The 15th class to enter the West Haven Hall of Fame will be honored Saturday, November 29 at the West Haven Italian-American Club on Chase Lane. The nine new members will increase the membership in the prestigious club to 143 members.
The newest members to be inducted are Joseph Morrell Jr., Stacey Breen Sao, Ron Conlan, Michael Anquillare, Michael Keyes, the late Joseph Giannotti, William Engels, Lindsay Michel and Robert Sveda.
“This is another great class,” West Haven athletic director and Hall of Fame chairman Jon Capone said. “They all come from different eras and the committee is extremely honored to induct them.”
Morrell is a 1983 graduate who was a three-sport star in baseball, hockey and soccer under Hall of Fame coaches George Hanchette, Art Crouse and Elliot Marnell.
During his high school career, Morrell was the starting goalkeeper in soccer for three years, being named the captain his senior year and the team most valuable player following the 1982 and 1983 seasons.
Morrell was a center on the ice under Crouse for three years. The future West Haven coach was named to the All-District team in 1983, as well as an honorable mention for the All-State team that same season.
A captain his senior year, Morrell was a member of the first Team Connecticut squad in 1983. The year proved to be a good one for Morrell as he was the team’s leading scorer, was named the team most valuable player and received the Outstanding Athlete Award.
Under Hanchette, Morrell anchored the corner of the infield for three seasons, playing first base his sophomore and junior seasons and third base his senior year. A captain his senior season, Morrell was also named to the All-District team.
Morrell played junior hockey for the Milford Blues under legendary coach Marty Roos. The team advanced to the league finals in 1984 and Morrell was the team’s top scorer in 1985.
A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, teaching was definitely in the future for Morrell as he coached youth sports from 1984 to 1997, winning a Division I state championship in hockey along with four New England appearances.
Coaching youth soccer in West Haven for 14 years, Morrell’s teams won eight league titles and one state title. He was named the top soccer coordinator for 10 years and has been the commissioner of the West Haven Invitational soccer tournament for six years.
Morrell also coached in Shore Haven baseball and served as the softball commissioner.
On the high school level, Morrell led the West Haven girls’ soccer team for six years, winning one Southern Connecticut Conference title and making five appearances in the state tournament.
On the ice, Morrell was an assistant coach at Guilford under former Notre Dame coach Bill Gerosa and was an assistant under Hall of Famer Mike Violano at Notre Dame, where the teams won two state titles and reached three state finals.
Presently West Haven’s head hockey coach since 1999, Morrell enters this season with a .606 winning percentage (191-121-17).
Coaching 20 All-State players, Morrell’s teams have made 15 state tournament appearances, with four semifinal berths and one SCC title.
In 2005, Morrell received the 2005 Connecticut Outstanding Coach award. He was named the Connecticut Post Coach of the Year in 2010 and the SCC Coach of the Year in 2014.
Morrell is presently a physical education teacher at West Haven High.
Stacey Breen Sao
Breen Sao is a 1987 graduate who could play any sport and starred on the basketball court and softball diamond.
Sao was a two-year player on the volleyball court and was on the swimming team for one year. While Sao did well in those sports, she turned heads playing basketball and softball.
A four-year varsity starter and captain her senior year in basketball, Sao was a two-time First-Team All-District and All-County selection, and an honorable mention All-Area and All-State pick.
Sao represented West Haven High School with the Connecticut Scholar Athlete Award, was a New Haven Tap-Off Club Scholar Athlete and was named to the Connecticut Junior Olympics Squad.
On the softball field, Sao was a four-year varsity member, including the team’s captain her senior campaign. Sao was twice named to the All-District First Team and was named to the KC 101Connecticut Summer Softball League All-Star team.
Off the field and court, Sao was also a member of the marching and concert band for four years, playing the flute and saxophone, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
Sao is a Charter member of the Girls’ Biddy Basketball League and was an umpire in the West Haven Little League.
After graduating from West Haven, Sao attended Villanova University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Economics.
Sao immediately made an impact with an internship at the White House in 1991, later promoted to Correspondence Liaison to the First Lady in early 1992.
Sao is currently the managing director at BostonCentral.com.
Conlan is a 1968 graduate of West Haven High, excelling in basketball. A co-captain his senior season, Conlan was regarded as one of the premiere shooters from the outside.
As a junior, Conlan was regarded as the sixth man, before starting as the shooting guard his senior campaign. With the outside shot a pivotal part of his game, Conlan also had the ability to drive to the basket.
After graduation, Conlan attended Southern Connecticut State College from 1969 to 1973. The 1973 campaign saw Conlan named the team’s co-captain as well as taking home the team most valuable player award. Conlan finished the season as the team’s leading scorer.
Continuing his allegiance at Southern, Conlan was the assistant basketball coach there from 1974 to 1978.
