By Phil Stacey
---- — Seven of Beverly’s great athletes from the past and one state championship team have been chosen for induction into the Beverly High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Michael P. Cahill, Scott Gambale, Roger LeBlanc Jr., Justin M. Shairs, Claudette Tache Turner, Robert Tilton and Dick Young will all be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, as will the members of the 1949 state champion BHS golf team.
The Class of 2013 will be honored on Saturday, March 16 at Danversports Yacht Club.
Cahill, a 1979 Beverly High graduate, was known for his soccer ability and was a Northeastern Conference all-star on the pitch. He was named tri-captain during his time with the Panthers and went on to play at Middlebury College before returning to coach his alma mater to great success. Cahill also played four years of varsity hockey and reached the Boston Garden with his team during the state tournament his sophomore year.
Gambale (Class of 2002) was a three-sport captain in football, basketball and baseball. He became the football team’s starting quarterback four days before the season opener despite never having played the position before and went on to have a strong campaign, including a win over arch rival Salem on Thanksgiving Day in which he completed 6 of 7 passes for 103 yards. For his efforts, he was awarded the Jason Aucone Memorial Award. A shooting guard and point guard for the basketball team, he averaged a dozen points before moving on to baseball, where he played shortstop, first base, catcher and pitched. He hit .393 with 16 RBI and a .646 on-base percentage as a senior and played in both the Agganis football and baseball All-Star Games. He currently coaches freshman basketball at BHS.
LeBlanc is Beverly’s all-time leading scorer in hockey with 86 goals, 86 assists and 172 points. The Class of 1999 graduate was a four-year letterman, three-time Northeastern Conference all-star, two-time All-NEC selection and was co-MVP of the conference as a senior. He led Beverly to its first hockey tournament appearance in eight years as a junior, then scored the game-winning goal with 26 seconds remaining to give the Panthers a thrilling 6-5 win over Methuen in the playoffs as a senior. He was also a team captain in 1999. LeBlanc also played baseball, where he was a dominant pitcher and powerful cleanup hitter over three varsity seasons.
Also a member of the Class of 1999, Shairs was an all-star in three separate sports: football, hockey and lacrosse. An NEC All-Conference player twice in football, he captained the 1998 team to a 9-1 record, including a win over Salem in the 100th playing of ‘The Game’, and rushed for 15 touchdowns while scoring 10. A four-year varsity hockey performer, he is the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer (48 goals, 73 assists, 121 points) and was a two-time captain. He received the Herbert A. Colby Award for determination and dedication to the team, and is currently a varsity assistant for the BHS hockey team. In lacrosse, Shairs was both All-Scholastic and All-Conference his junior and senior years and is among the school’s all-time leading scorers.
Tache Turner (Class of 1957) was a force on the basketball court, scoring 223 points in just 10 games during the 1956-57 season. Her average of 22.3 points per game is believed to be the highest in BHS girls basketball history. The team captain scored a then-record 37 points in one game and hit the winning basket to cap Beverly’s only unbeaten girls basketball season in 1955-56. An Essex County all-star her final two seasons of high school, she regularly scrimmaged with boys to improve her skills and was voted ‘Best Female Athlete’ for her graduating class.
Tilton was one of Beverly’s best-ever swimmers, graduating in 1986. The owner of several school and NEC records, the three-time captain set marks in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.43) and 100 freestyle (52.14) while helping the Panthers win three straight conference championships in the pool. A two-time Salem News all-star, he made a remarkable recovery from spinal meningitis to lead the school to NEC crowns in 1985 and ‘86. He went on to swim at UMass Amherst for four years.
Young, a 1963 Beverly High graduate, is being honored for his meritorious service. His involvement started with the ‘Sports Club’, which became the Beverly Football Boosters Club, where Young served as director, treasurer and president. He organized many banquets for BHS teams, was a volunteer equipment manager for all teams, a volunteer timekeeper for basketball and a member of the BHS Sports Hall of Fame. He was also a football lineman in the early 1960s for teams that went a combined 25-2 and captured the prestigious Bucci Award as a senior.
The 1949 Beverly High golf team won the state championship on June 10 of that year, defeating the defending titlists from North Quincy, 6-3, to end their 33-match winning streak. Beverly had 16 straight wins in becoming the school’s second-ever state champions. Paul Kelley, John Duran, Jim Gillis, BHS Hall of Famer Ron Kirby and team co-captains Jim Buckley and Bill Palm led the way to victory under the direction of head coach Bob Brown. The team members all grew up together caddying and developing their golf skills at the old United Shoe Golf Club in the Garden City.