STAMFORD -- Appreciation for a life's work well done is something to strive for.
For those involved in athletics, the Hall of Fame is the most likely measuring stick for success.
Six more prominent sports figures from the area received their just accolades as the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame unveiled their Class of 2013 inductees Wednesday at their museum wing located at the Stamford UConn campus.
Now gracing the James O'Rourke Amateur Wing are former University of New Haven baseball standout Dennis Paglialunga of New Canaan and Raybestos Brakettes softball legend the late Allyson Rioux of Stamford.
Inducted into the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing were legendary Fairfield Prep football coach Earl Lavery as well as former Fairfield University, University of Hartford and Sacred Heart University athletic director Don Cook.
"I'm very honored to be selected," said Lavery currently enjoying retirement and golf in Rhode Island. "To look at the plaques of the inductees already on this wall and to be included in their company is very special indeed."
Lavery never had a losing season in his 24 years (1968-1992) coaching Fairfield Prep football. He retired with a record of 230-54-8 and three state football titles. At the time, his 230 victories were ranked No. 1 among Connecticut state high school football coaches. At present, Lavery's total ranks No. 7.
Lavery marvels at the instant video technology available today as opposed to the 8-millimeter game films sent out for next-day exposure during his tenure.
But he feels one part of high school football has remained the same.
"It is still about team. Kids can do things together that they can't do individually," said Lavery, who was voted into the CT High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 1991. "Good relationships with the kids remain the key. Success was always a team thing, not just about me."
With his 50 years in college athletics Cook was a major force across the state in his time at Fairfield University (19 seasons as baseball coach, athletic director for 15 years, 1971-86), the University of Hartford (1986-92) and at Sacred Heart University (20 years, retiring last month). Cook was the first president of the Metro Atlantic Conference and saw the creation of the $17.5 million dollar William H. Pitt Health and Athletic Center at SHU.
"This is a special privilege. It's humbling to be a part of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame," said Cook, who expanded SHU athletics from 12 to 31 varsity teams and still is helping with the transition to new Sacred Heart athletic director Bobby Valentine. "It has been a long road travelled without one top goal or one best memory. It has been a privilege to constantly be around good people. The support of players, coaches and fellow administrators having my back resulted in my success.
"My concern always tried to be what was best for the student-athletes. There has been an explosion of TV revenue and much conference realignment," Cook continued. "I had a daughter who was a college gymnast. My son played college baseball. I felt I had a big responsibility to all the parents. Getting an education and turning out responsible human beings. That's what college and college athletics should be about."
Stratford native Mark Hirschbeck was a National League umpire from 1988-1999 and in both the NL and American League from 2000 to 2003. He umpired with his brother John Hirschbeck until complications from artificial hip surgery forced his retirement.
"This is a huge honor. To be inducted with Mr. Cook and Mr. Lavery is special," Hirschbeck said. "I followed my brother's footsteps into umpiring. Now I'm following his footsteps into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame."
Even now, 11 years later, Hirschbeck's passion for umpiring still burns hot. But his current focus is on being a good restaurateur as an owner of Hirschbeck's Sports Bar and Grill at 882 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton.
"We've been open about 17 months and it's starting to come around," he said. "We're starting to see good things happen. Patience is a key to good umpiring. I've learned I don't know everything about the restaurant business. But I've learned from my mistakes."
Blake was the only honoree not represented at Wednesday's ceremony. But with good reason. On Tuesday, the 33-year-old Blake posted his first opening round victory at Wimbledon in five years (6-1, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Thiemo De Bakker).
Fairfield's Blake, currently ranked No. 87 in the ATP tennis world, has evolved into more of a family man of late. He married Emily Snider in November of 2012 in California, the couple have a daughter Riley Elizabeth and still have ties to Fairfield County.
Dennis Paglialunga was a three-sport athlete at New Canaan High. He played baseball (third base) for the University of New Haven under legendary coach Frank "Porky" Vieira from 1976-79 as UNH made three NCAA Division II College World Series appearences.
Allyson Rioux saw her life end prematurely in 1989 at age 27 due to an inoperable brain tumor. A standout shortstop at Westhill High, the University of Rhode Island and at UMass, Rioux played second base for the Raybestos Brakettes.
Rioux was part of ten ASA championship games and five ASA titles with the Brakettes.