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.

Mark J. Sullivan

Mark’s first involvement with volleyball was as a player in 1969. His love of the game increased and he soon joined Westerly YMCA, which afforded him more playing time and play at a more competitive level.  Mark soon decided he wanted to experience that other part of the game, the coaching part. In 1979 he started the varsity volleyball program at Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton. Using his experience as a player, his hard work ethic, and his dedication, he built one of the most successful volleyball programs in the state.  During his 12 years as head coach, Mark has established quite a record. His teams have qualified for the CIAC State Tournament every year. He has coached four All-State players including two sisters and numerous All-league players.

He has received honors over the years including the New London Day Coach of the Year in 1990 and Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1991.

Mark retired from coaching in 1990 and lives in Mystic with his wife Margaret.

Cynthia Hitchcock

Cindy is one of the pioneers of girls’ athletics in this area.

She started her coaching career in 1970 at Cheshire High School where she coached both volleyball and basketball.  She also coached the girls’ track team from 1973-1981.  Cindy’s intensity and competitive attitude helped build Cheshire into one of the most successful athletic programs in the state. During Cindy’s career her volleyball teams compiled an impressive record including 3 state championships, 7 Housatonic League championships and an amazing 57 game winning streak.  Many of the athletes under Cindy’s guidance received All-League and All-State honors and many went on to play in college.

At the helm of the basketball team for twenty years, Cindy’s teams were very successful.  Her leadership gained her many honors including being named Coach of the Year by the Tap Off Club in 1982 and being inducted into the Tap Off Club Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Today Cindy is retired from teaching and coaching, but she is embarking on a new career- as a volleyball official!  She also spends time with her son Bruce, daughter-in-law Susan and grandsons Bruce and Blake.

Erika Beerbaum

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in 1969 Erika pioneered and developed the first volleyball and basketball programs at Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford.

over the next three years as area programs expanded, she played an important role in helping to organize the first women’s division in the Housatonic League. in 1971 she moved across town to the new Mark T. Sheehan High School and again built strong volleyball and basketball programs.

During her years of coaching volleyball, her teams suffered only three losing seasons and many of her athletes who received league and state honors went on to play on the collegiate level. Sheehan was the Housatonic League runner-up in ’73 and ’76. In the state competition her team reached the regional final in ’73 and placed second in the 1976 Class M State Championship. Erika retired from coaching in 1980.

Barbara Gioncarlo

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Barbara graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1974 where along with her academic studies, she played volleyball, basketball and softball. Upon graduation, she accepted a teaching position in the Waterbury School system as well as a coaching position in 1975 at Naugatuck High School where she became the school’s first girls’ volleyball and basketball coach.

During Barbara’s 12-year volleyball coaching tenure, her team complied a 203-26 record. This includes one state championship season (17-0), five trips to the state tournament, one with a quarterfinal finish, two as semifinalists and two as runner-up. Barbara has coached eight all-state volleyball athletes and she was named the CHSCA Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1981.

She is presently a 6th grade Principal at West Side Middle School in Waterbury.

Kathryn Symonds

Kathy began her outstanding coaching career at Amity High School in 1977 where she coached girls’ volleyball for 14 years.

During her reign her teams captured 12 Housatonic League titles. In CIAC  state tournament competition they had two 5th place finishes, two 3rd place finishes three 2nd place finishes and seven Class L state championships. She had a 93% win-loss record with 258 wins and only 18 losses.

Kathy also coached the Amity boys’ volleyball team for nine seasons, winning five state titles.

She was selected as the Amity High School Coaches Assoc. Coach of the Year in 1981-82, and the Connecticut High School Coaches Assoc. Coach of the Year in 82-83. Kathy was also a 3-time nominee for the National High School Coaches’ Assoc. Coach of the Year for Region I.  Some of Kathy’s other contributions to volleyball include:

  • Member of the CIAC volleyball tournament committee for 8 years;
  • Tournament director for the CIAC volleyball tournament;
  • Site director for the CIAC volleyball tournament;
  • Volleyball chairperson for the CHSCA;
  • Regional director for the CT High School Boys Volleyball League;
  • Coach for the Nutmeg Summer Games;
  • CHSCA All-Star selection committee;
  • President of the Amity Coaches Association;
  • CHSCA Executive Committee (3rd vice president)
  • 15 years as director of the Spartan Volleyball camp.

Kathy coached numerous all-state athletes. She was written up in Sports Illustrated “Faces in the Crowd” in January 8, 1990 and was featured on MSG-TV network in November 1990.

