At the outset of this all-decade project, there was nearly nothing set in stone. There was an enormous amount of research that needed to be done to properly choose the members of each team and best rank each of the top lists. There was a least one thing that was a sure bet from the beginning, though, and that was Naugatuck’s top athlete of the decade: Brian Mariano. Mariano’s exploits in Garnet and Grey are stuff of legend: He won 11 NVL titles in 11 varsity seasons, was a combined six-time all-NVL selection, a five-time all-state honoree, once an All-New England pick, twice an All-America honorable mention, twice an All-America choice, and a national champion, all of which came in soccer and diving (of course, the latter was his bread and butter). Not bad for a guy who never planned on stepping foot on the one-meter springboard.
The fire everyone knows about, the one that’s the flaming hub of a spirited Thanksgiving Eve pep rally, will take place Wednesday night, just hours before the Greyhounds host rival Ansonia. The one that players and alumni know about, the one that’s the flickering center of a pensive gathering, will take place just a few hours before the other. It’s called The Burning of the Shoe, a tradition Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky brought with him from Springfield College when he took the reigns of this already tradition-rich program in 2001. And it’s just what it sounds like: The Hounds gather around a burning cleat and just talk … and listen.
NAUGATUCK — Jessie Ballenger was ready to take on public office when she found out she had been nominated as African-American mayor of the day. “You just never know when something good happens out of the blue,” Ballenger said. “You never know when people are watching you and been taking you into consideration for honors and recognition.” Mayor Robert Mezzo handed his office over to Ballenger Monday as part of the town’s observance of Black history month.
BEACON FALLS — The procession curled off Exit 24, toward North Main Street, and paused as ladder trucks from Seymour, Prospect, Bethany, Roxbury and Middlebury joined firefighters marching on foot, the Connecticut Firefighters Pipes and Drums and the 1929 Seagrave bearing the reason for the assembly. Kevin Swan, 68, a 49-year veteran of Beacon Hose Company No. 1, suffered a heart attack shortly after responding to a 5 a.m. call last Wednesday. Swan signed on the radio but never arrived at the Susan Street fire; he was found in his pickup truck, still in the driveway of his 95 Skokorat Road home, and was pronounced dead at Griffin Hospital, around 9 a.m.
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High School football and soccer teams are usually among the best teams in the Naugatuck Valley League. The fields they play on, though, are a completely different story. The Greyhounds’ soccer pitch and football field are marred with ruts, dirt spots, and major drainage issues. Boys soccer coach Art Nunes, who is in his 17th year with the team, has been critical of the field for which his players have to settle.
NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds have struggled this season trying to run and gun with the best of the Naugatuck Valley League. They changed their tactic Friday and came out against Seymour with a defensive presence that knocked the Cats off their game. But while working to keep Seymour in check, the Hounds lost a little bit of their own offensive oomph and came up on the short end of a 54-42 final. “Our goal wasn’t to go out there and slow down the pace of the game,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “We did want to limit them to one look at the basket and pick it up on the other end. For whatever reason, that didn’t happen the way we had planned it. Seymour did a good job of working the ball around, and they were very patient. We really had no answer for Kyle Moran, especially in the final period.”
BEACON FALLS — In recent elections nationwide, it has been Democrats trumpeting change, in contrast to Republicans’ status quo. But here it is the GOP working to remake its image, in hopes of balancing a local government controlled largely by Democrats. Among 15 total winners in November’s municipal elections, only four were Republicans and just two, Town Clerk Kurt Novak and Board of Education member Bill Fredericks, actually beat Democrats for their seats. Many Democrats won their seats unopposed, after the seemingly disorganized Republican Town Committee failed to compile a full slate of candidates. So it was unsurprising that when caucusing last Wednesday at the senior center, an assembly of 39 registered Republicans elected a 25-member body that included 17 people who were not on the committee at the start of the current term. Howard Daniels, Jr., Leonard Greene, Ursula Henry, Helen Mis, Brian Ploss, Susan Ploss, James Woodward and Judith Wrenn will be the eight holdovers when a new term begins in March.