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Torrington Hall of Fame welcomes newest members

POSTED April 29, 2013
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

The Torrington High School Hall of Fame inducted its newest class Sunday evening. The Class of 2013 included Nick Giampaolo, Jim Zeller, Bill Dranginis, Casey Kasenetz Hill, Rich Scott and Joe Minutillo (from left). C.J. Giampaolo, who lives in California was also inducted but was not in attendance.

Torrington Hall of Fame welcomes newest members

TORRINGTON - The Torrington High Shcool Hall of Fame welcomed its newest class Sunday evening at the Cornucopia Banquet Hall as seven members of the Class of 2013 were inducted in honor of their accomplishments and support of Torrington High School athletics.

Bill Dranginis, C.J. Giampaolo, Nick Giampaolo, Casey Kasenetz Hill, Joe Minutillo, Rich Scott and Jim Zeller were honored as the 17th class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"We are here to celebrate the sportsmen and women who have made our city so proud," Master of Ceremonies Mike Conway said.

The newest class has made Torrington proud in a number of different ways. There were coaches honored, former standout athletes and a supporter of local sports who has gone above and beyond to leave an indelible mark on the town's sports scene.

"It's a great time and it's an honor to be a part of it as we really honor the best of the best," Hall of Fame chairwoman Pat Fairchild said. "Every class has something special about it, I couldn't say one class is better than another, they each have a unique quality and have a special place in Torrington sports."

After some opening remarks and dinner, the introductions and speeches followed with a mix of humor, humility, thanks and praise for those who helped make dreams a reality.

Kasenetz Hill was one of many members of the class with family ties to the hall. The 2001 THS grad and National Honor Society member joins her father, Bruce in the prestigious club. Kasenetz-Hill was a four year member of the volleyball team, captain in her senior year, and was a force at the net, leading her team in kills. She played basketball for three years and earned All-NVL honors in indoor track one season as well. It was in the spring though that Kasenetz-Hill excelled on the track, setting multiple records that stayed intact for in some cases, more than a decade.

"I am honored and humbled to join such a prestigious group of individuals."

Jim Zeller, President of Zeller Tire Company in Torrington, was recognized because of his long time financial support of athletics in the City of Torrington and Litchfield County. Zeller dedicated his honor to those working behind the scenes to make local sports the important part of Torrington and Litchfield County that it is

"I was to share this honor with all the coaches, volunteers, people who give freely of their time and money to have such an impact without looking for recognition," Zeller said. "This honor is for you."

Nick Giampaolo was honored for his exploits in the basketball court. He is the only Raider to score more than 1000 points (1080), have over 500 assists (518) and record over 200 steals (220). Torrington made runs into the quarterfinals of Class L in both his junior and senior years with overall records of 17-5 and 17-6 during that span.

"This truly means the world to me," Giampaolo said. "I want to thank coach Tony Turina. I could not have asked for a better coach or a better man to play for."

C.J. Giampaolo was a mainstay on the mound for head coach Gerry Carbone his entire career which spanned fron 1997-2000. During that time, he won 28 games and was named All-Naugatuck Valley League three times while twice earning a spot on the First Team Class L All-Star team. After his time with the Raiders, Giampaolo pitched for Naugatuck Valley Community College and earned First Team All-American status. In a season at Southern Connecticut University, Giampaolo made the New England 10 Conference All-Rookie Team.

C.J. lives in California and is expecting his second child next month and was unable to attend.

Scott, another former Torrington High baseball star, who was nicknamed "The Natural" was also honored Sunday. Scott hit .517 his senior year with seven home runs while striking out just once. He was selected All-NVL three years straight and All-State in his junior and senior year. Scott was particularly thankful he didn't end up as a rival of the Red Raiders.

"I want to thank my mother who moved us to the great city of Torrington when I was five years old," Scott said. "I could have been a Greyhound. No thanks. I am a proud Red Raider."

Coach Minutillo, who has led the Torrington golf program for 30 remarkable years was inducted with a remarkable record of 427-61. The Raiders have won 18 NVL Tournaments, 14 NVL regular season titles while finishing 12 times in the top five at the State Tournament.

"It has been a privilege to coach at Torrington High School for 30 years," Minutillo said. "I have been able to build and maintain some wonderful relationships and watch so many players grow into fine men over the years. It has been very special."

A Torrington High School graduate, Dranginis lettered three years in swimming as well as golf. In his final two years, he qualified for the Connecticut State Championships in the 200 free and medley relay. He went on to go to college at the University of Maryland and made an impact on the swim program right off the bat and Maryland posted an astounding 66-6 record during his time at school and was ranked as high as third in the country.

Dranginis coached the swim team at Litchfield for 25 years, 21 as head coach and joins his father Peter, who is a member of the first HOF class and his cousins, Frank Russo Sr. and Frank Russo Jr in the Hall of Fame.

"I am particularly honored to join my father in the Hall of Fame," Dranginis said. "It's quite an honor."

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