James Lofton knows his Stratford High athletic career gave him so much more than just a good time and a bunch of games played with his friends.
It gave him the knowledge that hard work and teamwork would prepare him for a life beyond the games.
This month it gives him one other thing: An induction into the Stratford High Athletic Hall of Fame.
Lofton will be one of three former athletes being honored into the school’s 13th annual Stratford High School Senior Recognition/Athletic Hall of Fame dinner, which will take place Friday, at 6:30 p.m. at Vazzano’s Four Seasons Catering and Banquet in Stratford.
“It’s a really humbling experience and time for me,” Lofton said. “I know some of the past recipients and I have so much respect for them. To be able to receive the same honor as them, it’s just humbling.”
Lofton was born in Bridgeport and raised in Stratford, where he learned his athletic prowess through Pop Warner football and the basketball program at the Sterling House.
A member of the SHS’s Class of 1987, he was a two-sport athlete for the Red Devils, shining on both the basketball court and football field.
On the gridiron, Lofton shined as three-year starter at running back.
He scored 15 touchdowns as a junior and 18 more as a senior as he earned All-League and All-Daily News postseason honors.
His senior season he helped lead Stratford a 12-1 mark and the No 1 seed in the Class M tournament with an undefeated 11-0 regular season. The Red Devils lost to Ledyard 12-6 in the championship game.
“My relationships with my coaches were pretty good,” Lofton said. “I learned a lot from them, I learned a lot about football, but they taught us—and me personally—the transition from a young man and becoming a man. That meant a lot.”
On the basketball court, as a guard for the Red Devils, he averaged 15 points per game as a junior and upped that total to 20 points per game as a senior.
Stratford made the second round of the state tournament both seasons.
Lofton always considered himself a football player first and foremost.
“Football was my favorite,” he said. “I liked basketball, but it was something to do to keep in shape. But football? There was just something about that camaraderie and partnership.”
After graduating from Stratford High, Lofton attended Western Connecticut State University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Communications.
He became a police officer and has spent the last 22 years of his career in his hometown of Stratford, rising to the ranks of Sergeant in the Detective Division.
The tools he learned through team sports has paid off countless times while being a member of a police force.
“Absolutely. You learn how you’re only as good as your weakest link,” Lofton said. “That carries over. When I come up on a crime scene now, I know that’s my team I’ve got with me.”
He is also executive director of the Stratford Police Athletic League, giving back to the community through nearly two dozen programs.
“To be able to give back now, that means a lot to me,” he said. “This town for me was great growing up. Now I’m able to give back at another level.”
Lofton is married to his wife, Sonia, and has one son, James Jr.