SEYMOUR >> Maria Conlon. Edwin Esson. Coach Dan Heffernan. Names like that are synonymous with Seymour sports.
And on Nov. 2, the former standout Seymour High School athletes and coach, along with several others, will be the first inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The Seymour High School Sports Hall of Fame Committee was established in 2011 by former First Selectman Paul Roy.
“My feeling was that other communities honor their outstanding athletes and coaches, and Seymour should do the same,” Roy said. “The thought was that it is important to honor those who not only brought honor and distinction to themselves and to the school, but to the community that they represented.”
Roy said the committee was charged with selecting athletes and coaches of “the highest caliber,” who made significant contributions to varsity sports, received multiple letters in one or more varsity sports, demonstrated excellence on the field or court and showed outstanding leadership, character and athletic achievement.
The committee selected nine athletes and two coaches for induction into the inaugural event, scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at Colonial Tavern in Oxford. Tickets have since sold out for the event.
The inaugural class of athletes is comprised of Mark Allen (1970), Maria Conlon (2000), Vic Cweklinsky (1962), Les Dahn (1957), Jen D’Amato (1996), Edwin Esson (1981), John “Chick” Henry (1954), Dennis Rozum (1970) and Ed Shay (1968). Coaches Joe Gesek and Dan Hefferenan round out the list of inductees.
Conlon, born in Derby, opted to attend Seymour High School for its basketball program. She took the skills honed there and moved on to a successful four-year career as a guard for the UConn Huskies, helping her team land three NCAA championships and four Big East regular season titles.
Esson, an imposing running back for the Seymour Wildcats, was dubbed by many as “one of the best they’ve ever seen.” He is a two-time state MVP, and clinched a spot in Parade Magazine’s All-American Team in 1980.
Roy said he’s hopeful the event can become an annual thing.
“I can honestly say that the athletes selected for the first class are truly some of Seymour’s finest,” Roy said. “I remember so many of these athletes and others that played for Seymour High School, and by establishing the Hall of Fame, their accomplishments will be remembered for many years to come.”
Former longtime SHS Head Football Coach Paul Sponheimer, who served on the committee, said he’s thrilled with the group of inductees, all of whom will be attending the event. Two who are deceased, Gesek and Dahn, will be represented by their families.
“It’s outstanding, and we are ecstatic about the response we’ve gotten to this,” Sponheimer said.
The committee spent the last three years working hard to make the Hall of Fame happen, Sponheimer added, and he can’t wait to see the former athletes and coaches, some heading in from Illinois and Florida to receive their honors. Former SHS Principal Robert Blake will be emcee.