The Windsor Athletic Hall of Fame has officially inducted its inaugural class of honorees. Long overdue, the concept for this tribute was on the drawing board for many years until last year when Windsor High School Vice Principal Alan Strauss decided it was time to make it a priority and appoint a small committee to begin assembling the first class.
The efforts of the committee culminated this past weekend at East Windsor's La Renaissance with the induction of Richard "Dick" Teed, James "Jim" Burton, Mary Ellen Champlain-Barthel, Judy Urban, Gerald M. Joseph, Randy Lee, Coach Barry Chasen and the 1979 Class LL State Baseball Championship team.
Each athlete was given a rousing introduction by someone close to them and then were given the opportunity to speak to the two hundred family and friends who were assembled.
Richard "Dick" Teed's introduction came in the form of a pre-recorded video sent in by none other than Tommy Lasorda of Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers fame. Lasorda and Teed actually shared a baseball diamond in the early 1950's.
Teed, after graduating Windsor High School in 1944, was invited to a Brooklyn Dodgers tryout but had to recuse himself because he had already committed to serve in the Marines, which he did from 1944-1946. Upon returning to Windsor, Teed reconnected with the Dodgers and was placed on their Single-A team. He eventually worked his way up to the big leagues.
"I'm glad somebody had the gumption to go back to 1944," laughed Teed. "Baseball has been a great life for me I am still at it, I've been in the game a long time," he said.
Next to be inducted was James "Jim" Burton, an all-around athlete who graduated Windsor High School in 1976. "I am humbled by this," said Burton, who started playing sports with ice hockey, but later played baseball and football. In his senior year, Burton threw for over 1800 yards and made 16 touchdowns as the Warriors' quarterback.
An emotional Burton praised Coach Barry Chasen for what he had meant to a young 13 year old, recently moved into town.
"He was a very good player," said Coach Chasen. "He was very competitive. He used to challenge me."
As an All-State shortstop, Burton helped lead the Warriors to the State Semi-Finals in 1975, batting .467 and was chosen First Team All-State CLass "LL." Burton went on to play professionally with the L.A. Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.
Mary Ellen Champlain-Barthel, class of 1977, was a three sport athlete who won the Windsor Cup and earned three varsity letters in three years at Windsor High. She lettered in field hockey and was co-captain of the girls' basketball team.
"Athletics is genetic," she said. "My parents would be absolutely thrilled if they were here," she said and jokingly blamed her competitiveness on having three older brothers. Champlain-Barthel is a Community Education Director for the St. Michael-School District in St. Michael, MN.
Only one posthumous honor was given for this inaugural class: Judy Urban, class of 1981. Urban was an outstanding scholar athlete who grew up in Windsor and played field hockey and basketball, but who passed away prior to her senior year at the age of 17.
"She excelled at everything," said Coach Judy Saxon. "She was a true scholar-athlete. She was a leader in every way. There is no doubt in my mind that she belongs in this Hall of Fame," said Saxon.
Urban's mother, Jane Urban, accepted the honor on her behalf.
Gerald M. Joseph, class of 1983, was a member of the 1982 undefeated CVC track team. He was a member of the varsity basketball team, and was a starter for three years. As captain of the Warriors in 1983, Joseph played for the All CVC Team and was the conference's leading scorer.
"We played for fun, we played to compete, we played to win," said Joseph when he accepted his award.
Joseph is currently a member of the Windsor Police Department and volunteers with youth basketball in Windsor.
Given the only "Distinguished Supporter" award of the evening, Randy Lee was introduced by Athletic Director Steve Risser. Lee has 41 years of experience educating students in Windsor, and is the timer for ice hockey, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls lacrosse and wrestling. He was also the assistant coach to the girls soccer team for 25 years and is the head official for both boys and girls track.
Lee is retiring this year from Windsor.
Well known favorite Coach Barry Chasen has been teaching social studies in Windsor since the late 70's. Chasen has coached both high school and summer teams for 38 years. Wayne Dobretsky, a member of the 1979 State Champion Baseball team, introduced Chasen saying, "the '79 team was special because of the memories we had with Coach Chasen," said Dobretsky. "Coach Chasen always knew what was going on. He was the most dedicated, aggressive, tough and caring coach."
Chasen's teams have won 36 championships, and have had 22 runner up finishes during his 38 years as a coach. He achieved two Class LL Regional and State titles in baseball, 10 league titles and 17 runner up finishes.
Chasen has already been inducted into four Halls of Fame, including Norwich Sports Hall of Fame, Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame, New York Military Academy Hall of Fame and the Windsor Diamond Club Hall of Fame.
Chasen was known for pushing his teams to not just win, but to better themselves as people. "Are you a better player today than you were yesterday, but more importantly, are you a better person today than you were yesterday?" he would demand of his players.
Chasen regailed the audience with story after story of players and memories, recalling details of students long since moved on. "It's the people that matter," he said. "You people have been and always will be in my heart."
The grand finale of the evening was seeing 14 members of the 1979 Class LL State Championship team inducted into the Hall of Fame. This team ended its season ranked No. 3 in the nation. The team had seven players on the All-Conference team and two on the All-District team. Equally impressive, they stole 137 bases in 143 attempts.
Known as a team that could not be beaten, its motto for 1979 was "PMA: Positive Mental Attitude."
14 members of the original team were in attendance on the night of the induction ceremony to accept their award and to thank their coach, Barry Chasen, one more time for leading them to victory.