The Litchfield Athletic Hall of Fame will induct seven new members Friday at 6 p.m. at the Litchfield Community Center.
Inductees are Brittany (Blazek) O'Neill, Rachael (Johnson) Dennis, Alex Hula, Matt Hula, Carrie Moura, Danielle O'Dell and Tim Deacon. The induction ceremony will be dedicated to the late Bill Dranginis, a longtime swim coach at Litchfield High School and a founder of the hall of fame.
The ceremony will also recognize the Litchfield High boys state championship basketball teams of 1925, 1936, 1959 and 1965, and the Litchfield High boys state championhip soccer team of 1963.
Below are the biographies of the inductees:
BRITTANY (BLAZEK) O’NEILL
Brittany was an outstanding 3-sport athlete at Litchfield High School. She excelled at soccer, basketball, and softball, earning a total of 11 letters across these sports. This large collection of varsity letters also earned her a Grand Master of Sports Award.
Brittany played soccer for four years, earned four letters, and captained the team her senior year. She was recognized as a Berkshire League All-Star for two years and also named All-State one year. One spectacular game of note was when Litchfield beat perennial powerhouse Lewis Mills and ended Mills’ five-year Berkshire League winning streak, with a 1-0 victory. Brittany scored the winning goal off a corner kick with just minutes left in the game!
Brittany played basketball for four years, earned a letter each year, and was a captain her senior year. She earned Berkshire League All-Star accolades for two years. One special game, when Brittany was a junior, has a special place in LHS history and folklore. It was an exciting game against arch rival Wamogo on the home court in Litchfield to end the regular season. Before a standing room only crowd, the Litchfield squad closed a large gap in the score in the final minute to force overtime, and then proceeded to win the game handily.
Softball was another sport in which Brittany demonstrated her athletic skill. She played for three years and led the team as captain during her junior year.
Brittany was also proficient in the classroom and was selected as a CIAC Scholar Athlete. To cap off Brittany’s high school career, she was named Most Outstanding Female Athlete. Following high school, Brittany attended Northeastern University where she participated in club basketball and also played co-ed soccer.
Brittany is a Physical Therapist at Hartford Hospital. She and her husband, Charlie, have a two-year-old son and a new baby girl.
To say that Carrie Moura possesses “stick power” is true in every sense. Ten varsity letters total, garnered for softball, lacrosse and field hockey; plus her ownership of Stick Power Field Hockey, LLC, in Newport News, VA, assures that statement’s validity.
Arriving at LHS from Farmington her junior year, without previous field hockey experience, Carrie played wing/forward for the eventual Berkshire League champion Cowgirls. The former Farmington High gymnast, also a two-time letter winner in softball, was then recruited as a diver for the LHS swim team.
She then went on to Keene State (NH) where the four-year, collegiate starter and senior field hockey captain also became a first-time player/midfielder on the Owl lacrosse team and, ultimately, the team captain. Carrie later coached the lacrosse Owls for two seasons.
Able to convert her later first-time sports experiences, especially as a first-generation athlete and college grad, into outstanding accomplishments, has indeed proven her to be a gifted athlete.
Carrie currently lives in Newport News with her husband, Adam, a golf media businessman, her son Gage (age 10) and daughter Sloan (age 8). Gage was a member of Stick Power’s U10 Elite Travel Team that won the National Indoor Tournament this year.
Danielle was a three-sport athlete at Litchfield High School, graduating in 1995. She was a vital team member of some of the best Cross Country teams in LHS history, and ran with such accomplished runners as Kara Lynn Kerr, Kim Landry, and Tara and Becky Schettler. During her tenure on the team from 1991-1995, the team won three Class S State Championships, four Berkshire League Championships, and was undefeated for three consecutive years, suffering only one hearbreaking loss to Shepaug in 1995. She was team captain her senior year. During the winter, Danielle was a letter winning diver for the LHS Swim team in her junior and senior years. Danielle earned four letters in Track and Field and was elected team captain her senior year. She and teammates Amy Schildgen and Kristin Round hold the school record in the 3x3000 meter relay. In recognition of her leadership abilities, devotion to teamwork, and competitive drive, Danielle was chosen by her coaches as the Most Dedicated Female athlete in her senior class of 1995.
In college, Danielle was a walk-on member of the Evergreen State College Swimming and Diving team during the 1995-96 and 1997-98 seasons. But it was during graduate school at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona when Danielle, missing competitive sport and teamwork, dedicated herself to becoming an accomplished triathlete and long distance runner. She has competed in three Ironman races, including Ironman Arizona twice and Ironman Mount Tremblant, where she placed in the top five of her age group. She has also competed in numerous half Ironman races with multiple podium finishes and an overall amateur female win, and has earned All American honors from the USA Triathlon. She ran the Philadelphia marathon in November 2016 where she qualified for her first Boston marathon by beating her qualifying standard by 20 minutes. She raced in the Boston marathon in 2018 and will again race in 2019. While continuing to compete, she is also actively sharing her love of sport by creating and serving as President of the Nantucket Triathlon Club and is Race Director for the Nantucket Half Marathon and local 5k races.
Danielle joins her father Tom, her brother Andrew and her uncle Ray in the Litchfield Athletic Hall of Fame. She lives on Nantucket Island with her family and works as an ecologist for the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
Matt graduated from Litchfield High School in 2005. As you will see, he was the first in a family of very athletic Hulas. Matt possessed exceptional speed and quickness, which he used with a gracefulness that made him a most successful team contributor. He led his teammates with a confident yet sportsmanlike attitude – always respectful of his competitors.
