Along with crowning champions, the CIAC basketball and boys ice hockey championships also provide an opportunity to recognize worth individuals who have made significant contributions to their sports. In basketball, seven individuals will be honored with a dedication ceremony on Saturday, March 21 in the Cabaret Theater in Mohegan Sun, beginning at 9 a.m. Meanwhile the boys ice hockey tournament will be dedicated to one individual who will be recognized with a luncheon at 12 p.m. in the Schley Room at Ingalls Rink and in a brief on-ice ceremony before the Division I Championship game at 2 p.m.
The Tournament dedication honorees will be in basketball CIAC Executive Staff member Joe Tonelli, and in hockey, long time coach and teacher Jim Riccitelli. In addition for the basketball ceremony officials John (Buddy) Chernovetz and Stephen Donahue, coaches Nick Augelli and Ed Faulkner, and athletics directors Diane Callis and Gary Mackowicki will receive the 2015 Merit Awards.
- Basketball Dedication Award honoree Joe Tonelli has served the CIAC and high school sports in nearly every capacity in his more than 40 years working as an administrator, coach, and teacher. He served in those roles at his alma mater Notre Dame-West Haven for 39 years, is a “founding father” of the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors and has volunteered in nearly every capacity as a contributor to the CIAC. He has received numerous honors throughout his career including induction in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Hall of Fame, the CAS Citation, and was really selected for induction National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame with the formal induction to take place in December.
- Hockey Dedication Award honoree Jim Riccitelli was a teacher in the New Haven Public Schools for 38 years and was a three-sport high school coach for more than 30 years. His teams earned four CIAC Championships, one as head coach at North Haven High School and three as head coach at Cheshire High School. He was also a valuable member of the CIAC Ice Hockey Committee for 30 years from 1982-2012. He amassed 280 victories with a .583 winning percentage, and also won 29 CIAC tournament games. His coaching career also saw him develop 15 first-team all-state performers.
- Official John Chernovetz boasts a distinguished career as an official, coach, teacher, and administrator. He has worked as a basketball official and umpire since college and has officiated seven CIAC basketball finals He currently serves as the commissioner of New Haven Board #10 basketball officials and has received many honors for his work as an official including selection to the New Haven Tap-Off Club Hall of Fame in 2011.
- Fellow official Stephen Donahue is a 26-year member of IAABO Board #9 in Fairfield County including a term as the Board’s President. He received the Coogan-Lomme Award for his exemplary service to IAABO in 2003 and has been a significant contributor to youth sports across the state by working in leadership positions with Special Olympics and the State of Connecticut Commission on Violence in Sports.
- Coach Nick Augelli has amassed more than 600 victories as a varsity coach at Crosby High School in Waterbury where he has been for more than 35 years. He has led teams to three CIAC state titles and another three finals appearances, along with 14 Naugatuck Valley League Championships, and saw his program produce a 42-game winning streak for a two-year span in the mid-2000s.
- Coach Ed Faulkner enjoyed a 30-year highly-successful career as the girls basketball coach at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. He helped turn around the program and captured its first state title in 1994 and helped the team reach two other championship games. The program also earned a pair of FCIAC Championships during his tenure and his combined basketball and softball victories rank him as the second winningest coach in Brien McMahon history.
- Gary Mackowicki has been serving the students and athletes at Norwich Free Academy for the past 37 years. He has served as a teacher, coach, and athletics director at NFA including the last 22 as the AD. He was inducted into the CHSCA Hall of Fame in 2008 and will be recognized as the organization’s athletic director of the year in May. He has worked to build a thriving Unified Sports program at NFA and has been a valuable contributor to CIAC during his time as AD.
- Diane Callis has taught at Bulkeley High School for more than 30 years and has worked as the AD for the past 12 years. She has volunteered her time as a member of the CIAC Boys and Girls Swimming & Diving Committees as well as the CIAC Pool Safety Committee in 2013. She was selected as Bulkeley’s Teacher of the Year in 2010, helped her school earn the Michael’s Cup Award in 2004 and has selflessly hosted multiple CIAC Championships and Tournament contests at Bulkeley.