Wilton’s Andrew Smith wins John Corr Award

Wilton High senior Andrew Smith was presented with the annual John G. Corr Award at his home last week.

Wilton High senior Andrew Smith was presented with the annual John G. Corr Award at his home last week.

Gretchen McMahon / For Hearst Connecticut Media

There was no crowd at the Wilton High School Little Theater last Tuesday night. No Senior Awards Night celebration for the first time in decades. No breathless anticipation of who would win what. None of that.

These, after all, are coronavirus-driven, dispiriting times ... new approaches are needed to maintain traditions.

That’s why last Tuesday afternoon, the John G. Corr Memorial Award hit the road. Tim Eagen, the veteran Wilton High baseball coach and physical education teacher who serves as president of the John G. Corr Memorial Award Foundation, delivered the honor in person to senior Andrew Smith.

Though both of his parents knew the purpose of Eagen’s visit, Smith didn’t have a clue.

“Around dinner time on Tuesday, my mom told me to get dressed up a little because there were going to be some senior pictures that were going to be taken,” Smith said. “I didn’t think much about it and went and did what she asked.

“I got ready and then looked out the window at these people who were coming up the driveway,” Smith said, referring to a group that included Eagen and Wilton High boys golf coach Jack Majesky. “I said to myself as all these people came walking up the driveway, ‘what is going on?’ ”

A few minutes later the mystery was solved: The group was there to present Smith with the 2020 John G. Corr Memorial Award.

The award is given annually to a senior male athlete at Wilton High School who best exemplifies the attitude, spirit and ability of the late John Corr, a 1962 Wilton High graduate killed in action in Da Nang, Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. The award provides $2,500 per year toward the winner’s college expenses and up to $20,000 if he pursues graduate study at Oxford, Cambridge, or Edinburgh universities.

Smith was a standout for both the Wilton boys basketball and golf teams. He was a captain of the 2019-20 boys hoop team, which reached both the conference and state playoffs. He had also been chosen as a captain for the boys golf team, which had its entire season canceled due to the coronavirus.

“He’s a great kid,” Wilton boys basketball coach Joel Geriak said about Smith, who made the All-FCIAC second team. “He’s a true leader. This year he was very vocal and he held everybody accountable, especially himself. He got everybody together and put them all on the same page. He wanted the ball for the big shot, but he also would pass to the right guy at the right time.

“Two games stand out in my mind,” Geriak continued. “Against Trinity Catholic in the first FCIAC playoff game, he made all seven of the team’s 3-point shots. He made the game-tying shot with nine seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately, Trinity scored with five seconds left to win the game.

“Then in the [state tournament opener against New Britain], after he had been sick all week, he made six 3-point shots to keep us in the game. Even when he was so sick, he always would be ready to practice. The only time he would get off the court was when I sent him home.

“He was the same way outside of sports: dedicated to his peers and to his studies — high grade-point average, National Honor Society, scholar-athlete award. I hope my future captains are like him. He and [fellow senior] Kyle Hyzy ... they were the reason we made the playoffs.”

In addition to playing sports, Smith participated in student government at Wilton High, serving as treasurer of his class.

Smith also works with youth groups at his church and is involved in Full Court Peace, a Norwalk-based club that strives to make basketball more available to young people in Fairfield County.

“We help raise money through bake sales and other fund-raisers, so that we can go into neighborhoods where basketball courts are in disrepair and kids can’t use them,” said Smith, who plans to attend Northeastern University this fall. “We help repair courts, filling cracks, replacing backboards and nets. We also work with the younger kids getting them to play.”

“Andrew was the president this year, but he’s been a valuable member all four years of high school,” said Brandon Tegano, an assistant boys basketball coach and the Wilton High faculty advisor to Full Court Peace. “He worked hard to improve at basketball and he brought the same attitude to Full Court Peace. And in both cases he always was able to grab the troops ... get everybody together to do what had to be done.”

It’s an attitude and approach of which the late John Corr would approve.