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Curt Burns

Curt Burns graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 1975 where he earned three Varsity letters in track and field. He competed in the pole vault and high jump and also took honors at the NCAA level. After college, Curt became involved in playing competitive volleyball through the USVBA, now USA Volleyball, on Northeast men’s club teams. After attending several AVP tournaments, he also became an avid beach doubles player. Curt founded the New London Beach Volleyball at Ocean Beach Park. He played beach doubles while also directing men’s, women’s, co-ed and Youth Tournament Championship events for 10 years at the beach.

He began his coaching career at the University of Hartford for the men’s club team, competing in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. This also included playing NCAA teams. Shortly thereafter, when the Avon High School girls’ varsity position opened up in 1989, Curt became just the second coach in their 47 year history. He succeeded 2011 Hall of Fame inductee and founding member, Barbara Startup.

While at Avon, Curt has earned 406 career wins, 8 conference championships and 5 CIAC State semifinal births. His teams have gained 23 state tournament berths in a row. Curt has mentored 80 all-conference players and 20 All State selections. He was named CHSCA girls’ volleyball outstanding coach in 2009 and chosen as a finalist for NHSCA volleyball Coach of the Year in 2012 in 2016.

He co-founded, directed and coached the first Club volleyball program for boys in Connecticut in 1992. That club won New England and East Coast titles and competed successfully at Junior Nationals as well. Since 2004, Curt has coached the Newington High School boys program, amassing 268 wins, six CIAC championships, 8 state finals and 9 CCC Conference titles. Curt has coach 29 All State players and two CHSCA players of the year. He was also named CHSCA boys volleyball outstanding coach in 2014.

As a certified volleyball referee for over 25 years, Curt has officiated USVBA tournaments and worked in NCAA Division I, II and III matches as a member of the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials.
Curt is currently retired from full-time engineering employment for 33 years in the town of West Hartford, CT. He has just completed his 31st season as head coach of girls’ volleyball at Avon High School and will enter into his 17th season as head coach of boys’ volleyball at Newington High School in the spring of 2020.

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Deb O’Brien

Debbie O’Brien began her volleyball career playing at Wethersfield High School for coach John Landry. She often talked to him about her desire to coach volleyball after college. She attended Stonehill College where she played volleyball and earned a B.A. in Elementary Education. After graduation, John asked if she was still interested in coaching. Debbie served as his assistant for four years and took over the program in 1994. She is currently in her twenty-fifth year at Wethersfield.

Since 2010, Debbie has also been the head coach of the Boy’s Volleyball Program at Wethersfield after serving or three years as assistant.

Her teams have often qualified for post-season play, including the conference and state tournament. Many of her players have earned All-Conference and All State honors. In addition to earning CCC divisional titles, one of the honors Deb is most proud of is the six Connecticut Board o Volleyball Officials Sportsmanship Awards her teams have earned. She is also proud of former players who have returned to coach with her, as well as those who have gone on to become successful coaches.

Debbie is presently teaching sixth grade at Charles Wright Elementary School in Wethersfield.

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Duffy Lynch

Title IX – “No one person in the United States shall, on basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”

Duffy credits all her opportunities and successes to the enactment of Title IX in 1972 and Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame Inductees, Edna Fraser, Debbie Chin and Betsy Gilmartin, all of whom, without their tireless efforts on behalf of female athletics, evenings such as this would have never been possible.In 1973, Duffy began her career in athletics, playing volleyball, basketball and softball for Edna Fraser at Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford, Connecticut. In 1975, the Lions would win the school’s first athletic State Championship, capturing the CIAC Class M Volleyball title. Captain her senior year; Duffy led the Lions to the state semi-finals, narrowly missing a repeat. The banner, tattered and dusty continues to hang proudly in the Lion’s Den ever reminding future female leaders of when it all began.

The Lion became a Charger in 1977 receiving a scholarship to play volleyball, basketball and softball for Debbie Chin at the University of New Haven. The women’s program built on pride and perseverance would, in later years, become nationally ranked for their athletic excellence. Duffy will proudly state, “Playing for Debbie Chin is my claim to fame”The Charger became a Tiger in 1995, working with Athletic Director Betsy Gilmartin at Mercy HighSchool. Together they created a volleyball tradition of success that continues today.

In Duffy’s first season the Tigers finished 7-11, but in their second season they finished 21-3. The program has never looked back, continuing to compete in the tough Southern Connecticut Conference and the CIAC State Tournament. The Tiger became a Panther this past season as Duffy took over the volleyball program at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven. A volleyball coaching career that spans 27 years has been highlighted by contributions such as: Deputy Commissioner Special Olympics World Games, one of the original Connecticut Junior Olympics Volleyball club coaches, Senior All-Star Game coach, Senior All-Star Committee member, CIAC Assistant Coach of the Year, and now a Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame member.

A scholarship, “PAT”, was created in memory of Patrick Launder, Duffy’s husband and Mercy’s #1 Fan, to promote Title IX where numerous players have gone on to become successful collegiate athletes, coaches and leaders in their communities. Title IX Lives On!

