New Britain Sports Hall of Fame will honor eight former standouts in upcoming Class of 2019

Published on Monday, 8 April 2019 21:05
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These are the newest inductees for the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame:

Fran DePalo

Fran DePalo began playing football at Nathan Hale Junior High for coach Vic Baylock in 1959 and then for coach Tony Appiso at New Britain High School from 1961-64. He then took his talents up the road to Central Connecticut State University and from 1964-67 played football for coach Bill Loika. During this time, DePalo won the 1967 Unico Scholar Athlete Award. Fran played semi-pro for the Meriden Shamrocks from 1969-71 and helped them win three league championships.

DePalo moved onto Olympic lifting from 1969-1971 where he had a very successful career. In 1969, he won the Senior Connecticut Championship at 198 pounds. The 1970 season proved to be a very successful year for DePalo. He placed first at the Senior Connecticut Championship, first at the YMCA New England Championship, and second at the Attleboro Mass Open competing in the 181-pound class.

DePalo has also competed with the Hartford Track Club and done some sparing, boxing and body building. In 1985, he entered bodybuilding competitions where he won Connecticut and New England titles. In 1992, DePalo won the Natural USA title in Boston. The following year he came in second and won Best Poser.

Gil Wrice

Gil Wrice graduated from New Britain High School in 1971 and was a member of the football, basketball, baseball and track teams.

Wrice became the first African-American quarterback in New Britain High School history. He held the quarterback position for three years as well playing safety on defense. Wrice was the all-time leading rusher at the quarterback position, rushing for 2,711 yards and passing for 2,195 yards during the 1969-1971 seasons. As a sophomore, he was selected second team all-conference at quarterback. He was also named all-conference at quarterback both his junior and senior years. Wrice received All-State honorable mention at safety his senior year as he led the team in interceptions and interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Wrice was named tri-captain and was voted MVP of the Thanksgiving Classic his senior year. He was also selected to the Senior East/West Nutmeg Classic and received the James “Unk” Conley award for outstanding play by a senior performer. Wrice received a four-year scholarship to South Carolina State University.

Wrice returned to New Britain High School as the junior varsity coach from 1991-1999 and was on the coaching staff that guided the Golden Hurricanes to the 1992 Class LL state championship.

Charles “Chuck” McKeon

Chuck McKeon is a 1973 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School. He played at Aquinas from 1971-73, leading the Saint’s to their first Class S boys basketball state championship and was awarded the MVP for his efforts in the championship game. McKeon was named All-State Class S and was selected to the all-star team for the Bridgeport Jewish Community Center annual North vs. South Shoot and selected to the Hartford Times All-Suburban Team. He was recruited by Stonehill College, where he played from 1973-1977 on a basketball scholarship.

McKeon played for Crystal Palace in London with the top team in the division. He then went across the English Channel to play for Holland BV Zaadaam for three seasons and bringing back one league championship. His last season overseas was in Rotterdam, Holland where he won another league championship.

McKeon was the assistant basketball coach, helping St. Thomas Aquinas to two state championships. He has played in numerous men’s leagues in the area over the years, such as Berlin men’s for nine years, New Britain Parks and Rec, New Britain YMCA House League, New Britain Boys and Girls over 30 league, Avon men’s league and the East Coast Tournament. In Vermont, he was named MVP of the Landings Tournament. A true testament to McKeon’s ability was in the finals of the 1985 tournament in Falmouth on the Cape when his team won the championship against a team led by Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics.

Bill Carroll

Bill Carroll played in both the 1971 and 1972 State LL baseball championship games with the ’72 team winning the title and becoming the first team to do so in New Britain High School history. Carroll was voted All-Capital District Conference in both his junior and senior seasons and was co-captain his senior year. Upon graduation, he attended Saint Leo College and was the starting centerfielder for three years and leadoff batter for the top 10 nationally ranked Monarchs.

Carroll was awarded a three-year scholarship as a walk-on player, was a team co-captain his senior year and upon graduation, assistant varsity coach in 1977. He was inducted in the NBHS Baseball Hall of Fame and recognized by his legendary coach, Ken Kezer, as his greatest centerfielder during his coaching tenure. Carroll coached baseball for 11 years in Newington and has served on numerous civic organizations in the city of New Britain.

Jeff Shaw

Jeff Shaw was a 1976 graduate of Pulaski High School in New Britain. Shawn played three years of varsity football and basketball at Pulaski. He was captain of the 1976 football team and was an All-State honorable mention at linebacker.

