A pair of coaches who guided their teams to thrilling state championship seasons in perfect fashion have been selected tops in the state by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.
Newtown football coach Bobby Pattison, left in photo, and Guilford field hockey leader Kitty Palmer, right in photo, will receive the Doc McInerney High School Coach of the Year Award from the CSWA at the 79th Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 26 at the Aqua Turf Club in the Plantsville section of Southington.
In his third season as head coach, Pattison led the Nighthawks to their first state football championship since 1992. The 13-7 Class LL title win over Darien came in dramatic fashion on a 36-yard touchdown pass as time expired, and occurred on Dec. 14, the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.
Pattison’s team completed a 13-0 season and finished with an undefeated regular season record for the second straight year. The team proved a stout defensive group, authoring six shutouts, including two in the postseason, while allowing an average of only 6.5 points per game.
Palmer’s 38th season at the helm of the Indians proved her most successful, as Guilford successfully defended its Class M championship from 2018 by posting a 23-0 record. The Indians outscored opponents by an incredible 126-13 margin, and ended the year with a 31-game winning streak dating to October 2018.
The year not only ended on a championship note for Palmer, but also began that way, as her top-seeded Daniel Hand girls tennis team won the Class M title by defeating Lauralton Hall, 6-1. This gave Palmer the rare distinction of helming two state championship teams at two different schools in two different sports in the same calendar year.
Gold Key Award recipients for 2020 are five legendary scholastic coaches: Cookie Bromage (Enfield field hockey), Joe Grippo (Morgan girls volleyball and girls basketball), Lou Milardo (Hale-Ray softball), Ricky Shook (Danbury wrestling) and Angela Tammaro (Greenwich Academy field hockey and lacrosse). Baseball Hall of Fame honoree Claire Smith, 2017 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, will receive the President’s Award.
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, Lindy Remigino, Floyd Little, Joan Joyce, Otto Graham, Calvin Murphy, Gordie Howe, Bill Rodgers, Geno Auriemma, Rebecca Lobo, Brian Leetch, Kristine Lilly, Marlon Starling, Dwight Freeney and ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen 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. Proceeds from the event benefit the Bo Kolinsky Memorial Sports Journalism Scholarship, named after a longtime Hartford Courant sportswriter and past CSWA president who died unexpectedly in 2003.