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Political Science, Conlan has embarked on a successful teaching career, where he has been a Social Studies teacher at West Haven High.
Some of the titles held by Conlan are Director of the Alternate Program, Teacher and Director of the Summer School Program and Mock Trial Advisor.
Among the awards and achievements for Conlan are Person of the Year given by the West Haven Bar Association, Mark R. Shedd Award for excellence in teaching law and citizenship in education in 1997 and 1998, Walter Camp Football Foundation for community service and participation in the Special Olympics in 2002 and the Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding service to the West Haven Community House.
Anquillare is a 1986 graduate, who made his high school mark on the ice and baseball diamond, before going on to star on the baseball field at Fordham University.
Graduating ninth in his high school class with high honors, Anquillare was part of the 1984 teams which won state titles in baseball and hockey and was a member of the Class LL runner-up in 1986 on the baseball field. Anquillare’s baseball teams won District League titles in 1985 and 1986, with Anquillare named to the All-District teams the same years as well as the All-State team in 1986.
Anquillare put nice book ends on his high school career as he made the varsity hockey team as a freshman while at Bailey Middle School and was named the McDonald’s Rotary Club Scholar Athlete his senior season.
After graduating from West Haven, Anquillare went on to play baseball on a baseball scholarship at Fordham University, where he was a four-year starter.
While at Fordham, Anquillare’s teams won three MAAC titles, three ECAC titles and qualified for three NCAA Division I tournament appearances. Among the many collegiate honors for Anquillare were Freshman All-American, All-MAAC and All-New York selections, and he was named the team’s captain in 1990.
Anquillare went on to play 17 years in the West Haven Twilight League, winning five league titles. Anquillare won the batting title in 1990 as well as the playoff most valuable player, was the regular season most valuable player in 1991 and received the Irving O’Connor Award for most outstanding first baseman from 1992-1996.
Anquillare again went on to leave his mark on the baseball field, this time as a head coach. After working under legendary coach Frank “Porky” Vieira as a graduate assistant at the University of New Haven, Anquillare became an assistant coach at Platt Tech in Milford in 1992 before taking over at age 24 in 1993. His three-year reign at Platt Tech included a CVTC championship in 1994.
Anquillare then became an assistant coach at West Haven under Hall of Famer Jon Capone from 1996-1999, before taking the helm in 2000, where he still resides.
Anquillare’s teams at West Haven have won a Southern Connecticut Conference title in 2003, Quinnipiac Division titles in 2003, 2004 and 2009 and a Class LL state title in 2009 with a 21-5 record.
The 2009 championship team was voted the unanimous number one team in Connecticut by the New Haven Register as well as the top team in the state by the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Coaches Association.
Anquillare was named the Coach of the Year by the Southern Connecticut Diamond Club following the 2009 campaign and was named the New Haven Register All-Area and All-State Coach of the Year, while also being named the head coach of the Senior All-Star game. Anquillare won state titles as a player and coach at West Haven.
Michel is a 2004 graduate who starred in soccer, basketball and tennis for four years and was involved in numerous other activities.
On the soccer field, Michel was an instrumental player for coach John Camara, playing center midfield and defense.
Playing mostly shooting guard and, at times small forward, Michel was an All-Area selection as a freshman on the basketball court and was an All-Conference selection as a junior. Michel played her final two years on the hardwood under Hall of Fame coach Jim Eagan.
Not only was Michel a force in the fall and winter, but the spring season saw the versatile athlete dominate on the tennis courts. Her quick movement and powerful strokes led to an All-Conference selection her senior campaign.
Playing for three different coaches, Jeanne Palmer (freshman and sophomore), Modestine Vaughn (junior) and Kara Kaczynski (senior), Michel progressed dramatically each year. As a singles player, Michel moved through the lineup, becoming one of the team’s top players.
Playing three sports was not enough for the multi-talented Michel as she was part of the mock trial team her junior and senior years, winning the state title as a junior.
Michel was not done. With some extra time in her schedule, Michel was a member of the band, playing clarinet for four years, as well as being the field leader her junior and senior seasons.
A peer advocate her senior campaign and a member of the national honor society in her junior and senior seasons, Michel combined her academics and athletics to take home awards in each sport.
Michel moved on to Connecticut College in New London where she majored in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. She continued her sports career with four years of basketball, including being named the team’s captain.
The multi-dimensional Michel finished her career at Connecticut College with 662 points, 274 assists, 447 rebounds and 149 steals.
Keyes is a 1978 graduate who starred in football and lacrosse. Keyes made his mark right from the start as he was the freshman football captain in 1974, playing fullback and middle linebacker.
Freshman year on the grid iron saw Keyes dress for every varsity game, playing in three, with Keyes taking home the “#47 Jersey Award.” Keyes moved on to his sophomore year where he started at middle linebacker on defense and full back on goal line offense in football.
