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Celebrating Spring’s Senior Athletes, One Home At A Time



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Newtown High School spring athletes who are seniors are being celebrated, one by one, by Athletic Director Matt Memoli and coaches.

The effort began on May 27, and Memoli said in a recent phone interview that it was expected to continue this week.

With spring sports canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, typical end-of-the-year celebrations are not possible.

“I thought instead of doing Senior Day at their last game, let’s have a Senior Day in their front yard,” Memoli said.

That means driving to the houses of the more than 60 seniors involved in spring sports to celebrate each senior.

When Memoli shared the idea with coaches, he said they “enthusiastically supported the idea.”

The effort began by visiting Unified Sports seniors. Then the visits went to the seniors on the golf, tennis, softball, volleyball, and baseball teams. More teams were expected to be visited throughout the week of June 1.

All-Star Transportation, which oversees the majority of the district’s student transportation, helped by “routing” the best roads to take between the seniors’ homes.

For each visit, Memoli said the effort begins at NHS to arrange gifts to hand out, like Newtown hats and sweatshirts. NHS Athletic Department secretary Debi Modzelewski oversaw ordering the gifts and packing the gift bags. Memoli and the coaches then individually drive to the homes, following All-Star Transportation’s route.

Memoli said the gifts are “a little thing to say we haven’t forgotten about you, we care about you guys ... We want to make them feel as special as they are.”

For the first day of the effort, Memoli’s wife, Megan, and their children — McKenna, 6, and Bryce, 4 — joined him for the drive, but did not get out of the car.

As of May 29, Memoli said feedback from parents was positive. One mom cried when they showed up, and one father sent “a very nice letter” after the visit. Memoli said it was nice to see how much people have appreciated the effort.

Newtown High School Unified Sports senior Johnny Nowacki is surrounded by his family and a friend during a recent visit to celebrate him by coach Kirsten Tuz, right.— photos courtesy Matt Memoli
NHS girls golf coach Jeremy O’Connell, right, visits the Marino family to celebrate senior athlete Gigi, front left. Family members are Angelo, left, Renee, right and Sydney Marino.
Volleyball coach Sandy Doski, right, helps celebrate NHS senior James Belden, left, with family members, Olivia, Lauren, and Margaret.
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