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Judy Samaha, a longtime coach, teacher, basketball official and athletic director at Sheehan High in Wallingford, died Wednesday at 75.
Samaha coached softball at Lyman Hall in Wallingford, along with Sheehan and the University of New Haven. She began her teaching career in the Wallingford school system in 1971.
“Judy was one of the key people who helped get this league started and become successful,” current SCC commissioner Al Carbone said. “She loved Sheehan High School and its student-athletes and coaches.”
Said current Sheehan AD Chris Dailey: “Judy has left a lasting legacy on the Sheehan community. Anyone who knew her probably has a funny story about something she said or did that also captures how much she cared about the kids and the coaches. She was never at a loss for words and would always stand up for what she believed in. She was one of a kind. I am thankful that I got to know her and am honored to work in the position that she once held with such pride.”
Samaha is credited with the creation of the popular powder puff game between Sheehan and Lyman Hall, which she started in 1972 when she was a physical education teacher at Sheehan
“It’s the biggest spring event in the town, by leaps and bounds. She wanted something for females and she did it,” said Matt Altieri, who served as Sheehan’s baseball coach from 1995-2019. “Judy was was women’s rights before women’s rights and she embodied that. Every female athlete who puts a Titan uniform on should say thanks and a prayer to Judy Samaha.”
The Titans played crosstown rival Lyman Hall in that first game. That game is now called the Samaha Bowl and continues to draw huge crowds during Thanksgiving week.
Samaha served as a state women’s basketball official from 1968-83. She was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.