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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    High school notes: Stonington crew sparing no details in celebrating its 25th anniversary

    An eight-man shell with the Stonington High School boys’ crew rows north on the Mystic River on Sept. 15, 2022. The Bears boys’ and girls’ crew teams are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. (Day File Photo)
    NFA’s Jordan Fabry, right, attempts to steal the ball from Waterford’s Payton Smith during the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I girls’ soccer championship game Nov. 1. Fabry, whose dad Ryan is an assistant coach for the Wildcats, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Stonington crew hasn’t spared any of the celebrating from its 25th anniversary celebration.

    The Bears held a sightseeing cruise on Oct. 15 aboard the Cecilia Ann, part of the Cross Sound Ferry fleet, doubling as a fundraiser for the program. The cruise, which included lunch catered by McQuade’s Marketplace, sold out at 200 tickets.

    The team, which competes as Stonington Community Rowing in the fall and represents the high school in the spring, had a girls’ four and a boys’ eight take part in the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in October in Boston.

    Then, in November, Stonington held an intrasquad scrimmage called Battle of the Bears, for which the coaches invited alumni to participate in the spirit of celebrating the 25th anniversary, and last week the Bears saw senior coxswain Mia Bottone sign a National Letter of Intent to compete collegiately at Division I Sacred Heart University.

    “At the cruise, we had our founders come back and talk about the origins, why they started the program to make this sport available,” said John Thornell, the Stonington High girls’ coach and also the director of rowing at Stonington Community Rowing.

    “The founders had some really wonderful stories about how the program started and how they got equipment, they basically had to beg, borrow and steal. ... We had a guided tour, some announcements, some speaking engagements, saw the different lighthouses, different areas in Long Island Sound ... Taylor Swift’s house. It was a lot of fun.”

    The founders of the Stonington program were Mike Nowak and Ken Godfrey, both of whom rowed at Simsbury High School and in college. They made a donation to Simsbury in exchange for the program’s first boats, a 1973 Pocock eight named “73” and a Schoenbrod eight called “Red.”

    Now, a new community rowing center is in the works, with the town recently receiving a $500,000 grant that will be used to develop the location, Mystic River Boathouse Park, which Thornell believes could be open as soon as next fall.

    This spring, Stonington finished with three medals at the Connecticut Public Schools Rowing Association state championship regatta, with bronze going to the boys’ first varsity eight and gold to the second varsity eight and boys’ novice eight.

    Sally Machin is the boys’ varsity coach, while Thornell, whose sons Rhys and Ian competed previously for the Bears, is in his eighth season as girls’ coach.

    Like father, like daughter

    Ryan Fabry was the highly successful boys’ soccer coach at Lyman Memorial: a career record of 245-86-43 in 21 seasons, including the 2002 Class S state championship.

    He stepped down when his daughter Jordan, then a sophomore, decided to play at Norwich Free Academy instead of only competing for Oakwood Soccer Club, which previously was not allowed with Oakwood a part of U.S. Soccer’s Developmental Academy.

    “I wasn't going to still coach Lyman and potentially miss any of her games,” Ryan Fabry said.

    He was then asked by NFA girls’ soccer coach Taylor Shannon if he would like to serve as the Wildcats’ assistant coach, something he first cleared with his daughter.

    Jordan, a Class LL all-state selection last year, is now a senior at NFA, recently named Most Outstanding Player of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I championship game following the Wildcats’ 3-0 victory over Waterford. Jordan Fabry is NFA’s defensive center mid and captain.

    “Coaching Jordan has been great,” Ryan Fabry said, “an amazing experience as a father and as a coach and I am so proud of her. She possesses an extremely high soccer IQ and her decision-making on the field is usually flawless.

    “She has stepped up big for us this year, usually scoring goals in big games, but always anchoring the midfield and being that coach for us on the field.”

    Fabry also complimented Shannon’s ability as head coach, calling her “an excellent role model for the girls.”

    Said Fabry of the transition from head coach to assistant: “Admittedly, it was different at first ... but now I feel that we are on the same page about everything. I feel my role is to be the team's goalkeeper coach, but also to provide different perceptions and approaches for her to consider regarding the entire team.

    “As a head coach, she makes the executive decisions. And obviously, she has made the right ones this season. ... She tells me that she has learned a lot from me, but honestly, I have learned just as much from her.”

    About face

    Lyman Memorial girls’ soccer coach Mark Morello had a deal with his players. If the Bulldogs repeated as ECC Division II champions this season, he would shave off his signature mustache, something he last did in 2003.

    Morello paid up after top-seeded Lyman’s 3-0 victory over No. 6 Montville in the championship game.

    “I don’t think that was the motivator,” Morello said of the close shave. “But I kept my word. I kept my word. We did it the next day at practice. The kids got a kick out of it.”

    Of what his face looks like without the mustache ...

    “I hope it looks a little younger,” said Morello, in his 35th season.

    The fifth-seeded Bulldogs were set to play in the Class S state tournament semifinals Tuesday night against No. 1 Thomaston after blanking No. 13 Old Lyme 1-0 in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

    Lyman lost The Day’s All-Area Player of the Year, all-state pick Magda Carpenter, to graduation, as well as fellow senior and lightning bolt Leah Comeroski. The Bulldogs also moved up from Division IV to Division III in the ECC.

    But Morello has Carpenter’s younger sister, Phoebe, whom the coach calls “the best natural keeper I’ve had in 35 years,” as well as sophomore Emily McKelvey, who scored the game-tying goal in regulation in last year’s Class S semifinals to send the Bulldogs to the title game for the first time in program history.

    McKelvey was the Most Outstanding Player in this year’s ECC tournament final.

    “Phoebe’s fantastic every time the whistle blows,” Morello said. “The kids feed off her. Even in warmups she’s making diving saves. She’s not trying to be Magda, she’s just trying to be herself.

    “Emily, teams are double- and triple-teaming her and she’s been fighting through it. ... In August, they asked me if I’d shave my mustache if we repeated as ECC champs. We went up a division in the regular season, but lo and behold ... They’re playing hard. I’m so proud of them.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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