FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. Six new members of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame and sports persons of the year from 15 county towns were honored Monday at the seventh annual SportsNight at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.
The family of Stamford native Brian Bill, a U.S. Navy SEAL who was killed in action on Aug. 6 in Aghanistan, accepted the Chelsea Cohen Courage Award.
The Hall of Fame classes included Stamfords Bennett Salvatore, an NBA referee, and former NBA star John Bagley, of Bridgeport, in the Jackie Robinson Professional Wing. Joe DeSantis, a former college basketball standout at Fairfield, and distance runner Ceci Hopp St. Geme were inducted into the James ORourke Amateur Wing. Former Staples soccer coach Albie Loeffler and Bridgeports Charlie Bentley, a long-time basketball coach at Harding High School, joined the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing.
The highlight of the evening was a tribute to Bill by Greenwich native Steve Young. The NFL Hall of Famer delivered his message via video. Bill graduated from Trinity Catholic, where he played soccer and hockey. The Forever Young Foundation, the charitable entity of the former NFL quarterback, sponsors the Cohen Award. It is named after a former Norwalk High girls soccer star who died in 2006 after battling a rare form of cancer of the nervous system.
St. Geme is regarded as one of the best women distance runners in the nation over the past 30 years. She dominated the track and field cross country scene while she attended Greenwich High School, where she still holds Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference outdoor records in the 1,500, 1,600, 3,000 and 3,200. She won the national high school cross country championships in 1980 and went on to a standout college career at Stanford. She is still a national-caliber runner in masters competitions.
L.J. Mazzilli was named Greenwichs sports person of the year after helping the University of Connecticut baseball team to one of its best seasons ever. The son of former Major League ballplayer Lee Mazzilli, L.J. was a second team All-Big East selection and helped UConn win the Big East championship and reach the NCAA Tournament.
The Fairfield County Sports Commission presented the dinner. The commission is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fitness and active, healthy lifestyles as well as personal development through sports. The group introduced the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy this year. The academy supplements and complements existing sports and fitness programs.
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