Five Connecticut sportsmen who have unselfishly given hundreds of hours of their time to the betterment of athletics in their communities and state have been selected recipients of the John Wentworth Good Sport Award by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.
Sterling House’s out-going athletic director Bill O’Brien is one of them.
O’Brien along with Ben Aleks of Somers, Paul Duddy of Mystic, Steve Krevisky of Middletown, and Bill Santillo of New Haven will be among the honorees at the 79th Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 26, 2020 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
After more than 40 years of service, O’Brien retired in June as Senior Director of Athletics and Facilities at the Sterling House Community Center in Stratford. He began his tenure in the early 1980s as a volunteer soccer coach, and eventually coached both soccer and basketball for 15 years. The position of athletic director became available in 1995 and O’Brien earned the job, initially on a part-time basis. Within a year, it became a full-time endeavor, and he also took on the role of camp director. He managed the center’s three main children and youth athletics programs: soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
Since retiring as wrestling coach at Enfield’s Enrico Fermi High School in 1994, Aleks has stayed on as a volunteer assistant, first with the Falcons and now Enfield High School, for the past quarter century. He was also instrumental in helping revive the Enfield Eagles youth wrestling program, which had been dormant for nearly 30 years. The 2016 inductee into the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame contributed considerable efforts and resources to convert the old band room at the Fermi building into a practice center for the high school and youth teams. Later this fall, the room will be dedicated as the Ben Aleks Wrestling Center.
Duddy, an alumnus of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, has been a volunteer photographer for sporting events and other activities at the academy for 13 school years. When he started shooting pictures, he was commuting from his home in New York, but eventually moved to Mystic. He has received several awards from the institution, and every year at the Bears’ senior athletics banquet, he hands out Paul Duddy Awards to a male and female athlete who represent Coast Guard both on the field and off.
Krevisky is co-founder of the Connecticut-based Smokey Joe Wood Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research, and is the only president the 20-year old chapter has ever had. Part of the growing SABR organization, the Wood chapter is dedicated to baseball historical research and preservation. The chapter holds six breakfast and two general meetings a year, the latter featuring guest appearances, research and presentations and media panels. In addition to a newsletter, the chapter has recently compiled books on Connecticut reared Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and the late Mike Sandlock.
Santillo has served on the Board of Governors of the New Haven Gridiron Club for 15 years and has been its president for the last nine, presiding over the club’s two annual dinners. He is also chairman of the club’s Hall of Fame committee, and is a member of the board for the National Football Foundation’s New Haven Chapter. Santillo was one of the primary fundraisers for the New Haven Athletic Center, and was instrumental in bringing Floyd Little back to New Haven when the center was dedicated in his honor.
Gold Key Award recipients for 2020 are five legendary scholastic coaches: Cookie Bromage (Enfield field hockey), Joe Grippo (Morgan girls volleyball and girls basketball), Lou Milardo (Hale-Ray softball), Ricky Shook (Danbury wrestling) and Angela Tammaro (Greenwich Academy field hockey and lacrosse). Baseball Hall of Fame honoree Claire Smith, 2017 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, will receive the President’s Award.
The Gold Key Dinner was inaugurated in 1940, with baseball legend Connie Mack and golf superstar Bobby Jones among the initial recipients. The roster of honorees since then reads like a Who’s Who of Connecticut sports – Joe Cronin, Julius Boros, Willie Pep, Lindy Remigino, Floyd Little, Joan Joyce, Otto Graham, Calvin Murphy, Gordie Howe, Bill Rodgers, Geno Auriemma, Rebecca Lobo, Brian Leetch, Kristine Lilly, Marlon Starling, Dwight Freeney and ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen are just a few of the past Gold Key winners. A complete list is available at www.ctsportswriters.com.
Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner are $75 apiece, and may be reserved by contacting CSWA President Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds from the event benefit the Bo Kolinsky Memorial Sports Journalism Scholarship, named after a longtime Hartford Courant sportswriter and past CSWA president who died unexpectedly in 2003.