Dozen Green Wave athletes to be inducted as Hall of Famers
A dozen standout athletes representing a span of 68 years have been chosen as the New Milford High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2018 class of inductees.
Green Wave athletes ranging from Alfred “Sonny” Zaloski, Class of 1947, to Conor Kirkegard, class of 2012, will be inducted Oct. 27 at Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton.
Banquet ticket information will be announced in coming weeks in local media and on the Athletic Hall of Fame website at nmhsahof.org.
Joining Zaloski and Kirkegard in the AHOF’s second annual class will be Bryan Riley, Class of 1975, Maggie Rinaldi-Chappuis ’80, Trey Lavalette ’82, John McCafferty ’83, Louis Heaton ’84, John Ndukwu ’84, Alexis Thompson Kleinhans ’90, Morgan Brady Degan ’97, Jeanna Bradle Freeman ’06 and Meghan Johnson Lyon ’08.
For an in-depth look at the Class of 2018 inductees and more photos, visit nmhsahof.org.
The New Milford High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2018 class of inductees
Fairview Farm Golf Course in
Alfred “Sonny” Zaloski was a classic three-sport athlete in an era when football, basketball and baseball reigned at NMHS.
His exploits as a speedy quarterback with a strong throwing arm and defensive stalwart in six-man football sparked the Green Wave to two Housatonic Valley Schoolmen’s League titles.
On the hardcourt, Al was the Green Wave’s playmaker and ranks as one of the all-time top scorers in NMHS basketball annals, peaking as a senior at more than 20 points per game, nearly half of his team’s production. A 33-point explosion vs. Woodbury in 1947 established a new school scoring record.
On the baseball diamond, Al started for four seasons at shortstop and was a standout pitcher in his final two years. He batted .350 his sophomore season to inspire an HVSL team championship.
Bryan Riley was a gifted athlete who combined smarts, exceptional eye-hand coordination and competitive intensity in Green Wave football, basketball and golf.
His talents were displayed in football as quarterback, wide receiver, placekicker and especially as a ball-hawking defensive back. As a junior, Bryan intercepted six passes and recovered four rival fumbles, turning one deft ball theft into a 52-yard, game-clinching touchdown dash.
On the basketball court, Bryan offered excellent defense, strong rebounding and exceptional passing. He also scored enough to rank fourth all-time at NMHS upon his graduation.
Bryan chose Green Wave golf as his spring sport and rewarded the team with a brilliant run of success. As a sophomore, Bryan posted a 14-0 match record to help NMHS to a Western Connecticut Conference title. His individual win streak extended at one point to 30 in a row.
Maggie Rinaldi-Chappuis is one of the most dominant runners in Green Wave history. Slight of stature yet giant of heart, Maggie never once lost to a Western Connecticut Conference rival in either track & field or cross country.
After two seasons of field hockey, Maggie switched to cross country. For two years, she was unbeaten in regular-season meets, setting numerous course records. As a senior, she won the inaugural WCC race. She earned top finishes both years in state meets to capture all-state laurels.
Maggie displayed remarkable versatility in track & field, complementing her distance prowess by anchoring the 4 x 400-meter and 4 x 200-meter relays. Her exploits included a sweep of the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 to spark a dual-meet win over Weston that clinched a share of the 1980 WCC team title.
Among her best efforts was a state-class 56.9 anchor leg in the 4 x 400 at a 1980 state meet. She also ran a superb 4:41.5 in the state 1,500, a competitive time to this day. Maggie won several WCC titles, contended often for state honors and set a high standard for future Green Wave runners.
Trey Lavalette is the best-ever short-distance runner in Green Wave track & field. His sprinting proved a cornerstone of team success. He set standards of 10.7 in the 100 meters, 22.5 in the 200 and 49.1 in the 400 that still were NMHS records at the time of his induction.
Trey lettered three seasons in football. He highlighted his grid career by contributing 70- and 88-yard touchdown receptions and two long kickoff returns to a 33-27 victory over Immaculate, one of two Green Wave wins in his senior season.
