Youth sports in New Canaan include—and go far beyond—the thrilling championship games for our celebrated varsity sports teams out of New Canaan High School. Youth sports and the local businesses and residents behind them, private programs, recreational programs and New Canaan’s rich history with standout athletes are the foundations of sports in our town, so they form the foundations of our coverage.
A battle between two rivals, putting everything on the line. The Turkey Bowl is more than just a game—it’s a clash of two giants giving their blood, sweat, and tears. As residents of New Canaan and Darien put their turkeys in the ovens, the high school football players of both towns prepare to suit up.
Six New Canaan High School seniors signed commitment or “likely” letters Wednesday to play Division I sports in college starting next year.
NCHS Athletic Director Jay Egan said the school’s annual ceremony is a way to mark and celebrate an achievement for the student-athletes as well as their families. “How many hours have you all spent in the car driving your sons and daughters places and holidays being at tournaments?” he told those gathered in the Wagner Room at NCHS for the short ceremony, including the student-athletes, their families, close friends and coaches.
“This is really a culmination of the athletes’ and the families’ efforts,” he said. “It’s a special day.”
We asked the student-athletes why they chose their future schools, and put their responses next to photos where provided.
Central Connecticut State College
“My dad went there. He swam there. I love Connecticut.
On a soggy Monday afternoon, the NCHS Rams Varsity Boys Soccer team, led by Head Coach Luke Green and Assistant Coach Jack Knight, faced the Westhill Vikings and won 2-1 securing a spot in the FCIAC playoffs. The Rams improved to a 9-7 finish overall which was also enough to qualify for the CT State (CIAC) playoff tournament, the first time in more than five years. The team was able to bounce back from an early penalty kick in the first half, scoring late in the first to make the game level at half time. Shortly before the half time whistle, the Rams hit back to make it 1-1, a precise free kick from Momath Seck was whipped into the area and finished from an attacking Irving Dorman. The Rams then pressed on in the second half and produced a coolly taken winning goal from Dorman, Aidan McLaughlin with the assist.
Nikki Ferraro wasn’t the first goalie in her family. The New Canaan High School freshman had been playing ice hockey since putting on skates for the first time as a second-grader at East School, and now and again she’d grab the glove and blocker for house games at the New Canaan Winter Club. But her younger brother, Zai, was already playing the position on a regular basis. “My parents were like ‘No, you can’t do it, we already have one goalie, that’s enough,’ ” recalled Ferraro, 15. “But I’m a pretty persistent person, so I would go home and I’d make my brother shoot on me with his pads in the basement.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a nonprofit organization that supports youth and high school athletics has seen a steady increase in use of New Canaan’s turf fields in the past three years, officials say. Gross revenues generated by events held on turf fields at New Canaan High School grew from $30,975 in 2019 to $67,095 in 2020 and then $81,675 in 2021, according to Mike Benevento, chair of the New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s Board of Directors. Crediting the organization’s executive director, Bobby Rushton, for the increased use of the fields as an “enterprise zone,” Benevento told members of the Board of Finance this week that “the fields are getting used as much as they possibly can.”
“And the other added benefit to this is we get a lot of positive feedback from people from surrounding towns who come in for these tournaments and practices and what not, that our field complexes are just the top of the game for the entire area,” Benevento told the finance board during its regular meeting, held Tuesday night via videoconference.
The comments came during a general update to the Board from Benevento and Vice Chair Mike Murray. Benevento said that the Athletic Foundation between the 2021 spring and fall seasons also collected a total of $93,825 in “player use fees” from New Canaan’s youth and recreational sports organizations, and that additional funds were expected to come from men’s softball and flag football programs.
He added that the Athletic Foundation did well with respect to fundraising even though a major event that had been planned for the fall, the Field Fest, had to be canceled amid the pandemic. Two major capital upgrades that had originally been slated for the summer of 2022 have been pushed back one year, Benevento said—enhancements to the press box and entrance at Dunning Stadium, and a new varsity baseball complex at Mead Park.