Despina Soennichsen

Ryan Soennichsen presents Despina Soennichsen

Despina Soennichsen (nee Morris) played volleyball for Amity High School and continued her career at UCONN, winning a Big East Championship in her sophomore year.  In her 4 years at Amity, the team had a regular season record of 70-2.  After losing in the Class L finals in Despina’s sophomore year, Amity went on to win the Class L title in her junior & senior years.

While at Amity, Despina was named All-SCC her junior and senior years.  In her senior year, Despina was also named to the New Haven Register All-Area team, and awarded All State honors after tallying 198 kills, 91.4 service percentage, and was a dominant middle blocker for a team that did not drop a single game until the state finals, where they knocked off Southington 3-1.

Despina credits much of her success to Cathy Simmons, who was her older brother’s high school coach at Amity at the time.  She believed in and encouraged Despina to play at a young age when no other younger kids were playing, and allowed Despina to participate in camps and programs meant for older players.

Additionally, Despina would like to thank Nell-Ann Lynch (nee Aloi), and Paul Thees.  Nell was the Amity JV coach at the time, and as a former UCONN player herself, gave Despina the confidence and encouragement to pursue her volleyball career at the collegiate  level.  As the head coach at Amity, Paul Thees oversaw the team to much of its success.

Directly from college, Despina was hired as the assistant coach at Quinnipiac University and also started coaching for Connecticut Juniors Volleyball.  She continued to play volleyball at the CT Sports Center in Woodbridge, where she met her future husband, Ryan. 

Despina was also a stand our basketball player at Amity, named captain her senior year.

Currently, Despina is a special education paraprofessional in the Wilton school system, and still coaches for Connecticut Juniors Volleyball when her schedule allows.

Janice Ehorn

Janice’s volleyball career started at an earlier age than most females in Connecticut. As a young girl she started playing alongside her two older sisters, Marcia and Carrie, both of whom were on the Amity Class LL championship team in 2003 coached by Paul Thees.

Janice joined Amity’s varsity team a year later in 2004 as a middle blocker. During her freshman year, she got to play alongside one of her sisters which made the transition to high school an easy one and helped her continue the Amity winning tradition by making it to the Class LL State semifinals match that season. But only playing front row is a middle blocker was not what Ehorn had in mind for her tenure at Amity. She decided to join the Connecticut Jr Travel Club program her freshman year and developed as an all-around player which helped her play all the way around for her remaining three years at Amity.

In her sophomore year, despite being out for half of the season due to injury, Janice helped lead the Spartans to the Class LL State quarterfinals match. During the season, she was named all-area by the New Haven Register, Connecticut Post, Hartford Courant, first team all-SCC and first-team All-State, all honors which she also earned during her Junior and senior years. During her junior season at Amity, Ehorn set a school record of 370 kills. She ended her four-year Varsity career with a total of 1,108 kills. In her final season at Amity, Ehorn was named the 2007 SCC tournament MVP and the 2007 Connecticut Volleyball Gatorade Player of the Year.

While playing high school volleyball, Janice was part of the Connecticut Jrs Travel Club program for 4 years coach by Mike Brienza’s and during her junior season, the team went undefeated, they were the New England region Champions and they were also ranked number one in the region.
After High School, Janice attended Wingate University in North Carolina where she continued to be part of a winning tradition. During her for years at Wingate, under a head coach Shelton Collier, the Lady Bulldogs amassed a record of 130 – 7, winning the SAC conference tournament every season to advance to the Division II tournament where they visited the sweet sixteen twice and the elite eight once.

Currently, Janice is an insurance agent for The Milford Insurance Agency in Connecticut. The agency was originally started by her grandparents and is now owned by her parents. Janice is working to continue the tradition and help the local area with their insurance needs. But if she is not in the office, Janice can be found playing volleyball, both indoor and outdoor, or spending time with her family.

