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.

George Green

George Green has been the coach at St. Joseph’s High School for 32 years. His overall record is 537 and 117. Although undocumented, his 537 wins in volleyball, is believed to be the most wins in Connecticut history.

His teams won 14 League Championships and five State Championships in 1984, ’89, ’91, ’92, and ’97 and won the silver medal in 2002.

George was twice the coach in the Sr. Volleyball All-Star game including in its inaugural year in 1991, and was named CT. High School Coach of the year in 1993. He was also named the New Haven Register and CT. Post Coach of the Year.

In addition, George won three State Championships in Class M Boys’ Volleyball and five State Championships in Class S Girls and Boys Tennis.

In this, his last year of coaching volleyball, George has left a legacy of outstanding coaching success that will not be forgotten.

Gail Ericson



Gail coached at Bristol Eastern High School from 1982 until 2005. During those 23 years, her record was 332 – 139. Also during those 23 years, they qualified for the state tournament 21 times.


Bristol Eastern won 15 league championships and played in the state championship finals six times and won 3 state championships during her tenure.


In 1990, Gail was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s Outstanding Coach and in 1996 and 2000 she was the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s Regional Coach of the Year finalist.


Off the court, Gail has served as the CIAC State Tournament Committee for 21 years and was a founder of the Senior All-Star game. She was the chairman of the CHSCA all-state selection committee and co-chair the national volleyball clinic in 1996 and 2002.

Mary Ellen Vaccari


Mary Ellen attended Southern Connecticut State University, where she said, after being mentored by the outstanding staff and taught volleyball by Louise Albrecht, she was passionate about helping student-athletes achieve excellence.


Mary Ellen was hired in 1976 by her High School alma mater, The Gilbert School, and her contract was contingent upon her coaching three sports. She has coached almost continually since then, coaching six different boys’ and girls’ sports over the years.


The volleyball program was in its infancy when she took over and was 3-9 in her first season. Over the following 10 years, her teams qualified for the state tournament each year. Her teams also won 3 Northwest League titles and after joining the Berkshire League won additional titles there as well.


In 1979 and 1981, Gilbert played in the state tournament semifinals and in 1983 played in the tournament finals. At the beginning of the ‘86 season, Mary Ellen announced her retirement in order to care for her growing family. That year, Gilbert won its first day championship title. Her 10 year record as head coach was 150 -53. Three years later, she realized she could not stay away and returned as an assistant coach to then head Coach Cindy fixer, a former player of Maryellen’s. She worked in the programs the next 22 years and in 2000, when Gilbert one another state championship title, Maryellen’s two daughters were members of the team.


Over the years Mary Ellen also ran USVBA Junior Olympic volleyball programs, as well as summer volleyball leagues. She was a Woman’s Sports Foundation “Grants for Girls” recipient, and was the 1998 recipient of the Pathfinder Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports.


When Mary Ellen graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, she said she was confident she could help young women improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being through competition. She was absolutely right.

The Register Citizen:  Coach Vaccari inducted into Hall of Fame


Joanne Conte


Joanne’s involvement with volleyball began in 1981 at Maloney High School. She palyed four years in one of the premier programs in the state, coached by Hall of Famer Cindy Opalski. Not only did she learn how to better her skills and playing ability but she also learned the intricacies of the game that would server well as a coach. She showed herself to be someone who could lead as evidenced by her selection as captain. A versatile athlete, Joanne played tennis for four years. She was captain and received the Dan Sullivan Scholarship Award her senior year.

