Recipients to be honored at 75th Gold Key Dinner on April 24
Sheehan baseball coach Matt Altieri and Southington softball coach Davina Hernandez have been selected as the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Doc McInerney High School Coaches of the Year.
Altieri led Sheehan to the 2015 Class M title and Hernandez guided Southington to the Class LL championship.
Altieri, the Coach of the Year recipient in a male sport, and Hernandez, the Coach of the Year in a female sport, will be honored at the 75th Gold Key Dinner on April 24 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Former welterweight boxing champion Marlon Starling, New England/Hartford Whalers owner and founder Howard Baldwin, 1960 U.S. Hockey Olympic gold medalist Bob McVey, Trinity College squash coach Paul Assaiante and longtime Greeenwich High boys swimming coach Terry Lowe will receive Gold Keys at the dinner.
Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., are $75 and can be purchased by contacting CSWA President Matthew Conyers of The Hartford Courant at 860-874-4166, or email@example.com or Vice President Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be obtained by mailing a check to the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT, 06085.
A look at Altieri and Hernandez:
Matt Altieri (Sheehan baseball)
Altieri led the Titans (21-5) to the Class M championship in June, where they beat second-seeded Montville 5-0 in the final. Sheehan defeated top-seeded East Catholic 3-1 in the semifinals.
Sheehan was voted No. 1 in the New Haven Register sports writers' poll, receiving 14 of the 17 first-place votes. Fellow SCC Housatonic Division powerhouse Amity had the other three votes. Sheehan won two of three between the teams during the season.
It was the third state title for Altieri. Sheehan defeated Notre Dame-West Haven for the Class L championship in 2010 and topped Notre Dame-Fairfield in the Class M final in 2004. He has also guided the Titans into the state final in 2005, losing to Waterford, and in 2001 when the Titans lost to Plainville.
Altieri has won 333 games in his 22 seasons at Sheehan, where he is also a social studies teacher.
Davina Hernandez (Southington softball)
Hernandez helped lead Southington to the Class LL championship in June with a 5-4 comeback victory over Cheshire in the final. The victory completed a 24-0 season and stretched the program's win streak to 70 games. Southington is eight short of Seymour's state record.
Southington also finished 24-0 in 2014, Hernandez's first season as coach. Hernandez is 48-0 with two Class LL titles in two years.
Hernandez, 28, suffers from Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease where the body's immune system attacks its own tissue.
After a standout career at Bristol Central, Hernandez played four seasons at UMass. As a sophomore she was chosen to play on the Puerto Rican National Team. She was eligible because her grandparents were born there. She discovered she had Lupus during her time with the national team.
Lupus eventually ended Hernandez's playing career, but she has since become a champion for Lupus awareness ever since, actively and passionately supporting youngsters stricken with the disease.