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Hall of Fame official John Vino has passed away

John Vino, a Hall of Fame official and former head coach at Wesleyan and WPI, has passed away. The photo is from the 2019 induction ceremony for the Connecticut Chapter of the National Hall of Fame.

John Vino of Stonington, who wrestled in high school and college, coached at the collegiate level and was a top high school and collegiate official, died on Dec. 18, 2023, at the age of 81.

Vino built his career around his love of sports. He was the head wrestling coach at WPI and Wesleyan while also coaching football and lacrosse at WPI, Wesleyan and UConn. He was a high school and collegiate official for more than 40 years and a long-time representative of Resilite Sports Products, which makes wrestling mats and other products.

Vino is one of the few Connecticut officials who have been selected to officiate at the NCAA Division I championships. He was selected to work at the 1979 championship meet at Iowa State.

Vino was part of the first class of inductees to be honored by the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.

Raised on Long Island, Vino attended West Islip High where he excelled in football and wrestling. He was inducted into the West Islip Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974. He attended the University of Bridgeport on a football scholarship and earned a bachelor’s degree in education.

At Bridgeport, he played football where he was a starting guard and kicked extra points. Vino and a classmate started a club wrestling team at Bridgeport in 1964, serving as captain and coach. It eventually became a varsity sport at the school.

After graduating from Bridgeport in 1965, he attended UConn and received a master’s degree. As a graduate student, he was an assistant coach with the wrestling program. He also was a freshman football coach and a coach in the lacrosse program.

Vino was hired to coach football and wrestling at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. He was an assistant coach in football for four years and was an assistant coach with the wrestling program before being named head coach for three seasons (1967-68 to 1969-70) with an overall record of 17-15.

In 1969, Fred Snyder became the first WPI wrestler to qualify for the national championship meet. Vino also coached freshman soccer and lacrosse at WPI.

He was hired by Wesleyan in 1970 as a coach for football, wrestling and lacrosse. He was the head coach of the wrestling program for three seasons (1971-72 to 1973-74) and had three New England champions. He was also head coach of the men’s lacrosse program for three years (1971-73).

When his coaching career came to an end, Vino became an official, working at the high school and collegiate level. As a member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Wrestling Officials Association (CIWOA), he was instrumental in creating annual gatherings and service awards for officials to grow the sport.

When the executive committee for the Connecticut Chapter for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame was reformed in 2009, he served on it for three years.

Vino is survived by his wife of 56 years, Cynthia, daughters Liz Vino-Greene and her husband, Bruce and Lisa Vino-Mancini and her husband, Jason, two grandchildren and three siblings.

Condolences can be sent to Mrs. John Vino, 18 Grandview Park, Stonington, CT 06378. Information for the celebration of his life in the spring will be shared with family and friends in the coming month.

Obituary

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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