Class of 1999
Dr. Winnie Hamilton
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.
Bonnie Jean Kenny
(no high school data available)
Bonnie moved on to the University of Tennessee in 1981 where she captained the Lady Vol’s nationally ranked volleyball team. That team enjoyed much success with three appearances in the NCAA tournament, two Southeastern Conference titles and two SEC runner up titles. Bonnie herself was named to the Southeastern Conference all-tournament team in 1982.
Bonnie also excelled academically while at Tennessee. She was named an Academic All-American in 1984 and remained on the Dean’s list for seven academic quarters.
Upon graduation from the University of Tennessee, bonnie was named head volleyball coach at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She continued there until 1993 when she took on the position as head coach at the University of Massachusetts where she continues to coach at present.
Form 1980 until the present time, Bonnie has worked as instructor, clinician and director for numerous volleyball camps.
She is a content contributor in both the AVCA Handbook and Championship Volleyball Drills Vol I & II.
Floretta “Pinky” Crabtree
Pinky was educated at Keene State where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1965. She continued her education at Cortland St. where she earned her MS in Physical Education in 1971.
Her tenure at ECSU began in 1971 after coaching and teaching on the high school level in Michigan and New York for 5 years. She was selected to coach volleyball in the Fall of 1975 beginning a 22-year tenure. This was only the second women’s intercollegiate team at the institution following the formation of women’s basketball in 1971.
In her 22 years as volleyball coach at ECSU, Pinky racked up 616 wins with only 295 losses for a winning percentage of 67.6. Her teams competed in post season tournaments every season beginning in 1977. Eastern qualified 11 times in the 16-year history of the NCAA Division III tournament, earning bids in each of her final four seasons. Pinky’s Warriors were also named to five ECAC tournaments, winning the title in its first two tries in 1985 and 1988. Under Pinky, Eastern won 22 invitational tournaments, placed second 28 times and was third on 24 occasions and had consolation victories four times. Eleven times the Warriors won at least 40 matches.
Since the introduction of regional and national honors in 1986, Pinky has coached 2 All-Americans, 18 all-region picks and 25 all-New England athletes.
Pinky was named the 1995 New England Region Coach of the Year. She served as chairperson of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Advisory Committee since its inception and was on the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association All-American Committee. In large measure, through Pinky’s efforts, the New England area was awarded its own NCAA region in 1994, providing the area with increased representation in NCAA Division III tournaments.
She retired from ECSU in July of 1997 holding the distinction as winningest coach in the history of New England Collegiate women’s volleyball.
Dr. Gail “Gigi” Brown
Dr. Brown’s volleyball interest began as far back as 1964 when she was a young girl who would rig up ladders and ropes to play volleyball with her friends in the back yard of her home. That fascination with the game led to her initial participation on the organized team when she played “homeroom volleyball” at Central Grammar School. Her volleyball experience grew with her competition on the Milford High School varsity team where she captained the team. She advanced to play with the Connecticut Clippers USVBA team during her senior year at MHS.
Upon graduation from Milford, Gigi continued her education as well as her volleyball career at CCSC where she starred as a hitter. She led the CCSC team as captain and was selected to numerous tournament all-star teams. She helped Center qualify for AIAW regional tournament play. During her college career, she was also invited to try out for the US Volleyball team in preparation for the World Cup Games in Montvideo, Uruguay. She was one of two players from the east coast invited to the tryouts in Los Angeles.
Gigi coached volleyball at Avon High School and Canton High School during her college years. She capped her athletic career in college when she was awarded the Gail Rutz Award as the outstanding senior female scholar/athlete at CCSC.
After college it was back to the Clippers for two more years of competition, as well as a stint as assistant coach at the University of Tennessee. It was then that volleyball took a back seat to medical school and her residency.
That hiatus did not end Gigi’s career. She has continued to play in various coed leagues and on women’s teams up to and as recently as 1994.
At present, Dr. Brown is the Medical Director of Rehabilitation for Exeter Health Resources and the Medical Director for Rockington VNA and Hospice, both in Exeter New Hampshire.
Vincent began his lifelong association with volleyball at the age of 16 when he started playing with the American Turners in New York City. At age 18 he became the player/coach for the Turners, a position he held for the next 15 years. During that time, his team competed in many USA Volleyball National Championships.
In 1970, Vincent became a regional referee in the Garden Empire in New York City for USA Volleyball. Two years later he earned his national rating for USAV. He was selected to referee at Madison Square Garden for the US National Team at an exhibition match.
Vincent moved to Connecticut in 1970 where he began his 28-year officiating career refereeing girls’ high school games. He contributed as a referee assignor for the Fairfield county area assigning 43 high schools. He also held the position as rules interpreter for that district.
He started the Fairfield County USA Jr. Olympic girls’ volleyball program and set up volleyball camps in Fairfield county for high school girls.
Vincent also game of his time as a volunteer for the Special Olympics World Games in New Haven and he served as the co-coordinator for the 3rd Annual Easter Seals Volleyball Marathon.
Vincent received awards from the town of Stratford for his time and donations to the sports programs in the schools. Most recently he was honored by the FCIAC when they named their league MVP aware after Vincent A. Buehler.
During his 42 years of participation in the sport of volleyball, it is believed that he played and officiated somewhere between 35,000 to 40,000 games.
Volleyball was his number one passion.