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Laurie LaRusso

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Laurie graduated from Indiana University and received her graduate degree from Sacred Hart University. she taught at the elementary and middle school levels and now teaches at Darien High School.

Laurie started coaching volleyball at Darien in 1982. Since then her teams have won 21  FCIAC League Championships and 15 State Championships.  They had 11 undefeated seasons with winning streaks of 121 and 140 consecutive matches- the latter is the 8th longest in high school athletics. They were also named the #1 team in the Connecticut final coaches poll 9 times.  Her career record is now 583-81.

Her players included 65 first team all-league, 28 all-state, 15 most valuable players, four Gatorade Players of the Year and one All-American.

Laurie has been honored as the girls’ volleyball coach fourteen times. Her honors include FCIAC League Coach of the Year, Connecticut High School Coaches Assoc. Coach of the Year and National High School Coaches Assoc. Coach of the Year.

Laurie has also been inducted into the FCIAC Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Coaches Hall of Fame.

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Matthew Hurlock

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When Matt Hurlock started coaching at Coventry in 2001, his first season ended with his team 6-21. Things were about to change. Just two years later, in 2003, Coventry won their first Class S State Championship.

Since 2003, Coventry has played in eight consecutive Class S finals. They won seven titles from 2003-2010, finishing 2nd in 2005. Those years also included four undefeated seasons and an 84 match winning streak from ’06-’08.

In 2010, Coventry finished their fourth undefeated season (24-0) as state champions and became the first small school to ever be voted #1 in Connecticut.

During is career, Marr was awarded the High School Coach of the Year for girls volleyball  by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance and in 2010 he was awarded the Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Assoc.

Hartford Courant
Hartford Courant: Matthew J. Hurlock Gymnasium Dedication Ceremony

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Nancy Grace

Grace coached field hockey and softball at Canton and had tremendous success with the field hockey program, winning 295 games, 11 league titles and eight Class S championships from 1985 to 2004. Her Warrior teams finished second three times and she was named the Class S coach of the year four times by the Connecticut Field Hockey Coaches Association. She was a finalist for the National High School Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year award in 2000.

In softball, she coached at Canton from 1990-99, leading the Warriors to seven NCCC championships and a Class S state title in 1991.

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Barbara Startup

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Barbara Startup graduated from Central Connecticut State College. She began her career at the Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh New York as a physical education teacher and volleyball coach. She began her administrative career, as an assistant principal at the Vernon Middle School in 1989. After spending five years in Enfield as the Coordinator of Physical Education, Intramurals, and Athletics, Barbara returned to Avon in 1995. At this time, she became the Director of Physical Education and Health Education, Athletics, Intramurals, and Student Activities. In 1998, she became the Director of Athletics for Glastonbury High School.

Barbara has held over a dozen different positions in her career, and has been honored by many groups for her work in all of them. Concentrating on her volleyball-related accomplishments, she has 40 years of volleyball officiating experience including many CIAC champion-ship games and Division II and III college tournaments. In the 1980’s and 90’s, Barbara held one of only two national volleyball ratings in the state. She became a volleyball officials trainer and served as past president of the Volleyball Board of High School and College Officials. For the past 33 years, she has been the scheduling coordinator of the Connecticut affiliated Board of High School Volleyball Officials and is currently serving in that position. She also is presently serving on the CIAC boys and girls Volleyball Committee and as the Assistant Tournament Director of the CIAC Volleyball State Tournament. Barbara is also a member of the National HS Federation Volleyball Rules Committee and is a founding member of the CT Scho-lastic Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame and continues to serve on its committee.

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Cindy Opalski

Cindy attended Southern Connecticut State University where she played volleyball for Lou Albrecht and Joan Barbarich. A savvy outside hitter for the Owls, she played in two AIAW tournaments and was captain of the squad in her senior year.

In 1979 she took over the program at Maloney High School in Meriden. Stepping into such a well-known and successful program could’ve been a daunting task to some, but Cindy was more than up to it. During her seven year tenure from 1979 to 1985 she and her teams amassed an amazing record of 147 wins and 11 losses including four undefeated seasons (1979, 80, 81 and 84). Under Cindy’s guidance Maloney won the C IAC State Class L Championship (they played up in class) in 1979 and 84 and they were runner-up in 1985. In 1981 Maloney was part of the longest high school winning streak in the United States. Cindy also produced many outstanding players, among them all-staters Bonnie Kenny, Kim Sokel and Anne Marie Larese. There were also numerous all-league awards and league titles.

