Don and Sally Chirlin
NORWICH – The story of Mike Conron is one of family, character, respect and last but not least, a competitive and talented all around athlete. He is the fourth of six children born to Etta and Bob, “Diz” Conron. Mike and his twin sister Maureen tied for the fourth spot. The Conron family covered the athletic scene in Norwich during the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Diz played center for the Syracuse University football team in 1944 and was the center and MVP on the Y Giants, Norwich’s Semi-Pro Football team, from 1947-50. To understand Norwich athletics and its history, you should start with Jim Dunne’s history of small town Norwich during the post war years. (1947-51)
The Conron boys were all athletic like their father – quiet, soft spoken, but physically active and competitive. Bill played football and track. Bob played football and wrestled. Tim played football, basketball and track. Mike played football, basketball and baseball. All for the purple. However, the spark that ignited the fiercely competitive family was Mike’s mother Etta. While the father and children were playing and working, she was raising a family. She led her children through school and on into college. Mike was fortunate enough to inherit both his mother and father’s gifts.
Dan Chrisman, Mike’s football coach for three years, gave Mike the “gentle giant” label. He was the type of player who would knock your socks off, pick you up and say, “nice play”. Coach Chrisman also described Mike as respectful to his coaches, teammates and opponents. His play was spirited and competitive, as was his behavior on and of the field. He was a leader by behavior, not by noise.
These were the transition years from the Iroquois league of section three to STAC of section four. Norwich encountered a schedule that staggered some of our programs for a couple of years. Mike and his teammates brought some normalcy to the program. In 1974 Norwich lost to Susquehanna Valley 70 - 0. In 1975 the Susquehanna Valley coach would not shake hands with the Norwich coaches and players as they had lost to a Conron led team by a score of 25-13. Mike was in on 17 tackles and was credited with playing a major part in sending three SV players to the hospital – literally. Mike Gibson, Norwich Sun sportswriter at the time, also mentioned that in the first game of the season, his hit on a Homer’s star running back ended his season. The Homer coach is quoted as saying that “Mike Conron is one of the hardest, cleanest hitters I’ve seen.”