Athletic Director Peter Reynolds beamed as his familiar, raspy voice rang out at the dedication of the Gengras Family Field. What a difference our beautiful new turf field will make to our students! A reliable playing surface for our teams to practice and compete on, regardless of the weather. A dry outdoor classroom for physical education classes. “Our athletes will have a new, stronger sense of pride as they wear the blue and walk onto this field,” he boasted.
Beyond the practical benefits, Mr. Reynolds pointed to the symbolic significance of the Gengras family’s gift. “This field represents generations of students and families that through the years have supported and understood the values and importance of athletic competition. Doing your best, sportsmanship, being part of something bigger than yourself—the meaning of team—these are lessons that have been taught under the great leadership of Mr. Irving. We have continued to preach these principles every day that we walk onto a field.”
This is the tradition that inspired the Gengras family’s generosity. Edith Parsons Gengras and E. Clayton “Skip” Gengras, Jr. currently chair the Renbrook Grandparents Group, and they love the capital campaign theme “Take Flight” because it invokes the Rentschlers and their beautiful old house, while looking toward the future. And what better way to participate than strengthening Renbrook sports? Edie Gengras says the family’s intention was to support the program that has had such an impact on her children and grandchildren, with its tradition of excellence and inclusion. At Renbrook, she says, “all kids play three seasons with joy. Children need to be surrounded by good role models. Bruce Irving and Peter Reynolds are such beloved people because they and their colleagues have made the spirit of the program healthy for all participants and have instilled great values.” Edie, herself a former Renbrook teacher and coach, says that the Gengras family has always believed in the value of athletics in balance with a strong academic program.
Edie and Skip’s son Jonathan Gengras ’87 and his wife Robyn, current Chair of the Renbrook Board of Trustees, initiated the project of including the whole family in the gift of a turf field. Robyn laughs when she says that their three children, Ged ’19, Mary ’20, and Katherine ’23, have been “diehard Renbrook athletes.” She saw their disappointment when rain or snow made the fields unsafe to play on, causing games to be canceled. “Renbrook sports are unique,” she says, “And our old house needed renovation.” She and Jonathan wanted to give something of value to future Hawks and to honor the family’s deep roots in the school. The field would be a lasting testament to a special school–family relationship. Jonathan’s brother Chip Gengras ’85 also benefited from Renbrook athletics and so have his and Ashley's children: Julia ’15, Emmy ’17, and Clayt ’19. When Katherine graduates in June, all six of Skip and Edie’s grandchildren will have thrived at Renbrook and gone off to different boarding schools. As Renbrook has been their common experience, it made sense to combine their legacies in a gift to Renbrook, celebrating the sports program that has meant so much to them.
Skip and Edie Parsons Gengras’s families are intricately woven into Renbrook School history. The family’s roots in the school are deep and far reaching, and their affection for the school is expressed in this remarkable gift.
Connecting with Hartford Athletic
The turf field was built to the highest standard by Alca Construction Company, under the close supervision of its president, Joseph A. Calafiore, past Renbrook parent and former trustee. Joe and his son Joseph D. Calafiore ’05, current corporator, are co-founders of Hartford Athletic, the expansion United Soccer League Championship Club they brought to Hartford in 2019 in conjunction with the revitalization of the historic Dillon Stadium. For the Calafiores to bring Renbrook’s Gengras Family Field to life was serendipitous.
The Calafiore family’s passion for soccer is intergenerational. Joe and Lisa Calafiore’s sons, Joe ’05 and David ’10, both played for Renbrook. Joe Calafiore’s father, Giuseppe Calafiore, managed the Italian American Stars. “They won the National Amateur Cup in front of 10,000 people in 1967 in Hartford,” Joe ’05 said. “We [have] a real, personal connection to that stadium.”
It was the younger Joe Calafiore who conceived the idea of bringing a soccer team to Hartford. In the process of realizing that dream, the Calafiores enlisted yet another Renbrook family, the Schooleys. Scott Schooley, his wife, Giuliana Musilli, former Renbrook trustee, and their two sons, Marco ’06 and Alessandro ’11, have been active participants in, and donors to, Hartford youth sports, including Hartford Youth Soccer and Hartford’s West End Little League. With Joe Calafiore, Sr. and Hartford businessman Bruce Mandell, Scott is a co-owner of Hartford Athletic.
Our guest speaker at the dedication was Ash Apollon, Hartford Athletic defenseman, who delighted those gathered at Gengras Family Field by answering questions and chatting with adoring fans.