Three times a year, the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame holds a Leadership Council Breakfast in an effort to help upcoming sports team leaders/captains learn more about leading their respective teams. These are students from the three Bristol high schools who have two breakfasts as juniors and one in the early fall of their senior year.
The event is emceed by Bristol attorney Mark Ziogas, a member of the board of directors of the Hall of Fame.
“You are all thrust into leadership roles and no one tells you what to do,” Ziogas told the junior and senior athletes in attendance. “This is what we try to do here.”
Following his opening remarks, Ziogas introduced the keynote speaker, Breanne Gleason, a former Bristol Central and University of New Haven softball pitcher who is now head coach of the CCSU women’s softball team. In explaining how she learned about becoming a leader, she gave a resume of her playing days from the beginning of high school to her final year in college.
“In preparing my talk, I thought back to when I was your age and to what I’d want to hear,” Gleason told the student-athletes.
She shared how she was treated badly as a freshman by seniors to the point in college where she finally got it. During a game against the lacrosse team, one of her teammates elbowed a lacrosse player and because of this she and her teammates were drilled and drilled by their coach as punishment. Finally, the girl who did the elbowing took the blame.
“She made herself accountable,” said Gleason. “She blamed herself.”
That was the lesson needed, taking accountability for one’s self and team. That brought her and her teammates closer together.
Another segment of the breakfast included posing questions to the leadership council students. One was: “You’re team is in the championship game on the same day there is a showcase you can attend where college coaches can watch your skills. Do you play in the championship game with your team or go to the showcase?”
In previous breakfasts, some of the athletes said they would go to the showcase to better their chances of gaining a college entrance or scholarship. However, when Gleason was asked the question in being a Division I coach, she said she’d prefer the athlete who stuck with their team. Ziogas then told everyone that other coaches he’s talked to felt the same.
Leadership Council members in attendance from Bristol Central were: Thomas Nelligan (football), Ben Funk and Ashley Cummings (cross country), Max Naranjo and Brianna Hamel (soccer), Hannah Marcil (swimming), Autumn Blasi (volleyball), Angelina Hamm (cheerleading), Aaron Collins and Meghan Hamel (basketball), Jeremy Ganavage (wrestling), Hunter Damon-Smith and Olivia Savino (indoor track),Cameron Reed (swimming), Brock Clark (baseball), Sara Strilkauskas (softball), Colin Savino and Ava Gorneault (tennis), Cody Hiltbrand (golf), Hannah Jones and Luis Medina (outdoor track), Kailey Davis and Scott Larson, and Joana Lalaj (unified sports).
From Bristol Eastern were: Alex Rollins and Stephanie Sacharko (lacrosse), Wyatt Doyon and Tejal Monteiro (cross country), Shane Caggiano (golf), Chris LeBeau and Jillian LeBeau (track), Jess Kenney (volleyball), Diana Wnuk and Jake Violette (basketball), Mikayla Lewandowski and Gian Costantiello (soccer), Hannah Langlais and Ridhwan Abdulsalam (tennis), Zach Marquis (baseball), Harrison Dayton and Emily Stadnicki (indoor track), Mike Massarelli (football), Jillian Maghini (softball), Anthony Lozier (wrestling), Jamie Mitchell (girls swimming) and Lauren Rooney (cheerleading).
From St. Paul were: Zachary Parent (football), Chandler Wright and Alexa Morneault (soccer), Bianca DiLernia (volleyball), Morgan Middleton (girls swimming), Thomas Kretsch and Melissa Gurzenda (cross country), Alyssa Daley (cheerleading), Thomas Houle and Brigid Johndrow (basketball), Jordan Silva (wrestling), Pierce Piana and Erika Malczynski (indoor track), Wesley Lahey (baseball), Alessandra Milardo (softball), Evan Kulig and Amelia Sanchez (track), Natasha Kempes (tennis), and Eric Passeck and Anne Sullivan (lacrosse).