Honoring athletes from Darien’s past and present — that’s the mission of the Darien Old Timers Athletic Association, which was founded in 1961.

The Darien Old Timers Athletic Association is a nonprofit, fund-raising organization that honors former Darien athletes, those who have made outstanding contributions to Darien athletics, and those in the community who have served and inspired others.

Funds the association raises provide college scholarships for graduating Darien High School seniors and support those in need in the Darien community.

The club meets monthly at the Noroton Fire Department, 1873 Post Road. There are no membership dues and meetings are open to the public.

Scholarships, financial donations

The association recognizes hometown people at its yearly sports awards dinners, which are held at The Water’s Edge at Giovanni's.

“We are trying to raise money so we can give away the scholarships,” said Darien resident Joe Warren, who is the club’s president and has been a member for 15 years.

In 2019, the association gave away six $1,500 college scholarships.

To apply for a scholarship, students may complete the common application form available in the DHS guidance office.

The association also supports those in need in town through financial donations to Darien Human Services.

“If we raise enough money, our first goal is to award scholarships. If there is money left over, we give it to a worthwhile organization in town such as [one that] helps seniors with their fuel expenses in the winter,” Warren said.

In 2018, the association donated $3,000 to Darien Human Services.

“The Darien Old Timers have been very supportive to us for many, many years,” said Ali Ramsteck, Director of Darien Human Services. “With their donations, we are able to help financially struggling clients of ours — only Darien residents of course. Some of the things we have been able to help with are assisting with partial rent payment, outstanding utility bills to prevent shut offs or other essential needs. We are so grateful to their ongoing support and donations, which help us help others.”

The association also helped a local group of adults with special needs called the Fun Bunch.

“They were celebrating their 30th anniversary,” Warren said. The association donated their leftover funds to purchase custom sweatshirts for everyone in the group.

“That group addresses a very special place in the town of Darien,” he added.

When deciding who to donate to, “We look at other organizations in town that we believe are doing good things for the character of Darien,” Warren said.

Honorees

Honorees have included prior high school and college sports players and coaches.

“The big challenge is finding people who will accept the honor, “ Warren said. “We go through the yearbooks and find the athletes who were outstanding in the town.”

At the dinner, honorees are presented with a community service or achievement award.

“When the organization was first founded, and for quite some time, they always used to look for a national honoree. We tried to find somebody in the sports world or a national celebrity in order to bring in more attendees to the dinner,” Warren said.

“However, what we found was that the local athletes that we were honoring were a better draw then the national athletes. People want to support people they know.”

He added that local people typically invite their friends and family members to the dinner, to watch them receive their honor.

Last year’s dinner honored:

 Brian Lindner, a former Darien High School star athlete, who earned varsity letters in football and baseball

 Lisa Lindley, head coach of the Darien High School’s girls varsity lacrosse team.

 Jay Chandler, a former Darien High School star athlete, who earned varsity letters in football and baseball:

 David Ott, head coach of the Darien High School’s Indoor and Outdoor Girl’s Track Team.

 John Miceli, a former Darien High School Varsity Baseball Team player, and a star All County outfielder on the 1971 FCIAC Championship Team.

 Matthew Criscuolo is the James Carlson Award honoree for overcoming adversity and then succeeding in sports.

With the James Carlson Award, “We are looking for people who have had some kind of setback, and have gone on to lead a productive life,” Warren said.

The association will soon begin the search for honorees for this year’s dinner.

Aside from raising money through the dinners, members also sell advertisement space in the dinner’s program.

“We go to all the local businesses in town and ask them to run an ad in the program,” Warren said.

Beginnings

The Darien Old Timers Athletic Association was founded by members of the Piedmont Club.

“The Piedmont Club is the Italian men’s club in town,” Warren said.

The Piedmont Club, founded in 1916, supports many community-based programs, youth sports, and a variety of charitable causes.

Giving back

Warren said he loves being a part of the association, just as he likes being active in all the other functions in town for which he takes part.

“I live in this town. I’ve lived here virtually my entire life and I appreciate all the things this town has done for me,” Warren said. “It has given me an education. I went through the schools here from K to 12. It gave my kids an education. It has given me an opportunity to learn things that I would have not learned somewhere else.”

For more information on the association, search Darien Old Timers Athletic Association on Facebook.

sfox@darientimes.com