His accomplishments echoed volumes but he wanted them spoken softly. His gift of helping others was the norm, never the exception. His passion for victory was relentless and produced many victories. 2002 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Russell “Rusty” Gordon has provided quiet team service and leadership as a player, coach, volunteer and referee for the Branford community.
Tonight’s inductee attended Branford High School from 1972 to 1975, where he was a two-sport athlete – in soccer and basketball. As a three-year player for the Hornets soccer team, “Rusty” as he was nicknamed, was part of a Housatonic League title during his senior season. That year, Branford compiled an 8-4-3 record and Rusty was named to the All-Housatonic League Second Team. As a guard on the Hornets basketball team, he led Branford to a Housatonic League title in 1975. The team compiled a 19-1 record, its only loss being at the hands of the East Haven Yellow Jackets. Rusty played alongside current Recreation Director, Alex Palluzzi, Jr. and was coached by hall of fame member Tom Murray (’92). He was described in the Milestone Yearbook as being “a strong guard whose value to any team far supercedes that shown on the court.”
After graduation, Rusty attended Central Connecticut State University and played soccer during his freshman season. He is employed by the Regional Water Authority, now in his 22nd year, and is presently a crew chief with the company.
Tonight’s inductee continued his passion for basketball and for the youth in the town as he started to coach freshman boys basketball in 1982 and continues to coach today at Branford High School for varsity head coach and athletic director John (Jake) Palluzzi. For his outstanding leadership and devotion to his junior varsity team, Rusty was named Assistant Coach of the Year in the state of Connecticut in 1999 by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. He has won over 200 games on the freshman and junior varsity level. He has been a high school football official for 11 years, including service for the Eastern Connecticut Athletic Conference the past six years. As a major contributor to the community and the Branford Recreation Department, Rusty has coached voluntarily or refereed in the Frank J. Kinney Boys Basketball tournament since 1966 and serves as night supervisor at Veteran Memorial Park.