Shaw took his athletic abilities in a different direction in 1984 when he joined the New Britain karate team under the direction of Master Hubert Sanderson. From 1984-2002 he competed on the regional and national championship circuit where he only competed, but he excelled during this time. He placed first, second or third in more than 75 karate tournaments.

In 1998-99 Shaw was ranked sixth in the United States and in 2000-01 he moved up as high as fourth in the country competing in the Black Belt Senior Fighting Division.

Adam Pindar

Adam Pindar was an all-star captain for the first ever undefeated football championship team. In 1979, he was the co-MVP in the New Britain Midget Football League while leading the Redskins to an undefeated championship season.

In high school, Pindar was made captain in both baseball and football. In his junior football season, he was an All-Capital District Conference quarterback leading New Britain High School to an undefeated season, with the team being ranked third in Connecticut. Pindar was selected to the All-Capital District Conference in both his junior and senior seasons. He was also named First Team All-State shortstop in Class LL his senior year. Pindar received the W.F. Burns Memorial Award and Scholarship, enlisted in the United State Air Force in 1984 where he served four honorable years and was inducted into the New Britain Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jason Zaniewski

Jason Zaniewski was a 1987 graduate of New Britain High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. Zaniewski was a two-time All-CCC selection as a junior and senior in basketball and for baseball as a senior. He earned his varsity letters for all three sports as a freshman and sophomore.

Zaniewski received the Hy Fisher Memorial Award for the best basketball player in the city as a senior. He also received the Charles Brown scholarship from NBHS. Zaniewski accepted a basketball scholarship from South Florida Junior College and later earned his Master’s Degree in Holistic Thinking from The Graduate Institute.

Zaniewski has been a physical education teacher for the city of Hartford since 1999. He was an assistant head coach for the Bulkeley High School girls basketball team for 10 years. In 2005-06, the team won the state championship with a record of 26-1 and was the No. 1 team in the state. He was inducted into the Bulkeley Hall of Fame last year for coaching.

Zaniewski also coached at Sports Medical and Sciences Academy and Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. He ran an intramural program for city youth which brought school age students to Goodwin Golf Course in Hartford for instruction in golf etiquette and life skills.

Zaniewski has won 16 titles at the Wintonbury Hills Golf Club, seven club championships, six Presidents Cups and three 4-Ball championships. He has competed in numerous Connecticut amateur tournaments and the professional tournament CT Open. He also won a state one-day tournament event. Zaniewski competed in the Golf Channel Amateur Tour and won two events. He has a career low of 63 at WHGC.

Louis “Rocky” Gagliardi

Louis “Rocky” Gagliardi is a 1987graduate of New Britain High, where he was a four-year member of the football and baseball team. He served as a captain his senior year and was later an assistant coach of the freshmen football team.

Gagliardi just completed his 27th season as a football coach and his third year at Southern Connecticut State University where he coaches the outside linebackers. He has also coached at Trinity College for four years as the secondary coach and a season at Pomona Pitzer College in Claremont, California where he was defensive line coach.

Gagliardi was an assistant coach on the 1992 and 2001 New Britain High state championship football teams. He also served as defensive coordinator from 2005-2007. Gagliardi has also coached at Hartford Public, Buckley, Berlin High (2011 Class M state semifinalist and 2012 Class M runner-up) and Cromwell (2004 Class S runner-up). He also served as head coach at Plainville High School for two years.

Gagliardi spent eight years as an assistant baseball coach at New Britain High School and two years as an assistant indoor track coach. He has spent 15 years as a teacher with the Consolidated School District of New Britain, where he has been recognized numerous times by his peers.

In 2004-05 he won The Above and Beyond Award, the Above the Rim Award in 2005-06 and was The Senior Salute to Teachers Award recipient in 2009-2010. In 2010 he represented USA football by being a defensive assistant coach for Team USA in the high school all-star game, Team USA vs. The World, which took place in Florida and was broadcast on the NFL Network.

The New Britain Sports Hall of Fame will take place at the Generale Ameglio Ballroom on 13 Beaver Street in New Britain on May 5. Tickets for the event are $50 and can be purchased at Scott’s Flowers, Paradise Restaurant, YMCA of New Britain or by calling Bob Smilnak at (860) 666-6835 or Joe Lombardo at (860) 970-6364.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Monday, 8 April 2019 21:05. Updated: Monday, 8 April 2019 21:07.