Seven to be inducted into Torrington Hall of Fame on April 23.
Amy Weingart Raiche
Amy was an outstanding volleyball and track stand-out during her years at Torrington High School. In volleyball, Amy was named All-NVL her senior year. A fearsome outside hitter, Amy helped her team win an NVL Championship that season, ending a longstanding drought and commencing a winning tradition for the program.
As successful as Amy was on the volleyball court, she is probably best known for her feats as part of both the Indoor and Outdoor Track teams. Amy helped establish the THS Girls Outdoor Track team as a perennial powerhouse by securing the 2002 and 2003 NVL Championships. Very few, if any, opposing athletes ever had the opportunity to defeat Amy in her prize event – the shot put. Amy currently still holds both the THS Girls Indoor and Outdoor Track shotput records. For three straight years (2001-2003), Amy won the gold medal at the NVL Girl’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Meets, earning All-NVL in the event each time. Amy medaled at the Class L State Outdoor track meet for the shot as well, earning a gold medal in 2001 and a silver medal in 2003. Her performances at the state level earned Amy statewide recognition and a spot on the All-State Track team.
At her final NVL Track meet, Amy was selected as the 2003 “Outstanding Field Performer” for her consistent domination in all three throwing events. League coaches also recognized Amy’s academic achievements, as she was selected for the female “All-NVL Scholar-Athlete Award” for the spring season. Amy capped off an astounding athletic career by earning the 2002-2003 THS Spring Service Club Award given at the Gold T Banquet.
Amy graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2007 with a B.S. She currently resides in Westerly, RI with her husband, Brandon, and two young daughters, Madelyn and Charlotte.
Andrea Bonetti Stewart
Andrea participated in three sports at Torrington High School: soccer, basketball, and track. She lettered in basketball and girls’ track in both her freshman and sophomore years. She held the school record in the long jump, 16’2”. She also qualified in the State meet finishing third in a long jump and seventh in the 100-yard dash. She was also selected ALL-NVL in track in her sophomore and junior seasons.
A stellar athlete in soccer, she was a starter and lettered all four years. She was the Naugatuck Valley League’s leading scorer in both her freshman and sophomore years. She led the State of Connecticut in scoring as a sophomore. She had 27 goals and 5 assists during her freshman season; 33 goals and a12 assists in her sophomore season; 26 goals and 12 assists in her junior year. She was selected First Team All-NVL in her freshman, sophomore and junior years; selected All-State in her sophomore year; selected the Republican/American’s “Player of the Week” both freshman and sophomore seasons; selected NVL’s M.V.P. sophomore year and scored the winning goal in 12 games as a sophomore. In her senior year, she was named All-NVL and All-State She maintained her position as a top player in the league despite playing most games being double and triple teamed.
Andrea also was a three-year starter for West Nutmeg Soccer (Connecticut Olympic) winning three gold medals. She played for Yankee United Fury, and participated in top national tournaments on the East Coast.
Andrea attended the University of Hartford after graduating from THS. She is presently employed by Litchfield Garden Apartments in the field of property management. She is married and has a 14-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.
Dick was a member of the basketball and baseball teams at THS. As a starter in basketball, he averaged 13 points per game. His team went onto the state tournament and Dick was named to the NVL 2nd team. He played baseball for four years and was captain along with Jack Wood during his senior year. Catching for the team, Dick batted over .500 and went 1 for 4 against Steve Blass. His awards for baseball included the Varsity Club Award for most runs batted in and the Service Club Cup award.
Dick began his golfing career as a member of the UCONN golf team as their #3 man. While on that team, UCONN won the New England Tournament and he was runner-up in individual match play.
In 1964, Dick shot a record 63 with 10 birdies at Torrington Country Club which still stands as a course record. In that same year, Dick won his first Club Championship
In 1974, he won the CT State Amateur Championship at Waterbury Country Club, the only Torrington person to ever do so. He finished third in the New England Amateur at Quecha, VT and he won the Hartford Courant Tournament of Champions at Wethersfield Country Club for all the champions of the state of Connecticut.
He has won the CT State 4-ball championship, the CT State Senior 4-ball championship and has won many numerous CT one-day events around the state. The best was a “68” shot at Fairview Farms Gold Course with 7 birdies and an eagle (hole in one).
