NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Hall of Fame honored its 42nd class Oct. 19 at the Continental Room with seven new members entering the prestigious sports shrine.
The first honoree, Carl Herb, drew a warm standing ovation. Herb, who graduated from Naugatuck in 1964 as one of the most accomplished swimmers in school history, congratulated every new inductee and opened his remarks by thanking his family and friends.
“I would like to thank my friends, my family and my God. I never thought I deserved to be up here. I used to take my son Chris to these events and he used to wonder, why isn’t my dad up there? Well son, here I am,” which drew thunderous applause from the audience.
Todd Hennessey, one of the most accomplished hitters in Greyhounds history who later won a Division II national title at Eastern Connecticut, gave a very humorous and true-to-himself acceptance speech as his loving wife and daughters looked on. Following the speech his daughters climbed all over their hero dad for some very heartfelt photos.
In one of the most emotional moments of the evening, Pat Lawlor stood at the podium as master of ceremonies Ron Pugliese spoke about the legendary exploits of her late husband, Pete Lawlor, the former coach and photographer for the Naugatuck Daily News who was previously honored as the 1997 Raymond Foley Award for outstanding service to the youth of Naugatuck.
At the far end of the table sat the garnet and gray baseball cap with the “N” on the front that Pete Lawlor would wear to every sporting event he attended. There wasn’t an athlete or coach from 1990 through 2004 who wasn’t familiar with the baseball cap, the flannel shirts and the camera that hung from the neck of Naugatuck’s biggest fan.
Naugatuck Hall of Fame committee member and public relations director Fred Scheithe presented Pat Lawlor with the plaque and as the flash bulbs went off there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
This year’s class also included Jesse Cyr, a three-time state champion diver at Naugatuck and a New England champion at UConn; Karyn Iassogna, a volleyball and softball star with the Greyhounds who held a number of school softball records at the time of her graduation; Sarah Shea Montini, who is only the second female athlete at Naugatuck to letter all four years in three sports and earned All-NVL honors in all three; and Edmund Poscavage, an honorary inductee from the Naugatuck class of 1934 who died as a fighter pilot in World War II after an athletic career at Ohio State.
Naugatuck Hall of Fame 42nd class bios
Jesse Cyr and championship diving have gone hand in hand for years. As a stand-out diver for Naugatuck High School, he was a three-time CIAC Class L champion and in 1991, the CIAC State Open champion.
As one of the tri-captains in 1991, his diving helped lead Naugatuck to an undefeated NVL championship. He earned All-State and All-NVL honors in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Cyr’s diving scores also led Naugatuck High’s all time best list from his graduation year of 1991 until 1999.
Cyr continued diving at the University of Connecticut. In 1995, he was the New England Diving Champion in the both the 1 meter and 3 meter events.
Cyr coaches mens and womens diving at Southern Connecticut State University and SoNoCo Club Diving. He has coached numerous high school and college All-American divers.
Twelve performers from his Southern Connecticut team have been named as the Most Outstanding Diver at the Northeast-10 Championships and 10 of his divers have been named the Northeast-10 Diver of the Year. Cyr also coached two Notheast-10 Freshman Divers of the Year and has been honored 10 times as the Northest-10 Diving Coach of the Year.
Carl Herb graduated from Naugatuck High School in 1964 and enjoyed a distinguished swimming career. Herb served as captain in his junior and senior years. He was a member of the 200 medley relay that broke the State Open meet and New England meet records in 1964. During his time at Naugatuck, he attained All-State, All-New England and All-American honors.
Herb received a scholarship to swim at Loyola University but ultimately chose to turn this down and attend Waterbury State Technical College where he earned a degree in engineering. He also stayed in town to open Cindy’s Grocery, a business he still owns and operates to this day with his wife.
In his years since high school, Herb became an avid runner competing in dozens of 5K and 10K road races. He broke the Derby 5K Open Road Race record in the men’s 50-59 division. He took his love of running and competition to the Naugatuck High track teams, becoming the head coach of the boys’ indoor track and field team, the boys’ track and field team and the boys’ cross country team.
As the third generation of his family to live and raise his children in Naugatuck, Herb inspired his own children to participate in sports at the high school. Each of them captained the team they played on. Due in large part of Herb’s influence, the fifth generation of Herbs continue to call Naugatuck home and participate in local youth sports.
From 1980 to 2004, Pete Lawlor was actively involved with Peter J. Foley Little League, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and St. Francis School baseball and basketball. He began coaching in the minor league and continued on to coach the major league Orioles. His Oriole team won the championship in 1988.
The Peter J. Foley 10-year-old All-Star Tournament was run and coached by Lawlor. His major league All-Star Team was the first to win the Newtown Tournament. He then continued to coach Peter J. Foley Little League, Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle baseball. In 1991, as the assistant coach, the team they led won the Babe Ruth Championship.
From 1986-1990 Lawlor coached the St. Francis School baseball team. In addition, he coached the junior varsity basketball team in 1988 and 1989 and continued on to coach the varsity basketball team in 1990.
Lawlor was also an avid photographer. Starting in 1990, Lawlor began taking pictures of Naugatuck High School athletes and UConn women’s basketball games for the Naugatuck Daily News. All this was done free of charge. He passed on many of those pictures to the athletes, free of charge.
Because of his volunteerism over the years, Lawlor was bestowed several honors. In 2005, Peter J. Foley Little League retired the Orioles team as a tribute to Lawlor. He received the Raymond K. Foley Award in 1997. Pratt and Whitney also recognized him in 2000 with their Community Volunteer Award for his work at Peter J. Foley.
