Gold Key Dinner
Each year in April, we host our annual Gold Key dinner to recognize men and women who have made a significant contribution and/or have achieved excellence on the field of athletics as a player, coach or administrator.
Regarded as the highest sports award in the state, the Gold Key has been presented to more than 200 men and women including baseball manager Connie Mack (1940), boxer Willie Pep (1961), Walt Dropo (1975), President George H.W. Bush (1991), NHL legend Gordie Howe (1992), Hall of Fame basketball coaches Geno Auriemma (2001) and Jim Calhoun (2003) and U.S. women’s soccer star Kristine Lilly (2012).
The 79th annual Gold Key dinner and banquet has been postponed until Sunday, May 2, 2021, at the Aqua Turf restaurant in Southington due to continued concerns about safety and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is a list of Gold Key award winners through the years.
2020 | Postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
2019 | John Bagley, Warren Harding HS, Boston College and NBA star; Chris Palmer, longtime NFL assistant and head coach. Super Bowl XLII champion; Jere Quinn, St. Thomas More-Montville boys basketball; Bill Rasmussen, founder of ESPN; Chris Smith, UConn basketball and NBA star
2018 | Dennis Coscina, PGA golf professional; Dot Johnson, Granby field hockey; Lou Marinelli, New Canaan football; Len Tsantiris, UConn women's soccer; Gretchen Ulion-Silverman, U.S. women's hockey gold medalists (1998)
2017 | Dwight Freeney, NFL veteran (Colts, Cardinals, Falcons) and Super Bowl champion; Ed Aston, Cheshire swimming; Steve Waters, Farmington boys soccer; Archer Butch Johnson, five-time U.S. Olympian and gold medalist (1996)
2016 | Paul Assaiante, Trinity College squash coach; Howard Baldwin, former owner of the Hartford Whalers; Terry Lowe, Greenwich High swimming and water polo; Bob McVey, 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey gold medalist; Marlon Starling, two-time world boxing champion
2015 | Craig Janney, hockey, U.S. Olympian and 12-year NHL veteran; Tracy Lis, girls basketball star at Killingly High and Providence College; John Pagliaro, Yale football running back; John Kuczo, long-time FCIAC coach and league official
2014 | Amby Burfoot, road racing, Boston Marathon winner; Bill Dowling, former general manager and president of the New Britain Rock Cats minor league baseball team; Cathy McGuirk, Branford field hockey coach; Ed McCarthy, West Haven High football; Ray Reid, men’s soccer (won national titles at UConn and Southern Connecticut State)
2013 | John Blomstrann, E.O. Smith boys soccer coach; Mike Gminski, NBA basketball player (Duke/Masuk); John “Laddie” Lawrence, Staples High track and field coach; Gary Liberatore, University of New Haven men’s basketball (New Canaan); Nancy Stevens, UConn field hockey coach (more than 500 wins, NCAA champion)
2012 | John Dunham, Trinity College men’s hockey coach; Kristine Killy, U.S. national team star (women’s soccer); Dave Shea, three-sport coach at Bacon Academy; Mike Walsh, Trinity Catholic men’s basketball coach
2011 | Roger Bidwell, UConn-Avery Point baseball coach; Ed Lynch, Simsbury boys golf and boys soccer coach; Marty Roos, Notre Dame-Fairfield boys hockey coach; Bill Wallach, Guilford boys soccer coach
2010 | Scott Burrell, NBA player (Hamden/UConn); John Gardner, Avon Old Farms hockey coach; Pete Shuler, Westbrook girls basketball coach; Joe Benanto, Yale baseball coach
2009 | Brian Leetch, NHL player (Cheshire/Avon Old Farms); Stan Ogrodnik, Trinity men's basketball coach; Ray Cieplik, Coast Guard athletic director; Tom Nevers, Eastern Connecticut State soccer coach
2008 | Ted May, professional golf administrator and patron; Tony Falzarano, Putnam High boys basketball coach; Ralph King, Brien McMahon High (Norwalk) coach and administrator
2007 | Deborah Chin, University of New Haven coach and administrator; James O'Neill, New London, Waterford high school coach and administrator; Walter "Doc" Hurley, Hartford sportsman and benefactor; Charles Bentley, Harding High (Bridgeport) boys basketball coach
2006 | NHL All-Star Ron Francis; NBA player and Harding High basketball star Charles Smith; East Lyme softball coach Judy Deeb; Masuk-Monroe girls basketball coach Dave Strong
2005 | Bill Mignault, Ledyard football coach; Jake Salafia, former Cromwell boys' basketball and cross country coach; Bruce Webster, former University of Bridgeport men's basketball coach
2004 | Rebecca Lobo, University of Connecticut women's basketball; Bob McKee, Conard High School football coach; Gene Reilly, high school and college All-American, boys' basketball coach at Portland High School; Corny Thompson, Middletown High School and University of Connecticut men's basketball.
