Leaders in Lynnfield

Five town athletes demonstrated with charity and cheerfulness exactly what the words “giving back” mean — especially to a child who looks up to them.

Cooper Marengi, Anthony Murphy, Nick Kinnon, Harry Collins and Nate Drislane must have great mentors and role models because, to a man, they stepped up and showed compassion and good example to Chase Austin, a 6-year-old who, according to his grandmother, loves Lynnfield High School sports.

The five football captains gave Chase his own Lynnfield jersey. In a photograph, the high school athletes stand behind the boy with arms draped over each other’s shoulders. The picture speaks volumes about the classiness and maturity of young men who proved they know in their hearts what it means to be a mentor.

Chase’s grandmother, Lynda Austin, said Marengi went “… above and beyond” to be an example to Chase after meeting the boy in summer camp. Marengi didn’t simply provide a big-brother-type example to Chase, he turned to his peers and friends and mobilized them to help a boy who lost his mother and who needs a role model and an adult mentor.

Marengi displayed the humility that defines real leaders when he said, “I’ve always tried to be a good role model for my two younger brothers and having Chase look up to me makes me feel like I’ve done that correctly.”

Those are pretty powerful words coming from someone who has barely stepped across adulthood’s threshold. It is not surprising to learn Marengi is a team captain for Lynnfield or to find out he commands the respect and enjoys the friendship of his peers.

For every teenager who lands in the spotlight because of a bad decision, there are teens such as Marengi, Murphy, Kinnon, Collins, and Drislane and thousands of other teenagers like them who humbly and without any desire for praise and thanks take time out of busy lives to give of themselves to a stranger.

Lynda Austin said the attention the five showed her grandson and their obvious affection for the boy made Chase “…feel like part of the team.” When young people are given an opportunity to feel like they are valuable members of an endeavor bigger than themselves, the dividends paid from that experience reap benefits stretching over a lifetime.

Chances are good that Chase Austin will grow up and into a leadership role of his own definition on a playing field, a stage or some other venue where he will not only have the opportunity, but seek out the chance to mentor a younger person.

He might even pull his number 11 jersey out of a drawer many years from now and reflect on how five very special guys gave him the gift of a lifetime.

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