Since moving out of town after graduating from Newtown High School in 1985, Kelley Johnson has returned for the Labor Day Parade numerous times. Each visit has been special — Johnson had marched in the parade as a clown in fifth grade, and later as a member of the school band — but this year’s will have a different sort of significant meaning for Johnson. She’ll be back in the parade, marching alongside current and future Newtown High soccer players, who — thanks to the efforts of Johnson and her mom her mom, Ruby, a political figure in town for many years, among others, three decades ago — have the opportunity to score goals and dream of state titles.
Newtown High School Baseball Coach Matt Memoli will run the Fall Middle School Baseball Academy on five consecutive Sunday mornings, beginning Sunday September 14. The academy is geared toward helping young players make the transition to playing on the big diamond and at the next level.
In a rematch from last year’s title game, REACH prevailed over Black Swan 8-4 to win the Newtown Women’s Softball Ruth Rowe Memorial Championship Game, played at Treadwell Park on August 15. Coming into the game, Black Swan was undefeated at 13-0 and REACH was 11-3. REACH jumped out to an early 4-0 first-inning lead and held off the Swans to win the title. REACH took the early lead on a single by Stacey Gordon, doubles from Lindsey Carley and Ali Cordova, a triple by Shelby Rotunda, and a single by Nina Ricciardi.
Leigh Libero can round the bases with the best of ’em after putting the ball into play in Newtown Women’s Softball League action, but she certainly doesn’t take for granted being able to run well. Libero, a former soccer player at Boston University, tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a game more than a decade ago, and a graft made from her body’s tissue was used to get her back onto the playing field. The repair didn’t last. Libero tore her ACL again just one year later. Her surgeon suggested using donated tissue from a deceased donor.
Youth sports games are primarily for the enjoyment of participants, their proud parents, and other family members in attendance, and coaches who help their developing players improve. In the case of Newtown youth baseball and basketball contests, the games also serve as an opportunity for an up-and-coming announcer to gain experience from the press box and scorer’s table, all the while adding to the at-the-field atmosphere for those team members and their families. Robert Hutchins, who will enter his sophomore year at Newtown High School, has served as public address announcer for Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball, and Newtown Youth Basketball games since his first game in the press box at Glander Field in 2010.
Changes abound for the Newtown Youth Football and Cheerleading program as it kicks off the campaign with late-summer preseason preparations. Pigskin training has been unfolding at Treadwell Park with cheer strategizing taking place behind Hawley School throughout the month of August as always, but the program has a new president and has joined a different league for the 2014 campaign. Longtime Coach Adam Carley succeeds Sean Dunn at the helm. Previously a member of the Colonial League, the Newtown gridiron teams and cheer squads are now part of the Shoreline Conference.
The Newtown Renegades baseball team saw its regional title hopes end at the hands of Exeter, N.H., in a 4-1 loss at Glander Field on August 6. The Renegades had won their first two Cal Ripken 11U New England Regional Tournament games, including a thrilling 8-7 win over Exeter, before falling to New Milford and Exeter in the rematch, to get dropped from the double-elimination tourney.
The Newtown Thunder rolled off a remarkable string of victories in a three-day period at Hawley School Field to win the Cal Ripken Summer Extreme 9B League playoffs. The Thunder had dropped a game early in the playoffs, resulting in a playoff run with no room for error the rest of the way. And the team showed its resiliency in its quest for the title, capping off the winning streak with a victory over the Newtown Nighthawks.
Newtown High School’s fall sports tryouts will be held later in August. Most teams will meet on Saturday, August 23. The football team will meet on Monday, August 18. Athletes are asked to bring water to all tryouts.