 

Dr. Winnie Hamilton

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Winnie began her sports career as an outstanding athlete at Laurelton Hall High School. There she participated on the field hockey, basketball, softball and tennis teams. Upon graduation, she continued her education at SCSC where she majored in physical education.  It was at SCSC that Winnie had her first experience of being cut from a  sports team when she tried out for the volleyball team. They were looking for a middle blocker and Winnie, at 5’2”, did not fit the bill for the Owls. Winnie really believed that she could have been successful on that team.  Thus, upon graduation from Southern, when the opportunity arose to coach volleyball at Westhill, Winnie took the position. There she coached using her philosophy, formed by her experience at Southern, which was and is “you can be anything you believe you can be- and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”

From that start of her 14-year volleyball coaching career at Westhill, her teams qualified for every state tournament and always achieved a minimum of a quarterfinal appearance. During her tenure as coach, her tems accumulated 10 league championships, 2 state titles with 7 appearances in the finals. These accomplishments coming from a team whose tallest player during those years was 5’9”.

Winnie was recognized for her achievements by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association as the Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1977 and the  New England HS Coaches Assoc. as the Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1984.  She was elected as the second woman to serve as president of the CHSCA in 1985. Winnie received the Stamford YWCA You Make a Difference Award for all her work with the children of Stamford.

Winnie is presently serving as principal of Dolan Middle School in Stamford.

Edna Fraser

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Edna graduated from West Haven High School and SCSU with a BS and MS in Health and Physical Education.

She played softball for the Raybeston  Brakettes during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Her teaching and coaching began at Milford High School and in 1973 she moved to Foran High School. It was there that she coached volleyball (1973-1978), basketball (1973-1986), and softball (1973-1991). Her teams won 399 games in the three sports over a 33-year career.  In 1986, she took the position of athletic director at Foran. She served in that position until 1992. She served as CIAC volleyball tournament director from 1992-1996.

Edna was a pioneer in establishing sports for girls in the state of Connecticut. she began her career at a time when there were few if any sport opportunities as well as establishing herself and her programs as models of excellence.

Aside from her award presented tonight, Edna has also been inducted into the SCSU Alumni Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Softball Hall of Fame, the Conn. Coach Association Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Connecticut High School Basketball Hall of Fame in April. Edna was also honored by the town of Milford with the renaming of the gymnasium at Foran High School as the Edna I. Fraser Gymnasium.

Paul Thees

Photo by Peter Casolino/Register Paul Thees is back as the head coach of the Amity volleyball team. Thees coached Amity for 16 seasons before resigning in 2007.

Photo by Peter Casolino/Register
Paul Thees is back as the head coach of the Amity volleyball team. Thees coached Amity for 16 seasons before resigning in 2007.

Paul played in the recreation /club volleyball program back in the late 70s at SCSU, and from his love for the game of volleyball. A few years later after graduating, he pursued his first head coaching job in 1982 at North Branford High School. He applied and was asked to meet Athletic Director Don Knickerbocker, who has since passed. Don started his career, and taught him the ropes as a beginner. Paul coached at North Bradford until 1985. His last three years at North Branford, his team 13 conference titles, played once in the quarterfinals of the state tournament and twice in the semifinals. That was just the beginning.

From 1989 through 1991 toll coached Platt High School in Meriden where his teams played once in the quarterfinals, wants in the state finals and won the state championship. Then in 1992, Paul was hired to coach at Amity Regional High School. For the next 15 years, his teams won 11 conference titles, played in the quarterfinals of the state tournament six times, the semifinals three times, the finals twice and won three state championships. After after two years coaching of trouble high school, Paul return to an 80 and 11 more conference title and played in the quarterfinals wants more.

In total, falls high school coaching record stands at 512 wins and 157 losses and 31 years. In five different schools, Paul Stevens won 15 of the titles, qualified for the state tournament 29 out of 31 seasons, played in the quarterfinals nine times, the semifinals five times, the final seven times and won four state championships. He is the only high school coach to win state championships at two different schools. He had multiple Allstate players and two Gatorade Players of the Year.

The Orange Times:  A Coaching Legend Retires After 31 Years

Richard Langer

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Richard Langer started playing volleyball around 1970 in the old Southern New England YMCA league. He played in various tournaments in both New York and New England.

Five years later, Rich started coaching volleyball at Haddam-Killingworth. During his career, his teams have been to the finals of the Connecticut state volleyball tournament seven times. In 1991, his team was the Class S state volleyball champion.

Also during his career, in 2001 Rich was named the Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Volleyball Coach of the Year.

In addition, Rich coached at the University of Rhode Island’s volleyball camp for three years, was selected Teacher of the Year for Regional School District 17 in 1998 and was inducted into the Haddam-Killingworth Hall of Fame and 2009.

Rich continues to play volleyball having played in the United States Volleyball Association’s nationals three times in the past five years. He also has played in various charity tournaments as a family with his two sons, daughter, son in law, and daughter in law.

The 2014 season is rich reminders 40th year of an outstanding volleyball career.

Middletown Press:  A memorable final season