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
Marina Rose attended Coventry High School where she earned three varsity letters in track and field and four varsity letters in basketball and volleyball.
Marina’s greatest accomplishments were earned playing volleyball. She was named captain of the volleyball team in both her junior and senior year. During her four years on the team, Coventry won four consecutive Class S State Championships. In those championships, she was named the Most Valuable Player in three of the four state championship matches.
In 2013, Marina was named the Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year, as well as the MaxPreps Small Schools High School Volleyball Player of the Year. Marina now attends Providence College and is a junior. She plays on the volleyball team and this year she earned the title of captain.
Marina studies Health Policy and Management at Providence College and wants to pursue medicine after her years at Providence to become an Obstetrician. Her younger sister, Emma is currently playing volleyball at Iona College and is a freshman. Marina loves to play beach volleyball doubles with Emma and enjoys coaching when she can.
Marie Lavin began her volleyball officiating career in 1987. Only four years later, in 1991, she officiated her first state tournament final.
Since then, Marie has officiated many matches and fourteen state tournament finals. In her incredible career, she also in one season officiated four state finals, two for girls volleyball and two for boys volleyball.
Marie has served her fellow officials as well. She served as President of the Connecticut Federation of Volleyball Officials from 2004 until 2008. Since 2008, she has served as the Assigning Coordinator for CFVO as well as serving on the Connecticut State Board of Volleyball Officials as secretary for four years and as President of the Board for two years. In addition she has recently served as the Boys Volleyball State Tournament Assigner for 2014 and 2015.
Kate Whalen attended Cheshire High School where for all four years; she was a three sport athlete. She played volleyball, basketball and softball. While she was recognized in all three sports for her accomplishments, it was in volleyball that she truly excelled.
In 1981 Kate was named the Most Improved Player. In 1982, she was named team Captain and later, her Team’s Most Valuable Player. In her career, she received both league and state honors. She was named to the 1st Team All Housatonic League, and the All State Class L 2nd Team.
Kate attended the University of New Haven on a volleyball/softball scholarship. In her senior year, she credits her coach Debbie Chin with influencing her career, resulting in her current position as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics at Adelphi University.
Tessa Smolinski played scholastically at RHAM High School, where she was the school’s Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year as a senior. She became the program’s first Gatorade Connecticut Volleyball Player-of-the-Year when she led the Sachems to an undefeated season and a third straight Class “M” state championship. Smolinski was a two-time Most Valuable Player of the state title match and a two-time first-team Class “M” All-Stater.
After high school, Tessa attended Springfield College where she participated in four NCAA Division III tournaments and won two New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) post-season tournaments. She had a career 1556 kills and 1355 digs while at Springfield. As a senior, she was chosen as the NEWMAC Player-of-the-Year, and repeated as a second-team AVCA All-American. She is also the recipient of the NCAA Elite 89 Award, which is presented to the player at the national championships with the highest GPA, as she graduated with a 3.99 GPA.
Smolinski is an experienced clinician at various volleyball camps and clinics. She is now an assistant coach under Megan Silver-Droesch at the University of Connecticut, while pursuing a Doctorate in Audiology at the University.