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Nardecchia set to retire

By BY DON HOHLER • Oct 5, 2016 at 7:59 PM

Don Nardecchia has completed the build as the original architect of the Norwalk Lady Truckers golf program and is moving on. Ten years ago he started with just four players. This year he not only had a competitive varsity team but an equally solid reserve squad.

Nardecchia announced his retirement after the girl’s sectional appearance. His wife, Susie (Downer) will join him in retirement, her employer being the office of the Job and Family Services. Their house is for sale. The plan is to move to Atlanta to be closer to their two children.

“Hey, give the guy credit,” long-time boys golf coach Wes Douglas said. “He built a program from the ground up. He has done a remarkable job.”

After 33 ½ years at Norwalk Furniture, the 64-year-old licensed basketball and football official, decided it was time for still another challenge.

“It was a cumbersome start in 2006,” Nardecchia said. “The four girls played on the boy’s team. Even hit from their tees. At that juncture, the important thing, however, is they were in competition.”

The “First Fore” as they were called, Megan Saxton, Miriam Fritz, Marisia Souter and Hillary Hays, returned the following year and actually played a match.

“And it was a win over another program in its infancy, Mansfield Christian,” the coach said. “And for the first time that fall, the ladies played in a sectional tournament.”

In 2008 Saxton graduated but Nardecchia was able to recruit three more players to get the team number to six.

“Green Hills was our Sectional site,” Nardecchia said. “It was not the place for our “newbies” to start so the school sent only the three veterans.”

Enter Hannah Schneider and Katie Gross in 2009. Now the team had two “newbies” that would not be that for long.

“Gosh it was great to see gals who were equal to our opponents at moving the ball down the fairway,” the coach stated. “To make a long story short, with those two on board, records were set that still stand. This edition has come close to some of them , tying one but in looking back, the 2009 group set the standard.”

What records were left to be broken, the 2011 team took care of. Schneider played No. 1 and K.C. Strimpfel, Melissa Enderle, Kate Cooperrider and Emily McKillips completed the lineup.

“We have been steady ever since,” the man known as “Nardo” by his friends and coaching constituents, believed.

A member of St. Paul’s first golf team in 1969, Nardecchia graduated and went to work at The Furniture, a natural employment stop for his family. He also took up high school officiating and worked his way up in that profession to that of an observer of officials at the college level.

Twelve years ago he took a position with the Norwalk City Schools as a teacher’s aide.

“It put me closer to the athletes I would work with,” he said. “It also got me close to the decision-makers in the athletic department. I lobbied for approval and areas to schedule some kind of year-around practice, be it at mini-clinics, hitting in the basement range at Eagle Creek, or over the last winter working in the Reagan Athletic Complex.”

Nardecchia believes the program will be in good hands no matter which one of his assistants, Samantha Roberts or Chris Jackson, replaces him.

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