SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 12, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: Dunn and Damon will be back at Mile 6 on Marathon Monday

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Barbara Damon and Joe Dunn are an inspirational team. Every year since 1979 they have manned a water station for the Boston Marathon — and that’s where they will be on April 21 along with their bunch of volunteers.

Both Damon, former field hockey and softball coach at Danvers High, and Dunn, the assistant director of fitness and recreation at Salem State, are SSU graduates. Dunn is also the Vikings’ women’s tennis coach, and for the past 18 years he has organized the university’s North Shore Fitness 5K Road Race and Wellness Fair.

“I first met Barbara in 1978 when she was executive director and I was the fitness director at the North Suburban YMCA in Woburn,” said Dunn.

“This marathon will mark 36 years for us. I bring around 20 Salem State students and Barbara comes with 40, including a lot of Danvers High softball players. We’re out in Framingham now at Mile 6, but for the first five years were at the 13.1 mile mark, the halfway point in Wellesley.”

“I’ve always believed in volunteering. It’s the way I was brought up,” continued Dunn, a Salem native and 1978 Salem State graduate.

Dunn said he ran Boston once (1990) and that was enough, but got hooked on helping other runners during the race.

“The runners really appreciate what you do,” he said. “They might need water, Gatorade or a short break with a helping hand. There are more than 15,000 runners going by you, so we’re all very busy.

“Some people drop a jacket off for us to take care of; they get to know us.”

Dunn finished up and headed for home last year not realizing the horrific events that occurred in the bombing near the finish line.

“The first thing I did when I got home was turn on the television to watch the race, but instead saw all the devastation. It was almost like 9/11 all over again,” he said. “I started texting everybody I knew that was running to see if they were OK, then started getting messages from people concerned about me. Everybody showed how much they cared on that awful day.”

Dunn, who auctioned off his marathon jacket (raising $250 for the One Fund), captained the Salem State tennis team and then took over coaching when his old coach Grant Longley retired.

“Tennis is my passion, and I’m still good friends with the guys on my college team. We get together to play in the summertime,” he said

There are times when Dunn has thought about retiring from his duties at Mile 6, but said can’t leave his old friend Damon.

He also noted this year’s North Shore Fitness 5K Road Race and Wellness Fair will be held Sunday, April 27, with proceeds going to Lifebridge and the North East Animal Shelter.

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The Peabody High girls junior varsity basketball team had a perfect 17-0 season this past winter, and most of the games weren’t even close. Coach Diane Broughton was thrilled to beat Revere not once but twice.

“The first Revere game was close early on, and I was so happy we won because one of my former players, Tracey McKeen, is the JV coach there. Tracey played for me when I was the (Peabody High) head coach for four years, and since she’s been coaching at Revere she’d beaten me four times.

“This group got better with every game. I subbed five in, five out, and they were all pretty equal in ability. No matter who I put in they got the job done.”

Currently recovering from knee surgery, Broughton said her team didn’t have a lot of height but were quick, aggressive and very good shooters. “We had strong rebounders in Marina DeMild and Megan White and great outside shooters in Katie Wallace, Taylor Colella and Lizzie Godschall,” said Broughton.

Emma Rigol, Christa Baker, Courtney Nadeau, Amanda Bradley, Ashley Jenkins, Hannah Pellizzaro, Rachael Margossion and Chinenye Onwuogo all contributed to the undefeated season.

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The dates have been set for Captains Football Weekend at St. John’s Prep: Friday, Oct. 17 and Saturday, Oct. 18 (which also happens to be Homecoming Weekend). The Prep will host B.C. High that Saturday. George Gagnan is heading up the committee and hopes to have 100 former Eagle captains there for the re-dedication of Arthur Cronin Memorial Stadium, which is named for one of his former teammates.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.