Enfield Residents to Be Honored

Since the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance inaugurated the Gold Key Dinner in 1940, a host of famous athletes have been honored for their contributions to sports in the Nutmeg State. Legendary names such as Connie Mack, Bobby Jones, Joe Cronin, Gordie Howe, Floyd Little, Calvin Murphy, Rebecca Lobo, Bill Rodgers, and Kristine Lilly have all received recognition by the CSWA.

To date, just five individuals with Enfield ties have been recipients of awards at the annual celebration. However, that number will increase by two at the 73rd gathering next month.

Longtime youth coach Fran Slattery will be presented the John Wentworth Good Sport Award, while Fermi High School senior Andrew Haraghey will receive the Bob Casey Courage Award.

Slattery, who recently turned 80, began his involvement with youth sports nearly five decades ago, when he started coaching baseball in the Hazardville Little League. His 1979 senior league team won the Connecticut state championship, and the 1980 edition was runnerup.

He began coaching American Legion baseball in 1980, and will shortly begin his 35th season with that organization. He has directed his teams to several in-season tournament championships, and the 2013 squad made it to the state final four.

Not limited to just the diamond, Slattery recently completed his 40th season coaching CYO basketball at St. Martha’s School in Enfield. His 1983 team won the state title, and four more teams have followed suit to play in the New England championship tournaments.

Slattery was honored by the Enfield Jaycees with its Outstanding Citizen Award in 1990, and was inducted into the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. He is the second Enfield resident to be chosen for the Good Sport Award, following George Tomalonis in 2002.

“After doing this for 40-some odd years, it’s always nice to be recognized for your efforts,” Slattery said. “It’s very heartwarming to still get recognized by kids who played for me in the past.”

Haraghey, 18, was diagnosed with viral encephalitis as a baby. This brought upon swelling of the brain, resulting in a diagnosis of spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, which in his case also caused stiffness in the legs and low muscle tone. He slowly recovered the function in his arms and hands, but his legs never recovered.

Doctors at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, MA fit him for leg braces to help him walk and encouraged him to explore the world of adaptive sports. When he was seven, he took his first skiing lesson, and after three years, he became an independent skier.

In 2011-12, Haraghey won five gold medals in the Diana Golden Race Series as part of the AbilityPLUS Adaptive Alpine Race Team. He then moved up to compete in national level races;  “however, I didn’t really place that well in the jump to those races,” he said. “This past year, I competed in several more level 2 races, doing considerably better.”

He won a silver medal competing against racers without disabilities at Copper Mountain, CO in Dec. 2013. He came up short in his quest to make the U.S. team for the Paralympic Games in Sochi – “still a little bit of work to get there,” he said – but hopes to qualify for the 2018 Games in Korea.

Besides Tomalonis, other Enfield figures recognized at past Gold Key Dinners include Ray Legenza (Gold Key, 1976), Craig Janney (Bill Lee Male Athlete of the year, 1987), Cookie Bromage (Doc McInerney High School Coach of the Year, 1996) and John Blomstrann (Gold Key, 2013).

The Gold Key Dinner will be held Sunday, April 27 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Ticket and sponsorship information is available by contacting program chairman Matt Conyers at mconyers@courant.com.

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