-By Kevin E. Kelly
“Townies” drafted by the Pros
1962 Boston Celtics (NBA) – Chuck Chevalier, Boston College; 1971 Dallas Cowboys (NFL) – John Brennan, Boston College; 1973 Vancouver Canucks (NHL) – Paul O’Neil, Boston University; 1976 California Golden Seals (NHL) – Mike Fidler, Boston University; 1977 Chicago Black Hawks (NHL) – Jack O’Callahan, Boston University; 1979 Winnipeg Jets (NHL) – Bill Whelton, Boston University; 1981 Oakland Raiders (NFL) – Howie Long, Villanova; 1984 St. Louis Blues (NHL) – Jim Vesey, Merrimac College.
The “Ellen” Show
No, I’m not talking about the “Ellen” television program where maybe someday the multi-talented Dennis Taylor, or even Amy Flanagan, will get an opportunity to appear. But I digress.
Through the years, there have been many sensational “Townie” women’s basketball players. Leading the way is former Charlestown High School superstar Patty Suprey, who in addition to being the first-ever female 1,000-point scorer in the City of Boston, was also inducted into the University of Massachusetts-Boston Hall of Fame. Corey Gallagher is at the top of the list as well. The erstwhile Matignon High School Hall-of-Famer is also a 1,000-point scorer and was a standout power forward for perennial power Bentley College. Record-setting 3-point shooter Nicole Matson, another 1,000-point scorer, has her name hanging on a banner inside the Charlestown High School gymnasium, and Maureen Kelly Dagle (Pope John XXIII High School Hall of Fame), Sharon Fidler (Christopher Columbus High School MVP) and Alice Kelly Houlihan (first-ever female Scholar Athlete in Pope John XXIII High School history) have each made their mark on the basketball court. I would also add the names of former BNBL/CYO standouts Debbie Greteroux, Janet “Twinkle” Woods Sullivan, Ann Marie Vesey, Ruthann Gorman, Michelle Barrett Junta, Patty Kelly Kelley and Debbie Fitzgerald to the list of local “hoop” legends.
When it comes to piling up the stats, however, a player who enjoyed an extraordinary career is Suffolk University Hall-of-Famer Ellen Crotty Pistorino. She played basketball and softball all four years, serving as captain of each sport her last three seasons, and selected as MVP of each sport her final two years. In her junior season, Ellen led the basketball team in scoring (20.4) and rebounding (9.2), which included a 45-point, 18-rebound performance in a 79–73 victory over Emerson College (still a Suffolk University single-game record). During her senior year, Ellen ranked second nationally in Division III scoring (24.3) and rebounding (11.6) and was named a New England All Star. In addition, she is third on the all-time leading scorer list at Suffolk University with 1,346 points.
Could I have this dance?
Charlestown resident Tyler Goldman and his dancing partner Sophia Latessa, of Brookline, became the first-ever Americans to win the World Dance Council Amateur Championship. This year the contest was held in Paris, France, and the young pair beat out 39 other couples in the Under-12 Latin Championship division.
Goldman, age 11, has been a Latin ballroom dance competitor for the past two years and in November, he and Latessa, age 10, appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” after having returned from the London International Ballroom Dance Festival, where they placed 6th.
Never has there been so much talent
Back in the 1960’s, with the advent of the Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins (they had yet to win a Stanley Cup), the Milt Schmidt Youth Hockey program at the Emmons-Horrigan-O’Neil skating rink was the place to be for any “Bruin wannabe.” It was before the rink became enclosed and where having a pair of “Johnny Bauer’s” or “Supreme’s,” and a cup of hot chocolate, meant everything.
Realizing that playing ice hockey would dramatically increase my “street cred,” I pestered my dad into signing me up for the Milt Schmidt program. He eventually relented and sent me off to my Uncle Bernie for some equipment procurement and sage hockey advice. Uncle Bernie had a cellar filled with gear and he gladly went about the business of “suiting me up.” Much to my dismay, the only pants and shirt he had that fit me were pink (I’m not kidding). Rather than delve into why my Uncle Bernie had a pink hockey uniform to begin with, I accepted his generous offer of a Northland stick but politely declined the pants and shirt and, again, pestered my father to assist me in getting a non-pink uniform.
My dad and I returned home from the Morgan Memorial outlet with a set of rusty skates, which I later had sharpened, and a pair of black hockey pants with a matching shirt. I was now ready to begin my hockey career. After suiting up for the “Wings,” it didn’t take long for me to realize that the Milt Schmidt program had an inordinate amount of extraordinary hockey players, and that I may have been the only “Townie” not born with skates on.
I spent my first year in the program watching players whizz by me. Eventually, I blended in and developed an admiration for the camaraderie, talent and ease-of-effort displayed by both teammates and opponents alike. The best players were easy to pick out because they usually wore their “elite team” socks with the cool stripes, and it also seemed like there was an endless supply of Morrissey brothers to replenish the talent pool.
With the help of my coaches, Mr. Clifford and Mr. Keough, I evolved into a first-line defenseman. One of the first lessons I learned was that whenever a fleet-skating center, such as the “Habs” Bobby Chisholm or the “Bruins” Johnny Sodergren, came bearing down on me, to just stick out my stick and trip them. If I didn’t, they would do a dipsy-doodle, stick-handling maneuver that would contort me into a pretzel and I’d fall on my butt as they’d traipse around me toward the net. In the instances where I was called for a penalty shot, I would skate back to goalie Mark Hennessey and apologize for the puck that was soon to be deposited into the net.
I even still have the tie clip (with the miniature hockey skate) that Boston Bruins legend Milt Schmidt presented to each “Wings” and “Leaf” player after the 1969 championship game. It was to be my last game ever on the ice as I was involuntarily guided by my dad into a basketball officiating apprenticeship.
Although I knew the skill level that many of the Milt Schmidt players possessed was something very, very special, little did I realize that such a vast number of them would go on to become some of the most prolific high school and college hockey stars in Massachusetts history.
Looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed participating in such a great program with so many wonderful players and often reminisce with my friends about what an honor and privilege it was to have done so.
Help keep me in the “loop”
If you know of a Charlestown youngster who is participating in a sport or recreational activity (elementary school, high school, college, or otherwise), please E-Mail me at [email protected] with the information and/or photographs and I will be sure to include them in a column. I’d also love to hear about any honor roll students or scholar athletes, or just about any story which would recognize past and present “Townies” and their accomplishments.