Karyn Iassogna Mennona
Karyn Iassogna Mennona was a two-sport athlete, playing both volleyball and softball at Naugatuck High School. It was softball, however, that she excelled in. Her career began playing the infield for St. Francis Grammar School and Peter J. Foley Little League teams. She switched to pitching during middle school and then became one of three pitchers on the Naugatuck junior varsity team. In her sophomore year, she advanced to the varsity team.
Mennona finished her three-year varsity career with a record of 4o-19. At the time, she set the NHS record for most wins by a pitcher. Mennona finished her first varsity season with a 12-5 record. She went 14-8 in her junior year with an ERA of 0.40. She finished her senior season at 14-6.
Mennona made her mark during the CIAC tournaments, each year pitching her team into the quarterfinals. Her record in CIAC tournament was 5-3, with 30 hits allowed over 60 innings pitched. She allowed seven total earned runs for a CIAC career ERA of 0.81.
During the three tournament games her sophomore year, she scattered 13 hits and four earned runs and lost to the No. 1 ranked team in the LL bracket. During the two days of tournament play her junior year, she scattered10 hits over 14 innings with only three earned runs. This time Naugatuck lost to the team that eventually won the LL state tournament.
She was injured just before the tournament her senior year, but gave up only seven hits in 21 innings and no earned runs in three games. Again Naugatuck lost to the No. 1 ranked team in the LL bracket.
Mennona’s pitching career came to an early end when that shoulder injury sustained near the end of her senior year prevented her from accepting a scholarship to pitch for Central Connecticut State University.
Todd Hennessey began his baseball career at Peter J. Foley Little League. He was a member of the All-Star team and was the league batting champ while playing there. He continued on to play for Naugatuck High School and Eastern Connecticut State University.
At Naugatuck, Hennessey was a four-year player who started at shortstop for two years and lettered in 1986 and 1987. In his junior year, he had the most hits, runs and RBIs combined for all players. He also broke the school record for batting average (.437), which stood for 10 years.
As a senior captain, he earned All-NVL shortstop honors, and was named the top pitcher and was selected to the CIAC High School All-Star team.
At Eastern Connecticut, Hennessey lettered in 1989, 1990 and 1991. During his sophomore year, he won the Most Improved Player Award, had a .340 batting average as the lead-off batter, and led the team in hits and assists.
In his junior year, Todd started 30 games. ECSU went on to win the New England Regional Championship and the NCAA National Championship as well.
As a senior, Hennessey led the team as captain, starting 43 out of 44 games at shortstop. Hennessey was voted First Team All-Northeast Shortstop. He became a member of the 60 Hit Club with 62 hits his senior year. The Joe Wojick Coach’s Award was bestowed upon Hennessey, who finished at ECSU with 146 career hits (18th highest all time) and a 118-56 record during his four years.
In his post-college years, he played for Champs Softball of Waterbury from 1993-1996 and Thermco/Easton Softball Club (Yarmouth, Mass.) National Traveling Team from 1996-1998.
Sarah Shea Montini
Sarah Shea Montini played for Naugatuck Youth Soccer, but she began her softball career with the Peter J. Foley Little League. As a young player, she was selected to the All-Star Team.
At Naugatuck High Montini excelled in three sports — volleyball, basketball and softball. She lettered in all three sports all four years. She also was the captain of all three sports her senior year. Montini was only the second person in 20 or more years to accomplish this feat.
Montini earned All-NVL honors in volleyball, basketball and softball. She became the school’s assist leader during her basketball career. Montini earned a selection to the CHSCA Association All-Star game for basketball. In 1994, she was honored as the NHS Female Athlete of the Year.
Montini lettered in both volleyball and softball at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.
Sarah never forgot the importance of respect both on and off the field or court. She never forgot the people who led by example to mold her into the person she became, both on and off the field and court. One of her best qualities was her ability to be a tremendous mentor to the younger athletes, something she continues to do to this day as an actively involved parent, along with her husband, in her children’s youth soccer and Prospect Little League teams.
Edmund Poscavage was born March 21, 1917. Poscavage attended Naugatuck High School where he played interclass basketball and baseball. He played varsity football and was an end on the 1933 team.
Poscavage was an avid swimmer and a member of the YMCA. Poscavage broke many swimming records for the Y. He gained nation-wide publicity in 1936 by setting a then-American record (5:49.2) for the 440 yard backstroke at the Payne Whitney Pool.
Also in 1936, while swimming for the YMCA, Poscavage broke the Hartford High Pool and set a new Connecticut Interscholastic record for the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 1:07 4-5. At one time he was listed as the ninth best backstroke swimmer in the US.
Poscavage attended Ohio State University and was a member of Mike Peppe’s National Ohio State Swim Team. He also played and coached water polo at Ohio State.
In 1941, Poscavage enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was honorably discharged soon after because he had a crash. He went to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot in training. There he met and became good friends with Jake Gaudaur, who later became commissioner of the Canadian Football League for 16 years.
Poscavage and Gaudaur were members of the Hurricanes, a football team created by the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1942, the team won the Grey Cup.
Poscavage became a pilot officer in the RCAF in 1943. When the U.S. entered World War II, Poscavage resigned from the RCAF and relisted in the Army Air Corps. He served as a pilot with the 366 Fighter group. On March 11, 1945 while flying his 14th mission over Germany he was shot down. He is buried in Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France. He was just shy of his 28th birthday.
In 2012 TSN TV did a documentary on the 1942 Gray Cup Hurricanes called “The Photograph.”