Dick served as CT State team captain in 2009 and 2010 when they beat the pros both years in the Julius Boros Challenge Cup.
As a New England Senior Amateur, he has played all over New England and has finished in the top 5 for six different years. He qualified for and played in the United States Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship in 2001 in St. Louis, MO. He also played in the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island where all the top collegiate and national players competed. He was the leader after round one with a “68”, ahead of Andy Bean and Curtiss Strange. In all, Dick has won 9 club championships at Torrington Country Club and 7 Senior Club Championships.
Dick has said that golf has allowed him to meet many wonderful people and feels blessed to have many friends through the great game. He lives in West Cornwall with his wife, Donna of 50 years. He is dad to Jerry of Boca Raton, Richard of Cornwall, their spouses, and grandfather to Carl, Derek, Mason and Alden.
Drake L. Waldron
Drake has dedicated the majority of his adult life to working with Torrington’s youth, teaching and coaching in the community for over 38 years. A business teacher at THS, he has found time to also work with and develop young athletes through a variety of sports. Drake has been a THS Assistant Swim Coach (1979-1984), THS Head Softball Coach (1988-1992), and TMS Head Baseball coach (1997-2005; 2009-2015). Drake has had an immeasurable impact on the academic and athletic experiences of countless student-athletes.
Drake’s thirty-six-year tenure as the Head Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach has earned him his most notable coaching successes. His boys team won the NVL Cross Country Championship twice (1985 and 1987), while his girls team has had the privilege of winning it four times (1985, 1987, 1988, and 2005). Over the course of his coaching career, Drake has helped develop several talented runners, and has had four top finishers in the NVL (Todd Mattiello, 1984; Dave Egliskis, 1988; Kara Cortesi, 1989; and Scott Richnavsky, 2000 and 2001). Drake’s coaching career record currently stands at 426-297.
Over the years, Drake has given back to the local community as a youth soccer, basketball, and baseball coach, and has also been actively involved in Boy Scouts. Drake served as the Aquatics Director at the local Boy Scout summer camp, Camp Workcoeman, for the past 21 years, helping youngsters improve upon their swimming and sailing skills.
Drake earned a B.S. in Business Education and an M.S. in Organization and Management from
Central Connecticut State University in 1978 and 1988, respectively. He also received a Sixth-Year Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration from Southern Connecticut State University in 1994.
A Torrington City Councilman for the past thirteen years, Drake is engaged to Pat Strawson, and has three adult children, Garrett, Dustin, and Becca.
Julio “Julie “ Palazzini
Julio Palazzini, graduate of THS class of 1949, was a three-sport athlete at Torrington High School. “Julie” played baseball on a team that went 34-15 during his three-year varsity career. He played third base and batted left-handed. He was team captain his senior year and was the recipient of the service cup. He batted .400 in his senior year and was interviewed by several major-league scouts. He also played on the State Champion Legion team.
Julie also played three years of varsity basketball on teams that amassed a 52-14 record, winning the NVL in both 1948 and 1949. The ’48 team lost in the state final championship game against Hillhouse and later went on to play in the New England High School Tournament at the Boston Garden. Julie was named All-NVL Honorable mention in his senior year.
Julie only played one year of varsity football. Coach Pete Dranginis coaxed Julie’s mother into letting her son play that year. Having a great throwing arm, he was instrumental in beating long-time rival, Ansonia, by throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass. It was the first victory over Ansonia in 15 years. The 1948 team went undefeated.
After graduation from high school in 1949, he was driven by Coach Connie Donahue to baseball tryouts at the Polo Grounds in New York, held by the New York Giants. Although not making the majors, Julie played 5 years on minor league baseball, three of which were with the Boston Braves (Milwaukee Brewers) organization. He first played in the Appalachian League in West Virginia. He put his baseball career on hold after that first season and joined the United States Army. He spent two years serving in Japan. Upon discharge, he resumed his baseball career and journeys in various leagues in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Florida, Nebraska, Indiana-Iowa and Quebec. In 1954, while playing in the Provincial League in Quebec, he was named to the All-Star team for having a batting average of .309 and a .431 OB%. Also, in 1956, plying in an Independent League, he again was named to the All-Star team with a batting average of .323 and a .408 OB%. A knee injury finally ended his baseball career, but he finished his 5-year baseball career with a batting average over .300.
