Sports Person of the Week
Madison's Marone Inducted Into North Haven Hall of Fame
All-time Indians’ football lineman Thomas Marone was inducted into the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 14. Tom, who lives in Madison with his wife Jean, helped the Indians rattle off a 20-game win streak in the mid 60s. (Photo courtesy of Lyndsay Dolan )
Thomas Marone admits he was shocked to hear the news of his induction into the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame, but 50 years after graduating, that achievement came to pass for the former Indians’ football standout on Nov. 14. Thomas, a Madison resident, played three seasons on the North Haven gridiron and was an important member of the up-and-coming program.
“It was pretty much the beginning because we were a small town with a small high school,” says Thomas. “We were progressing, but we didn’t even have a weight room. We had an excellent academic opportunity, facilitated by a great teaching staff who loved athletes and encouraged us as much as they could.”
When Thomas competed for the Indians, the team won back-to-back Housatonic League titles and achieved a 20-game winning streak that included an undefeated season in 1963. Thomas’s stellar play on the lines earned him spots on the Wonder Bread Regional All-Star Team, the Nutmeg East-West All-Star Football Team, and the Bowl Team.
Even with his vast amount of accomplishments on the field, Thomas also made an important contribution to North Haven away from the turf. His good friend Butch Barry, who called Thomas to notify him of his Hall of Fame induction, recalls that situation.
“In high school, his first day as captain of the football team, he stopped a hazing incident and had to stand up to the whole team,” says Barry. “He didn’t put up with it. If they wanted to pick on somebody, they needed to start with him. That started a successful season and got the team to a good start.”
Thomas played all around the offensive line for North Haven and also manned the nose tackle and defensive tackle positions on the other side of the ball.
“I played center and then they needed a guard and I moved over to guard. I still snapped the ball for all the kicks, but then my senior year, we lost our offensive tackle, so I moved to offensive tackle to finish off the year,” says Thomas. “I also played nose guard on defense because we went both ways in those days. At the end of my senior year, because we lost our tackle, I ended up playing defensive tackle. It was pretty exciting times.”
Thomas went on to earn a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, where he played four years as a center and snapper, while helping the team become one of the country’s best at the Division III level.
“I had a great time. We were one of the top teams my senior year,” says Thomas. “We had an opportunity to play Grambling in a bowl game and we were also a part of the Vietnam War. That was probably more important to our commitment because we were a federal service academy.”
When his football career was finished, Thomas attained a bachelor’s of science degree in marine engineering, in addition to his Coast Guard Marine Engineering License. He also earned a degree in animal science and a master’s of science in farm management at the University of Connecticut in the late 70s. That degree proved an important one to Thomas as farming is a huge part of his life today. Thomas currently owns Mad Hill Peppers, where he grows more than 120 varieties of chili peppers on a few acres of land in North Haven. He then harvests, dehydrates, grinds, bottles, and sells them at Shoreline Vine in Madison. Thomas will always have roots in North Haven and appreciates what the town has given him, including his recent induction into its Hall of Fame.
“What a great range of opportunities that we were exposed to all because of North Haven. I don’t know what would’ve happened had I not taken advantage of those opportunities,” says Thomas. “I was thrilled when I got the call. It was quite a compliment to many years.”