A half-dozen individuals who have unselfishly devoted their time and energy to the promotion of athletics in their communities have been named recipients of the John Wentworth Good Sport Award by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.
Chris Bishop of Wallingford, John and Judy Clark of Middletown, Michael Cotnoir of Enfield, John Larkins of Shelton and Dave Putnam of East Lyme are the 2019 honorees. The award is named in honor of John Wentworth, former sports editor of The New Britain Herald who specialized in writing about local sports figures.
They will be honored at the 78th Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. A brief look at the Good Sport honorees:
Chris Bishop is Wallingford's amateur baseball ambassador. After playing scholastically at Xavier, he began coaching in the Wallingford Little League in 2007. He founded the CT Cobras travel team in 2009, which became the Wallingford Cardinals two years later. Bishop helped connect the Cardinals with the town's American Legion program, and has been Post 187 president since 2011. In Jan. 2018, he opened a not-for-profit indoor facility to support Legion and Little League players throughout the region.
John and Judy Clark operate WCNX radio, a low-power AM oldies music station that broadcasts both on the air and online, who found their niche in fall 2007 when they started broadcasting high school football games. Soon, they were broadcasting high school basketball games, and high school sports found a home at www.wcnxradio.com. Their sports broadcasts not only enable fans to hear games which otherwise would be unavailable, but also provide exposure for student-athletes and volunteer broadcasters. The Clark’s station is part of a Department of Defense rotation of small-market radio stations broadcast via Armed Forces Radio, reaching servicemen and women across the country and the world.
Michael Cotnoir has been at the helm of the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame since its inception nearly a quarter-century ago. He and founder Bill Chaves were co-chairmen from 1995 to 1999, and Cotnoir has served as chairman since that time. He will be overseeing his 24th induction dinner in September, and regularly volunteers his time at the annual Amy Romano Memorial Field Hockey scrimmage event. He was instrumental in establishing a scholarship fund for deserving high school seniors in Enfield, which to date has awarded $49,000. A number of other halls of fame have consulted with Cotnoir about the founding and operation of the Enfield Hall of Fame. He has also organized charity golf tournaments in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
John Larkins coached the Shelton American 12-and-under All-Stars to the state's District 3 title last summer, a first for the team since 2010. He has served as a head coach in the league for five years, and has been involved with Little League for seven. A board member for seven years, Larkins has held fund-raisers through golf tournaments; those monies have gone toward a complete refurbishment of the league's field. During the winter, Larkins coaches in the Shelton Bibby Basketball League, where he captured a city championship last winter.
Dave Putnam has been the East Lyme Parks and Recreation Director since 2005, and currently serves as executive director of the Miracle League of Southeastern Connecticut, spearheading an effort to bring just the second Miracle League field in Connecticut – giving children with disabilities throughout the region the opportunity to participate in sports – to East Lyme. Putnam has raised more than $210,000 for the construction of the field since the initiative was formally announced in Nov. 2017. In 2018, he was named Niantic Lions Club Humanitarian of the Year and earned the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Distinguished Service Award.
Gold Key Award recipients for 2019 are former college and pro basketball standouts John Bagley and Chris Smith, longtime NFL coach and Super Bowl champion Chris Palmer, St. Thomas More basketball coach Jere Quinn and ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.
The Gold Key Dinner was inaugurated in 1940, with baseball legend Connie Mack and golf superstar Bobby Jones among the initial recipients. The roster of honorees since then reads like a Who’s Who of Connecticut sports – Joe Cronin, Julius Boros, Willie Pep, Andy Robustelli, Lindy Remigino, Floyd Little, Joan Joyce, Carmen Cozza, Otto Graham, Calvin Murphy, Joe Morrone, Gordie Howe, Bill Rodgers, Tony DiCicco, Geno Auriemma, Rebecca Lobo, Brian Leetch, Kristine Lilly, Marlon Starling and Dwight Freeney are just a few of the past Gold Key winners. A complete list is available at www.ctsportswriters.com.
Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner are $75 apiece, and may be reserved by contacting CSWA President Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-394-5091.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Bo Kolinsky Journalism Scholarship, named after a longtime Hartford Courant sportswriter and past CSWA president who died unexpectedly in 2003.