Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New Haven college football coaches remember Dave Solomon

The third annual "Chalk Talk" event at the Wicked Wolf Tavern in downtown New Haven began with a moment of silence for late, great Register sports columnist Dave Solomon.

Shortly after the panel discussion ended, I had football coaches Rich Cavanaugh from Southern Connecticut State, Pete Rossomando from New Haven and Tom Williams of Yale to reflect on the news of Solomon's death in a car accident on Saturday night as well as the legacy he created in his 35 years at the paper.

"I was floored," Cavanaugh said. "I just couldn't believe that it happened. I started coaching around the same time he started working for the newspaper. We both kind of grew together. He was just a great guy and he did a super job.

"He wrote good articles. He wrote what you said. He didn't twist it or turn it. You knew if you were sitting down with Dave, you were sitting down with a professional who was there to get a great story and do a great job."

Rossomando got to know Dave both during his time as an assistant coach with the Chargers and especially after he was given the responsibility of reviving the once dormant UNH program.

"Dave turned out to be a good friend and an advocate for us. The great thing about Dave is he always told the truth. We didn't like it sometimes but we respected him because what he wrote was the truth and he always said it so eloquently. We are going to miss him at the University of New Haven and me personally very, very much.

"He was a passionate guy. When he followed something, he put his heart into it, his soul. It is really sad. He passed coming back from a football practice and we didn't have an opportunity to say goodbye to him."

Williams was the last of the trio to cross paths with Dave. It was at the press conference announcing Williams as Yale's new football coach in January of 2009. But he was the last of the three to speak with Dave.

"I just spoke to him two weeks ago just before I went on my vacation," Williams said. "We laughed and shared a joke about Caroline Wozniacki and her new boyfriend Rory McIlroy. He said 'Tom, have a great summer and I look forward to seeing you in the fall.' That was the last time I talked to him. It just serves as a reminder of how fragile life is."

Even a couple of days after hearing of Dave's death at the age of 59, Williams admits he is having a hard time believing he is really gone.

"I got a text from (Yale sports information director) Steve Conn and he said 'I want to make sure you knew about Dave Solomon.' I was in shock. I just read that text message over and over again before it registered. Then I went online to try to find out whatever I could.

"Dave's legendary in the community. Now, I probably know more about him than I did before he died about what he did. He was involved in charities but to lose somebody of that weight, that caliber is devastating and New Haven will miss him."

Cavanaugh had the line of the night in reflecting on Solomon.

"I always used to kid him that when he would show up 'wow, this must be something important because you are here,'" Cavanaugh said. "Whether he was coming in for an interview or for a game, I would say 'wow, this is a big one because you are here with us.'"

Dave's funeral is Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at B.C Bailey Funeral Home in Wallingford. Here are details on the service

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