Criteria in place for coaching Wall of Fame

NAUGATUCK — Coaches who went above and beyond their duties at Naugatuck High School will now be immortalized on the school’s Wall of Fame.

The Board of Education this month approved a policy setting the criteria for placing a coach on the Wall of Fame.

In order to be put on the wall, Board of Education Chairman Dorothy Neth-Kunin said coaches have to exemplify the field of their craft and sport and also set a standard of education. In addition, they have to exemplify leadership on and off the field and have made a positive impact on students’ behavior, she said.

There are 12 coaches who will be placed on the wall at first, said school board member David Heller, who chaired the subcommittee that developed the policy for the Wall of Fame.

The discussion on the wall was sparked in February 2016 when former Naugatuck High Athletic Director Tom Pompei proposed naming the multi-purpose turf field after retired boys soccer coach Art Nunes.

The idea was met with concern from board members who, at the time, felt people could put other names forward that had a career as successful as Nunes and the board would be obligated to name other fields. Nunes is among the 12 coaches slated to be honored on the new Wall of Fame.

Members of the public also raised concerns over the idea since the combined athletic complex at the high school is known as Veteran’s Field.

In April 2016, the board approved moving forward with a Wall of Fame, which will be placed on the outside of the school where the gym and swimming pool are, to honor coaches.

“We wanted to break away from the standard of naming floors and halls and buildings and fields and railings and stairs and whatever else we could name,” Neth-Kunin said.

The Wall of Fame will feature a plaque with a bust identifying the coach, their accomplishments, and the years they spent at the high school, Heller said.

Board of Education member Diana Malone argued the money for the plaques, which are about $2,400 each, should be used elsewhere.

“There was no way of using that money for education,” Malone said. “Wouldn’t a plaque with all the names on it cost a lot less than what you are proposing to do?”

Heller said the money for the wall comes from the $81 million renovation project the high school underwent.

“The funding is set aside for work on this building. It isn’t available to pay teachers’ salaries,” Heller said.

Neth-Kunin said it’s up to the building committee for the renovation project to decide how the funding is used.

“The task we have at hand is not purchasing the plaques. The task is merely making a motion and passing a motion on the policy that we are setting forth,” Neth-Kunin said. “The purchasing and fulfillment of the busts fall on the building committee.”

Malone was also concerned about the limited space on the wall for plaques and asked what would happen once it filled up.

Neth-Kunin said there is enough space for about 30 plaques. She said the criteria to earn a spot on the wall is set so high that there’s unlikely to be more than one or two placements a decade moving forward.

“Over time, maybe in 100 years, you might fill that,” Neth-Kunin said.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Board of Education member David Heller chaired the subcommittee that developed the policy for the Wall of Fame. The article previously stated, incorrectly, that Heller is the chairman of board’s policy subcommittee.