Some of Berlin’s living legends were out in force Sunday, as the Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its fifth class at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.
The class boasts more than 51 years worth of athletic accomplishments, including countless state champions, all-state and all-conference athletes, collegiate athletes; storied names in Berlin’s athletic history.
“They’re all quite special, frankly,” Hall of Fame committee member James Capodice said, speaking of each Hall of Fame class. “You’ve got our first group, our inaugural group. After that, we’ve had excellent athletes that have come through.”
For some, like Carl Ciarcia, the Hall of Fame nod was a long time coming. Ciarcia graduated from BHS in 1953.
“I was surprised, you know? I never expected anything like this. There isn’t really a nicer honor,” said Ciarcia, who joked, “I looked a little different back then.”
While Ciarcia had plenty to reflect on from his football, basketball, and baseball playing days, some athletes used the greeting time prior to the induction ceremony to catch up with old friends.
Richard McKeon, who moved out to California to begin his teaching and coaching career, hasn’t spent much time back east since his high school days.
“I haven’t seen a lot of these people in a long time. I’ve got a lot of friends here, I’ve got cousins here, so I was really looking forward to this event, mainly for that,” said McKeon, who graduated BHS in 1975. “I miss my friends being out in California, but this is a great event to see them all again.”
Apart from Ciarcia and McKeon, eight other former Redcoats and one team – the 1963 undefeated football squad – were inducted as part of the Hall of Fame’s fifth class: Jack Cooney (’45, posthumously), Frank Marturano (’66), Mark Buckley (’84), Michelle Bedard Pascetta (’87), Scot Wenzel (’89), Joshua Clifford (’92), Lynne Orlowsky Finn (’94), and David Francalangia (’96).
Fifteen members from the ’63 football team were in attendance, including Gary Fairwood, George Kanupka, Larry Mongillo, Randy Pulito, Jeff Benner, Bob Roberts, Michael O’Brien, Dennis O’Brien, James Sylvester, Marturano, Richard Dinda, Daniel Alex, Raymond Habershon, John Baccaro, and Thomas Holigan.
Coaches Pat Phaup and Leonard Mirizzi were also present for the induction.
Honorees reminisced about the glory days throughout their speeches, thanking parents, teammates, coaches, the Hall of Fame committee, and their families.
While selecting worthy athletes year in and year out may appear to be a difficult process, Capodice said the committee has been able to select Hall of Fame candidates with ease, thanks to the many nominations it receives from the public.
“Berlin just has a very rich tradition of athletics,” Capodice said. “You find people who’ve been inducted that have made significant contributions as athletes. Some of them have come back after and supported the athletic department in various capacities. Some of them have gone on to teach, some of them have gone on to coach, some of them have coached in other systems … There’s just been a whole variety of different types of personalities and individuals with all sorts of backgrounds.”
Check out berlincitizen.com for more on the Hall of Fame Class of 2014.