Q&A: Celebration of Bo Hickey’s Life Set for May 21


A remembrance for the late Bo Hickey—longtime New Canaan High School football and hockey coach, and superintendent of Lakeview Cemetery—is to be held 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 21 at Waveny House. Free and open to the public, the celebration of Hickey’s impactful life will include food and drinks for attendees (RSVP here), and donations to to a scholarship established in his name are welcome.

We put some questions to co-organizer Terry Dinan, a lifelong New Canaan resident, sports historian and board member of the New Canaan Old Timers/Athletic Alumni Association who put the celebration together with Scott Overbeck, Lou Marinelli, Frank Granito, Rick Ericson and Mary Miller.

Here’s our exchange.

New Canaanite: How would you describe Bo Hickey to those who didn’t know him?

NCHS varsity hockey coach Bo Hickey looks on as New Canaan stuns Darien in March 2014 to win the FCIAC hockey crown. Credit: Terry Dinan

Terry Dinan: Bo Hickey was a singular, authentic man who was probably the most unforgettable, larger-than-life character in the history of New Canaan sports. He was a storied athlete out of Stamford and forged an equally legendary career as a football and hockey coach once his playing days ended. His hard, gruff exterior hid a heart of gold that was bigger than anyone’s. As with all great coaches, he had a way of getting the most out of his players – unafraid to break them down, if only to build them back up better and stronger than they were before. He left an indelible mark on everyone fortunate enough to know him.

What is the genesis of the May 21 remembrance?

Bo Hickey at Lakeview Cemetery in 2015. Credit: Michael Dinan

It all started with Scott Overbeck, a standout football player at New Canaan High School and the University of North Carolina and my friend since kindergarten. Scott’s mom Gail Overbeck is a wonderful woman who I have known my whole life. She was Bo’s better half for many years and was with him right up to the end earlier this year. Scott pulled together a small task force that included Lou Marinelli, Rick Ericson, Frank Granito, Mary Miller and me. We’ve been meeting regularly for about a month. Between us all we were able to get the date and location set and the event socialized. New Canaan Football and New Canaan Hockey along with several other groups, families and individuals were very generous with covering all the costs. So many people who knew Bo stepped up and everyone was happy to help. That is a direct reflection of the respect, love and admiration everyone had for Bo. The response has been tremendous.

What can attendees expect at the event?

Bo Hickey and his good friend Joe Vrtiak out fishing. Photo courtesy of Rob Mallozzi

A lot of laughs. The stories about Bo are as legendary as he was and we expect many of them to be shared by those who were closest to him – Mrs. Overbeck, Coach Marinelli, Rob Mallozzi, Chris Silvestri and many more. I mentioned our meetings…these invariably evolve into telling stories and anecdotes about Bo and by the time we leave we are literally in tears from laughing so much. Our hope is that these meetings are a microcosm of what the event will be…just a great celebration of an amazing man, an amazing life.

Give us a characteristic Bo Hickey story.

The one that stands out was shared with me by former NCHS Athletic Director Vin Iovino before Bo’s NCHS Hall of Fame induction last fall. Before Dunning Field was built, the New Canaan Field Hockey team coached by Sue Schwerdtle did not have a legitimate, regulation field. Vinny called Bo and they measured the field and there was a small hill that prevented the field from being regulation. If they could remove the hill, the field would be perfect. Bo’s comment was – “Sue deserves this. And so do those girls.” Bo got someone to bring an excavator to the field and they cut the bank out. This made some administrators to go apoplectic. But at the end of the day, Bo’s generosity, empathy and ability to cut to the chase and get things done led to Coach Schwerdtle and the girls to have a legit field to play on. It was the right thing to do and he did it, regardless of any protocol, politics or red tape. 

What else would you say to people who are thinking of going on May 21?

Bo Hickey reeling in a big one with his longtime fishing buddy, coach and dedicated friend Joe Vrtiak. Photo courtesy of Janet Ginise

If you knew Bo or if you were someone who was a part of — or takes an interest in — New Canaan sports history, this is a celebration that you do not want to miss. And if you never knew Bo, you’ll see what it was like to have been impacted by him. There has also been a scholarship set up by NCHS in Bo’s name (https://www.nchs-sf.org/bo-hickey-memorial-scholarship). This will help preserve his memory and ensure he’ll continue helping student athletes, even after his passing. He was truly one of a kind and someone who deserves to be celebrated for all he did. 

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