On the track, indoor and outdoor, Trey reigned as the best in the Western Connecticut Conference and had few state peers at distances from 55 meters to 500. He won a remarkable nine outdoor and six indoor WCC gold medals and captured six state class titles and a state open championship.
His memorable efforts were highlighted by the 1980 WCC meet, when Trey won the 100, 200 and 400 and anchored the Green Wave’s 4 x 100 to victory, all amidst 85-degree weather. He capped his career by contributing multiple-event wins throughout the season as the unbeaten Green Wave claimed the 1982 WCC team championship.
John McCafferty was a shining light among the many Green Wave boys’ distance standouts. Fired by his intense competitive spirit, John’s cross country and track & field rivalries with Ken Reilly of Bethel and Steve Kittredge of East Catholic surely ranked among the best in state history.
Three times the cross country MVP, John sparked NMHS to unbeaten seasons and Western Connecticut Conference titles as a sophomore and junior. He set a course record to outlast Reilly in the pivotal dual-meet race as a junior. As a senior, John outkicked Reilly to claim the WCC individual title. He twice finished runner up to Kittredge in state class meets.
In indoor track, John set school and WCC records in the 800 and 1,500 meters, peaking at 4:00.2 in the 1,500 as he trailed only Kittredge in state class and open races.
In outdoor track, John featured WCC gold in the 3,000 as a senior and multiple top fives at state class and open meets. His wins as a junior in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 keyed a crucial dual-meet win over Weston and come-from-behind triumphs over Reilly in the 1,500 and 3,000 sparked a 75-70, clinching win over Bethel for the WCC champion Green Wave.
Louis Heaton etched an indelible mark in Green Wave football and basketball history as a rugged athlete who exhibited savvy, a blue-collar work ethic and leadership.
A four-season football letterman, Louis was a one-man wrecking crew on defense. Credited with more than 150 tackles as a senior, Louis highlighted his career with 60- and 93-yard interception runbacks for touchdowns. He keyed a streak of 16 straight quarters of shutout defense by the 5-5 Green Wave. He earned league and state laurels and was accorded the Green Wave’s cherished Michael Rosato Memorial Trophy.
Louis brought athletic grace to the basketball court to complement his strength and determination. He rebounded with ferocity, tenaciously defended taller rivals and scored points at a double-figure clip for three straight seasons for the Green Wave, which posted 17-3 and 18-1 regular-season records in his junior and senior seasons.
A two-time captain and all-WCC selection in each sport, Louis closed the book on his Green Wave athletic career after helping to elevate NMHS football and boys’ basketball to a higher standard.
John Ndukwu was a mercurial three-sport athlete whose accomplishments created memories forever etched in the minds of teammates, rivals and fans.
In one season of Green Wave football, John lent breakaway offensive potential and hard-hitting defense to a 5-5 season, the program’s best in a decade. His six touchdown catches were each 29 yards or more.
John proved a high-flying catalyst to basketball records of 17-3 and 18-1 in his final two years. His best games were crowd-pleasing 30- and 28-point efforts to lead the Green Wave to Joseph Wiser Holiday tournament wins. Shot-blocking, derring-do defense and scoring were all part of John’s hard-court repertoire. Twice an all-Western Connecticut Conference selection, John averaged in double figures three straight seasons and capped his career deadlocked with Tom “Tucker” Burke, Class of 1970 for what was then the all-time school record of 935 points.
A sprinter with no WCC peer during his two Green Wave seasons, John earned all-WCC honors both years by winning the 100 meters and contributing to gold-medal 4 x 100 relays.
John would go on to excel in basketball and track & field at Northeastern University, yet not before leaving his mark for posterity on Green Wave sports.
Alexis Thompson proved for four years to be a goal-scoring wunderkind on the soccer pitch and an exceptional hurdler and sprinter in track & field.
