Sports opportunities for girls were limited when Candy Perez was growing up in Torrington, CT. She played softball in the Park and Rec Pigtail League and in intramural “six on six” basketball games. Eventually, girls’ teams in softball, volleyball, and basketball were added to Torrington athletic program and Candy was a three-sport athlete by her senior year.
Candy pursued a degree in physical education at Southern Connecticut State College, which, at that time, was the premiere state college for women’s sports. She managed the nationally-ranked women’s basketball team where she got to observe such future coaching greats as Pat Summit, Jody Conradt and Vivian Stringer when their teams competed against the SCSC Owls. Candy also began officiating basketball and volleyball during her years at Southern. It was at Southern that professors encouraged “giving back” to your sports and providing opportunities for women.
After graduating from Southern in 1979, Candy accepted a teaching and coaching position at Canton High School. Her girls’ basketball teams qualified for the state tournament in six of eight years and, in 1982, the team advanced to the Class S finals. While at Canton, Candy started a girl’s summer program that included area schools to support growth in women’s basketball.
Candy became athletic director and boys’ basketball coach at Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, CT in 1989. She was the first female varsity boys’ basketball coach in Connecticut. Her Wamogo boys’ basketball teams qualified for the Class S four of six years and reached the Class S semi-finals in her final year. She was selected as the Class S All-Star Coach in 1995. While at Wamogo, Candy also coached middle school girls in basketball and softball.
As a new athletic director in the Berkshire League in 1989, she lobbied to have girls’ high school basketball games played at night so that more parents and community members could attend and girls’ basketball could be afforded the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Perez became the first full-time athletic director of Regional School District # 7 [Winsted] in 1999 where they were also a member of the Berkshire League. She expanded the interscholastic athletic programs and helped create yet another hall of fame while at the same time supporting and promoting girls in athletics in her school as well as the Berkshire League.
In 1991, Candy started the Northwest Basketball Camp where she taught game fundamentals to girls while providing leadership opportunities for women to coach and referee the game. In addition, Candy became the director of the Elks Girls Recreational Basketball League in Torrington in 1990. She still serves in that capacity and has worked with more than 800 girls and parents and coaches in the program over the past sixteen years.
In 2000, Candy Perez was inducted into the Torrington High School Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 2006, she was named Connecticut Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. In 2007, she received the Merit Award from the CIAC Girls’ Basketball Committee.