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Cindy Fixer

Cindy Fixer earned her BS degree in Physical Education from Southern Connecticut State College and her MS degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Central Connecticut State University. Cindy coached volleyball at The Gilbert School for 32 years. Her overall record is 310 and 242. Her teams won eight Berkshire League tournament championships as well as thirteen league championships.

In addition, Gilbert played in three State Finals, winning two runner-up titles and one State Championship title. Fourteen of her players went on to play in college. She was named Outstanding Volleyball Coach of the Year for 2000-2001 by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) and was selected to coach in the 1993 & 2014 Senior Volleyball All-Star Game. She represented the school as the girls’ volleyball chairperson for the CHSCA and also served on the Senior All-Star Volleyball Game committee from its inception until 2014. In the educational setting, Cindy represented The Gilbert School by serving as treasurer of the Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CTAHPERD) for five years and as Finance Committee Chairperson for sixteen years. CTAHPERD recognized her with a Professional Merit Award in 1999.

At Gilbert she teaches Wellness and has also taught Health Science and Math. With her colleagues, she received an Outstanding Program Award for the Wellness department’s “Parenting Awareness Program” from CTAHPERD in 2000.In her community, Cindy is a member of the Colebrook Lions Club and received their Outstanding Member Award for 2003-2004. As a club member, Cindy is the advisor for the Gilbert LEO Club, the student service club sponsored by the LIONS. She received several Service Awards from the Winsted Lions Club for being an outstanding Leo Club Advisor.

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Clare Matasavage


Clare Matasavage attended Notre Dame Academy in Waterbury. She graduated from Syracuse University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education. While at Syracuse, she played intercollegiate bas-ketball and volleyball. She captained the basketball team in both her junior and senior year. Clare continued her education at Southern Connecticut State University where she received her Master’s degree in Physical Edu-cation and Health.

Clare taught physical education and health at Holy Cross in Waterbury for 23 years. During her tenure at Holy Cross, she was head volleyball coach for 22 years. During that time, her volleyball teams won numerous league championships. Her groups also received sportsmanship awards presented by the volleyball board of officials.

The Connecticut High School Coaches Association recognized Clare as Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1994. She was also nominated in 1995 for National Volleyball Coach of the Year. Clare has also worked as an inter-scholastic volleyball official. She is one of the founding members of the CT Women’s Scholastic and Collegiate Volleyball Hall of Fame.
While at Holy Cross, Clare also coached softball, basketball, and track and field. Her track teams won numerous league championships and she served as an interscholastic basketball official.

Clare is presently teaching at Coginchaug Regional High School in Durham.

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Robert Tarigo


Robert Tarigo was a 1965 graduate of Clarkstown High School in New York. He attended Central Connecticut State University receiving a Bache-lor of Science degree in Elementary Education, and a Masters degree in guidance. He played basketball from 1965 through 1969 and coached bas-ketball in several Connecticut high schools from 1969 to 1998.

Robert started coaching volleyball at Berlin High School in 1982 and has been there for the past 34 years. His overall record is 444 and 212. His teams won thirteen conference championships, had 53 All-Conference Players, and eleven All-State players. For these achievements he has re-ceived many awards and much recognition. In 1993 he was selected to coach the Connecticut Girls Senior All-Stars, and in 1998 he received the Connecticut Gatorade Outstanding Coach Award. Robert was named a Na-tional Coach of the Year finalist in 2004 and in 2011. He was also inducted into the Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

As a player, Robert also represented Connecticut Men’s Volleyball, and played in the Senior Olympics in New Orleans in 2004. However there is another sport close to Robert’s heart and that is softball. Every summer from 1979 to 2001 he would play in both the American Softball Associa-tion and in the United States Specialty Sports Association. In 1989, he was named to the All-World team for both pitching and playing first base and two years later was inducted into United States Slow Pitch New England Hall of Fame.

Robert credits Bruno Lukas for his start in and love of volleyball, as well as Bill Detrick and Eddie Rosmarin who made a difference in his life. He attributes his success to his dedicated athletes, assistant coaches, and espe-cially the support of his wife Pat, and his two sons Jason and Jeffrey.

Alan Malizia


Al Malizia’s coaching career spanned twenty two years from 1979-2000 and during that time he has established quite a resume. It started when he became the head coach of Stamford Catholic High School (aka Trinity Catholic). Al brought his enthusiasm, dedication and winning attitude to his players.  This is evident in his teams’ success.  In 1981 Stamford Catholic qualified for the CIAC State Tournament.  Just two years later they not only qualified for the tournament, they reached the finals and they won.  This was to be repeated for the next two years- Al’s teams won three consecutive state championships: 1983, 1984, 1985.   Also during that ’85 season Stamford Catholic was FCIAC League and Tournament Champion and posted a perfect 23-0 record.  In 1988 Al once again brought his team to the state tournament and another appearance in the finals and another victory.  Winning four state championships is quite an accomplishment in a coaching career.  The Connecticut High School Coaches Association apparently agreed because that year Al was selected as a Coach of the Year- Outstanding Coach of Volleyball.

