Westfield's Vincent Calarco celebrated his 90th birthday this past May 18 and his induction into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame is a belated, but well-deserved present that honors his many accomplishments.
Calarco grew up loving sports and spent much of his youth at the YMCA and went to Westfield Academy. He was in junior varsity sports in the eighth grade and in high school, excelled in four varsity sports - football, basketball, baseball and track. In fact, he was so good he earned 15 out of 16 total letters, the most any student could receive and picked up a large collection of all-conference awards and medals in tournaments along the way.
He and his brother were drafted into the Army in 1943 and Vincent was a member of the 78th battalion and the 550th infantry during World War II, serving under General George S. Patton, spending much of his time in combat throughout the European Theater. While in England waiting to come home, Calarco was in charge of intermural sports.
His family operated Calarco's Restaurant in Westfield, where he began working at the age of 13 and once home, he returned and he and his wife and children continue to serve great Italian dishes.
When he got back, he formed the Calarco Trojans semi-pro basketball team, which began playing area teams in the Merchant League and eventually the Chautauqua County Basketball Association for more than seven years. He also formed baseball and football teams, which continued for 24 years and played football with the Jamestown team in 1948-49.
At that point, Calarco took on a whole new role as a basketball referee and for the next 50 years, traveled throughout the area officiating hundreds of games.
Calarco was the civil defense director in Westfield for 38 years and was a member of the Westfield Planning Board, the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, the Westfield Business Association and was part of the Legion Marching Squad.
In a note attached to his biographical information, Calarco noted the following:
"This is what sports do. They bring great people together and that's what the world needs more of today."
Calarco, along with Geza Farkas, Dan Lunetta, Cindy Miller, Al Muck, Tom Prechtl, Tom Priester and Jack Wigley, will be honored at the 33rd annual induction dinner on Feb. 17 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. The event will begin with a hospitality session at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, will be the featured speaker.
The official ticket distribution sites are Fredonia Food Mart on Temple Street in Fredonia, Calarco's Restaurant on Market Street in Westfield, the Jamestown Cycle Shop and the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
Tickets can also be ordered by phoning Chip Johnson at 485-6991. The price per ticket is $50. CSHOF members receive a $5 discount.