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Five Connecticut Sporting Legends Named Gold Key Recipients


Top row: Laurie Larusso, left, and Babby Nuhn. Bottom row: Terry Tata, left, Jan Merrill-Morin, center, and Gary Makowicki

They will be honored by the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance at the 81st Gold Key Dinner in October.

SOUTHINGTON, CT — Five legendary figures will be honored this fall with one of the most prestigious awards in Connecticut sports, as 2023 recipients of the Gold Key Award from the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance (CSMA).


The honorees are Darien High School volleyball coach Laurie LaRusso, longtime Norwich Free Academy coach and athletic director Gary Makowicki, 1976 Olympian and American distance running record setter Jan Merrill-Morin, . North Branford High School field hockey coach Babby Nuhn and 27-year Major League Baseball umpire Terry Tata. They will be feted at the 81st Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023 at the Aqua Turf Club in the Plantsville section of Southington.


Tickets for the Gold Key Dinner are $75, and are available by contacting CSMA president Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at 860-394-5091 or tim.jensen@patch.com. Proceeds support the Bo Kolinsky Memorial Sports Media Scholarship, a $3,000 annual award named in memory of the noted high school sports editor of the Hartford Courant and past CSMA president, who passed away in 2003 at age 49.


Here is a brief look at the Class of 2023:


LAURIE LARUSSO – Started girls volleyball program at Darien in 1982, and has won 18 state championships and 23 FCIAC crowns from 1993 through 2022. Team had streak of 140 straight wins, eighth longest nationally, and another of 121 straight victories. Created boys program in 2006 and has won five state titles, including 2021 and 2022, and seven FCIAC championships. Her teams have posted more than 1,000 wins, and she has been inducted into the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame and Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


GARY MAKOWICKI – Coach and athletic director at NFA for 37 years. Coached girls track for 23 seasons, winning 10 Class LL state titles, including eight straight from 1994 to 2001, and three State Open championships. Finished with 201-17 record in dual meets, 12 undefeated seasons and 14 conference championships. Selected as CHSCA and CITCA track coach of the year, was NHSACA Girls Track Coach of the Year in 2003, and National High School Athletic Director of the Year in 2015. Member of Connecticut High School Coaches Association and National High School Athletic Coaches Association halls of fame.


JAN MERRILL-MORIN — Finalist in 1,500 meters at 1976 Montreal Olympics, gold medalist at 1975 (1,500 meters) and 1979 (3,000 meters) Pan Am Games. Former world-record holder in the indoor 3,000 meters and two-mile events, as well as the outdoor 5,000. She held American records in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000. Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance Athlete of the Year in 1977. Inducted into Waterford High School and Connecticut College halls of fame. Coached at Rutgers, Coast Guard Academy, Conn College and Mitchell College; currently head coach at Old Saybrook High School.


BABBY NUHN — Coach of North Branford field hockey for 50 years, compiling 533 victories, a .701 winning percentage and six state championships, first in Class M in 1980 and most recently in Class S in 2021 and 2022. Member of New Agenda: Northeast, Connecticut High School Coaches Association and National High School Athletic Coaches Association halls of fame. Chair of Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame; founder of Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame. 2014 recipient of Thomas M. Monahan Honor Award from CHSCA.


TERRY TATA — Waterbury native, current Cheshire resident. Youngest professional umpire when he debuted in minor leagues at age 19. Umpired in Major League Baseball from 1973 through 1999, working four World Series, seven National League Championship Series, four division series and three All-Star Games. Participated in five no-hitters, including home plate for gems by Hall of Famers Phil Niekro in 1973 and Tom Seaver in 1978. Received Major League Umpire of the Year Award in 1991. Member of Hank O’Donnell Hall of Fame in Waterbury.


(Photos courtesy of Connecticut Sports Media Alliance)

Posted April 19, 2023 by the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance

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