Bristol Tramps honors sports figures

The 49th Annual Bristol Tramps Reunion Dinner was held at the Aqua Turf last Friday. Harrison McKinstry, left, is handed the microphone by John Lodovico. McKinstry won the Ron Choiniere Award. He was a wrestler and football player at Bristol Central. He was injured in a construction accident that left him wheelchair-bound. McKinstry trained and with a specialized custom racing chair was able to compete in the Boston and New York marathons. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

By MICHAEL LETENDRE

STAFF WRITER

SOUTHINGTON – The Bristol Tramps held its annual recognition and sports dinner on Friday, April 26 – the 49th edition of the awards banquet – from the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.

And, as always, it was an entertaining evening which honored the best and brightest of Bristol sports over the years.

Leonard Bagni (Chuck McCarthy Award) was simply satisfied blowing kisses to the crowd as he was announced at the venue but eventually made his way to the podium and admitted to sneaking into Muzzy Field to watch games with his friends during childhood.

“I hope that doesn’t mean I won’t get the award,” joked Bagni.

Admitting to be a jack-of-all sports but a master of none, he watched a legend on TV that got Bagni into golf, a sport he’s been playing well past his 90th birthday.

“One day after watching Arnold Palmer on TV, I got the bug to play golf,” said Bagni and has been playing ever since.

Michael Beaudoin (Harp Broderick Award) didn’t remember his long list of accomplishments from places like Bristol Eastern and Fairfield University but admitted a couple of his lifelong friends helped restore his memory from time-to-time.

“Pete Losey and Spec Monico remember everything,” said Beaudoin of his former baseball teammates and friends. “Pete [who was a catcher] would reference certain pitches I would throw to batters in games and Spec would come by and [say] ‘Remember when you did that against West Hartford? I’d say ‘No, I don’t remember…how do you remember all of that?’”

But Beaudoin did remember hitting Monico in the back with a pitch during an early Bristol Little League encounter.

The Bristol Central 2010 cross country team (Julie Larese Team Award) had most of its squad at the banquet that evening.

A common theme from the group was all the hard work the team, and head coach Tamara Stafford-Kirk, put into the program that ultimately led to a state championship.

The team also acknowledged and thanked the dozen of athletes that ran with pride and purpose for the Bristol Central cross country program over the years.

Bristol Central Unified Sports (Tony Savino “Pay it Forward” Award) simply exemplifies that Tony Savino “Pay it Forward” motto.

Unified Sports is a life-long changing program and the outfit thanked the Tramps for its generous donation.

Joe DeFillippi (Bill Garrett Award) has been a fixture of Bristol sports as a player, coach and mentor over the years.

And he’s also teamed up with players and coaches he considered the best the Mum City has ever seen.

“Growing up, I’ve played for some of the best coaches around, Bristol Sport Hall of Famers,” said DeFillippi. “I have also played with some great players and teammates who become lifelong friends.”

He also enjoyed coaching in town and getting to work with people who have also become mentors and peers.

Phil Mannarino (Coach Dan Valerio Committee Award) was a staple of both the sports communities in Bristol and Plainville and enjoyed his times on the sidelines as the head coach of the Bristol Eastern girls soccer program – and battling his friend, Tony Carrier, over at Bristol Central.

“I used to enjoy coaching against Tony,” said Mannarino. “We had the Bristol Central/Bristol Eastern soccer games [and they were] special times, very special. It was high emotion, usually a great atmosphere and usually, also something at stake, if only bragging rights to the city.”

Harrison McKinstry IV (Ron Choiniere Award) thanked the Tramps and the people who helped support him which included his father and the people from Chapter 126.

All those individuals helped him build “a little foundation” in life that guided him to where he is today.

Mark Monnerat (Ed Lodovico Award) thanked the local Catholic school communities that he was able to take part in, including St. Joseph’s, and his wife “for supporting me for 48 years in coaching, teaching, and principalship.”

“I would like to thank St. Matthew, St. Joseph’s and St. Paul for allowing me to coach,” said Monnerat.

Jillian Sullivan (Lydia Bailey Jabs Award) is the University of Connecticut’s first ever All-American in women’s cross country and still holds the Bristol Central cross country record of 19:38 from 2002.

And some of her earliest life lessons in running came from a first year coach at Central.

“Nineteen years ago, or a little longer than that, I started cross country at Bristol Central and my first day of practice was also Tamara Stafford-Kirk’s first day of coaching,” said Sullivan.

And some of the wisdom from Stafford-Kirk that always resonated with Sullivan was the simple slogan, “No deposit, no return.”

“What you put in is what you get out,” said Sullivan, which is something she’ll never forget.

The Bristol Tramps also handed out three scholarships that evening.

Pacifico Flores of Bristol Central (Julie Larese/Frank Scalia Memorial Scholarship) thanked his track coaches, including Tamara Stafford-Kirk, and his family for “helping me become the best version of myself as I could possibly be.”

Aliana Rivoira of Bristol Eastern (Julie Larese/ Patricia D’Amato Memorial Scholarship) thanked her family who she called “her biggest fans” which included her mother Stacy – her coach in volleyball at Bristol Eastern.

“Throughout those four years, she continued to push me to reach my full potential whether it be in school or in volleyball,” said Ali of her mother. “She always believed in my abilities and never accepted anything less than my best.”

Adam VanLinter of St. Paul (Julie Larese/John E. Tavera Memorial Scholarship) thanked his family and the St. Paul Catholic community that has given him support over his high school playing days.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tavera family and the Bristol Tramps organization for this generous scholarship that I will use to further my education,” said VanLinter. “Receiving this award is especially rewarding because it is a recognition about how sports have influenced me to become the best version of myself.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.