After leaving Maloney, Cindy worked with the US Volleyball Junior Olympic Program for five years coaching the Connecticut team at numerous national qualifiers. She coached and trained some of the top players to come out of Connecticut. Cindy is now in her 20th season as an intercollegiate head coach. In 1986 she was hired at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. In her four years there she led the team to a 96- 42 record and the school’s first-ever conference title in 1988. She was the AV CA coach of the year in the Atlantic region and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

In 1990 Cindy arrived at Bucknell University and has transformed Bison volleyball into one of the top programs in the East. They were recognized as the most improved team in the nation by Volleyball Monthly in 1993; recorded the best record in school history in 1995 at 26-7; won the first-ever Patriot League automatic bid to the 1998 NCAA tournament; and in 2003 posted a school record 11 Patriot League wins en route to a second-place finish. Bucknell has won four of the last 11 Patriot League regular-season titles under a plastic Cindy. Cindy one of her 300th career match in 2004 and she has been named the Patriot League coach of the year three times: 1997, 2000 and 2003.

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Linda Hamm

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Linda Hamm from SCSU with a degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1968. Upon graduation, she began her long and esteemed teaching and coaching career at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington.

She was the varsity volleyball coach from 1968-79 where she amassed a 142-53 record. During that time, her teams were Northwest Champions nine times.

In 1980 she took the position as head coach at Yale University. In 1981-83, she was the assistant coach at the University of New Haven. Then in 1984 she moved on to become head coach at CCSU.

Most recently, she started and coached the boys’ volleyball team at Lewis Mills in 1997-98.

Linda received her National Volleyball Officials’ rating in 1970 and continued in the capacity until 1975. She served as chairperson for the Connecticut volleyball officials from 1974-77. She was a member of the selection committee for the USVA All-American team from 1981-88. She has also been a past member of the Connecticut Board of Volleyball Officials.

As a player, Linda competed from 196901987 with the Connecticut Clippers.  She played in nine national tournaments in the open team- A Division. She also competed with two A Division Master’s teams.

She was the CHSCA Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1976.

 

 

Sandra Piantek

Sandra graduated from Middletown High School. She received her BS and MS degrees from SCSU and her 6th year certificate from UCONN. She competed on the SCSU volleyball team from 1962-1966. She is presently the chairperson of the Health and Physical Education department at Maloney High School in Meriden.

Sandi initiated and coached the very first varsity sports for girls at Maloney High, which were field hockey and volleyball. Her volleyball coaching career at Maloney High School spanned 12 years and her overall volleyball coaching record is an incredible 220-9. During her reign as coach, her teams captured 7 state volleyball championships from 1973-1978, while also being runner up in the 1975 title game.

She was selected as the Connecticut High Schools Coaches Association Volleyball Coach of the Year in 1974.

The Morning Record: Maloney Volleyball Incredible Success Story

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Jean Hunt

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Jean graduated from Boston University and UCONN.  She began her teaching and coaching career in 1952 at Litchfield High School where she coached soccer, basketball, field hockey and cheerleading. She left that position to continue her career at Farmington High School where she coached from 1957 until 1981. While at Farmington, Jean distinguished herself as an accomplished volleyball coach from 1965-1974. During that time her teams accumulated a record of 73-3. There were undefeated in regular season and regional competition.

There were the CIAC State Champions consecutively from 1966-1972. There were also runners-up in 1974.

Jean also coached badminton, basketball, field hockey, softball and track and field at Farmington where she led her teams to 11 state championships, 8 conference championships and 19 undefeated seasons.

In 1967, her field hockey, badminton, basketball and volleyball teams were all undefeated and that year the badminton and volleyball teams took home state championships. Her overall record is 509-139 with 44 ties.   She has received numerous awards for her work in coaching and teaching. Most recently she was honored by the National of Girls and Women in Sport and was name a Project Acclaim Mentor.

Collinsville Press (obituary)