ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Matt Lauria, standing, kidding around with Liam Reddy, sitting, before the start of the captains’ lunch at the Porthole Restaurant in Lynn.
By STEVE KRAUSE
Thanksgivings come and go. The years roll by. People who were movers and shakers of their day step aside for varying reasons, and new people come along to carry the ball.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be. And that’s the way Dick Ruth, former Lynn Classical athletic director, hope it stays.
“This is why we have events like (Tuesday’s captains’ luncheon) every year,” said Ruth. “It’s important for kids to see that the adults in their communities care about them.”
Ruth took over this year as the director of the luncheon, which is hosted by the Lynn Lions and Lynn Rotary clubs.
Within the past year, Ruth became a rotarian, something he could never do as a teacher and administrator. But when the rotary club instituted a satellite organization that met at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays, Ruth was there. And when his good friend Jim Harris gave up the reins of the captains’ luncheon, Ruth was glad to take it over.
“You do this in hopes that the kids see it and understand that when they get older, it’ll be them running these functions for the next generation of kids.”
This has always been a central theme of the Agganis Foundation — to make kids aware that in the grand scheme of things, very significant and prominent adults served them, and that they will be expected to do the same when they get older.
If you looked around the room at the Porthole Tuesday, you saw evidence of this. All four Lynn football coaches were once captains of their teams. Three of them — James Runner (Tech), Matt Durgin (St. Mary’s) and Tim Phelps (Classical) — were at Classical while Chris Carroll is coaching at his alma mater, Lynn English. Athletic directors Bill Devin, Dick Newton and Joe Skeadas are now administering at their alma maters, Classical, English and Tech respectively.
Joan Wiendczak is now coaching the Classical cheerleaders, and will tell you gladly that she can still wear the same uniform she wore 45 years ago when she was a senior at the school.
All around that room were products of Lynn schools. State Rep. Brendan Crighton played football for Durgin at Classical. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is a Classical graduate. School Superintendent Catherine Latham went to English.
Dave Solimine, who, at 80, may be the the standard bearer for Lynn philanthropy, graduated from Classical in 1953.
As Ruth said, there’s a lot out there to influence teenage boys and girls to go down the wrong path. The presence of adults in their lives, especially in times of crisis, can make all the difference in the world.
“Lots of times,” he said, “a kid will have a problem and the first person he’ll go to is a coach. Coaches and administrators see kids on different levels than teachers sometimes.”
So that’s why events such as Tuesday’s luncheon are so important. There’s nothing worse to young people than the feeling that they’re not being supported.
And there’s nothing better than when they are.
And since we’re talking about the presence of adults in the lives of the next generation, let us pause here and extend our gratitude to Matt Williams of Riverworks Credit Union; Adam Sherman of Brotherhood; and Dave Surface of St. Jean’s.
These are the people who sponsored the dinner — something they have been doing for more than a decade. So I’m sure I speak for all of the athletes, cheerleaders and band members for whom the luncheon was given. And for the adults, such as myself, who also had the opportunity to eat.
Thanks, too, to the folks at the Porthole for providing the venue.
Wiendczak said that little has changed from when she was a cheerleader in high school. She began coaching the football cheerleaders this year, and was struck by the similarities and the rituals.
“On Thanksgiving, when I cheered, we’d go to an early-morning blessing at Sacred Heart Church (by Msgr. Francis J. McDonnell, the longtime pastor at the church), and then to a pancake breakfast with the team.”
That didn’t seem like the most nutritious breakfast for a bunch of kids who were going to be running, hitting each other, or jumping around.
“It was OK,” she said. “We didn’t care.”
Wiendczak was looking forward to the Classical rally today, where she was going to put that 1972 uniform on.
In case anyone was wondering, Wiendczak works at this.
“I go the gym almost every day,” said the physical education teacher. “I work out all the time.”
The roster of students included: From St. Mary’s: coach Durgin, Marcus Atkins, Abraham Toe, Nic Colucitti, Anthony DelVecchio, Joey Silvestri, Brendon Donahue, Fred Blaise, Cam Sakowich, Liam Reddy; cheerleader coach Steffany Mihos, captain Jenn Watson, and Frs. Brian Flynn and Huan “Dominic” Ngo.
Tech’s contingent included coach Runner, cheerleading coaches Colleen Richards and Kim Kielty, cheerleading captains Malvelis Hernandez, Brianna Reynoso, Ivonne Ortiz and Makayla Anaya; and football captains Mike Brown, Brandon Lewis, Juan Vasquez and Adonias Ramirez.
Classical’s coaches and students included football coach Phelps, Wiendczak, football captains Matt Lauria and Marcus Rivera; and cheerleading captains Anna Marie Alukonis and Julianna McKanas.
The English group included football coach Carroll, football captains Jon Kosmas, Frank Perry and Chris Gomez; and cheerleading captains Kayla Reynolds and Kylie Moorehouse.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and don’t eat too much. And as Dr. Latham said at Tuesday’s luncheon: “It’s easy to be graceful when you win; it’s tougher when you don’t win.” Please, if you win, heed her words. And if you don’t, please do your best to be graceful and, as she said, “don’t spoil your family’s dinner.”