2003 | Rico Brogna, retired Major League Baseball player from Watertown; Jim Calhoun, UConn men's basketball coach; Don Hoenig, professional golfer and Thompson Speedway owner; Mike Savage, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.
2002 | Irv Black, New Britain High track and field coach; Walter Luckett, Connecticut and New England boys basketball scoring champ from Bridgeport; Jennifer Rizzotti, University of Hartford women's basketball coach and UConn All-American; Charlie Sticka, Trinity College football All-American.
2001 | Geno Auriemma, UConn Womens Basketball Coach; Frank Robinson, Jr., Hall-West Hartford Football Coach; Jean Hunt, Farmington High Field Hockey Coach; Dr. Rich Diana, All-America Running Back at Yale.
2000 | Bob DeMayo, North Haven High Baseball Coach; Tony DiCicco of Wethersfield, U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer championship team coach; Bob Dikranian, Southern Connecticut men's soccer coach; Bob Kay, golf professional, golf professional emeritus at Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford.
1999 | C. Donald Cook, Sacred Heart University athletic director; Ken Kezer, New Britain High School baseball coach; Bill O'Brien, commissioner of the Southern Connecticut Conference and New Haven area sportsman; Fay Vincent Jr., Major League Baseball Commissioner.
1998 | Jack Arute Sr., owner of Stafford Motor Speedway; Paul ''Frosty'' Francis, retired executive director of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials; Vito Montelli, St. Joseph High School boys basketball coach and athletic director; Dr. William Moore, commissioner of the New England Collegiate Conference and former Central Connecticut State University athletic director;
1997 | Lou Bazzano, Bulkeley High School basketball coach and Hartford schools' athletic director; Lida Tingley, amateur golf champion; Jerry McDougall, Trumbull High School football coach and athletic director; Joe Vancisin, Yale University basketball coach.
1996 | Howie Dickenman, Central Connecticut State University men's basketball coach; Edna Fraser, Milford High three-sport coach and administrator; Earl Lavery, Fairfield Prep football coach; John Williamson, pro basketball player from New Haven.
1995 | Donna Lopiano, Women's Sports Foundation executive director; Joe Buzas, minor league baseball owner in Connecticut; Don Miller, Trinity College football; Bruce Hutchinson, Southern Connecticut State University swimming coach.
1994 | Barbara Young, amateur golf champion; Bill Rodgers, Boston Marathon winner; Dan Sullivan, Windsor Locks High School three-sport coach.
1993 | Charlie Sharos, South Windsor High School basketball coach/athletic director; Dave Bike, Sacred Heart University men's basketball coach; Tracy Claxton, former high school and collegiate basketball standout from New Haven.
1992 | Gordie Howe, NHL Hall of Famer; Lowell Lukas, Central Connecticut State University golf coach; Herb Kenny, Wesleyan University men's basketball coach.
1991| President George H.W. Bush, Yale baseball captain; Susan Saint James, supporter of Connecticut Special Olympics; Patricia O'Sullivan Lucey, state amateur golf champion; Wally Camp, Coginchaug (Durham) High School basketball coach and athletic director.
1990 | Matthew ''Pop'' Shortell, Ansonia sportsman; Dom Perno, UConn basketball player and coach; Bob Steele, longtime WTIC Radio announcer.
