The Amity community recently honored long-time Athletic Director Paul Mengold by naming the gym after him. Mengold retired in June 2014 after serving the district for more than 38 years, 30 of them as its athletic director. Numerous banners along the walls of the gym attest to the success of the athletic program, both in breadth as well as quality, during his tenure. He is, as his successor Ernie Goodwin said in welcoming him, the icon of Amity athletics.
During the dedication ceremony — sandwiched between two volleyball games —physical education teacher Debbie Davis pointed to the banners, saying, “Most are connected in a very special way to Paul Mengold”. But his influence did not only pave the way to scoring points, winning games and hanging banners; Mengold set a tone of patience and respect. “He made Amity athletics an Amity family,” Davis said.
“The Board of Education sometimes has difficulties with naming facilities,” said Board of Education Chairman Bill Blake. “It was different with Paul Mengold. You never heard any bad words about Paul Mengold.”
School Supt. Dr. Chip Dumais spoke about the role adults play who work in schools, demonstrating to students the value of making good decisions. With Mengold’s retirement, the school community is missing “a really big piece” of that adult presence, he said.
Three of the region’s political representatives in Hartford, Charles Ferraro representing a part of Orange and Lezley Zupkus representing Bethany, and State Sen. Joe Crisco of Woodbridge stood united in reading a citation in honor of “one of most influential, knowledgeable and dedicated people in Connecticut High School sports”.
In accepting the standing ovation from the school officials, community members and players, Mengold called the gym dedication, “The most humbling of all honors”. He thanked his wife, Francie, and daughters, Jessie and Kelly, for putting up with his many hours spent in the school and on the fields. He acknowledged the presence of former players and coaches in the audience, in particular former football coach and long-time Amity supporter Bill Johnson and Booster Club founder Stan Gedansky.
“If you don’t have a team, you’re not going to be successful,” Mengold said.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent