SOUTHINGTON, April 30 — For the 76th time on Sunday, the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance presented four Gold Keys to men who have excelled in athletics and have been inspirational leaders, coaches and teachers.
Bloomfield’s Dwight Freeney, a 13-year NFL veteran who played in the Super Bowl in February with the Atlanta Falcons, long-time Farmington High boys soccer coach Steve Waters, retired Hall of Fame swim coach Ed Aston of Cheshire and five-time U.S. Olympian Butch Johnson of Woodstock received Gold Keys.
A high school senior from Granby – Chase Skrubis – was recognized at the Gold Key dinner. He was one of six recipients of the John Wentworth Good Sports award, which recognizes individuals who have donated their time to help their communities through sports.
For the past seven years, Skrubis has been refurbishing and donating golf clubs to young golfers.
Since forming the non-profit charity “Klubs for Kids” in the basement of his family’s home with his late father Steven, Skrubis has donated refurbished clubs to more than 90 children, helped pay for the lessons of several golfers and started a scholarship at Granby High for kids interested in business.
Skrubis and his father started the charity in 2010 to allow kids that wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to learn the game.His father died suddenly in 2014 from a heart attack at 54. But Chase has carried on the charity in his father’s memory with help from his mother, Lisa.
With the help of his father, he helped turn the family basement into a repair shop with a shaft puller, blow torches, a bench clamp, mats, aprons and a regripping station. He has received many clubs through donations.
In 2015, Skrubis received $13,250 from the Travelers Championship when he was recognized as a honorary co-chair for his charitable work. After talking with his mother, he decided to start a scholarship with the money, giving $1,000 to an outgoing Granby Memorial senior interested in business.
Skrubis is the No. 1 golfer on the Granby High team this spring. He will be attending Penn State in the fall to study landscape architecture. He and his mother are looking for the right people to take over the refurbishment portion of the charity. They do plan to continue the scholarship.
The following video from 2015 explains how Skrubis refurbishes the clubs.
The other five Good Sport Award winners honored on Sunday came from Middletown, Enfield, Newtown, Hamden and Derby.
In Newtown, Curtis Urbina is the head coach in the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association. Since taking over the reins at the NYWA nine years ago, he has helped the elementary school program grow from 12 wrestlers to about 65.
Urbina helped guide the NYWA through its darkest hours in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. One of program’s most promising wrestlers first-grader Jack Pinto, was one the 20 students and six educators who were killed. The Sandy Hook school was the program’s home gym, too.
Middletown’s Tom D’Aquila has been a volunteer coach with Middletown High baseball, softball, volleyball and wrestling teams and has served with the Middletown Little League, American Legion and Ahern-Whalen baseball programs.
Hamden’s Rich Leonardo has been a coach and administrator in the Hamden Fathers Basketball Association for 42 years. He began coaching at the boys’ 11-12-year-old level when he was 15 and has since continued to guide boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17.
Ed Morse is a longtime Ansonia booster and historian for the high school football team. Morse, who now lives in Derby, has served as the president, vice president and the chief executive officer of the Ansonia Gridiron Club.
Enfield’s Tom Owens has spent nearly four decades as a dedicated volunteer for youth sports in Enfield, primarily in baseball. Owens also founded an adult/youth bowling league, which has been in operation for more than 35 years. He was director of basketball operations at the Enfield Youth Center for nine years.