Matt excelled in tree sports at LHS: soccer, basketball, and track and field, all of wic he played for four years. In soccer, Matt was first team all-league two years, captain of the team is senior year, and was also selected first team all-state. In his 2004 season, he set a Litchfield High School record for goals scored in a single season, with 28. He was selected to play in the State Senior Bowl.
In basketball, Matt was a fast and tenacious defender on the court, often converting steals into points for LHS. He was on one Berkshire League championship team and was selected all-league his senior year. His effortless athleticism was often displayed on the hardwood.
Matthew was a four-year contributor in track, particularly in speed distance races. He set a school record in the 400-meter race, breaking Bill Andrulis’ record. He was also a member of a record-setting 4x100-meter relay team. He captained the track team his senior year. Speed was Matt’s specialty. As would be expected, Matt was Litchfield High School’s Most Outstanding Athlete in 2005.
After leaving LHS, Matt attended Connecticut College, where he continued to play soccer and competed in both indoor and outdoor track. In his four seasons of college soccer, he led his team in scoring from his sophomore season on. In indoor track, he set a school record of 23.2 seconds in the 200-meter distance. In outdoor track, he left Connecticut College 7th all-time in the 200-meter and 9th all-time in the 400-meter. Matt was a very successful college athlete.
Matthew is now living and working in Washington, DC.
Alex graduated in 2008 after a four year stellar career at Litchfield High School. The following are some of those athletic accomplishments.
Outdoor Track: school record in the 100 meters; 11.1 seconds; school record in the 200 meters: 22.1 seconds; school record in the 400 meters: 49.1 seconds; school record in the 800 meters: 1:52.3.
School records in the 4x100 meter relay, 4x400 meter relay, and 4x800 meter relay.
In his senior year, Alex was the Berkshire League Champion in the 400 meter and 800 meters, and Class S State Champion in the 800 meters, and silver medalist in the 800 meters State Open meet. Alex finished 14th that season at the Nike Outdoor National Championship Meet.
On the basketball court, Alex was a 3-year starter and the team won tree straight Berkshire League titles. Alex was selected Second Team All Berkshire League for the 2007-08 season.
On the soccer field, Alex was a 4-uear starter and re-wrote the record books during those four years. Alex finished his soccer career at Litchfield as the all-time goal scorer, with 64 goals and the all-time point leader with 237. Alex was a three-time All Berkshire Leagues All-star and a two-time Class S All State Team member. His senior year the team went 14-2 and won the Berkshire League title.
For all of his many accomplishments at Litchfield High, Alex was named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete and the Most Dedicated Male Athlete for 2008, a feat attained by only a select group of former Litchfield athletes.
Alex went on to continue his athletic career at American University, where he competed in Indoor and Outdoor Track. In 2011 Alex was a member of the All Patriot League 4x800 meter relay team.
Truly, Alex Hula excelled above and beyond during his career at Litchfield High School and American University.
RACHAEL (JOHNSON) DENNIS
Rachael has had a very impressive athletic career from competing at Litchfield High School and Lasell College, to coaching at primary schools and at the college level.
At Litchfield High School, Rachael earned 12 letters across three sports: field hockey, basketball, and softball, and she captained each team her senior year. Rachael excelled at field hockey. She was a four-year varsity starter at LHS and earned 2nd Team All-State honors for three years; 1st Team All-Berkshire League for two years; and 2nd Team All-Berkshire League for two years. Rachael also showed prowess on the basketball court, where she was a varsity starter her sophomore through senior years. To cap off her high school honors, Rachael was presented with the Julius Ballarin award and the Most Outstanding Female Athlete Award.
Rachael attended Lasell College in Massachusetts and continued to rack up athletic honors. She played field hockey, where she was a four-year starter and she captained the team for three years. She made immediate contributions to the team, even in her freshman year, earning 2nd Team All-Conference for three years. Rachael majored in Sport Management, with a minor in Coaching, and she graduated cum laude.
In addition to high school and college sports, Rachael also participated in community sports teams, including the Litchfield & New Milford Woman’s Softball League, Summer Women’s Field Hockey at Harvard University, and Woman’s Summer Slow Pitch Softball.
After college, Rachael also turned her many athletic talents to coaching. She was the Assistant Field Hockey Coach at Bentley for six years and helped lead the team to two NECC championships and two NCAA tournament appearances. She was the Head Field Hockey Coach at Wheelock College for two years and they attained a #1 ranking in the NEC League. Rachael was also the Head Softball Coach at Wheelock for two years. Other coaching positions included LHS Softball and Hopkinton Middle School in MA. Rachael also founded and directed the NWC Field Hockey Camp.
Rachael’s grandfather, Tony Knox, is also a member of the Litchfield Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tim graduated from Litchfield High School in 2008. During his career at Litchfield he lettered in soccer for three years, basketball for three years, and track for two years. He was a captain, Berkshire League All-Star and Allstate player in soccer and basketball his senior year. He was a sprinter in track, making the Berkshire League all-star team as a senior in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. He was part of a Litchfield High track record for the 4x400 relay.
Tim was a contributor of one Berkshire League Soccer Championship, one BL Track Championship, two BL Basketball and tournament championships. His senior season in basketball was highlighted by an 8.4 assist per game average that was tops in the state of Connecticut. The district seven Board of Officials also honored him with the Ed Sadlon award for sportsmanship.
After high school, Tim competed for one season on the Springfield College soccer team before transferring to UConn, where he graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s and later a master’s degree in accounting. He continues to live and share his passion for competition through soccer, softball, flag football, basketball and bowling leagues.
Tim lives in Glastonbury and works at Travel Insured International in a finance role.