Ten individuals and one team inducted into the Avon High Athletic Hall of Fame – The Collinsville Press

Some of the first members of the Avon High Athletic Hall of Fame. From left: Victor Krasij, Kelly McCollum Sheetz, Madison Kennedy, Bonnie Tyler, Bob Summers, Marty deLivron, Jason Fox, Lindsay Horbatuck and Kia McNeill. More photos from the banquet.

AVON, May 18, 2022 – They could have talked for hours as the stories and memories flowed freely. Some came from far away – Chicago, Washington, DC, Charleston, South Carolina – and some just drove around town.

The long awaited and highly anticipated inaugural Avon High Booster Club Hall of Fame Banquet was held at the Golf Club of Avon on Wednesday night with ten individuals and one team as part of the first class of the Avon High Athletic High Hall of Fame.

They may have played different sports and played through different eras, but one thing has been constant — their love for their time in Avon, growing up in that town with their friends and family, their high school days, and the coaches and teammates who that made time special.

“Life is full of choices. We make good decisions. We make bad decisions. But I made a great decision when I decided to train at Avon,” said longtime field hockey coach and physical education teacher Bonnie Tyler.

“I’m so proud to be from Avon, Connecticut,” said swimmer Madison Kennedy, who was part of three US teams at the World Championships. “You say, where is that? (I say) it is very small. It’s picturesque. It’s the best place to grow up.”

Former coaches Martin deLivron (baseball, boys’ soccer) and Tyler (field hockey, basketball) and former athletic director Bob Summers were named, along with athletes Jason Fox (Class of 1991), Lindsay Horbatuck (2009), Madison Kennedy (2005), Victor Krasij (2001), Kia McNeill (2004), Richard (Dick) Migli (1970) and Kelly McCollum Sheetz (1991).

The 1968 Avon High baseball team, which won a Class C state championship, was also included. ESPN sports reporter Karl Ravech, who has lived in Avon for many years, was the master of ceremonies. He conducted a short interview with each initiate before they gave a short speech.

Bonnie Tyler receives her award at the Avon High Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Golf Club of Avon. More photos from the banquet.

Fox said his love of football started here in Avon when he came to pickup games at Andrea Lane with his brother. He praised deLivron, his high school coach here in Avon. An all-American soccer player at Avon, Fox has played on Falcon soccer teams that have made four state finals and won three championships.

“So many amazing memories,” Fox said. “We won a lot. Maybe that’s why it was so much fun

We had a lot of great players,” he said. “This is where I learned that great players win games and we won a lot of them. Great players win many games, but great teams win championships. We were a great team because of one person and that is Coach deLvron. He was such a positive role model for us young guns back then and he made us better students, better athletes and better people. We thank you very much for that.”

Krasij was an all-American soccer player at Avon, scoring 37 goals and sharing 57 assists. He helped the Falcons win the M-class state title in 2000.

“Football was a way to be more social,” he said. “My networks and friendships came about through football and I have maintained these relationships to this day. I was known as a playmaker. I enjoyed smuggling the ball through to these guys.”

McNeill was a two-time All-American footballer at Avon and helped the Falcons win three state championships.

“I find it almost impossible to find the words to quantify the gratitude I have for this city, the community, the school system, the friends, the coaches, the teachers, my family,” she said. “This is the community that literally gave me my foundation and values ​​for life. Much of what I observed, absorbed, learned, and tried to emulate to this day came from the people in that room.”

McCollum Sheetz played three sports at Avon and earned 12 letters. She started playing field hockey in middle school because there was no middle school football team at the time. She played field hockey at Northwestern University and eventually coached the Wildcats.

McCollum-Sheetz spoke about the lessons she has learned through sport that she hopes to carry on in her life – facing adversity and challenges, being part of something bigger than yourself and seizing opportunities.

Some members of the 1968 Avon High baseball team that won the Class C state championship at the Hall of Fame induction dinner with dinner host Karl Ravech of ESPN at far right. More photos from the banquet.

Tyler grew up in Maine and came to Avon as a young teacher. She had no intention of staying but is glad she did. She founded the field hockey program in Avon, reinvigorated the girls’ basketball program and provided many students with study opportunities within the school during her 33-year career here.

“They said you can’t go back home, but I know you can because tonight I’m home in the city where I’ve been fortunate enough to teach and train for 33 years,” Tyler said . She commended her students and players for helping her grow throughout her career. “Each and every one of them was unique and they challenged me to my best,” she said.

Many members of Avon High’s 1968 baseball team attended the banquet. Their head coach – Dick Kelliher – wasn’t much older than the players he coached. He was in his sophomore season at Avon after graduating from the University of Maine, where he played baseball on a Black Bear team going to the 1964 College World Series.