1989 | Bill Holowaty, Eastern Connecticut State University baseball coach; Nick Zeoli, Wilton High School coach and athletic director; John Fontana, Southington High School baseball coach.
1988 | Brenda Reilly, Central Connecticut State University women's basketball coach; Calvin Murphy, professional basketball player; Joe Morrone, UConn men's soccer coach.
1987 | Ivan Wood, Plainville High School coach and administrator; Marcia Dolan, amateur golfer; Hank Majlinger, Central Connecticut State University baseball coach.
1986 | Burt Kahn, Quinnipiac College basketball coach; Bill Loika, Central Connecticut State University football coach; Bernie O'Rourke, Middletown sportsman.
1985 | Ray McKenna, East Hartford sportsman; Larry McHugh, Xavier (Middletown) High School football coach; Andy Baylock, UConn baseball coach.
1984 | Lou DeFilippo, Derby High School football coach; Waino Fillback, Middletown High School three-sport coach; Thomas R. Monahan, Bristol schools athletic director.
1983 | Bob Saulsbury, Wilbur Cross (New Haven) High School basketball coach; John Toner, UConn athletic director; Bobby Valentine, major league baseball player.
1982 | Abie Grossfeld, Southern Connecticut State University gymnastics coach; Bertha Ragan Tickey, softball pitching great; Tony Apisso, New Britain High School football coach.
1981 | Salvatore ''Red'' Verderame, Wilbur Cross (New Haven) High School basketball coach; Dick Danielson, Manchester High School soccer coach; Otto Graham, U.S. Coast Guard Academy athletic director, NFL player and coach.
1980 | Albie Loeffler, Staples (Westport) High School soccer coach; Bill Detrick, Central Connecticut State University basketball coach; Larry Panciera, UConn baseball coach.
1979 | Arthur ''Babe'' Allen, Bulkeley (Hartford) High School three-sport coach; John ''Whitey'' Piurek, West Haven High School athletic director and baseball coach; Jerry Courville, state amateur golfer.
1978 | Frank Crisafi, East Haven High School coach; Dee Rowe, UConn basketball coach; Frank ''Porky'' Vieira, University of New Haven baseball coach and Quinnipiac College basketball star.
1977 | John Egan, NBA and Providence College basketball player; Joe Gargan, Kingswood School (West Hartford) coach; William H. ''Widdy'' Neale, state golf official.
1976 | Carmen Cozza, Yale football coach; Ray Legenza, Naugatuck High School baseball coach; George D. Ritchie, Wethersfield High School coach.
1975 | Walt Dropo, UConn and Boston Red Sox first baseman; Dick Siderowf, state amateur golfer; Bob Skoronski, Green Bay Packers' star.
1974 | Joan Joyce, softball pitching great; Dick McAuliffe, major league infielder; John Merriman, U.S. Coast Guard Academy coach.
1973 | Rev. Robert Keating, sportsman and pastor of St. Jude's Church in Derby; Tom Kelley, Manchester High School coach; Floyd Little, Denver Broncos and Syracuse University running back.
1972 | Steve Blass, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher; Sumner Dole, UConn coach; Lindy Remigino, Olympic gold medal winner.
1971| Moe Drabowsky, major league pitcher; Walter Kennedy, NBA commissioner; Nick Pietrosante, Detroit Lions and Notre Dame fullback.
1970 | Charles ''Boots'' Jarvis, Ansonia High School athletic director and coach; Nels Nitchman, U.S. Coast Guard Academy coach; J. Ray Ryan, chairman, Albie Booth Memorial Game.
1969 | Sam Hyman, Eastern League pitcher; Jimmy Lee, Crosby and Wilby (Waterbury) High Schools coach; Art McGinley, dean of sports writers; Bill Steinkraus, Olympic Gold Medal equestrian winner.
1968 | Joe Fontana, Southington High athletic director; John Kelley, marathon runner; Murray Murdoch, Yale hockey coach.
1967 | Ralph Erickson, Loomis School athletic director; Harry Jacunski, Yale freshman football coach; Smokey Joe Wood, Boston Red Sox pitcher and Yale baseball coach.
