To be nominated for the John W. Zeitller Memorial Award nominees must have the following specific qualities : They must have an extraordinary dedication to community and family life. They must have an outstanding reputation as a “spiritual” leader in the community. They must have been a significant mentorship of students and families. They must have recognized dedication to education and leadership. Finally, they must have established leadership and administrative skills.
This years nominee Monsignor James N. Connelly has all of these skills and more. It is hard to believe that Monsignor Connelly is 97 years old and is still active. Tonight he will be receiving the 1st Annual John Zeitler W. Memorial Achievement Award. Monsignor was a lifetime friend of the legendary John Zeitler. Zeitler was an assistant at St. Joseph Parish years ago and worked closely with Monsignor Connelly at the school. He said, “John Zeitler was an amazing friend. He was in charge of our youth program at St, Joseph and did the coaching and the intramural athletics. His knowledge of athletics was second to none. He was a wonderful person who was a great role model for our children and is greatly missed.
When Monsignor Connelly went to Bennett High School he took part in varsity baseball, track and cross country. He has great memories of Bennett and is honored to be receiving this prestigious award.
Irv Brody played baseball for Bennett High School for four years. He was a multi-talented athlete who starred in baseball as a pitcher and hitter. Although his main position was as pitcher he also batted .473 his senior year. He also pitched for other local teams in WNY. One of the highlights of his senior year was attaining All High status in 1951.
After high school he had a tryout as a pitcher with the St. Louis organization in Thomasville, Georgia. Unfortunately, while he was working out with the team he was drafted into the army. After Basic training he was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado. The following spring in 1954, he tried out for the Fort Carson baseball team. He made the team as a pitcher who started and also relieved in several games.
After his discharge from the army, he enrolled in the University of Buffalo where he received a degree in Physical Education and Health. He also played baseball for UB for 2 years as a starting pitcher and hitter. He had a scintillating record as a pitcher; winning all ten games that he pitched in during that time period. A win he will never forget was defeating highly regarded University of Rochester. He also hit a grand slam in that game.
Brody said that he was thrilled to be inducted into the Bennett Sports Hall of Fame and will always have fond memories of his years at Bennett.
Hassan J King had an outstanding sports and academic career at Bennett. His accomplishments are legendary. He was All High in Cross Country in 1988-89 and on the relay teams the same year. Due to his leadership qualities he was team captain in track in 1988-89 and in cross county in 1989.
Other awards that he attained was being All Western New York in Cross Country in 1988 and 1989, winning the Bennett High School Junior of the Year Award in 1988-89, and the Bennett High School Student of the Year Award in 1989-90.
His record in academics was equally impressive. He was captain and top scorer on the Mathematics team in 1989, National Honor Society President in 1989-90 and Senior Class Vice President in 1989. After graduating from Bennett in 1990 he attended the United States Military Academy, West point and Canisus College. He joined the US Navy in 1990 and served eight years as a translator and intelligence analyst.
Hassan said, “When I received notice that I was going to be inducted into the Bennett Sports Hall of Fame I was in disbelief that I was receiving this prestigious award. I will alway cherish the relationships that I had with my team mates and teachers at Bennett.”