Classical seniors DiFilippo, Mendonca earn December Moynihan Honors

Classical's Carly Mendonca swims the 100 meter butterfly at a recent meet. (Spenser R. Hasak)

Dominant in the pool, on the ice and in the classroom, Classical’s Carly Mendonca and John DiFilippo have been named the Moynihan Lumber Student-Athletes of the Month for December.

The two seniors are among the best students in their senior class at Classical. Carly, a three-time Northeastern Conference all-star swimmer, is ranked 11th in her class of 392 students, while John, who recently surpassed 100 points in his varsity ice hockey career, sits at 14th.

“I think it’s pretty incredible to have two kids from the same school win an award as prestigious as this one,” said the 17-year-old Carly. “Two Lynn kids winning an award like this, I’d say it’s pretty amazing.”

“It’s really cool,” added John, “and shows we’ve got some great students at our school who work hard in the classroom and in athletics.”

Having been a swimmer since her mother, Patti, took her to the Peabody/Lynnfield YMCA for lessons when she was five, Carly has been a top finisher in all of her events this winter for the Rams. The two-year team captain holds four Classical girls swimming records and one overall record in addition to being the owner of two Lynn city all-time marks.

“Swimming is how I express myself. It keeps me in balance with my stress, my happiness, any way that I’m feeling on a certain day,” said Carly, a three-time Lynn City Female Swimmer of the Year. “I don’t worry about (competitors); it’s always me against the pool and bettering my times.”

She has already qualified for next month’s North Sectional tournament in four separate events — the 100 freestyle, 200 free, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke — and also earned qualifying times for mid-February’s state meet in three of those events. She’s choosing to focus on two of those: the 100 fly, where her best time is 59.93 seconds; and the 100 back, where she has a top time of 1 minute and 0.23 seconds.

“A lot of people choose freestyle, but backstroke and butterfly have been a big part of my life since I was little, and it’ll be nice to finish what I started in a way by doing it like this,” said Carly, who also swims competitively for the Malden YMCA Crocs. “I’d love to break one minute in the 100 back and hit 58 seconds in the 100 fly.”

Having garnered Northeastern Conference all-star honors for three years running, Carly has been the Lynn City Female Swimmer of the Year those same three seasons.

Classes such as AP Biology, AP Language and Composition, AP Calculus, AP Latin Vergil and AP Government and Politics are on Carly’s ultra-demanding course load.

The owner of a 4.31 grade point average, she recently had her interview at MIT and will do so at Harvard this coming weekend; among the other colleges she’s applied to are Northeastern, Holy Cross, Tufts, UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, Princeton and her top choice, Boston University.  

“I know that if I have any shot of what I want to do long-term in my life, then I have to push myself no matter what,” said Carly, who wants to study biology, with hopes of later studying pre-med and going into surgery.

John, an 18-year-old center for the Lynn Jets hockey team, is the center of a high powered offense. Heading into this past weekend’s action, he had a team-leading 27 goals and 39 total points. He moved to the pivot this winter and skates on a line with wingers Brian Clougherty and Andrew Patrie.  

“I played center growing up, so it was just a matter of getting used to playing the position again after playing wing the last few seasons,” he said. “As long as we’re scoring, I’m fine with it.”

He nabbed his 100th career point in a win over Cambridge in early January.

“It was pretty cool, a big milestone,” he admitted. “But I was also glad to get it out of the way so we could get back to focusing on winning games.”

The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder serves as a role model on and office the ice for his teammates. He serves as a conduit between his teammates and coaches and has both the experience and knowledge to make in-game changes as they occur.

For the month of December, John piled up more than three points per contest, scoring nine goals and dishing out 11 assists over six games. Earlier this month, he surpassed 100 points for his career.  

Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins’ alternate captain, serves as an inspiration to him.

“As a center you have to play well in all three zones, and he’s the best at it. If you can play like that, you’re doing pretty well,” said John.

Owner of a 3.94 grade point average, John takes English, Calculus, Marine Biology, Accounting and Psychology classes. He has applied to Merrimack, Endicott, Bentley and UMass Amherst and would like to study business while continuing his hockey career, likely at the club level.

“The secret (to good grades)? I’d say surround yourself with the right people and when it’s time to hit the books, do it,” said John, who gets a lot of his schoolwork done during study halls during the day. “Work hard every day, have fun, and you’ll get the most out of yourself.”

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