WESTFIELD – The Year 2014 began with some big news as Westfield native Kacey Bellamy was named to the United States Olympic women’s ice hockey team during the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic. It was the second time in five years that Bellamy would serve as a defenseman for Team USA.
Soon thereafter, another local player, of sorts, stormed into our local headlines when Sue Fox claimed the grand prize in our weekly pro football contest, “Beat ‘The Putz’”.
In late January, Westfield mourned the passing of a legendary coach and athletic director at Westfield State, Charles “Bud” Hagan, who died at the age of 86.
In February, Bellamy and Team USA captivated local hockey fans, and others throughout the nation, in their run to the Gold Medal Game, where they had their hopes dashed by Canada for the second straight Olympics.
Hockey in the area was at an all-time high with the renewal of the Black & Gold Legends game at Amelia Park Ice Arena, shortly followed by the Westfield High School hockey team’s Division 2 title, which cemented yet another dynamite season for legendary coach C.B. “Moose” Matthews.
Spring brought hope as WHS football landed former Bomber Rocco Fernandez, a 2004 graduate, to take over as head coach.
Good times continued as the Westfield High School boys’ lacrosse team stunned No. 1 Longmeadow 9-8 in a Western Massachusetts Central/West semifinal shocker. It was the Bombers’ first win over the Lancers in five years, and only the second time in a decade.
In June, the WHS softball team completed an undefeated season (23-0) with a win over Longmeadow in the WMass championship. Bombers’ senior ace Sarah McNerney outdueled UConn-bound pitcher Jillian Stockley, and Analise Eak provided the game-winning hit.
Westfield’s Babe Ruth Baseball 14-Year-Old All-Stars heated up in the summer time, dominating the headlines locally with a run to the World Series in Ocala, Florida. Westfield won a 5-4 thriller over Trumbull (Conn.) at Bullens Field to advance.
Fall ushered in changes with the resignation of WHS football coach Rocco Fernandez; the hiring of interim head coach Robert Parent, a Westfield resident and Commerce assistant, to lead the Bombers’ football team; and the retirement of longtime Westfield Little League president John Wheeler, who stepped away from the post after 36 years.
Ken Diegel, an umpire and chief for Westfield Little League, former vice president for WLL softball, high school and Little League umpire for the last 20 years, and a retired US Navy Submariner (1975-95), was hired to replace Wheeler.
New rules were instituted to allow the league to cater to younger players, and expanded to include residents of Southwick.
The Whip City landed the Babe Ruth Baseball 14-Year-Old World Series in 2016, following a strong push by local and state officials, baseball aficionados, business leaders, and longtime league president Dan Welch.
Oh, and Westfield High gymnastics continued its dominance of the sport with its eighth straight championship, running its decade-long winning streak to 141-0, leaving fans to wonder – will they every lose again?
Top Five Sports Things to Look For in 2015
1. The impact of a new Westfield Little League president, and rules changes
2. Preparations for a Babe Ruth World Series at Bullens Field in 2016
3. Westfield High School gymnastics unbeaten streak to continue
4. Westfield Bombers hockey and softball teams attempting to repeat
5. A “Super” run by the New England Patriots … and the unveiling of our 2014-15 “Beat ‘The Putz’” grand prize winner