Keyes stood out in 1977 as he started varsity lacrosse at crease defense under legendary coach Joseph McHugh and was the tri-captain of the football team from his middle linebacker position. He was named All-District and All-State in football as well as Honorable Mention Prep All-America Football Squad sponsored by National High School Athletics Coaching Association.
During the spring season of his senior campaign, Keyes was the co-captain of the lacrosse team, making the All-State Second Team for defense.
After graduating from West Haven High, Keyes played middle linebacker at Milford Academy before moving to the University of New Haven one year later, playing middle linebacker on a Chargers team which went 8-0-2.
Keyes continued to remain involved in community activities as he has coached West Haven T-Ball, youth football for 12 years and youth lacrosse for four years. Keyes was inducted into the New Haven Gridiron Club Hall of Fame with his brother Ted in 2006.
Married to Gina DeGennaro, Keyes has a daughter, Ashley, and a son, Michael Jr.
The late Joseph Giannotti was a star football player in the early 1930’s at West Haven. Known for his physical play, Giannotti played on both sides of the ball, using his 230 pound frame to his advantage.
In 1932, Giannotti was the captain of the football squad, being named to the New Haven Register’s first All-State High School Eleven team as the team’s right tackle.
After graduating from West Haven, Giannotti enrolled in Dean Academy where he continued to play football. In 1936, Giannotti entered Boston University, where he immediately left his mark as a freshman.
With all freshmen required to play junior varsity, one assistant coach stated he was happy to see Giannotti move to the varsity level due to the amount of players Giannotti put out of commission for the next game due to his tough style of play in every Wednesday’s scrimmage with the varsity team.
Upon completing a notable career at Boston University, Giannotti was signed by the Cleveland Rams of the American Football League. Due to an injury, Giannotti left the Rams and signed with the Patterson Panthers in New Jersey, playing several years before leaving the game due to injuries.
Engels is a 1946 graduate of West Haven High who played basketball for four years and football and baseball for three years.
On the basketball court, Engels played on the freshman team, then followed by seeing time on both the junior varsity and varsity teams his sophomore year, before playing on the varsity squad his junior and senior years.
On the football field, Engels started on the varsity squad his junior and senior years. He was the blocking back of the single wing his junior campaign and was the quarterback his senior year.
Defensively, Engels was a linebacker who also blocked four punts. Engels played every minute of every game his senior season.
On the baseball diamond, Engels was the starting catcher for three years, batting over .300 each year. Engels also picked off three runners at third base his senior season.
During the summer of his freshman and sophomore seasons, Engels played in the West Haven Twilight League on a team of varsity players. The team won the league both years.
In the summer following his junior year, Engels played in Torrington, Connecticut where he was offered a pro contract by the New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants).
At the spring award banquet, a new award system of bronze, silver and gold medals was initiated with the ultimate award being a trophy. Hall of Famer Frank Winfield and Engels were the only players given all three medals.
After high school, Engels played for a semi-pro baseball team made primarily of players who had been out of school for a few years and coached by Hall of Famer Joe Rossomando.
Engels’ professional career has seen him serve 15 years as a minister and 24 years as a Federal employee.
Sveda is a 1954 graduate, who made his mark on the soccer and baseball fields as well as the basketball court.
On the soccer field, Sveda was a midfielder who played for coach Jim Peters. Sveda continued his athletic career playing guard on the basketball court under legendary coaches Whitey Piurek and Luke Crowe, before playing first base and outfield for Piurek on the baseball field. As a senior, Sveda and his teammates took home the District League baseball championship.
Following his graduation from West Haven, Sveda attended Arnold College, now the University of Bridgeport, where he played both soccer and baseball all four years. As a midfielder on the soccer field Sveda was named the captain his senior year and was also an All-New England Honorable Mention that same year.
Sveda continued his versatility on the baseball diamond as he played the outfield and first base during his collegiate years.
Sveda went on to become a physical education teacher at Newtown High School from 1959 until his retirement in 1992. Becoming Newtown’s athletic director in 1963, Sveda guided the sports program from nine to 20 sports.
At Newtown High, Sveda coached the boys varsity soccer teams from 1959-1978, compiling a record of 153-56-19. Never having a losing season, Sveda’s teams were state runners-up in 1961.
In his fourteenth year of coaching in 1973, he recorded his 100th career victory. In 1974, Sveda’s team won the Western Connecticut Conference crown and finished third in the state.
Sveda was also the boys varsity baseball coach from 1963-1970, the girls soccer coach from 1983-1988 and the girls softball coach from 1975-1992.
As the founder of the girls soccer program and first girls soccer coach, Sveda compiled a record of 58-9-1, winning 3 WCC titles. On the softball diamond, he posted a record of 247-103, with 15 consecutive winning seasons and seven WCC crowns.
Sveda’s team went to the state finals in 1989 with a 21-2 record.