This page was last updated on: March 13, 2024
Connecticut Chapter
National Wrestling Hall of Fame
Connecticut Chapter 
National Wrestling 
Hall of Fame

Lifetime Service Award
Ben Aleks
Coach, Benefactor
Enfield, CT

Joseph James Alissi
West Hartford, CT

Daryl Arroyo
Springfield College
Milford, CT

George F. Beaudry
Conard High School
West Hartford, CT 

John Bennett
Coach and Official
Berlin, CT

Patrick Burns
Coach and Official
New Milford, CT

Mark Cammisa
Danbury Youth Wrestling and USA Wrestling CT

John Chacho
Coach and official
Westport, CT

Abraham Chamie
Coach and Official
Ivoryton, CT

Frank Chaves
Coach and official
Simsbury, CT

Brian T. Crudden
Windham High School
Windham, CT

James Cunningham
Holy Cross High School
Waterbury, CT

Mike Cunningham
Middletown, CT

Jim Day
Berlin High School
Berlin, CT

Carmen DelVecchio
Madison, CT

Ken DeStefanis
Central Connecticut State
New Britain, CT

Erich "Doc" Doubeck
New Milford
New Milford, CT 

Stephen Eldridge
U.S. Coast Guard Academy
Salem, CT

Sarah Jadach
USA Wrestling CT
Derby, CT

Walter Jadach
Derby High School
Derby, CT

Frank Kapral
Coach and official
Coast Guard

David F. Kanute
Southington Youth Wrestling
Southington, CT

John Lawless
Nonnewaug High
Woodbury, CT

Rodney G. Leyland
Ledyard High School
Ledyard, CT

Brian Manzi
Southington, CT

Ray Mainville
Coach and official
Maloney HIgh
Meriden, CT

Bryan McCarty
Platt High
Meriden, CT

Michael Morris
Coach and official
Danbury High
Danbury, CT

Bernard Nasser
Coach and official
Fitch-Groton, CT

Arthur B. Powers
Berlin, CT

Franklin H. Robinson
White Plains (N.Y.) High School; Hall High School
West Hartford, CT

Glenn R. Rupert
Waterford High School
Waterford, CT

Robert M. Serrano
Brookfield and New Farifield High Schools, Coach and official
Brewster, New York

Jason Shaugnessy
Fairfield, CT

Rick Sherman
East Lyme High School
East Lyme, CT

Ricky Shook
Danbury High School
Danbury, CT

Dennis Siegmann
Bristol, CT

Carl Snitkin
Norwich Free Academy
Norwich, CT

Roger Vertefeuille
Bulkeley High School 
Hartford, CT

John A. Vino
Stonington, CT

Arthur Peter Ziegler
East Lyme and Montville High Schools
Oakdale, CT

Medal of Courage Award
PFC Jeffrey Francis Braun
Stafford, CT

Mark C. Lawrence
Glastonbury, CT

Andrew Levitt
State of Connecticut

Staff Sgt. Joseph Kapacziewski
Bristol, CT

Outstanding American Award
Charlie Anderson
Trumbull, CT

Gralyn Harris
Waterbury, CT

Richard M. Larrabee
State of Connecticut

Michael P. Morris, Jr.
Coach and official
New Milford, Hebron, Colchester

Erik Weihenmayer
Weston, CT
What we do
The Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors individuals in three ways:

The Lifetime Service Award Program, coordinated by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, is designed to honor and recognize dedicated wrestling people for their years of commitment to young people. The award is not about win/loss records. It is about a person’s dedicated efforts to help young people to not only succeed in wrestling, but also in life.

The Medal of Courage Award is given to a wrestler who has overcome overwhelming adversity to be successful on the mats and in his own life.

The Outstanding American Award is presented to an individual who was a former wrestler and has received state or national acclaim in his/her chosen profession.

Each award recipient is permanently recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Stillwater, Oklahoma) with an embossed name plaque, and each receives a plaque and jacket to commemorate this very special occasion.

