Peabody inducts 18 new Athletic Hall of Famers

Peabody, Ma. 11-23-18. back row left to right: Sean Hayes, Gary Hayward, Charlie Spurr, Eddie Leonard, Kyle Multner, Joclyn Sullivan, Jeff Connolly (for Willliam Connolly) Josh Rachman, Gary Palmieri, Patrick Conrad, and Mark Leonard. Front row left to right: Tracey Mckeen Palazzola, Michelle Grifoni, Heather Popp Sciamanna, Lauren Orlando LaTorella, Gary Ruddock, and Scott Wlasuk. (Owen O'Rourke)

PEABODY — Being inducted into a high school athletics Hall of Fame is something one remembers for life. And for 18 members of the Peabody High community, Friday night was the night to remember.

A class of 18 former Tanner greats were inducted into the Peabody High School Athletics Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Danversport Yacht Club. Of the 18 who were inducted, 16 were alive and present at the event to give speeches.

Among the inductees was Charles L. “Charlie Spurr,” Class of 1970. Spurr ran all year long for the Tanners in his high school career, running cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

“You might not be able to tell from looking at me now, but back in the day I was a skinny kid who ran all the time,” Spurr joked to open his induction speech. “And after I got hurt a bunch of times playing football freshman year, it was almost like someone was trying to tell me that running was the sport for me.”

Spurr set a number of records while running for the Tanners. He set the Peabody High school record in the 120-yard outdoor high hurdles (15.1 seconds) as well as Essex County records in the discus (145 feet, 1 1/2 inches) and the indoor high hurdles (5.9 seconds).

Another inductee was Scott M. Wlasuk, a three-sport athlete who played football, lacrosse and ran track. As a cornerback, Wlasuk recorded 80 tackles with four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He was also a member of the first state tournament-qualifying lacrosse team in Tanners history.

“This is truly a great accomplishment in my life,” Wlasuk said of the honor. “The night I received the induction letter, I thought it was someone else getting in who was looking for a recommendation. I was really beside myself when I realized it was me getting in.”

After an all-star career in lacrosse and football at Peabody High, Wlasuk graduated and moved on to play both sports at Wesleyan University (four-year starter in lacrosse, three-year starter in football). He also went on to coach football at Peabody High for many years. He is a 30-year member of the Peabody Police Department, rising to the rank of captain.

And then there was current Peabody High boys hockey coach Mark Leonard, who was a three-sport standout in hockey, soccer and baseball. A captain of both the hockey and soccer teams, Leonard led the Greater Boston League in scoring twice and earned all-star honors in both sports. He was a two-time North Shore Hockey Player of the Year and a league MVP in soccer.

“So many things I learned in my high school days I still try to instill in the kids I coach,” said Leonard. “I’m such a lucky guy to be able to coach where I played and have my kids go to school and play where I did.”

Following his days at Peabody High, Leonard played four years at the University of Connecticut. He scored the most points ever for a UConn freshman and made the All-Rookie team, eventually moving on to play professional hockey in Europe. Upon his retirement from playing, Leonard became the Tanners boys hockey coach in 1995 and has won 227 games in his career.

Other inductees included Patrick J. Conrad, Class of 1980 (baseball), Sean M. Hayes, Class of 1982 (football, hockey, lacrosse), Josh Rachman, Class of 1994 (football, lacrosse), Tracy Ellen (McKeen) Palazzola, Class of 1997 (basketball, soccer), Gary A. Palmieri, Class of 2002 (baseball, football, hockey), Joclyn (Costa) Sullivan Class of 2004 (field hockey, swimming, lacrosse), Lauren A. (Orlando) LaTorella, Class of 2005 (basketball, volleyball), Heather (Popp) Sciamanna, Class of 2005 (lacrosse), Edward T. “Eddie) Leonard, Class of 2007 (football, basketball, lacrosse), Kyle Multner, Class of 2007 (baseball) and Michelle Renee Grifioni, Class of 2008 (volleyball, basketball, softball).

The two deceased inductees who were honored were William A. Connolly, Class of 1950, and Paul Tengberg, Class of 1974. Connolly was a standout three-sport athlete, starring in football, ice hockey and baseball. He was an all-star in all three sports, and he eventually went on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Tengberg was a captain of the 1973 football team that went undefeated and was named an Agganis All-Star as well as a Boston Globe All-Scholastic selection in his time with the Tanners.

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