Kelliher believed in a well-rehearsed team. Kelliher and his wife invited the players to their home in Canton before games to strengthen the bonds between teammates. “They would come by before the games and bring drinks, potato chips and stuff like that,” he said. “They did it once before the tournament and won (the game), and after that they continued every single game.”

Kelliher didn’t stay at Avon his entire career, but this team was special. “In all my years coaching baseball, football and basketball, these young men have been the most trainable and enjoyable I have ever coached or had the pleasure of coaching,” he said. “Gentlemen, you were the best and you proved it.”

Summers, who is 93, was the oldest newcomer to the event. He began the athletic program at Avon High when the school opened in September 1958. He hired Tyler, deLivron, and many of the other trainers in the room. He retired from Avon in 1995.

Ravech asked Summers what his favorite sport was, but Summers gave no secrets. “As a sports director you have to be involved in all sports and treat them equally,” he said.

Ravech asked about the secret of a long life. “Proper diet and exercise. That helps,” Summers said, as the crowd giggled at seeing Ravech searching for more details he wasn’t going to get.

And as the mic squeaked with feedback during his remarks, Summer asked, “Am I doing something wrong?”

Ravech replied: “No, you are not doing anything wrong. You’re 93. You’re killing it.”

A brief summary of each initiate.

Martin DeLivron: DeLivron was the boys’ football and baseball coach at Avon for many years. He was a varsity coach for 22 years, winning 330 games and leading Avon to six state championships and eleven finals appearances. He was a collegiate baseball coach for 36 years, winning 483 games and leading the Falcons to eight championships in the Northwest (3) and North Central Connecticut (5) Conferences.

Jason fox (Class of 1991): Jason was an all-American soccer player who helped lead the Falcons to four state championship games and winning three. A two-time All-New Englander, he scored 57 goals at AHS and went on to play at Notre Dame.

Lindsay Horbatuck (2009): An all-state basketball and lacrosse player, Horbatuck helped lead the Avon High girls’ basketball team to their first state championship in 2009, where she was named MVP of the state Class M tournament. A two-time All-State basketball player, she played collegiately at Bucknell and played professionally in Bulgaria and Australia.

Madison Kennedy (2005): She received five-time All-American honors in swimming in high school before swimming at college in Rutgers and California-Berkley, qualifying for four US Olympic Trials events, and swimming on three US World Championship teams, winning seven Medals, including four gold medals.

Viktor Krasiy (2001): He played football for Avon for four years, scoring 37 goals and sharing 57 assists. Krasji helped the Falcons win the 2000 Class M championship, with Krasij receiving All-New England and Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year honors.

Kia McNeill (2004): She played football with Avon for four years and helped the Falcons win three straight M-class championships (2001-04). A two-time All-American selection, McNeill was named the 2004 Gatorade National Player of the Year. She played collegiately at Boston College and received third-team All-American honors as a senior. She played professionally for six years and won a WPS title with Philadelphia in 2011. I Tournament places 2019 and 2022.

Richard (Dick) Migli (1970): Migli earned 12 college letters playing football, basketball, and baseball for the Falcons. He was on the Falcon football team in 1967, which went undefeated, and on the baseball team in 1968, which won a Northwest Conference and a state championship.

Kelly McCollum Sheetz (1991): She played field hockey, basketball and softball at Avon and earned 12 varsity letters. Sheetz was a 1990 All-State field hockey player and guided Avon to the Class S championship game. She played field hockey at Northwestern in Chicago, helped her team to the 1994 NCAA Final Four, and later coached the Wildcats for five seasons (2004-08).

Robert Sommer: One of Avon High’s first employees in 1957, Summers was an assistant coach for football, basketball and baseball during his career at Avon (1957-95), but he is best remembered as the school’s longtime athletic director for 37 years. He started the athletic department at Avon High.

Bonnie Tyler: She began the field hockey program in 1968 and coached the Falcons for 17 years, leading Avon to two state championships and three championships in 1983 and 1984. She also coached the girls basketball team for several seasons.

1968 varsity baseball team: Sophomore coach Dick Kelliher led the Falcons to their first Northwest Conference title and a Class C state championship—the second baseball state title in school history. The Falcons went 16-3 and defeated two-time defending champion Cromwell 3-1 in the state title game at Muzzy Field in Bristol.

Editor’s note: Collinsville Press Editor and Publisher Gerry deSimas, Jr., who has covered school sports in the area for more than 40 years, is one of nine people on the nominating committee that selected the men and women for admission to Avon High Athletic hall of fame.

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