Class of 2005
Dorothy’s distinguished career began in 1972 when she entered Milford High School. At that time, athletic seasons were not as rigidly defined, so as a freshman, Dorothy was able to play four sports: volleyball, swimming/diving, basketball and softball. It was that year that she first walked into the gym to try out for volleyball, a sport she had never played, and she was nervous. She overcame her anxiety, and with determination and hard work she made the team. Just two weeks into the season, to her surprise, her coach, Edna Fraser moved her up to the varsity. Although there were no all-star teams for volleyball in the early 70’s, Dorothy was a standout for her team. She was an aggressive hitter, tenacious on defense and a powerful server. While at Milford, Dorothy earned 13 varsity letters. She was captain of the volleyball team her senior year, the tennis team her junior and senior years and the basketball team her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She competed in state tournaments in five sports: volleyball, basketball, swimming/diving, and tennis.
Dorothy received one of the first NCAA scholarships for women. She attended the University of Alabama on a volleyball and basketball scholarship. She was a four-year varsity volleyball player earning letters each year. She appeared in three AIAW National Championship tournaments.
In 1980, Dorothy started teaching in Milford, but left in ’81 to train for the Olympic Games (Team Handball). She made the team and represent the US in the ’84 Games. The team finished fourth, missing a medal by a goal.
After the Olympics, Dorothy began a 13 year college coaching career which took her at the University of Minnesota, Tulane University and the University of Alabama. After marriage and two children, Dorothy decided to discontinue her Division I coaching career and she returned to Milford to resume her teaching career.
Dorothy has been the Athletic Coordinator at Newington High School since 2001. She has been a sports commentator and color analyst for ESPN in 1997, broadcasting NCAA and international volleyball events. She lives in Rocky Hill with her husband Tom and children Ty and Kyley.
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.
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.
Paula Astramowicz Smalac
Paula attended Platt High School in Meriden from 1975-79 during the infancy of Title IX and the growth of women’s athletics. A versatile athlete, she played volleyball, basketball and softball. When Paula entered Platt as a freshman, volleyball had only been a varsity sport for three years. The team finished 6-8 that year, but just three year later it would finish 15-2 and be runner-up in the CIAC Class M State finals. Paula was a big part of that success. A dedicated and talented athlete, she worked to develop and improve. She was a four-year varsity starter in volleyball, earning four letters and serving as co-captain her senior year. She was also an All-League team selection her sophomore, junior and senior years (there were not All-State teams in the 70’s). Paula did not just excel in volleyball; she was a four-year varsity starter in basketball and softball as well. She earned letters in each of these sports for four years. She has the distinction of being the first athlete at Platt to earn twelve varsity letters. Paula was also captain of the basketball and softball teams and was an All-League selection for both.
Paula received a volleyball scholarship to the University of Connecticut, no small feat since scholarships for women were rare in 1979. She played there for three years and earned three more varsity letters. Since graduating college, Paula has continued her involvement with volleyball, playing on USVBA teams, beach doubles, and coaching. Paula started coaching at Middletown High School in 1984, but left after one season to return to Platt to replace her former coach, Denise Amiot. She continued to keep the winning tradition alive. In her four years there, Platt won three CIAC Class M State Championships (1985, ’86 and ’88) and was runner up in 1987.
Today Paula resides in Cheshire with her husband Michael and her two children, Brendan (11) and Lindsay (8).
Marjorie R. Dolan
Marge’s interest in sports began when she was a young girl. It started with her playing with her siblings, then competing at the high school level and then in college. She attended Southern Connecticut State College from 1970-74, where she majored in Physical Education and played volleyball, basketball and softball. In 1976, marge was hired as a physical education teacher and as head volleyball coach at North Haven High School. Her enthusiasm, competitiveness and extensive knowledge contributed to her success as a coach. She produced teams that were aggressive, disciplined and highly motivated. North Haven qualified for post-season play regularly. In 1979, just three years after Marge took over at North Haven, they not only qualified for the state tournament, they won the Class M State Championship. Then in 1980, they repeated their success and won a second championship.
Marge also coached basketball and softball at North Haven and she was instrumental in establishing the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame. Many of the athletes Marge coached continued to play volleyball in college and a few have become coaches.
Over the years, Marge has given a lot of her time to volleyball. She has served on the CIAC volleyball committee for the last 28 years and she has be the CIAC State Volleyball Tournament director for the last eight. She also served as Region I representative to the National Federation of High Schools’ Volleyball Rules Committee in the late 80’s.
Marge has been honored for her many contributions to sports and the athletes that play them. In 1993, she was inducted into the Northeast Agenda Women’s Sports Hall of Fame for her contributions to the promotion of women in sports.
Today Marge is still serving the students and athletes at North Haven High School where she has been the Director of Athletics since 1993.
Lisa M. Barbaro
Lisa’s remarkable career began in 1993 at the Morgan School in Clinton. She was a three-sport athlete, playing volleyball, basketball and softball; she was outstanding in all three. During her four years there, she left an amazing legacy. Lisa was a four-year starter on the volleyball team and served as captain. In those years, her team amassed an 85-3 record, finished 22-0 in 1995 (an undefeated season for the first time in school history), won three conference championships and won the CIAC Class S State Championship four years in a row. Lisa’s contribution to her team’s success is evident in her numerous awards. She was 2nd team All-Conference in 1994, 1st team All-Conference in ’95 and ’96. , All-Middlesex County in ’94, ’95, ’96, All-Area 1994, ’95, ’96 and 2nd team All-State in 1996. As if this were not enough, Lisa was equally successful in her other two sports. She was captain of the basketball and softball teams as well, and she was selected to the All-Conference, All-Middlesex County, All-Area and All-State teams in BOTH of these sports. In her junior year, all three of her teams won state titles. This is believed to be a state record for the most consecutive state titles won in one year for a single high school girl’s athletic program. To cap off her career, Lisa was chosen the New Haven Register Connecticut Female Athlete of the Year in 1996, an honor she would receive again in 1997.
After graduating high school, Lisa attended Coker College in South Carolina and Southern Connecticut State University. She has continued to share her love of sports and competition by working at numerous volleyball clinics and camps, and through coaching. Lisa was head volleyball coach at Branford High School for two years, where she developed a more skilled, unified and successful program. In 2004 she was named head women’s volleyball coach and softball coach at her alma mater, SCSU. Her drive, dedication and disciplined coaching style have already helped to improve these programs.