Alexis quickly became the key player for Green Wave soccer, scoring 19 goals as the first-year girls’ side qualified for the state tournament in her freshman season. In all, Alexis scored a remarkable 90 goals to earn all-Western Connecticut Conference honors each year and all-state as a junior and senior. She capped her NMHS soccer career as MVP of the state senior all-star match and was recipient of the state soccer coaches’ female Scholar-Athlete Award.
Alexis immediately made waves as a freshman for NMHS girls’ track & field, earning silver medals in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and fourth place in the 200 meters as the Green Wave claimed the WCC championship. During the next three seasons, she swept WCC gold and established enduring school records at both hurdling distances and added second and third place finishes in the 200. Alexis rose to the challenge of state competition with numerous high finishes. A three-time team MVP and all-WCC, Alexis twice was accorded all-state laurels.
Morgan Brady was a versatile three-sport athlete whose superior field hockey skills were the heart of her Green Wave sports career.
Honored for her excellence as an all-South-West Conference and all-state field hockey player, Morgan was the catalyst, veritable on-field coach and passing wizard for Green Wave field hockey for three seasons. During her senior year, she morphed from midfield anchor adept at setting up teammates to prolific scorer, finding the range for seven goals in a three-match stretch and adding both NMHS goals in the SWC playoffs. Morgan earned team MVP recognition for two straight years and was honored as the program’s “Fran Zaloski Award” recipient as a senior.
Morgan contributed to the Green Wave basketball team through her junior year and competed in track & field for four seasons in events such as the long jump, relays and high jump. Highlighting her efforts as a senior was first place in the high jump at the SWC meet with a 5’2” leap.
Jeanna Bradle was a record-setting Green Wave gymnast who vaulted to the heights of South-West Conference, state and New England competition.
A prodigy from her freshman season, Jeanna earned her team’s MVP award all four years and was an all-SWC athlete three straight seasons.
While evolving as leader and role model to her teammates, Jeanna captured three state class event titles and twice was the SWC all-around champion. She was a consistent state contender and placed fourth all-around at the state open meet in her junior and senior campaigns.
She climaxed her NMHS career at the state meet with an unprecedented mark of 9.9 in the vault and then matched that lofty standard in vaulting while placing third all-around at the New England meet.
By the time Jeanna had taken her gymnastics talents to Springfield College, she had set Green Wave records of 9.9 in vaulting and 9.7 on the balance beam that still stood at the time of her induction.
Meghan Johnson ranked among the most gifted three-sport athletes in Green Wave history following a 12-letter career in volleyball, basketball and softball.
Three times the Green Wave volleyball co-captain, Meghan lent tenacity, smarts and athletic skills as the Green Wave stepped up from also-ran to state power. The girls posted a 44-19 record as Meghan earned all-South-West Conference laurels three times.
Team success eluded two-time co-captain Meghan in basketball, yet Meghan claimed all-SWC recognition and team MVP and scored more than 900 career points, third in program history at the time of her induction.
Meghan was at her best on the softball diamond, anchoring the Green Wave defense with quickness, savvy and strong throwing arm at shortstop. She had four hits, scored three runs and added three RBIs in her freshman debut and never let up. Meghan hit over .400 as the Green Wave advanced to the state tournament each season. She was rewarded three times each with all-SWC and all-state honors.
Conor Kirkegard, the best lightweight in Green Wave wrestling history, carved a peerless record while leading his team to success in the South-West Conference, state and New England.
His litany of accomplishments included a 171-11 record, an 88-match win streak, 109 pins and the boast that he was never pinned. Conor won his weight class all four years at the SWC tournament, claimed three gold medals at state class meets, two gold medals and a silver at state open meets, and many invitational titles. He rose to the occasion to place first and fourth in New England competition.
Conor’s incomparable contributions played an integral role as the Green Wave won four straight SWC championships, built a cumulative 81-4 team record, won its first state class title and added three runner up finishes.
As Conor walked off the mat for the final time as a senior, he stood front and center among the very best of Green Wave wrestling’s many outstanding athletes.