Who to contact

Connecticut chapter
2024 Board of Directors
Ted Oczkowski, President

​Mark Cammisa, Treasurer and Vice President, Finance

Gerry deSimas, Jr., Corresponding Secretary

Nick Grosso, Vice President, Nominations

Mike Cunningham, Director

Dr. Erich Doubek, Director

Paul Musso, Director

Brian Zaccagnino, Director

National Contacts
Lee Roy Smith 
405-377-5243; e-mail:

Krista Graff
405-742-470; e-mail:

National Wrestling 
Hall of Fame

Nomination form

Induction banquet video

Induction banquet photos
2016 (Facebook)
2016 (banquet)
2019 (Facebook)
2019 (banquet)
2022 (Facebook)
2022 (banquet)

Induction banquet program

Previous induction banquets

USA Wrestling Connecticut

Connecticut Wrestling Online
Copyright 2024
Connecticut Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Welcome to the home of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The Connecticut chapter is a direct extension of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Chapter and Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Connecticut chapter provides outreach and support for the National Hall. Our chapter was formed to honor committed coaches, officials, contributors and other deserving individuals from Connecticut.
Any person may nominate an individual for induction into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Please complete and submit the nomination form below. 

For any questions regarding nominations and submission of information, please contact Nick Grosso, Vice President, Nominations by e-mail at

Nomination form

With your nomination, please include: 
A letter over your signature telling why the nominee is a valid candidate for election 
A detailed resume of the candidate’s personal history and qualifications 
A minimum of three letters of character reference and support of the nomination 
Further documentation (copies of articles, tributes, etc.) is welcome

Criteria for awards
Lifetime Service to Wrestling 
Coach, official, contributor
1. Integrity
2. At least 20 years of service to wrestling
3. A commitment to the community and the youth in it

Outstanding American
1. Integrity
2. Former wrestler at some point in their life
3. Highly successful in their profession or nationally famous for their work
4. Used the disciplines learned in wrestling to reach those levels

Medal of Courage
1. A current or former wrestler who has overcome exceptional challenges
Next Induction Banquet set for April 2025 at Mohegan Sun

Since 2003, the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame has been honoring outstanding individuals for their contributions to the sport of wrestling and communities across the state. 

The chapter’s next induction banquet will be at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville on Saturday, April 26, 2025. 

Fans and family members are also invited to participate in a Friday night dinner on April 25 at the Mohegan Sun to meet and enjoy some time with the inductees in a less formal setting.

The inductees who will be honored that evening will be permanently recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Stillwater, Oklahoma) with an embossed name plaque. Each inductee will receive a plaque, jacket and medal to commemorate this special occasion. They will join 50 other inductees in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Interested in tickets to the induction banquet? Email with your email address for a message when they go on sale. Information about the Friday night dinner will be released closer to the event.
Nine selected for induction 
in Connecticut Chapter of 
National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Nine outstanding individuals from the state’s wrestling community have been selected for induction into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. 

The Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame will hold an induction dinner on April 26, 2025 at the Mohegan Sun to honor these men for their contributions to the sport of wrestling and our communities. The nine men are:

Shirzad Ahmadi, long-time high school, collegiate coach and wrestler
Drew Black, head coach at Wesleyan University
Fritz Blasius, benefactor to many local charities and organizations
Gerry deSimas, Jr., long-time sportswriter 
The late Dave D’Alessio, former coach and teacher in Madison
David Green, head coach at Nonnewaug in Woodbury
Ted Oczkowski, coach, official and administrator 
Chris Piel, head coach at New Milford
The late Ray Southland, long-time official and middle school principal

All nine will receive a Lifetime Service award for coaches, officials, or contributors with at least 20 years of service. 

They will be permanently recognized in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Stillwater, Oklahoma) with an embossed name plaque, and each receives a plaque and jacket to commemorate this special occasion. These seven will join 51 other inductees in the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Interested in tickets? Email with your email address for a message when they go on sale. 

