WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Tom
Nevers, the winningest soccer coach in the 48-year
history of the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer
program, has been selected to receive a Gold Key by the Connecticut
Sports Writers' Alliance.
Joining Nevers as a Gold Key recipient are: Dr. Ray Cieplik, Coast Guard Academy athletic director and a former men's soccer coach; Brian Leetch, former NHL defensemen with the New York Rangers; and Stan Ogrodnik, former Trinity College men's basketball coach.
The Gold Key Dinner is scheduled for Sunday, April 26 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
In 1961, the Mansfield native took over Eastern club soccer team and wasted little time developing it into a winner on the intercollegiate level, compiling an overall 18-year record of 152-76-14 (65.8 percent) as the winningest coach in program history. The 1965 campaign marked the first of 14 straight winning seasons under Nevers, and the club qualified for 10 straight postseason tournaments between 1966 and 1975. The 1968-69 clubs finished unbeaten (28-0-1) through the regular season, conference and regional postseason play, reaching the NAIA national tournament both seasons.
The Warriors also won the New England championship to reach the NAIA national tournament in 1973. Nevers' 1969 club outscored its 11 regular-season opponents, 88-4, and finished with a national record 101 goals. As a student, the Mansfield native led the UConn men's soccer team to the 1948 National Championship. Becoming the boys soccer coach at Hale-Ray High School in Moodus soon after, Nevers' clubs won seven state titles in 10 seasons. The Little Noises also established state records for consecutive unbeaten games (57) and least goals allowed in one season (0). Nevers was inducted into the Eastern Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1986, and was also enshrined in the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 2001. Eastern's soccer field was also dedicated in Nevers' honor that year.
Since 1940, the Alliance has awarded those from Connecticut who have made their stamp on the sporting world on the youth, high school, college and professional levels.
Past recipients of the Gold Key Award include Eastern head baseball coach Bill Holowaty (1989) New York Giants football great Ken Strong (1945), and St. Joseph boys basketball coach Vito Montelli (1998).
Tickets are $75 apiece and can be purchased by mailing a check to Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT 06085.