This is the fourth in a multi-part series highlighting the newest members of the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame.
George C. Springer, Sr.
A native of Panama, George C. Springer, Sr., came to Connecticut as a young man and graduated at the top of his class from what is now Central Connecticut State University. He also received master's degrees in education from CCSU and the University of Hartford. While at CCSU, Mr. Springer was a pitcher on the baseball team. After serving in the United States Army and working at Fafnir Bearing in New Britain, Springer began a distinguished teaching career at Nathan Hale Junior High School.
In 1959, Springer joined the faculty at New Britain High School where he taught graphics and African American history, founded the soccer program and coached volleyball and baseball. During his 20-year teaching career in New Britain from 1959-79, he held various union leadership positions, including president of the New Britain Federation of Teachers.
Springer was also active in civic and community affairs where he held several leadership positions. Among other roles, he served as past president of the New Britain Chapter NAACP, the board of directors of Klingberg Family Center, was a trustee of the New Britain Foundation of Public Giving, he was a corporator for the New Britain Boys and Girls Club and the New Britain YMCA and served on the board of the New Britain Friendship Center. Springer was a member of the National Commission for African American Education, board member and chairman of the education committee of Amistad America Inc. and vice president of the John C. Rogers African American Cultural Center Inc.
After Springer retired from teaching in 1979, he served as president of the 20,000-member Connecticut Federation of Educational and Professional Employees for 22 years. He was a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1988-2001. In July 2001, he became the Northeast Regional Director for the American Federation of Teachers. In 2003, Springer was sent by the AFT to serve as temporary administrator of its local affiliate, the Washington Teachers' Union. He spent 18 months as the union's temporary administrator, focusing on helping the 4,500-member organization regain financial stability, improve membership participation and return its focal point to increasing educational standards.
Springer succeeded at the important things in life. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. He was a family man extraordinaire. Springer gave and shared his talents as an activist, a teacher, organizer and union leader and in doing so, became a great humanitarian. The breath of his accomplishments placed him in the March on Washington while he was a young man in his 20s and in South Africa as a monitor of the election of Nelson Mandela in his 60s.
Springer’s understanding of the plight of the underprivileged and his legacy of fight for them made him a champion for justice and freedom here in the U.S. and throughout the world. He was a moral and ethical man, whose motivation was simply the restoration of love, compassion, dignity and respect to all - in and outside the classroom or playing fields. Springer had a positive impact on the lives of young people and made a lasting contribution to our community.
David J. Sytulek
David J. Sytulek was a 1984 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain where he was a member of two state championship basketball teams in 1982 and 1983. He earned First-Team Hartford Courant All-State and Second-Team New Haven Register All-State honors in his senior year. Sytulek set a school record for most rebounds in a game with 30. He then attended Quinnipiac College from 1984-86 on an athletic scholarship where was a member of the basketball team.
Sytulek coached basketball as assistant to his father at St. Francis Middle School in 1987, where they won the Deanery Championship and finished runner-up in the state championship. He was then the freshman basketball coach at St. Thomas Aquinas under Bill Cardarelli from 1988-1992.
Sytulek worked at the New Britain Boys & Girls Club and served as the Physical Activity Director for several years, while also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education at CCSU. He later went on to earn a master’s degree in physical education and sixth-year degree in educational leadership from CCSU.
Sytulek taught physical education and health at Middletown High School for 18 years where he also coached basketball, serving as the head coach for 7 years. During his tenure as head coach, his teams compiled a record of 99-60 (.622) and won 3 conference championships. Sytulek is currently in his fourth year as the Director of Physical Education, Health & Athletics at South Windsor High School.
Growing up in New Britain, Sytulek played A.W Stanley Little League baseball, Mangan League baseball, basketball at St. Francis Middle School and in basketball tournaments and leagues at the New Britain Boys Club and New Britain YMCA.
As an adult, Sytulek played men’s slow pitch softball in both the New Britain Restaurant & Industrial Leagues, as well as in the Berlin League. He was a member of three state champion and two New England champion softball teams with Drywall Unlimited, Monaco Ford and JMS. Sytulek also played in 10 National Softball tournaments. Sytulek played men’s basketball in the Pulaski School League and New Britain YMCA League, as well as Flag Football for Fach’s/Southside Package winning two league championships.
The New Britain Sports Hall of Fame will have its 23rd annual induction dinner on May 6 at the General Ameglio Society Ballroom located at 13 Beaver St., New Britain. Tickets are on sale for $50 apiece any of the following locations: the New Britain YMCA, Paradise Pizza in New Britain, Lost Art Barber Shop of Newington, Scott's Flowers of New Britain, Berlin Spirits or by reaching Bob Smilnak at (860) 666-6835.