Brief biographies

Shirzad Ahmadi: Shirzad has been wrestling for more than 60 years since he was introduced to the sport as a youngster in Iran. He has been a head coach at the Division I level (Hartford), Division II level (American International College) and an assistant coach at the Division III level (Trinity, Western New England) along with being a head coach at Stafford High for 22 years and Bloomfield (1977). He tried out for the Olympic team in Iran (three times) and in the United States (four times). He was an alternate at 52 kilograms for Iran in 1976. While coaching, Shirzad continued to compete, winning 28 U.S. national championships in the Veterans division (age 35 and over) and 16 Veterans world championships. He came to the U.S. to pursue degrees in higher education and became an American citizen in 1984. In 2015, he became the first American wrestler to win a Veterans world title in freestyle and Greco-Roman in the same year. Throughout his career, Shirzad has taught science, biology, chemistry and physics at the high school and collegiate level. He is currently teaching at Eastern Connecticut State University. Shirzad has been an assistant coach at Trinity College for the past 11 years and continues to hit the mat with the Bantams during practice. 

Drew Black: In November 2023, Drew began his 26th year as the head coach at Wesleyan University and an associate professor of physical education. A two-time New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Coach of the year, Drew has the most wins (223) of any wrestling coach in school history. Wesleyan won the NEWA championship in 2012 and finished the season ranked No. 11 nationally in Division III. In January 2020, Drew was inducted in the NEWA Wrestling Hall of Fame. Under Drew, Wesleyan has qualified wrestlers for the NCAA Division III national championships in 13 of the last 16 years. The Cardinals have had four All-American wrestlers under Drew, including three since 2018 – Devon Carrillo, Isaiah Bellamy and Marco Gaita. The team has earned team Scholar All-America status for 20 consecutive years and has had 35 wrestlers receiving the prestigious Scholar All-American award a total of 57 times in Drew’s coaching tenure. Drew was the head wrestling coach at Phoenix College (Ariz.) for three seasons (1995-98). In 1998, Phoenix College finished No. 6 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCCA) final rankings and 11-3 overall. One of his wrestlers won a national title, while another finished third. 

Fritz Blasius: Frederick “Fritz” Blasius, Jr. is President of Blasius Chevrolet Cadillac in Waterbury, Connecticut. Born and raised in Waterbury, he attended Holy Cross High School. After graduating from Michigan’s Northwood Institute, joined the family-owned automotive business. He has been instrumental in building the business to be the largest GM dealership in Connecticut for the past 25 years, one of the largest GM dealerships in New England, and ranked among the top 50 Chevrolet dealers in the country. Fritz has been involved in numerous philanthropic causes over many years. He started the “Little Flower Fund” which has provided over $700,000 worth of tuition assistance to local Catholic grammar schools. He has served on the boards of Holy Cross High and Saint Mary’s Hospital Foundation, as well as currently serving as a Trustee for the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and board member of The Hartford Bishops’ Foundation. He supported and sustained the Holy Cross wrestling program purchasing new mats and funding summer camps for wrestlers. He provided transportation to national tournaments, wrestling gear to students in multiple programs (Xavier, Trumbull, Bridgeport Central) and has been a long-time sponsor to the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. 

Gerry deSimas, Jr.: Gerry has been covering wrestling and sports in Connecticut for more than 40 years for several newspapers and websites. He was the wrestling correspondent for the Republican American in Waterbury from 2000-19 but covered the sport for other state newspapers. In 2001, he founded Connecticut Wrestling Online, the state’s oldest wrestling website. Three times, Connecticut Wrestling Online has been a finalist for the National Outlet of the Year from the National Wrestling Media Association. He was the first Connecticut journalist to be inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame (2018) and is a four-time sportswriter of the year award winner from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s wrestling committee. He is the editor of two Connecticut high school record books (wrestling, football). He is also the editor and founder of Collinsville (2009), which covers sports in Connecticut. Since 2009, he has served on the executive committee as Secretary of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Gerry is a Senior Communications Specialist at Eversource, the largest electric and natural gas distribution utility in New England. 