Ann Moscovics

Ann started playing volleyball as a sophomore at Amity Regional (Amity was a 3-year senior high school) in 1980. With little experience to speak of but a great deal of talent, she tried out and won a spot as a varsity starter, no small feat on one of the top teams in the state. She was a strong side hitter with great passing skills and quickness which made her an effective player in the back row as well as the front. In fact, her combined talent and attitude earned her the team MVP award that year and she helped lead Amity to the Housatonic League title. As a junior, Ann was named team co-captain and helped her team continue its winning ways. Amity won another Housatonic League championship and added a CIAC Class LL State Title. As a junior, Ann was chosen team MVP for a second time and was selected first team All-Housatonic League and All-State. During her senior year it was more of the same. Amity finished the season 19-3 and won a second State Championship. Ann was once again selected team MVP, All-Housatonic League, and All-State. She also played in Team Connecticut on the AAU circuit that year. Ann’s excellence in athletics was not limited to volleyball, she also played basketball and softball at Amity. In basketball she scored more than 1,300 points in three years and in ’83 was selected as a Carnation Women’s Basketball All-American. In softball, Amity won a state title in ’82 and Ann was selected to the All-State team.

After graduating from Amity, Ann attended New Hampshire College. She played four years of Division II basketball with the Penwomen. In ’87, Ann turned her athletic interest to coaching. Her first position was as the head coach of the mane’s volleyball team at Sacred Heart Universtiy where she remained for two seasons. Currently she is coaching at Coginchaug High School in Durham. She is assisting head volleyball coach Clare Matasavage and she has been the head softball coach for four years. Her softball teams have accrued an amazing 19-1 record in post season play, have advanced to the state finals all four years and have won the Class S championship three times.

In 2004, Amity Regional inducted Ann into the Spartan’s Hall of Fame and retired numbers 7 and 20 in her honor and in 2006 she was inducted into the Connecticut High School Softball Hall of Fame.


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.


Nell-Ayn Aloi Lynch


Nell-Ayn made her mark on Connecticut scholastic volleyball while at Amity Regional High School. She began in 1983 and earned her first varsity letter in 1984.

She was selected a team captain in 1986 and her team captured the Class L state titles in 1983, ’85 and ’86.  She was selected to the CIAC All-State team in ’85 and ’86.  Other honors she received while at Amity included the Amity Athlete of the Month in 1985 and the New Haven Register Athlete of the Week in 1986.

She was awarded a full athletic scholarship for volleyball at the University of Connecticut where she started all four years. She was selected the Big East co-player of the in in 1988 and Nell-Ayn was elected co-captain of the UConn team in 1990.

Nel-Ayn has coached with Debbie Chin at her “No. 1 Total Volleyball Camp”. She returned to Amity in 1992 to assist head volleyball coach Paul Thees. While working with Paul, the team won the ’94 and ’95 Class L state titles. She then moved on to become head coach of the Newtown High School volleyball team in ’96. Her team won the Class L state championship that year.


Newtown Bee: Nell-Ayn (Aloi) Lynch, a social studies teacher at the Newtown Middle School, will be inducted

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

Mia Malafronte


Until her freshman year at Amity High School in 1987, Mia Malafronte played basketball and softball and in the fall was a field hockey player. Her parents wanted her to try volleyball so she made a deal with them. She would attend a two week summer camp with CT Volleyball Hall of Fame member Kathy Symonds with the understanding that if she did not like volleyball, she would to not have to play. She fell in love with volleyball and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mia was a varsity outside hitter her sophomore year. That year her team was undefeated going into the State Championship Finals but lost a heart breaker to Maloney – 3 games to 2. The underclassmen vowed to never lose a match again. Her junior year, they defeated Maloney in the State Final and completed an undefeated season. In her senior year, they lost only two games the entire season and both were in the same match to Fitch High School. They met Fitch again, this time in the State Championship match, and won three games to none. They honored their vow and during her three year varsity career, her team was 65 and 1. Mia then played intercollegiate volley-ball for Albertus Magnus.

Mia’s awards and honors are too numerous to mention but include being a member of the 1989-90 Jr. Olympic Team Champions in the Nutmeg State Games. She was named to both the 1st Team All-Housatonic and 1st Team All-State Volleyball teams and was inducted into the Amity Athletic Hall of Fame. She was the Head Coach of the French American School of New York and presently is both the Assistant Head Coach and Junior Varsity Coach at Amity High School.