DANVERS – Andy Metropolis didn’t find out until Thanksgiving that he was going to be inducted into the Peabody High Athletic Hall of Fame as the official historian. Metropolis, an avid sports fan and history buff who taught at PVMHS for 36 years, is writing a book on the history of football in Peabody.
He began delving into sports history in 1984 and was instrumental in bringing the Vietnam Memorial “Moving Wall” to the high school. He was one of the founding members of the Hall of Fame and took part in 10 inductions.
“I am deeply honored,” said Metropolis, who graduated in 1965. “It’s lucky I’m going in as the historian because I certainly couldn’t run. This is a very nice group and many of my former students are being inducted which makes it special.”
Frank Candela, class of 1997, was known as “Flash” because of his blinding speed on the gridiron where he scored 64 touchdowns and rushed for over 4,000 yards in two seasons playing for Revere and his final two as a Tanner. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and after suffering hamstring problems was recruited by Pete Carroll at USC.
“I’m living in California, near San Francisco and working as strength and conditioning coach at Campolindo High School in Moraga,” said Candela. “It’s been a long while since I’ve been back to Peabody and I am honored to be here.
“Back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s Peabody football had a great tradition and I hope the program is able to come back to that level. Coach “Niz” (Ed Nizwantowski) created team chemistry, leadership, and all those intangibles that lead to winning.”
Tony Ferreira (’70) was a two way tackle on one of Peabody’s best teams, the 1969 undefeated state champs. He broke records in the shot put in both indoor and outdoor track. He credits coaches Art Adamopoulos (football) and George Smyrnios (track) for having a big influence in his life.
“I was caught by surprise when I got the call,” said Ferreira, who lives in Derry, NH. “There were a lot of great players on that ‘69 team. We won because of teamwork and camaraderie.”
Jimmy May, class of ‘91, created havoc on the football field and led his 11-0 Super Bowl champion team with 19 sacks. He was equally solid as a standout defenseman in lacrosse.
“I feel very humble to be here tonight,” said May, who now lives in Branford, Ct. where he is a mailman and has been the head lacrosse coach for 18 years.
Mike Ring (’94) also makes his home in Connecticut. As goalie on the soccer team, Ring posted 21 shutouts for the Tanners. He had a 9-2 record with a 0.96 goals against average at UMass Dartmouth where he also continued his tennis career.
“I was totally surprised when I got the phone call,” he said. “I didn’t know if somebody was playing a prank on me. “I was on some very good teams in high school. I used to play on club teams around New York City, but now I just play in the backyard with my son Nickolas.”
Phil Mitchell (’78) was one of the best baseball players to ever take the mound for Peabody High. Captain and MVP in his senior year, “Mitch” led the team to a 15-4 record and to the Division 1 semi-finals with both his arm and his hot bat. At Westfield State he was 11-2.
“This is a very special night for me, and I am very excited about going in with so many fine athletes,” said Mitchell, who still lives in Peabody and owns Champions Pub. “I played on a very talented team my senior year, and I feel I am representing all of them tonight.”
Monique McHenry Drumheller (1993) led the girls basketball team in rebounds and blocked shots from 1991-’93. A two-time captain, McHenry helped her team to a pair of league championships.
“Tonight’s bitter-sweet for me,” said McHenry. “I’m being inducted one Hall of Fame away from my Mom (Terry, who passed away in 2010) being here to see it. She was always my biggest supporter, and I wish she could be here. I do get to share this moment with my children, who can’t believe their mother was an athlete.”
Kerry Newhall Heath (’94) was a three-sport captain in soccer, basketball, and track. She was undefeated in the javelin for three years, and continued to excel at Connecticut College as D-III and ECAC javelin champion.
“It’s quite an honor to be with so many distinguished people,” said Newhall, who now lives in Salem and teaches in the Concord school system. “I used to coach soccer, basketball, and track, but now that I’m a department head and I can’t do it anymore.”
Kevin Bettencourt, Amy Nizwantowski, and Helder Braz joined other family members already in the hall. Bettencourt (2002) is the Tanners all time leading scorer in boys basketball with 1,810 points and a single game high of 46. He went on to have a great career at Bucknell as a two time captain.
“This is the third time I’ve been to a Peabody Hall of Fame banquet,” said Bettencourt, who has been an assistant basketball coach at Bentley for five years. “I came for my uncle David and sister Julie. I had to miss my brother Ted’s when I was away at college.”
Amy Nizwantowski joins her father Ed. A natural athlete, she was a field hockey and lacrosse star. Former lacrosse coach Dan Hayes said she is the first female lacrosse player to be inducted, but it was in field hockey where she is most remembered as a high scoring MVP.
“This is a great group to be part of,” said Nizwantowski, who now works in New York City. “I’m humbled and honored. The only sport I’m playing now is two-hand touch coed football.”
Helder Braz (1982) joins siblings Fernando and Gina in the Hall. All were outstanding runners. His coach George Smyrnios called him one of the best cross country runners ever for the Tanners. He went on to earn All New England, All East and All American honors at UMass-Dartmouth.
Athletic trainer (1992-2000) Molly Foster was inducted as a contributor, who gained the respect of coaches and athletes alike. She is now a physical education teacher in Peabody and a commissioner of the Peabody Parks and Recreation Committee.
Sherri Cove Zerfoss was a member of the 1985 state champion basketball team. She was also captain of the softball team and GBL scoring leader in field hockey. She was named Female Athlete of the Year at Eastern Nazarene College and still lives in Peabody.
Chuck Tobey (1972) was a football, track, and basketball standout. He was a starter on the ‘69 undfeated state champion team as a sophomore (two way tackle), who went on to start 40 consecutive games for Bridgewater State. As athletic director at Gulliver Schools in Miami he also coached football and track.
Rich Kiley (1973) was a three sport athlete in football, track, and basketball. He was best known as a versatile football player, who helped the team in several capacities. He currently resides in Peabody with his family.
Matt Funchion (1974) was a hard nosed Tanner lineman, who also played baseball and ran track. He went to Boston College on a football scholarship, but his career ended early because of a neck injury. He now lives in Philadelphia and is president of Penn Beer Distributors.
Ted Grevelis (’83) still holds the school record in the 50 meter high hurdles, and also starred on the football field. His track team won the state indoor meet, Division 1, and Mass Relays. He lives in Minnesota now.
Jonathan Harris (’86) was a superb swimmer who scored over 100 points in all four seasons he competed and set 18 records. He continued his swimming career at the University of Pennsylvania, and now lives in California.
Bill Elwell (’76) was an outstanding golfer and two time captain, who continues to play the game at a high level. He has won several golf tournaments, including for club championships at the Beverly Golf and Tennis Club. He still lives in Peabody.
Three deceased athletes were also inducted. Herbert “Hubby” Lawrence (1920) was a football and baseball player, who later played semi-pro football and baseball. William Crean (’21) was a star QB on the undefeated football team that won the North Shore League and lost to Charleston, South Carolina in a playoff game. He received a baseball scholarship to BC where he also played football.
Andy Thain (’49) was a Peabody Police Captain, who coached junior high football at both Kennedy and Higgins. He was a three sport star in high school in basketball, football, and baseball. He got a football scholarship to BU and later transferred to Boston State College.