It took some 25 years for Charlestown High and Boston Public Schools (BPS) to officially recognize the Town’s Patty Suprey as the first female basketball player to score 1,000 points, hoisting the traditional banner in the school gym in 2005 after a charity basketball game.
It only took about two years for the school to misplace the banner during a renovation and, once again, forget the historic achievement, but according to BPS that could change very soon as the banner has been located recently and will be re-hung with 23 others that were found.
For the longest time, Suprey said she has no idea what happened to the banner other than she was told it had been taken down to renovate the gym and then misplaced – or never put back up again. As it is, no one was sure where the banner was for years, and she had been offered a smaller version some years ago – but wanted to see her original banner put back in place.
“Girls sports are up and coming,” she said. “Maybe one little girl might be able to look up at that banner and see that if someone from Charlestown High can do that, then maybe she can, or that anything is possible. I would like to see them put it back up, but at the end of the day, back then in 1980, I had the support of the Town, my teammates, my family and our friends. That’s what was and is important to me. It’s a reflection on my family to see it up there – my late parents especially and my coaches and teammates. Even though we’re a small Town, I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The Town came out that night and supported me. It was a reflection on who I was, where I was and how I was brought up.”
BPS said on Wednesday they had recently found the banner, along with 23 others, that had been taken down in 2005 for a renovation. Now, it’s only a matter of getting a crew to come re-hang them or to coordinate some event after COVID restrictions are lifted.
“We are working on this,” said Paige Lemieux, athletic director at Charlestown High. “We have her banner and actually all 23 banners that went missing after the 2005 remodel, but we just need BPS to come and hang them up for us.”
A BPS spokesperson said they were amenable to having a crew come re-hang Suprey’s banner at an appropriate time for everyone.
For Suprey, the banner is potentially and inspiration to a lot of young people who might think they cannot accomplish the same thing. However, it’s also a reminder of what she accomplished, and having it up at the gym with the other banners makes her feel the accomplishment isn’t forgotten or swept under the rug.
For her, it brings back a flood of memories from those days.
She recalls being able to play with her sisters, Paula and Peggy, and said on the night she scored her 1,000th point – Jan. 30, 1980 – it was her sisters that were the first to greet her.
“I loved being on the same court and playing with my sisters,” she said. “Whether I scored one point or 1,000 points, just being able to be on the same court with my sisters was probably my happiest or proudest moment…Peggy ran over and hugged me with tears in her eyes even before the ball went through the net the night I scored the 1,000th point.”
There are also the memories of her late mother and father. She said her parents were her inspiration and they made it to every game. Her father was pretty vocal in the stands, so she said she still hears his voice calling out from the bleachers while she played. Even when she went on to Boston State and played there for two years in college, her father still found a way to work around his schedule as a police officer and make every game.
She said she still remembers one game at Boston State where she was going for a layup and instead made a creative pass – knowing he would comment from above.
“I turned back around and threw the ball back and kept running down this hallway behind the basket,” said Suprey. “I stood there like, wait for it, then came, ‘Jesus Christ Patty Ann!’ There it was. We all laughed at it, even my teammates began to expect it.”
It even harkens back to her own idol, Larry Bird, who she gravitated to as a player for the Celtics – and who was famous for saying players should just play the game.
Nowadays, Suprey is trying to recover from a work-related injury suffered at the MWRA facility on Deer Island more than three years ago. Working for Buildings and Grounds, she was striving to become the first female supervisor there, but tripped on a piece of metal while cleaning the tanks. She suffered broken ribs, nerve damage, a hand injury and just had a shoulder operation. It’s been a long battle to get back.
“My supervisor, Mike McCarthy – we call him M&M – he said he would take 10 of me and hopes I can come back,” she said. “I want to get back and I want to work.”
Meanwhile, she was elated to hear the news of her banner being relocated and being placed back in its place very soon.
“I’m ecstatic,” she said Wednesday morning. “We should have a big Townie day when we can and re-hang them – not just for me but all the others too. It think it would be just a really great thing.”