STRATFORD–The Stratford Old Timers Athletic Association will honor a group of seven at its 54th Annual Golden Crown Awards Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., at the Oronoque Country Club.
One of those being honored is Patti Fernandes, who will be receiving the SOAA’s highest honor, the Golden Crown Award.
Fernandes is equal parts athlete, coach, basketball official, professional dog trainer and all parts a Stratford girl.
Growing up in the South End, Patti got a quick start when she made the St. James varsity basketball team as a 5th grader and followed by becoming a three-sport standout in basketball, softball and volleyball at Stratford High, graduating in 1978.
Patti was a three-time All-MBIAC guard in basketball and an All-State choice her junior year for coach Barbara Hall, whom Patti credits for having the greatest influence on her playing career.
She also earned All-MBIAC honors twice in softball and once in volleyball.
Fernandes became the first woman member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
Fernandes played a key role in the success of the legendary Raybestos/Hi-Ho Brakettes from 1977-2005 first as an outfielder, then as a player/coach before taking on full-time coaching duties in 1998 when she became the Brakettes first woman’s coach in their 50-year history.
As a player she was a member of ASA National title teams in 1977, ’78 and ’80 and the 1979 Olympic Sports Festival.
During Patti’s eight years as a full-time coach, the Brakettes won three consecutive ASA National titles starting in 2002.
After a year at SCSU, she played softball and basketball at Illinois State, graduating in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in science and a teaching certificate before returning to earn her master’s degree at SCSU.
In the mid 1980s Patti started her basketball officiating career with girls high school games and quickly moved on to Div. I, II and III college games, highlighted by her selection to work the NCAA Div. II Women’s National Championships in 1999 and 2001.
From 1989-2004 Patti coached softball and volleyball at SCSU, highlighted by her selection as the 2001 Div. II Conference Coach of the Year.
She credits her five brothers with raising the level of her early sports game and her sister Pam, a two-time Para-Olympic Gold Medalist in cycling, with setting the bar for determination and grit.
“Even though my sister doesn’t have sight, she has the greatest vision of anyone I know. She humbles me with her accomplishments,” Patti said.
Patti has been honored by the Connecticut Basketball Hall of Fame, the CIAC Softball Hall and the Connecticut. Amateur Softball Hall (now CT USA Softball).
Patti and her partner, Peggy Reed, own and run Canine Training and Behavior Services, where they help families develop the best team between humans and their dogs.
When not teaching in the state, Patti and Peggy spend time at their home in Sarasota, Fla.
The event is officially sold out and no further ticket sales will occur.
Also being honored with Golden Brown Awards are Ed Rooney and Ed Yearwood .
Special recognition will also be accorded to Tish Morrissey (Micki Stratton Award), Ray Bastarache (Alvin “Bud” Russell Award), Mike LaPia (Jack Geary Award), and Bill O’Brien (Tim Ramik Award).