AP NEWS

GREENWICH OLD TIMERS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION Local athletes honored at annual awards dinner

November 17, 2018

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, but it wasn’t too soon for the Greenwich sports community to give thanks to a deserving group of athletes and coaches Friday evening.

The tradition continued at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich, as hundreds of people turned out for the Greenwich Old Timers Athletic Association’s 58th annual Awards Dinner.

Laurie Downs, Nancy Leamy and Milton “Skip” Waddell were the local honorees that were recognized at the event, which is the Old Timers’ biggest fundraiser. Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson, who starred for the York Giants and former New York Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa were this year’s national honorees.

A graduate of Penn State University, where she was a member of the 1980 women’s lacrosse team that captured the national championship and the 1982 field hockey team that won the national title, Downs began her teaching career at Greenwich Academy. Thirty five years later, she remains at Greenwich Academy, where she has served as a physical education teacher and has coached field hockey at the high school and youth levels. While at GA, she learned a lot from one of her mentors, Angela Tammaro, who also coached Downs when she played on the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse training squad.

One of the highlights of Downs’ coaching career was when she was selected to Stars & Stripes Lacrosse Tour in Japan.

“To be honored and in the company of these impressive athletes is such an honor,” said Downs, who was co-director of Lightning Lacrosse — a developmental program for girls — from 2004 until 20011. “I must say the years have gone by very fast. I have a couple of members of my first seventh and eighth grade class here, as well as one of my mentors, Tammy,” (former longtime GA field hockey, lacrosse coach Angela Tammaro.

A native of West Chester, Pa., Downs played field hockey and lacrosse at Unionville High School, before taking her skills to Penn State. Her fondness for coaching developed during summers while she was a college student, as she guided athletes in numerous camps. While at Greenwich Academy, she has enjoyed witnessing the sports program expand over the years.

“It has grown by leaps and bounds, from when I first got here,” Down said. “When I first arrived at GA, there were maybe two sports per season, now there are so many each season, providing a lot of opportunities to the students. Sports is so important to kids, because it helps build confidence.”

Leamy has served as the director of Greenwich Skating Club, Dorothy Hamill Skating Club and Darien Skating School. An international skating coach, she has coached numerous professional skaters over the years, including U.S. Figure Skating team members.

She has also served as an individual member of the East Coast delegate for U.S. Figure Skating and has been involved in implementing rule changes at the annual U.S. Figure Skating Governing Council Meetings.

“It has been wonderful being a coach and international coach for so many years,” said Leamy, who attended Newton Country Day School and Boston College. “I never thought I would still be doing this after 42 years. I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of champions and experience a lot of exciting moments.”

“I think it’s very important for kids to participate in sports. It teaches them time management and how to win, or lose.”

Leamy, a Cos Cob resident, was named to Newton Country Day School’s Hall of Fame for her contribution to figure skating.

“My mother has been such an inspiration to me,” said Liz Leamy, Nancy Leamy’s daughter. “Growing up, my mother would bring my sisters and brother to the rink, while she was coaching and we would hang out at the rink, where we developed a love for the sport. My brother went on to pursue hockey and I became a competitive figure skater.”

Waddell earned seven varsity letter in two sports while at Bucknell University. He starred at running back and receiver on the football team and excelled on Bucknell’s baseball team each year, batting .354 his freshman season.

After graduating from Bucknell and working at Ohio Wesleyan Univeristy as director of admissions, Waddell attended law school at Howard University School of Law. Since 1985, he has practiced law in Washington, D.C.

Growing up in Greenwich, Waddell played numerous sports at the Greenwich Boys Club and Eastern Middle School. His summers were spent playing baseball in town. He then attended Blair Academy in N.J., where he flourised in football, baseball and basketball.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Waddell said. “I’ve always considered myself to be an athlete, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. It wasn’t meant to be, but sports helped me develop self esteem, which helped me in various aspects of life. Sports teaches you that anything is possible if you work hard and put your mind to it. It gives you a lot of confidence as well.”

Waddell always looks forward to paying his home town a visit.

“Greenwich is the only plays where I am known as, and called, “Skippy,” he said. “Everywhere else, I’m Milton, or “Skip.”

Carson, was a standout linebacker on the Giants from 1976-1988. He was a key member of the Giants’ squad that won the Super Bowl during the 1986-87 season.

Carson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

“I have gotten a lot of awards in my life, but I am not a big awards person,” Carson said. “The true reason why I am here is because of what this great organization does when it comes to promoting youth sports. They do a great job of lending a helping hand in terms of providing scholarships for kids and promoting sports in the community.”

The former Giants linebacker knows the impact athletics has had on him and has seen it help others.

“When you play sports, there are certain lessons that you carry through your life,” Carson said. “Teamwork, interacting with other individuals, fighting for a common cause, discipline — these are all imporant aspects you get from participating in athletics. I still positive relationships with guys I played sports with way back in teh day in high school.”

Figueroa, a pitcher for several Major League teams from 2000-2011, now serves as a broadcaster for SNY.

“Athletics can be a good vehicle to go where you want to go in life,” Figueroa said. “It enabled me to attend Brandeis University and travel the world. I learned so many life lessons, like learning how to sacrifice for your teammates and communicating with others. It helped me become well-rounded.”

The awards dinner, included a silent auction, featuring sports memorabilia items and a door prize. First Selectman Peter Tesei gave the welcome and Mark Yusko served as the toastmaster of the event. New members Peter Carlson, Katie DeLuca, Alessandra Messineo Long and Jeffery Robinson were also introduced.

dfierro@greenwichtime.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly