Class of 1975
Laurie Center, Class of 1975, featured smarts, competitive spirit and exceptional athletic ability among her attributes en route to earning 10 varsity letters in field hockey, basketball and softball, as well as the Class of 1975’s “Most Athletic” superlative.
During the early years of Title IX’s positive impact on girls’ sports in the United States, New Milford High School was among the area schools to best develop its girls’ interscholastic sports program. Right in step with the increase in opportunities, Laurie soon proved to be an excellent representation of what female student-athletes at NMHS could achieve.
A three-year varsity standout for iconic coach Fran Zaloski’s field hockey team, Laurie was described by her mentor as the “backbone” of the perennially strong Green Wave. She specialized in anchoring a strong defense throughout her NMHS career.
When the occasion called for it, Laurie had the stick skills to assist or score key goals herself. Among her highlights were an assist on the Green Wave’s first goal in a state tournament victory, a goal and an assist in a key 2-1 win over Bethel ,and a goal and three assists in a 6-1 rout of Masuk.
Following a promising sophomore basketball season, Laurie became the Green Wave’s top scorer and rebounder during her junior and senior years. She rose to the occasion especially against the toughest rivals, and at the most opportune times.
As a junior, Laurie scored 14 points in a 26-25 win over immaculate; scored 25 points and had 16 rebounds in a victory over Norwalk Central Catholic; scored 14 points and had 19 rebounds in a 35-33 win over Immaculate; and hit two free throws with four seconds to play in 35-34 win over Joel Barlow.
That all served as a prelude to a standout senior campaign during which she scored more than 20 points five times. Her efforts helped propel the Green Wave to an 11-5 regular season, thus earning the Green Wave its first state tournament berth.
Come tournament time, Laurie raised her standards even more, scoring 24 points in a 48-44, first-round win over Gilbert of Winsted and adding 14 points during a 66-22 loss to top-ranked Weston. In all, she scored 38 of her team’s 70 tournament points.
Laurie finished her senior year with 270 points and a 15-points-per-game average, more than 500 career points and her team’s MVP honor.
Springtime meant softball for Laurie, who wasted little time establishing herself as the program’s best pitcher. During three full seasons as the Green Wave’s hurler, the girls posted a cumulative 32-9 record and earned status as one of the area’s top programs.
Laurie enjoyed many of her finest Green Wave sports moments as two-time softball MVP, complementing her pitching skills with clutch hitting and team leadership.
She helped lead the Green Wave to the state tournament semifinals as a junior and then topped that effort as senior MVP. Her final diamond team at NMHS built a 15-1 regular season and won the WCC championship. Her pitching and four hits at the plate sparked the Green Wave’s title-clinching, 21-9 win over Masuk.
Coach Zaloski attributed Laurie’s transcendent impact on her teammates and rivals to what she termed a “low key” approach. “Her personality was the thing,” praised her veteran coach.
Following her NMHS years, Laurie enjoyed a memorable career as an Ivy League athlete at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. She switched field hockey roles to become one of the Big Green’s all-time best goaltenders. Laurie also demonstrated she hadn’t lost her touch on the hardcourt, leading the Dartmouth women’s basketball team in scoring as sophomore with a 14.4-points-per-game norm.
Unfinished in the sports realm even then, Laurie later enjoyed a career as coach and administrator at Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I. She capped her coaching career by guiding the girls’ basketball team to the state’s Division II title in 2015-2016 and the Division I championship in 2017-18.