Yesterday the Fairfield County sports Hall of Fame announced its annual inductees to the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame. No Fairfield residents in the mix, but there were some locals with ties to Fairfield. Here is the list, complete with bios (compliments of the Hall of Fame):
Charles Smith, Bridgeport. Former NBA’er that spent time with the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Smith played in the NBA for 10 seasons. The 6-10 Harding High alum was the third overall draft pick in the 1988 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, which immediately traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers. Smith spent five seasons in LA (1988-1992) before being dealt to the New York Knicks. He played in NY from 1992-1996 and ended his career in San Antonio in 1997 with a 14.4 scoring average. As a collegian, Smith is the University of Pittsburgh’s all-time leading scorer and a two-time All-American and won the Big East Player of Year in 1987-88. He was also a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team, which won the bronze medal. Since 2008, Smith has been the executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
Jennifer Rizzotti, New Fairfield. Current University of Hartford women’s basketball coach and former UConn point guard. Rizzotti’s college basketball career at the University of Connecticut thrust her into the national spotlight, and the fiery point guard continued her winning ways in a professional career that spanned eight seasons. She spent the first three in the same arena in Hartford where she led the 1995 Huskies to an undefeated 35-0 national championship season, playing for the New England Blizzard of the ABL, where she was a two-time all-star. The New Fairfield High graduate then played five years in the WNBA, two in Houston where she won a WNBA championship with the Comets in 1999. Her final three pro years were with Cleveland. Rizzotti, who was a two-time All-American and the national player of the year in 1995-96, is now heading into her 10th season as the very successful women’s basketball coach at the University of Hartford. She was elected to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pete Demmerle, New Canaan. Former New Canaan High School football great. The late Pete Demmerle was one of the county’s greatest football players. As a wide receiver at New Canaan High, he was one of the key components in a Ram offense and passing game that was one of the highest scoring and most successful in state history and produced both FCIAC and state titles in 1969. Demmerle was a two-time all-state and all-FCIAC selection (1969 & 70). In his senior season he caught 102 passes for 1,419 yards and 15 touchdowns, including an 18-reception, 316-yard game. For his career, he caught 165 passes for 2,550 yards and 28 TDs, all still standing school records. Demmerle then continued a family tradition started by his grand father and father and attended the University of Notre Dame, where he was both an All-American and Academic All-American and starting receiver on the Irish’ 1973 national championship team. . In 1999 he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and passed away in May 2007.
Dick Siderowf, Westport. A former great amateur golfer. Siderowf’s amateur golf career was not only storied in the county, state and region, but across the world as well. Playing out of Westport’s Birchwood Club, he was twice the British Open amateur champ (1973 & 76), played on four Walker Cup teams (69, 73, 75, 77) and was captain of the 1979 team, all of which were victorious. Siderowf amazingly won major amateur tournaments over a 40-year span from 1955-1996. After winning the state junior title as a 16-year-old in 1954, Siderowf then started his long succession of tournament victories by capturing the 1955 state amateur. He then played golf at Duke University, where he was named to Duke’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1958 at Brooklawn in Fairfield, he became the youngest winner of the Connecticut State Open at 20 years old. He went on to win five Connecticut State Amateurs (55, 60, 65, 84, 85). Other notable accomplishments include playing in eight Masters and four U.S. Opens, where he was the low amateur at the 1968 event at Oak Hill in Rochester and being elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame.
The community service nominations were Joe Benanato of Shelton and Terry Lowe of Greenwich. Any memories of any of these athletes in their Fairfield County days? I know I can remember watching Rizzotti while she was at UConn and being facsinated by her grit and determination. I was enamored with it and her. Being from NJ, that didn’t make me all that popular.
Hall of Fame Classic coming to SHU
I’ll be able to blog and write stories in the Citizen next week about it, but the New Haven vs. Fairfield County Hall of Fame Classic is coming to Sacred Heart’s Campus Field on Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $5 and can be attained by calling 488-7571 before Friday.
Fairfield’s Kevin Callahan and Spencer Linder, both of Warde, will be on the roster for the Fairfield County squad. Callahan’s father, Kevin (who is the head coach at Ridgefield), will coach the Fairfield squad.
As always, comments, questions and suggestions are appreciated. Take good care.