NAUGATUCK — A group of successful business people who grew up playing sports believe that competition and team play teach children values that will help them in every aspect of life.
So when this bunch of local attorneys heard that Naugatuck Youth Soccer might not have a fall season, they knew they needed to help.
The group vowed to pool their money and collect $10,000 this fall to replace goal posts that had been stolen from the league at Breen and Rotary fields. On Wednesday, two days before the biggest day of giving in the calendar year, they made good on that promise.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, one of the attorneys who promised a donation, handed $10,000 in personal checks to Roger Simoes of Naugatuck Youth Soccer.
“To know that someone would step up this big for us, nobody would ever expect that,” Simoes said. “We thought that we might have to dip into our funds, and maybe cut back in other places.”
Hess joined attorneys Rosa Rebimbas, who is also a state representative, Kevin McSherry, Edward “Ned” Fitzpatrick, Pete Mariano, Carlos Santos, Cesar Sousa, Fred Dlugokecki, Andrew Morrissey, Dave Morrissey and M. Leonard Caine III in the fundraising effort.
Several of the donors, including Rebimbas and Santos, told stories about how much youth sports and NYS helped them grow as individuals.
“It reminds me of the responsibility that I have as a coach,” Simoes said. “You are a lot more than a coach; you are a mentor. It teaches you about life skills, and this puts that into focus.”
Hess said he would not be as successful as he is today without the lessons he learned in sports. He also said he was embarrassed when his donation became public because he did not expect or want publicity. Simoes said, however, that the organization wanted to thank the donors publicly.
Two people have been arrested in connection with the thefts — Phillip Kelly, 37, of 288 High St., Naugatuck, and Jamie Perugini, 35, of 164 Walnut St., Naugatuck, were charged with second-degree larceny, criminal trespass and first-degree criminal mischief. Perugini was also charged with interfering with an officer.
Naugatuck police officers and detectives found the goal posts at a local scrap metal yard and traced them back to Kelly and Perugini. They could be ordered to pay restitution.
If there is left over money, Simoes said, it will go to help players whose families are in financial need.