After missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the spotlight will once again shine on local sports figures from the past as the New Canaan Old Timers Association hosts its annual honoree ceremony on Sunday, September 19th at Waveny.
2021 inductees will be Bobby Festo, Paul Gallo, Tom McInerney, Lew Socci and Katey Twombly. Also being recognized at this year’s affair as the Loren J. Keyes Memorial Honoree is all-time New Canaan basketball great, the late Wilky Gilmore.
- Bobby Festo is listed in the Who’s Who of American High School Athletes as an All-American in track and field, an honorable mention on the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletics Conference county soccer team as a goalkeeper his senior year in New Canaan. He holds many track and field records as a sprinter for New Canaan, and won many medals at state and invitational track and field competitions as a sprinter in both individual events and as a member of a relay team. He went to college at Southern Connecticut State College where he joined the men’s track team for a year and a half while also participating on the men’s soccer team. While Bob was the goalie at Southern, the SCSC men’s soccer team qualified to go to the NCAA Division 2 soccer final four tournament, representing the New England region, all four years in a row.
- Paul Gallo’s athletic career began with his four years at NCHS, lettering in soccer and wrestling under legendary coaches such as Bill Murphy, Warren Russell, and Steve Rogowsky. While achieving excellence in both soccer and wrestling, it was on the mat that Paul achieved the most recognition. After wrestling varsity at 98 pounds while only weighing 86 pounds, freshman year Paul won a Class L CIAC championship at 98 pounds as a sophomore, becoming the first New Canaan wrestler to win a Class L championship. Paul was to the first New Canaan wrestler to make 3 FCIAC’s finals in NCHS history. He is one of only four wrestlers to have made the finals three times and finished second in all three. He finished 4th in Class L’s at 112 his junior year and finished 2nd in the Class L and 4th in the CIAC Open his senior year. Following his successful career at NCHS, Paul went on to wrestle at the University of Connecticut where he wrestled on the last wrestling team in UCONN’s history and finished 4th at the Division 1 New England Tournament at 118 pounds. Paul found his true passion when he became the head wrestling coach at New Canaan High School where he was the head coach for 30 years, compiling a career record of 346-247-5 from 1989 to 2019.
- Wilky Gilmore was one of the greatest sports figures in New Canaan history – a charter member of the NCHS Athletic Hall of Fame and the FCIAC Hall of Fame. The greatest basketball player ever wear the Rams uniform, Gilmore averaged 29 points per game his sophomore season where he led New Canaan to the first of three consecutive state titles. The following season, Gilmore scored a record 136 points in the four-game playoffs, including 24 in the finals despite being triple-teamed in the Rams’ 70-51 win over Windsor Locks. In 1958, Gilmore capped his high school career with a school record 697 points and another state title. Wilky went on to star for the University of Colorado where he led the Buffaloes to the 1962 Big Eight championship. In the NCAA tournament he led Colorado to a victory over Texas Tech, but the Buffaloes ultimately lost in the Elite Eight to eventual champion Cincinnati. In his three years at Colorado, Gilmore scored 1,026 points and grabbed 591 rebounds. After graduating Colorado with a degree in business, he was selected in the 14th round of the 1962 NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks. A knee injury, however, coupled with a crowded St. Louis front court prevented Gilmore from reaching the NBA. He subsequently had a successful career as a lawyer before passing away in 1993 at the age of 53.
Tom McInerney entered New Canaan High School in the Fall of 1987, starting an impressive athletic career over his four years at NCHS lettering in football, basketball and track under legendary coaches such as Lou Marinelli and Don Usher. While achieving excellence in both basketball and track (including being a letterman on the varsity basketball team under coach Don Usher that embarked on a magical run to make its way to the 1989 CIAC State Championship game), it was on the gridiron that Tom achieved the most recognition. After leading the Freshman and JV Teams to undefeated seasons in his first two years in the Ram Wing-T attack, Tom eventually rose to become a two-year starter for Coach Lou Marinelli and the Rams. During his Junior Year he quickly established himself as one of the preeminent quarterbacks in the State of Connecticut as a dual threat run/pass quarterback, achieving honorable mention All-County and All-State honors. Heading into Tom’s senior season he was named a Preseason Street & Smith All American honoree as part of the magazine’s 50th Year Anniversary issue. During his senior season, Tom’s exploits continued and he achieved All-County and All-State selection honors following a successful 1990 campaign including selection into various post-season All-Star games such as the Bridgeport PAL All Star Football Classic and the Nutmeg State Games All Star Team Classic. Following his successful career at NCHS, Tom entered Princeton University in the Fall of 1991 at the Division 1-AA level. During his career, Tom further proved his versatility as an athlete under Coach Steve Tosches, lettering for two years and starting at various points at Wide Receiver, Quarterback and Free Safety for the Tigers program. In his first college start at Quarterback, subbing for an injured starter, he was named Ivy League Sophomore of the Week against Brown University and was a key contributor to the Tigers 1992 Ivy League Co-Championship Team. Despite missing his junior season to injury, Tom bounced back in the Fall of 1994 as a starting Free Safety on a Tigers Team that surpassed all expectations after losing numerous key starters and ended up with a 7-3 overall record during college football’s 125-Year anniversary season.
- Lewis Socci was a football and indoor/outdoor track star, participating in shot and javelin and was a starter on the 1982 championship football team. He also played basketball and lacrosse at NCHS. Socci went on to play at Wagner College and the University of New Haven where injuries prevented him from further playing football. After graduating from UNH, Socci embarked ona long and successful coaching career at New Canaan, Norwalk, Milford Academy and Staples High Schools. In 2007 he was named the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Ralph Desantis Fairfield County Chapter FCIAC Assistant Coach of the Year. Lewis retired from coaching Football in 2016 and became more active in his officiating endeavors, where he has participated in everything from collegiate and international competition down to youth sports.
One of New Canaan’s greatest three-sport athletes, Katey Twombly Ryan was a captain of the field hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams her senior year. An All FCIAC selection in lacrosse in both her junior and senior seasons she made her biggest impact in field hockey. Twombly was All FCIAC her junior and senior years and netted All State honors as a senior. That same year she was named FCIAC MVP and led the Rams to an undefeated regular season and share of the FCIAC title with Greenwich…the first for New Canaan since 1988 and one that would start a streak of six consecutive FCIAC East championships and three conference crowns. In January of 1996, Twombly was the recipient of the Oxford Humancare Award for sportsmanship, academic achievement and community service. Twombly went on to continue her field hockey career at Bucknell University where she had a storied career for the Bison starting every game beginning with her sophomore year. Twombly was named captain her junior and senior years, making the All-Patriot League first team both seasons. She joined an elite list of Bison alum when she was honored as a second team Mid-East Regional All-American in 1998 and 1999. Described as “the team’s most creative and innovative player with exceptional stick skills and individual attacking adeptness” she was a team leader in game-winning goals, positive tackles and still places in the top ten all-time for career assists. Her vision and passing awareness helped gain a reputation as one of the most complete players in the history of the school. Her senior season team still has the record for the most wins in a season, more than two decades later.
The Waveny celebration will be emceed by Terry Dinan and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes a continental breakfast, beverages and lunch. The cost is $50 for adults, $20 for students. Children under 14 are admitted for free.
Checks may be made payable to New Canaan Old Timers and mailed to P.O. Box 1642, New Canaan, CT 06840 or register online at NCOldtimers.com. Tickets are also available at the door. Proceeds from the event go toward the Vin Iovino Scholarship, named for the former NCHS athletic director and presented to selected senior athletes at the annual sports picnic and award ceremony held at the end of every school year.