On October 26th, former head baseball and athletic coach at Housatonic Community College, Ed Sylvia, will be inducted into the Diamond Club Hall of Fame for his contributions to baseball in the state.
Ed was hired by HCC founding president, Edward Liston to coach a developing men’s basketball team in 1967. Shortly after, he was named Coordinator of Athletics at HCC to develop soccer, tennis, golf and baseball programs.
In addition to actively coaching, he introduced Physical Education courses and intramural sports activities at the college. P.E. included Nautilus fitness training, racquetball, bowling, and swimming. Additionally, he was an assistant counselor in admissions.
Having started during HCC’s earliest years in Stratford, Ed recently shared his memories of the school’s initial locations. “Every other week we were opening a new site for classes,” he said. Bunnell High School, where Ed taught English two years prior to coming to HCC, was one of those places.
“The first year at Bunnell, our athletes shared the facility when they weren’t in use by the high school students,” he said, “They also practiced at an Armory and at eleven different home fields.” He added that playing at Seaside Park was “incredibly cold” with the wind coming off the water. “We would shiver for three hours of practice,” he said.
Ironically, the ballpark at Harbor Yard was built within walking distance of HCC’s current location the year when Ed retired.
At the height of Connecticut community college athletics, nine of the twelve colleges were competing for championships in over five sports. “Of the hundreds of student athletes I coached in baseball, seven had the good fortune of signing professional contracts. A few of them played minor league Double A Ball, just two steps from major league baseball,” he said.
Due to widespread budget cuts in the early ‘90s, competition disappeared at most of the state’s community colleges. “The reason was always insufficient money to support a program,” he said.
HCC athletics ended after the final baseball season in 1996, but Ed continued to serve the college as Registrar for a total of 13 years. He retired from the college in 2005 after working 38 years at Housatonic.
Ed’s daughter, Shelley Tomey, is HCC Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and is also the Coordinator of the Early Childhood Inclusive Education Program. “I always know what is happening at HCC since my daughter is there. I love seeing the college expand and grow,” he said.