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Jim Benanto Named 2007 Honorary Race Director

Jim Benanto, the retired athletic director at Shelton High School and a former star athlete at Derby High School has been named as the Honorary Race Director for the 2007 Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race. The award was announced by the Race Committee and is given to an individual who has made a strong contribution to the quality of life in the communities of Shelton and Derby.

Jim Benanto has had a positive and lasting impact on the lives of countless student-athletes during the course of his twenty-six years as Shelton's Athletic Director. After graduating from Derby High School in 1964 where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track, Jim attended Southern Connecticut State Teachers College where he received a B.S. in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in 1968.

While attending Southern, Jim was enrolled in the R.O.T.C. program at Yale where he was the first SCSTC student to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant through the Yale program. He followed his undergraduate days at Southern with a tour of duty in the U.S. Army from 1968-1972. A graduate of Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia and the J.F.K. Special Forces School (where he was awarded a Green Beret), Jim served one year in South Vietnam as an armored cavalry platoon leader and troop commander. He was honorably discharged from the Army with the rank of Captain.

 Jim returned to SCSTC where he earned an M.S. in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1975. He received his Sixth Year in Administration/Supervision from Southern in 1981.

He began his teaching career in 1973, serving for two years as a physical education teacher at the elementary school level in Shelton. He taught at Shelton Intermediate School from 1975-1977 before being named Shelton High School's Athletic Director. His duties expanded further in 1995 when he was named the district's Coordinator of Health and Physical Education.

During his tenure as Athletic Director, the Gaels athletics program expanded from nine varsity teams to twenty-three varsity and forty-five sub-varsity teams. Two of Jim's most noteworthy accomplishments were the formation of the Southern Connecticut Conference and the installation of a synthetic turf field at the high school. Fending off public reluctance to create a new athletic conference in the south central area of the state, Jim was instrumental in devising a model that provided the framework of the SCC. That model allowed urban and suburban schools together to provide shared athletics experiences for kids from diverse backgrounds. Jim also initiated and oversaw the construction of the turf field at Shelton High School.

During his teaching and administrative tenure, Jim also coached at SHS. He was an assistant football coach, freshmen basketball coach and assistant varsity basketball coach. He even served as an assistant freshmen football coach at Yale from 1986-1991.

Jim remains active during retirement as he continues to serve on the CIAC Football Committee as Tournament Director and is currently a member of the City of Derby Parks and Recreation Committee. Jim and his wife Linda have been married for thirty-eight years and have two sons (Jay and Chris) and four grandchildren. He resides in Derby