From left, Gold Key recipients Irving Black, Charlie Sticka and Walter Luckett.
Gold Key recepients for 2002 included retired New Britain High School track/cross country coach Irving Black, state and New England high school basketball scoring champion Walter Luckett Jr., University of Hartford women's basketball coach Jennifer Rizzotti and Trinity College football All-American Charlie Sticka.
Black, 70, a native of Providence and an accomplished hammer thrower, is a 1952 graduate of Boston University. He arrived at New Britain High as a physical education instructor and coached track and field from 1953-88; cross country from 1962-82. His indoor and outdoor track and cross country teams won 22 league championships and had a 602-71-3 combined record.
Black has been assistant track and field coach at Trinity since 1989. He has been photo finish evaluator at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and also has worked at the Goodwill, Commonwealth, Asian and Pan-American games during the past 13 years. Black and his wife, Virginia, live in New Britain.
Walter Luckett, Jr.
Luckett, 48, still holds the state and New England boys basketball scoring record with 2,691 career points while playing for Kolbe High School in Bridgeport (1970-72). He was named first team High School All-American in his senior season (1971-72) and his uniform hangs at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
In the fall of 1972, Luckett appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a freshman at Ohio University. He led the Mid-American Conference in scoring in 1974 and 1975, and was named All-American by Sporting News, United Press International, and Associated Press in 1975. He was also named All-Midwest by Basketball Weekly that year. Luckett was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1975, but because of a leg injury, he did not pursue a professional career.
Luckett, who works for Unilever Home and Personal Care USA as manager of community relations and corporate contributions, is a member of several organizations, including National Urban League and its Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP), Jackie Robinson Foundation; Charles D. Smith Foundation, an after-school learning center program, among others. Luckett and his wife, Valita, live in Hamden.
Rizzotti, 27, helped UConn to a 35-0 season and NCAA women's basketball Division I national championship in 1995 and soon after found her way to the cover of Sports Illustrated following the 70-64 victory over Tennessee at the Target Center in Minneapolis. She received the Alliance's Hank O'Donnell Female Athlete of the Year in 1996.
Rizzotti spent grades 6-9 at the American School in Tokyo, before her family returned to Connecticut. At New Fairfield High School, Rizzotti was an All-State player in basketball three times and volleyball once, leading New Fairfield to state titles in basketball her junior and senior years and the volleyball final her final season. She was MVP of the Class M basketball tournament in 1990 and '92. Despite leaving New Fairfield with 18 advance placement credits in calculus, physics and Spanish and being the Gatorade Circle of Champions state player of the year her senior year, when she averaged 23.7 points, 7.3 assists and 6.8 steals, Rizzotti wasn't highly recruited.
At UConn, the Huskies went 117-18 (99-7 the final three years), won six Big East regular season and tournament titles and reached the Final Four twice, winning the one national championship when she was a junior. She also was a dean's list student majoring in biology, a two-time Academic All-American, the Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior and received a NCAA post-graduate scholarship. After being named Big East, Associated Press and Naismith Player of the Year and winner of the Wade Trophy and Honda-Broderick Cup her senior year, Rizzotti was the territorial pick of the Blizzard of the American Basketball League.
She started every game for a franchise that would be the most profitable in a league that struggled financially from the get-go. She was a two-time All-Star before the ABL folded in its third season, then played on two WNBA championship teams in Houston before helping the Cleveland Rockers win the East Division title last season.
Rizzotti became the youngest women's basketball coach in Division I when she took over the Hartford program on Sept. 17, 1999 at age 25. One of her assistants the past two seasons has been her husband, Bill Sullivan.
Sticka, 68, was an impact player on both sides of the football. He led former Gold Key recipient Dan Jessee's 1954 and '55 varsity teams to 7-0 seasons. In his last game against Wesleyan in 1955, Sticka had three touchdowns and 159 yards on 14 carries. He still holds school records for career points (227), touchdowns (37) and most forced fumbles (nine). He is also third in career solo tackles (167) and total tackles (349).
In 1955, Sticka was named to The Associated Press' Little College All-East and All-American teams and the Gridiron Club of Boston honored him with the George Bulger Lowe Award as the most outstanding player in New England. He played in the East-West Shrine game, received Trinity's Most Outstanding Male Athlete Award, and this past fall, Trinity retired his No. 31 jersey. Sticka and his wife, Gloria, live in Wethersfield.