Throughout his 22 year career Al’s teams made 16 consecutive FCIAC playoff appearances; 17 consecutive CIAC State Tournament appearances (4 of which were in the finals); and he compiled a .640 career win percentage, 274 wins and 154 losses.  He had just 5 losing seasons in his career.  Many outstanding athletes played volleyball for Al and he had numerous players named to All-FCIAC and All-State teams.  Many of these student athletes went on to play on the collegiate level on scholarship for schools such as Georgetown, Boston College, UConn and Holy Cross.

In 2004 Al Received the Stamford Old Timers Athletic Association Award in memory of “Mickey” Leone.

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Steve Geryk

Steve’s volleyball career began as an outstanding player and continued as an out-standing coach. He first played volleyball at UMASS Amherst with Pat Ryan who was already a member of the team. He was named a New England All Star both years he played at the College club level and he played with various USVBA and local adult teams throughout the years.

His first coaching job was at Amherst High School in 1984 as the first Boys’ Volleyball coach. The team’s record was 11-1. His next coaching opportunity was at Glastonbury High School where he started as the girls’ assistant coach in 1990. Steve coached there until 2002, his last 6 years as the Varsity Coach.

His overall record at Glastonbury was 215-77 in those 13 years, and his varsity record was 107 and 26. Glastonbury was the CCC West Champion for 11 of those 13 years, including the last 10 in a row and won the CIAC Class L State Championship in 1993.

Steve coached numerous All-State players including Allison Baker and Missy Roy, an inductee of the Connecticut Scholastic Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame.

After taking many years off to spend more time with his children’s activities, he re-turned to coaching at East Catholic High School as the assistant girls’ volleyball coach from 2009 through 2012. This allowed him to be a part of the team while his daughter Emma played. He also coached numerous girls Junior Olympic teams for the Husky Volleyball Club, operated in central CT by Pat Ryan.

Steve credits the many people who have helped influence him as a coach but none more than his presenter Pat Ryan. Of Pat Steve said, “Pat has been there since my first day playing at UMASS and continued to be an influence on my coaching, and coaching philosophy throughout my career”.

Steve is a Mortgage Loan Originator and lives in Stafford Springs with his wife Kathy and 2 children Joey and Emma.

Rich Heitz

RIch Heitz

Richard Heitz has said he always loved the sport of volleyball since first being introduced to it in middle school. Unfortunately, there were no boys’ volleyball programs when he attended Pomperaug High School and he had to wait until the age of eighteen to play for his church team in a power league in Oxford, CT.

Richard played competitively on various club teams and in tournaments in the area until he began coaching as an assistant coach under Deb O’Brien at Wethersfield High School in 1994. He coached the Junior Varsity until 2001 when he took the head coaching position at Southington High School. Entering this 2015 fall season, he will have coached at Southington for fourteen years with an overall record of 236-72.

Richard’s teams at Southington won 9 consecutive divisional titles from 2004 – 2012. They were also CCC Tournament champions in 2008 and 2010, as well as state champions in 2009 and state runners-up in 2011. His teams have been recognized many times including twelve times by the American Volleyball Coaches Association with the Team Academic Award, as well as four times by the Connecticut Board of Volleyball Officials (CBVO) with their annual sportsmanship award in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2010.

Richard has been recognized as well for the accomplishments of his teams. In 2014, he was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s Coach of the year. In 2015, he was a Finalist for National High School Coach of the Year in Volleyball, recognized at NHSACA annual convention in Rochester, MN.

Richard has given back much to the sport of volleyball having served for twelve years as a member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Girls’ Volleyball Committee, and served as chairman for six of those years. He also spent 10 years as a member of the CHSCA Senior All-Star Game Committee, and was selected as head coach in the game in 2007. He has served the sport regionally and nationally as well, serving on the Girls’ Volleyball All-American Committee for Region 1 (covering New England and New York State) and for three years as a board member for the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

Southington Observer: Rising to great Heitz: Lady Knight coach inducted into CT volleyball hall of fame

Dave Jockle


Dave Jockle began his volleyball career as the assistant coach at Fairfield University. In 1994, he was hired as the head coach at Bunnell High School in Stratford and held the position through 2009. During that time, his teams compiled a record of 311 and 63, an 83% winning record. They won eight Southwest Conference champion-ships, nine Colonial Division Championships and four State Championships. In both 2004 and 2006, they were the #1 ranked team in Connecticut.

Dave was named the CT Post High School Volleyball coach of the year four times. In 2001 and 2006, he was named the New Haven Register High School Volleyball Coach of the year and in 2006 was named the CIAC High School Coach of the year.

Besides high school volleyball, Dave also coached the CT Juniors Travel Program. In 1996 his team competed in the Junior Olympics National Program.

This is Dave Jockle’s second Hall of Fame induction. In 2008, Dave Jockle was inducted into the Bunnell High School Hall of Fame as well.