June 18, 2017
ITEM FILE PHOTO
Jim Foley has been the director of the Agganis girls soccer game for a number of years.
By STEVE KRAUSE
LYNN — The Agganis all-star games that will begin Sunday cannot go off without the help of a myriad of coaches and volunteers who make sure they’re available to give graduating seniors a last hurrah worth remembering.
One of those coaches is Jim Foley, the girls soccer coach at St. Mary’s, who has, for the better part of the past decade, served as director of the girls game for Agganis week.
“I don’t really know how long,” he said, when asked, “but I’m happy to help the foundation because of the good work they do in the community, the scholarships the fund for the kids. That’s kind of what drew me to it in the first place.”
But Foley, who is also a teacher at Pickering Middle School, has another reason for being an advocate for the Agganis games: it presents, perhaps, a different picture of Lynn than most people see.
“It’s a great way for kids to showcase their skills,” he said. “For a lot of these kids, it’s the last time they’ll ever be playing their sports in this type of environment. Some of them will go to college and play, but for many this is it.
“Also,” he said, “These games are well-attended by people from other cities and towns. It gives people a chance to see Fraser Field, and Manning, and to see what the city’s about.
“Sometimes,” he said, “the city gets a bad rap. So this is a good chance for people to see these facilities and to bring that whole piece together.”
In many sports, soccer being one, boys and girls make friends at an early age through various youth programs, and that’s especially true in Lynn. However, unlike other communities, these players will scatter to at least four different high schools. So, said Foley, he tries to keep the Lynn kids together (or at least Classical and English players) so they can be teammates again.
“A lot of these kids are friends,” Foley said, “and the Agganis game is nice for that reason, among others. The game gives kids a chance to play together again.”
As game chairman for girls soccer, Foley goes over the names the coaches have nominated and puts the teams together with games chairman Paul Halloran.
Next year will be Foley’s 19th at St. Mary’s, and his goals for the Spartan players mirror the ones the Agganis Foundation lives by, he said.
“I enjoy watching the players grow through the years, and see them mature into student-athletes,” he said. “I enjoy the camaraderie too. It can be stressful at times, but seeing the girls get become better people, that’s my goal.
“I want to see them go to college and become good citizens,” he said.
Although the Spartans have never won a state title in Foley’s tenure as coach, they did win the Division 4 North championship two years ago and that has been his biggest thrill on the field.
“But even then,” he said, “my highlights are the fact that we’re competitive in our league, and on the North Shore, and interacting in the community. Winning a state would be great, but I’m happy if my players improve year to year and learn that the most important factor in getting into a good college is academics.”