Q&A: ‘Raising Athletes for Life’ Panel To Be Held Thursday at New Canaan Library

New Canaan CARES and the New Canaan Athletic Foundation are presenting a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday at New Canaan Library, featuring standout local athletes talking about creating a healthy sports culture here. Panelists include Dave Inman (played for the New York Rangers), Heather Knight Pech (multi-time division winner of the Boston Marathon among many others), Kendall Patten (Cornell University senior soccer player and NCHS graduate) and Andy Towers (distinguished lacrosse coach and player). We put some questions about the talk to New Canaan CARES Executive Director Judy Phillips. Here’s our exchange. ***

New Canaanite: Give us some background on Thursday’s panel discussion at the library.

NCHS Senior Shawna Ferraro Breaks School Record in 1600

Shawna Ferraro knew that the New Canaan High School record in the 1600 meter run was 5:14.40, and that she’d missed it by five one-hundredths of a second during a Feb. 19 qualifier for the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships. “I was incredibly disappointed and upset, because it’s been a goal of mine for so long to break the record, and to be that close was frustrating,” the NCHS senior recalled Monday. 

Immediately after finishing the race, Ferraro said, she thought to herself, “There is no way I’m walking away from my senior season coming that close to breaking it and not breaking it.”

But there was a problem: Finding a sanctioned track-and-field meet where she’d have another chance. Ferraro and NCHS Girls Track and Field Coach Jeffrey Brentson searched for one, and eventually she found a meet to be held Sunday, Feb. 26 at Boston University.

‘I Feel Very Blessed’: NCHS ‘16 Grad Lucas Niang Wins Super Bowl with KC Chiefs

Twenty thousand residents of the town, 40 players on the New Canaan High School Football team. A handful of Rams move on to play football at the college level each year, and just 1.6% of college football players make it to the NFL. 

Yet against all odds, the residents of New Canaan on Sunday saw one of their own playing on the sport’s biggest stage. New Canaan High School class of 2016 alumnus Lucas Niang has defied the odds his whole career, and saw his hard work pay off when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII. 

“Playing in the Super Bowl is what I have dreamt of since I was playing PeeWee football in third grade,” Niang told NewCanaanite.com when asked what the Super Bowl means to him. “It is an unbelievable experience and I feel very blessed to get to this point.”

Niang is a 6’6”, 315-pound offensive tackle for Kansas City, and is in his second year playing in the NFL. He was drafted 96th overall in the 2020 draft, yet sat out his first season due to COVID-19.