After graduation in 1984, Joanne attended CCSU as an Education major. In the Fall of ’85, she became assistant coach of the Lyman Hall girls’ volleyball team. With that one year coaching experience and start her junior year at Central, Joanne applied for the head coaching position at her alma mater. Maloney’s legendary AD Norb Fahey saw something in young Joanne and hired her for the job; and that rest is, as they say, history. She would remain there for 11 seasons, accruing an impressive 201-33 record, continuing the winning tradition establish by her predecessors. During her tenure as coach, Maloney consistently qualified for post season play, winning 8 CCC South league titles and taking 5 trips to the finals of the CIAC Class L State Championships. In 1989 and 1994, Maloney finished as runner-up and they won the state titles in ’87, ’88 and ’92. Joanne has had many of her players recognized for their playing. They have been selected to receive numerous all-league and all-state honors. Many of her players have gone on to play in college.  Joanne has been honored for her outstanding achievement in coaching as well. She was selected Connecticut High School Coaches Assoc. Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1995. In 1996 she received that National High School Coaches Assoc .District 1 Volleyball Coach of the Year and she was one of eight finalists for the NHCA coach of the year.

Joanne has excelled in her teaching career as well as her coaching career. She received the Meriden Exemplary Project Achievement Award in 2001; Meriden Project Excel’s Influential Teacher Recognition (1998-05); 1998 Nomination for “Who’s Who Among  America’s Teachers.”  In 2008 Joanne was hired as the Supervisor of Language Art (6-12) for the Meriden Public School System.

Joanne said she was most influenced by her grandmother, Freida Burhardt. A strong woman who encouraged Joanne to strive for excellence, a trait she in turn passed on to the young women she has coached.

Betsy J. Gilmartin

Betsy has been involved with volleyball for almost 40 years. She has participated in every possible aspect of the game: officiating, playing, coaching, committee member and administrator. When Betsy attended high school there were few if any opportunities for girls to play scholastic sports. So girls had to look for other places to play and that meant recreational leagues. Being a good athlete who wanted to play, Betsy looked and found her outlet at the Meriden Girls’ Club where she played basketball and softball. In fact, her basketball team won the New England championship one year.

It should come as no surprise that when Betsy arrived at Southern Connecticut State College in 1964 she tried out for every team she could. Possessing excellent athletic ability, a positive attitude and tremendous desire she not only played basketball and softball but she also made the field hockey and track teams in spite of her lack of experience in the sports. Betsy also played on Southern’s first volleyball team in her senior year.

Betsy’s brief college experience in volleyball set her on quite a journey. From 1969- 1972 she continued playing volleyball on the Connecticut Clippers US Volleyball Association team along with other CTWVHF members John Joyce, Debbie Chin and Linda Hamm. The Clippers were very successful and qualified to compete in four national tournaments (Knoxville, Birmingham, Salt Lake City and Honolulu). They were also instrumental in introducing “power volleyball” to our area providing numerous clinics to high school and college players and coaches.

In 1968 that she was hired to teach physical education and coach at North Haven High School. She tried her hand at officiating volleyball for a couple of years and then turned to coaching. She coached the North Haven volleyball team from 1970- 1972. Then in 1979 she served as assistant volleyball coach at Central Connecticut State University. Betsy was hired at Mercy High School in Middletown in 1983, serving as PE teacher, coach and athletic director. In 1984 she returned to coaching starting Mercy’s volleyball program. During her 10 year tenure as coach, Mercy qualified for state tournament play six times and advanced to the semifinals one year.

Betsy also served volleyball in leadership roles other than coaching. From 1987- 1996 she served on the CIAC volleyball committee. She was volleyball chairman of the Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association from 1987- 1993. Betsy is a founder and cochairman of the Senior All-Star game. She has been the chairman of the Southern Connecticut Conference Volleyball Coaches since 1994 and she is a founding member of the Connecticut Scholastic Woman’s Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Fred Colosimo

Fred has been involved with the sport of volleyball for 27 years. He started the volleyball program at Ellington High School in 1979. Back in those early days of emerging girls’ athletics there was no assistant coach and Fred ran both the JV and varsity programs himself for 10 years. The girls were forced to wear old boys’ basketball shorts and strap type shirts. In spite of these hardships, Fred developed Ellington into one of the top volleyball programs in the state. His 25 year record is 299-176. Under Fred’s leadership Ellington won 7 conference championship, they qualified for the CIAC state tournament 18 times, reached the semifinals three times and were state runner-up once. Fred coached many outstanding players in his career. Eighteen of his former players went on to play in college and at least 15 have been involved as coaches ensuring that his legacy in volleyball will continue. In 1999 Fred was honored by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association as the Volleyball Coach of the Year.

Fred has also been active on the organizational level of volleyball. He served on the CIAC state committee for nine years and as a chairperson of the State Volleyball Association for six years. Along with John Fontana, Fred initiated the first, and has been responsible for all subsequent, volleyball all- state awards and banquets. He was involved with the first Connecticut Volleyball Senior All-Star game selection committee and he also selected as coach one year.

During the last 15 years Fred has been a volleyball official for the Connecticut Volleyball Board of Officials (CBVO) working high school girls’ and boys’ games as well as prep schools. For the past two years he has officiated at the Baystate Games, has coached and officiated at the Connecticut Nutmeg Games. He has also officiated at both the Special Olympics and Unified Games. Fred currently is chairperson of the CBVO. He is also involved with adult volleyball leagues in town trying to increase community awareness of the skill, recreation and fun of the game.

Hartford Courant: Colosimo Evolves Into An Expert

Toni M.Cartisano


Toni attended Southern Connecticut State College from 1967-71. After graduation she was hired by the Branford School System to teach physical education at Branford High School, and she also became the volleyball coach. Toni’s volleyball coaching career did not startout on  a very high note; that first year her team finished the season 0-14. The second year produced a more promising 10-5 record and, from that point on, there was not going back.  In her 20-year career, Toni has had only four losing seasons.

There have been many accomplishments in Toni’s career.  Her teams have qualified for the state tournament every year but one.  Branford appeared in five CIAC Class M State Finals, winning the championship three years in a row from ’81-’83 and finishing runner up in ’84 and ’88. In 1982, in addition to winning the state championship, her team completed an undefeated season and won the Housatonic League Championship. Toni was named CIAC State Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1984, and she has been nominated as National Coach of the Year twice. She has coached numerous all-league and all-state players many have gone on to play in college, and a few have become coaches themselves. Toni was active in the Connecticut Junior Olympics program. She coached the team that won the tournament and the right to represent Connecticut in the Junior Olympics in Chicago, Illinois. Toni served on the CIAC volleyball committee from 1983-’86.  She is one of the founding members of the Housatonic League and a founding member of the Connecticut Scholastic Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Toni retired from teaching this past June, but will continue to work with the young people at Branford High, supervising two clubs and producing the theatrical productions there.

Edgar D. Bengermino

It all started in 1968. Ed was helping Phil LeBrock teach “power” volleyball to the Physical Education majors at the University of Bridgeport and it turned out to be the beginning of a coaching career that would span over two decades. When Andrew Warde High School in Fairfield added varsity girls’ volleyball in 1974, Ed became the first head coach. This was a bit unusual because back then there were not many men coaching girls’ high school teams. He used his experience, enthusiasm and dedication to build Warde into one of the top programs in the state. His teams consistently qualified for post-season play both in the FCIAC and in the state tournament.

At Warde and then Fairfield High School, Ed and his teams compiled some impressive statistics. There were numerous FCIAC division championships, five FCIAC league championships and six times they were FCIAC league runner-up. Ed’s teams qualified for the state tournament every year including four trips to the CIAC Class LL finals; unfortunately, the top prize eluded them all four times. Ed has received much recognition in his coaching career. To name just a few, he was selected as the CAIC Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1978, he was the Region II Coach of the Year three times and represented our region at the National High School Coach of the Year Awards.

During Ed’s 25-year career he has given much more to the sport than just his coaching. He served on the volleyball state committee from 1980-86. Ed was also instrumental in gaining acceptance for boys’ volleyball in the state. He wrote many letters and appealed to the athletic directors and coaches, encouraging them to add this sport for boys. He saw his hard work come to fruition when, after several years as a club sport, enough schools added boys’ volleyball for it to gain recognition by the CIAC as a full varsity sport. Ed is also a founding member of the Connecticut Women’s Scholastic Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame.