time Norwalk's third high school, in the late 1970s and `80s. In addition to soccer, Mones played baseball, basketball and hockey, and ran cross country. After playing soccer at the University of Connecticut, Mones went on to coach several high school teams and Western Connecticut State University's soccer team to championships.
Moffett was also an outstanding athlete at McMahon and went on to coach at Norwalk High. He was one of the state's top track and field competitors in the late 1960s, and went on to play football at Southern Connecticut State College. He went on to coach football and track at the high school. On Moffett's resume is having coached 39 athletes who accounted for 78 divisional, FCIAC, state and New England championships. Moffett is currently a science teacher at Norwalk High.
"I come every year" -- 15 or so -- Moffett said of attending the ceremony. "It's always fun to see your old coaches and teammates. To be honored is very humbling."
Not everyone was recognized for performances exclusively on the playing fields or in coaching. Motyka, in fact, did play his share of sports and coach, and umpire baseball in the city, but was also a long-time broadcaster. He is best remembered by Norwalkers as Lee Moore, voice of local sports on radio station WNLK during the 1960s and 70s. He was at the microphone for not only Norwalk high school games but also the old Norwalk Oilers semi-professional hockey team.
Asked about his favorite game announcing memory, Motyka replied "how many hours do you have," explaining that he spent 43 years in radio broadcasting, 17 of those in Norwalk. "It's very nice to see some of my old friends," he said.
Dominici played slow-pitch softball for 21 years, touch football, and basketball well after his high school days. Dominici led the McMahon baseball team to the FCIAC championship game in the early `70s. He won six city softball championships and went on to coach his children's youth baseball and softball squads.
Tennis star Gerken, at the age of 14, earned the distinction as the top-ranked junior in New England for the 16 year old division. A 1968 graduate of Norwalk High, he won two state singles championships. Gerken earned All America honors as an unbeaten freshman at Stanford University. He joined the pro tour in 1972 and competed in the French Open, Wimbledon Championships and U.S. Open.
Miller, a standout basketball player and brother of future NBA star and Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy, played at Norwalk High and went on to compete at Niagra University. He coached the NHS girls' squad, in addition to the McMahon boys. He also played baseball and football. Miller was a guidance counselor in Norwalk for 32 years.
"This is a little bit overwhelming. So many of my old, good, dear friends are here," Miller said.
Seger was one of the most active female athletes at Norwalk High in the 1960s, participating in five sports: basketball, volleyball, track, softball and field hockey, even before Title IX was put into effect, when it was difficult for women to play even one sport. She taught physical education and coached volleyball at NHS. Seger was appointed director of intercollegiate athletics for women at Ball State in 1983 and, 12 years later, became one of only four women to head a collegiate athletics program when she was named director.
Shostak scored the first touchdown in the storied football rivalry between Norwalk and McMahon, back in 1961.
The quarterback played for the Norwalk High team then known as the Green Wave. He also played hockey and baseball and ran track. Shostak was voted the school's Best All Around Athlete.