1966 | Tom Callaghan, Windham High School coach; Jess Dow, Southern Connecticut State College coach; H.H. Mandly Jr., state amateur golf champion.
1965 | Joe Cosgrove, Eastern League outfielder; Bill O'Brien, New London High School coach; Steve Witkowski, Wesleyan University and U.S. Olympic trainer.
1964 | Frank Barnikow, Meriden High School; Emil ''Mim'' Daddario, Wesleyan University football star; Ed Feustel, state bowling official.
1963 | Connie Donahue, Torrington High School coach; Arthur ''Dutch'' Forst, football official; Jordan Olivar, Yale football coach.
1962 | George ''Kiddo'' Davis, major league outfielder; Maurice Podoloff, NBA commissioner; Frank ''Spec'' Shea, New York Yankees pitcher.
1961 | Willie Pep, world featherweight champion, Charlie Petrino, basketball official; Andy Robustelli, New York Giants' defensive end.
1960 | Sam Bender, Hillhouse (New Haven) High School basketball coach; Edwin F. ''Ted'' Blair, Connecticut's ''Mr. Yale''; John ''Clipper'' Smith, Notre Dame football player and coach.
1959 | Christopher ''Bat'' Battalino, world featherweight champion; J.O. Christian, UConn athletic director; Briggs Cunningham, prominent racing figure.
1958 | James E. Coogan, New Haven sports official; Dan Jessee, Trinity College football coach; Paul Kuczo, Stamford High School coach.
1957 | Charles Clare, state golf champion; Dr. John E. Stoddard, Meriden physician; Pete Wigren, Manchester High School coach.
1956 | Tad Jones, Yale football coach; Frank McGowan, major and minor league outfielder and scout; Frank Ross, state golf champion.
1955 | Tim Cohane, Look Magazine sports editor; Hugh Greer, UConn basketball coach; Johnny Newell, Hartford Public High School coach.
1954 | Joe Dugan, American League third baseman; Dennis T. McMahon, state athletic commisioner; Nick Tronsky, duckpin bowler.
1953 | Julius Boros, golfing great; Frank S. Hogan, New York district attorney; Danny Murphy, Philadelphia Athletics.
1952 | Gustave ''Gus'' Broberg, Dartmouth basketball All-American; William J. Price, state athletic commisioner; Jack Rourke, Colgate trainer.
1951 | Neal Ball, made baseball's first unassisted triple play; Ray Oosting, Trinity College athletic director; Red Rolfe, New York Yankees third baseman.
1950 | Larry Amann, Hartford Public High School coach; Albie Booth, Yale football star; George Mulligan, Waterbury sports promoter.
1949 | Norm Daniels, Wesleyan University coach; Robert Kiphuth, Yale athletic director and swim coach; Ken Smith, New York sports writer.
1948 | Joseph E. Cronin, American League President and Hall of Fame shortstop; Dr. Frank Mongillo, New Haven physician; George
Sparling, Brooklawn Country Club pro.
1947 | Jack Barry, Holy Cross College coach and American League shortstop; Bobby Grant, state golf champion; Raymond ''Ducky'' Pond, Yale football star and coach.
1946 | Joseph McCluskey, Olympic track star; Thomas M. Monahan, Bristol High School Coach; Ed Walsh, Hall of Fame pitcher.
1945| Pete Foley, Naugatuck High School coach; Dan Parker, New York sports columnist; Ken Strong, New York Giants and New York University star.
1943-44 | No awards because of World War II.
1942 | Emmons ''Chick'' Bowen, Hillhouse (New Haven) High School coach; Gene Sarazen, golf immortal; Bill Slocum, New York sports writer.
1941 | Louis ''Kid'' Kaplan, world featherweight champion; Robert Pryde, state golf official; George Weiss, New York Yankees and Mets executive.
1940 | Connie Mack, baseball's Grand Old Man; Edward Reilly, Bridgeport Central High School basketball coach; Hubert Sedgewick, dean of state sports writers; Bobby Jones, golfing legend.