He returned to Torrington where he worked construction. While working, he, along with Mickey Bonasera and Jim Toro, coached the American Legion baseball team for a short time. In 1970, Julie moved to Florida where he owned and operated a carpet installation business. Today he resides in Port St. Lucie, FL with his sister, Lillian, and brother, Tom.
Charles J. McSpiritt
Born and raised in Verona, New Jersey, Charlie was one of five athletic and competitive sons of Charles and Peggy McSpiritt. He was a very successful three-sport athlete at Verona High School, where he played soccer, basketball, and baseball. As co-captain of the VHS soccer team, Charlie led his team to a Suburban Conference Championship, an Essex County Championship, and a Group ll State Championship during the 1976 fall season. The 1976 Verona soccer team was voted the top team in New Jersey across all divisions/groups that year. In 2004, Charlie and his soccer teammates were inducted into the Verona High School Athletic Hall of Fame for their achievements during that storied season.
After high school, Charlie attended the University of Connecticut. He played soccer for four years under Coach Joe Morrone and was captain for the 1981 season. During that season, Charlie helped his team win their first-ever NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer National Championship, defeating the Alabama A&M Bulldogs by a 2-1 score in Palo Alto, California. At the end of the season, Charlie, along with teammate Pedro DeBrito, were both voted “Co-Most Valuable Players” by their teammates.
After a successful soccer career, Charlie left UConn with a B.S. in Physical Education in 1982 and a Master’s degree in Sport Management in 1984. He accepted a position as an Assistant Men’s Soccer coach at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he also served as Assistant Director of a summer sports program until 1987.
From Bowling Green, Charlie returned to the East Coast and accepted a Physical Education teaching position for Webutuck Central Schools in Amenia, NY. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Charlie also served as Athletic Director, Boys Varsity Soccer Coach and Boys Varsity Basketball Coach from 1987 through 1993. While there, Charlie was chosen as New York State Section 1 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year in 1990.
In 1993, Charlie came to Torrington High School to serve as Athletic Director, where he actively promoted and faithfully supported THS Athletics for his seven-year tenure in that position. During this time, Charlie was instrumental in helping to organize the Torrington High School Athletics Hall of Fame, establishing the standards and the procedures that are still in use today. From 2000-2013, Charlie became an Assistant Principal at THS, and set-out to support all THS students in their academic and extracurricular pursuits. Charlie currently serves as Assistant Principal at TMS, but still makes a point to support students and staff from both buildings.
Outside of his professional life, Charlie is an avid skier and golfer and continues to play soccer year-round. He coached youth soccer in the Southern Berkshire Youth Athletic Program at all levels and was co-director of the community youth soccer camp for over ten years. Charlie served on the Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee for eleven years, chairing that committee for five of those years.
Charlie is married to Janice Russo McSpiritt from Watertown, CT, and is the proud father of two fantastic young adults- Katherine McSpiritt of Brooklyn, NY and Joseph McSpiritt of Mill River, MA.
Mike was a three-sport athlete at Torrington High School. He was a three-year letterman on the varsity basketball team, being named to the All-Star team, a three-year letterman on the track team and was state ranked in the 110 high hurdles. He ran anchor on the 4x440 team and also participated in the long jump and triple jump.
He was a four-year letterman on the varsity football team and served as its captain in his senior year. He was the recipient of the Charlie Duggan Award at the 1982 Thanksgiving Day game and was named All-NVL in 1982 and 1983. His peers voted him Most Outstanding Back in 1982. Statistics show an outstanding performance in most football games against his opponents even when he was injured.
Because of his football prowess, Mike earned a full 4-year scholarship to play football for the Chargers at the University of New Haven. In September 1984, he was named Division II Rookie of the Week. In 1987, he was second on the team for total tackles, and was named to the 2nd Team All-American Division II. In 1986 and 1987, he was voted All-New England Defensive Player. He led the Chargers in their game against Slippery Rock with 22 tackles, 12 solo. He was named Division II Linebacker of the Week three times in 1986 and three times in 1987 and was voted Captain of the team in that same year.
Mike lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife, Sheryl, his son, Thomas, and his daughter, Erin. He has been in the pharmaceutical industry for almost twenty years serving in positions from Territory Sales, Sales Management, to Director of Sales. He and his family enjoy tennis, golf, and the beach.