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Another great night with the Torrington Hall of Fame. Seven new members celebrated.

POSTED April 24, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It’s the celebration I can truly credit for introducing me to some of the best and brightest that Torrington High School sends out into the world, year after year.

I still remember my first dinner, sometime in the early 2000’s when I attended as a stringer for the Register Citizen.

There I was, kind of the new guy on the block, not really connected to more than handful of folks that I would see when I would cover a Raiders girls’ soccer game or girls’ basketball game.

I quickly got the message of what this event was truly about and it has stuck with me since then and has driven my efforts towards how I try and celebrate those who play, coach or support our local sports.

It’s a terrific group of people, hard-working dedicated people, who are the true role models for this marvelous community and represent the rich history at Torrington High School.

I look forward to this dinner every year. Doesn’t matter how crazy life is or how much I would just like to relax on the back deck on a warm Sunday night. This is one is a keeper.

It brings coaches and players I have covered together with folks I didn’t know until the night I get there, but one thing is always constant.

These are the ones who get it. These are the ones who truly understand that this one is a big deal.

The Torrington Hall of Fame inducted seven new members on Sunday night, bringing their numbers up to 195 strong and growing.

They grow at their own pace though, there is no set number that must go in each year.

Potential inductees are nominated by someone and brought to the attention of the extremely dedicated Hall of Fame Board who discus and then vote on said nominee.

It’s about history. The history of Torrington High School and boy, is it a long and storied one.

One that does not get anywhere near enough attention, something that we are looking to change.

This year, as with most years, the Master of Ceremonies who former Torrington Mayor and THS legend, Mike Conway who reminded the crowd that this was a night for “Old pals, telling old stories”.

It always is and Sunday was no exception.

The hour before the dinner gives folks a chance to catch up with old friends who they may not have seen in decades or may have seen in church that morning.

One thing remains a constant, it’s all about the extended Raiders family and this night has always made me feel part of that family even though I did not attend Torrington High School.

The seven new members, Charlie McSpiritt, Mike Murphy, Julio Palazzini, Amy Weingart Raiche, Andrea Bonetti Stewart, Drake Waldron and Dick Weigold, each accepted their awards from Torrington High School Athletic Director Mike McKenna and committee member Pat Strawson.

Some made brief comments, other longer with Weigold taking home the stand-up routine of the night with some great life lessons humor that he learned through his time at THS and then at the University of Connecticut.

Weigold played basketball and baseball at THS and golf at UConn.

Bonetti Stewart was three-sports star during her time as a Raiders, competing in soccer, basketball and track.

She led the state in scoring during her sophomore year in soccer with 33 goals and 12 assists.

Waldren is the current cross country coach at THS and has been a member of the Torrington City Council for the past 13-years and a fixture in Torrington sports.

His dedication to the youth of Torrington spans nearly four decades and he has sent some of the best cross country runners the Raiders have ever had on to bigger and better heights.  

McSpiritt, the first Athletic Director I knew when I started my career, is one of the founding fathers of the Hall and is currently the Assistant Principal at Torrington Middle school when he’s not on a pitch somewhere playing soccer.

His journey began in Verona, New Jersey where he played soccer, basketball and baseball before attending the University of Connecticut where he helped the Huskies win their first ever NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship.

Murphy played three sports as well, making his mark in basketball, track and football where he earned a four-year scholarship to attend the University of New Haven.

McKenna told a story that spotlighted Murphy’s toughness on the gridiron when he had a clear path to the end zone but decided to turn towards the middle of the field and through the defender pursuing him.

Palazzini could not make the trip up from Florida but was one heck of a baseball player when he graduated in 1949.

He batted .400 during his senior year and was had the honor of being driven by legendary head coach Connie Donahue to a try out at the Polo Grounds with the New York Giants.

Although injuries would slow him and eventually end his career, his mark was forever left on the diamond with THS.

Weingart Raiche was a force during her years as a Raider track and field and volleyball star.

Her volleyball play was tenacious, her performances in the field events, specifically shot put, was where she left her mark.

She still holds the school record for the shot put in both indoor and outdoor track and was named an “All-NVL Scholar Athlete” after her senior year.

It’s a club that keeps getting better, keeps celebrating the excellence that is on display at Torrington High School each and every day.

Can’t wait for next year already.





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