Not Everyone Knows Their Names--But They Should
Bob Alicea, Cathy Bonner, and Mike Rodgers are part of our first annual unsung heroes feature.
Ridgefield is full of health and fitness enthusiasts. Our fields are packed with kids, our rink is booked round the clock, and our facilities are top notch. We decided to dig deep and highlight some of the people who make all of this possible—the “unsung heroes” of sports and fitness. You might not always hear their names, but they have made major contributions to the development of athletes, young and old, in our town.
In 1989, Pete McLean, a former college rugby player, started formulating performance-training programs, as opposed to just lifting weights. Over the next several years, he developed his program, and in 1999, he came to Ridgefield to run a speed camp for the football team. “That’s when I really got this thing cranking,” he says.
In 2002, when Tiger Hollow was built, the athletics department built a strength and conditioning center. “That’s when it really exploded.” He started with 15 kids in his program, and in 2002, he had 80 kids. That year Ridgefield won the state football title. “Almost every major program in the school was working with us. We were ahead of the curve—better conditioned and stronger than the others we played against.” He also trains younger kids and runs an adult training group on Sundays. McLean says he’ll train about 130 kids this year, and estimates that since he started developing his program, he has trained about 6,000 people over the years.
If a Ridgefield Kid can skate, chances are he or she knows Cathie Bonner. She came to Winter Garden Ice Arena in 2001, as a figure skater hired to teach hockey skating. "There's so much more to do with hockey--it's a team thing."
Her students have gone on to play college hockey. Now she teaches 16 Ice Mice classes a week. There's no telling how many nervous new skaters she has gotten motivated to skate.
Stacy Krys has coached girls lacrosse for six years, served on the board at Ridgefield Youth Lacrosse for two, and coached field hockey for four. "You can't buy the type of confidence gained from playing sports. Though it's inherent in every girl, it lays dormant if not ignited."
This year, she spearheaded a change in fifth-grade girls lacrosse—to become more "inclusive," she created two equal teams in an effort to develop more girls. Anyone who has ever witnessed Krys at work will agree her trademark is her positive encouraging attitude on the sidelines and in her emails to the parents.
"A long time ago," Bob Alicea started as the field director for Ridgefield Little League. He created the master plan for fixing the fields. Over the past 20 years, Alicea has done just that. It's safe to say that thousands of Ridgefield little leaguers have benefited from those improvements. "When I see something that's a mess, I've got to fix it." And he has relied heavily on the contractors, donors, volunteers, and the town.
"I have a passion for running," says Mike Rodgers, a former RHS and college track runner who ran 38 marathons before turning to cross training and triathlons. About five years ago, he decided to help train others for their events—5ks, marathons, and triathlons.
"There's a big emphasis on keeping people healthy, smiling, and having fun," says Rodgers, who leads detailed dynamic workouts at the high-school track. It's about running smarter, says Rodgers, who works a finance job in Stamford where he teaches a spin class at lunchtime.
"If everyone worked out the right way, we wouldn't have so many injuries."
The Ridgefield Bicycle Sports Club posts his workouts on their Facebook page. Rodgers met a guy in Weston who was training for a marathon by following his posts. "More people are doing the workout, just at different levels."