Dave D’Alessio: Dave was a teacher and coach in the Madison school system. He taught science at Polson Middle School for 29 years and coached wrestling at Daniel Hand High for more than 33 years, teaching young men and women lessons about life and wrestling. His Tigers won more than 300 matches, 10 Southern Connecticut Conference championships and a Class M state championship in 1995, He coached two All-American wrestlers, four New England champions, eight State Open champions and 24 state champions. Dave was a head coach at Hand three times 1987-98, 2003-10 and 2019-20. He was the co-head coach at Hand in 2018-19 and spent one year as a head coach at East Haven (1998-99). Dave also spent 10 seasons as a volunteer coach with Hand. A state champion wrestler in high school at Hand, Dave was inducted into the Madison Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015 as a coach and athlete. Dave passed away in March 2020.

David Green: A finalist at the Prep School national tournament for Blairstown Academy in high school, Dave has built an exceptional wrestling program at Nonnewaug High in Woodbury. Dave as an assistant coach for two years at Springfield College under Hall of Fame coach Doug Parker before becoming head coach at Belvidere (New Jersey) High for four seasons (1990-93). Dave was an assistant coach at Pomperaug for five years and one year at Nonnewaug before taking over as head coach at Nonnewaug in December 2000. His teams have won 13 Berkshire League titles, a Class S championship in 2004 and have finished in the top three on three other occasions. He has coached two State Open champions, four New England medalists and one New England champion – an impressive feat from one of the smaller schools in Connecticut. Dave is currently a physical education and health instructor at Nonnewaug. 

Ted Oczkowski: Ted has been involved in wrestling for more than 50 years as a participant, coach, official and administrator. He coached six teams in Connecticut, New York and Washington state for 18 seasons. In Connecticut, he coached at Holy Cross in Waterbury, Bunnell in Stratford, Bridgeport Central and Trumbull. Ted founded two programs -- the Greenwood Boys and Girls Club youth wrestling program in Seattle, Wash., and the Bridgeport Central High team. In his career, Ted took over two programs that had recently dismissed a coach for student hazing infractions. He served as an official in Washington for two years and has been an official in Connecticut for 20 years (1989-91, 2007-23). He was the athletic director at New Milford for five years (2007-11). Ted has been a member of the CIAC Wrestling Committee for the last 12 years (2011-23), a member of the executive board of the Connecticut Interscholastic Wrestling Officials Association (2009-23) and the president of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame since 2009.

Chris Piel: Chris has been coaching wrestling in New Milford for more than 25 years and has been the head coach at New Milford High for the past 15 years after getting promoted in December 2008. His teams have won five state championships, 13 Southwest Conference championships and more than 200 dual meets. He has coached eight All-American wrestlers, three New England champions, eight State Open champions and 19 state champion wrestlers. He was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s (NWCA) coach of the year in 2010 and has received the state coach of the year award from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association five times, most recently in 2016. 

Ray Southland: Ray was a wrestling official for 33 seasons. He joined the Connecticut Interscholastic Wrestling Officials Association (CIWOA) in 1984 and quickly became a top official. He was selected to officiate at numerous CIAC divisional tournaments (Class LL, L, M, S), the State Open and New England championships (10 times). Beginning in 1989, he officiated at the State Open each year through his retirement as an official following the 2017 season. After retiring, Southland served as the head official at the State Open, assigning officials to matches, meeting with coaches and tournament directors and serving as a mentor to the officials. Southland was a member of the CIWOA’s Executive Board for more than 25 years. He served as president of the board along with secretary and treasurer. Southland taught at Southington and Platt in Meriden. He was the athletic director at Maloney for three years (2003-05). He was an assistant principal at Cromwell High for two years before coming back to Meriden where he was an assistant principal at Washington Middle School before becoming principal in 2012. He passed away in 2019 at the age of 58.