By Matt Williams
---- — Thought high school sports season was over? Think again.
The annual Agganis Classics, held in memory of the North Shore’s all-time greatest athlete, Harry Agganis, begin in Lynn this weekend, giving graduating North Shore senior-athletes a chance to play with their friends, teammates and rivals one last time before beginning the next chapter of their lives.
Agganis week kicks off Sunday with the annual awards banquet, which will honor each athlete. At Thursday’s Football Classic, Salem News sports reporter Matt Jenkins will receive the David C. Weidner Media Award, which since 1993 has been presented to a person who provides outstanding coverage of youth and amateur sports.
“To see some like Matt recognized by the Agganis Foundation is especially appropriate because he’s not a self-promoter. Matt never makes his stories about himself; he’s always focused on the student-athletes that he covers and writes about,” Salem News sports editor Phil Stacey said.
Jenkins, 36, has been with The News since the fall of 1998. His Lax Lowdown column on North Shore boys and girls lacrosse was one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts, and he has also become the leading expert on North Shore boys basketball. A graduate of Bishop Fenwick (Class of 1994) and St. Anselm College (1998), Jenkins lives in Peabody with his wife and two children.
“Matt has a great range as a writer. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball or even the occasional hockey game — he paints a compelling picture of the events he covers,” said Stacey. “Matt has a great ability to connect with the players, coaches and personalities he’s dealt with for the last 15 years, and I’m sure many of them are thrilled to see him receive this terrific honor.”
Jenkins joins Salem News sports writers Stacey (2006) and the recently retired Mike Grenier (2009) as recipients of the Weidner Award (named in memory of the former Lynn Item sportswriter who passed away at age 24).
The awards ceremony for players Sunday at Manning Field at 11 a.m is followed by the beginning of the Agganis Classics. The 16th annual Softball Classic will get the action started at 1 p.m. at Fraser Field in Lynn, followed by the 19th annual Baseball Classic at 3 p.m.
The 9th annual Basketball Classics will then be held Monday at Lynn Classical High School’s gym, with the women tipping off at 6 p.m. followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, the 2nd annual Lacrosse Classics will be played at Manning Field, with the women up first at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday, the 18th Soccer Classics are slated to be played with the women taking the pitch at Manning at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men’s contest at 7:30 p.m.
The main event is the 52nd annual Football Classic, played at Manning Field at 7 p.m. Thursday. The long-running tradition is one of the most prestigious high school all-star games in the Bay State and honors the memory of The Golden Greek, Harry Agganis.
The Football Classic will be preceded by the awarding of the Harold O. Zimman Foundation Award, the Paul F. Cavanaugh Award, the Dr. Elmo Benedetto Athletics Award and the Attorney Charles Demakis Heritage Award.
Once a national star in football and baseball at Boston University, Agganis turned down the Cleveland Browns to sign with the Boston Red Sox. In 1955, at the age of 26, he passed away. The Agganis Foundation has awarded scholarships to students from the North Shore/Boston area for decades.