By Matt Williams
---- — SALEM — Masconomet Regional High School senior Dylan Mann actually hopes to be riding an ambulance this summer, possibly as an emergency medical technician.
One thing is for sure: that ambulance will have a leader, and a winner, in its fold.
Mann was named the 51st winner of the Salem News Student-Athlete Award at the annual banquet at Finz in Salem last night. The football and lacrosse standout best embodied all the qualities in athletics, in the classroom, and in the community that the judges felt summed up student-athletes.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Mann said afterward. “It makes you feel pretty good because you can see hard work paying off.”
Founded in 1962, the Salem News Student-Athlete Award brings together nominees chosen by administrators at 14 area high schools. Those candidates are profiled in the News and were interviewed by a panel of judges (Salem News sports editor Phil Stacey, Lorin Buksa, a career counselor at North Shore Community College; Julie Livingston, president of Marblehead Bank; Michael Dellisola, claims examiner for Energi Insurance Services in Peabody; and Bob Hanson, assistant vice president for commercial banking at Salem Five Bank) yesterday.
This year’s class — Mann, Beverly’s Brendan Flaherty, Bishop Fenwick’s Bryan Mendes, Danvers’ Duncan d’Hemecourt, Essex Aggie/North Shore Tech’s Julianna DeGenova, Hamilton-Wenham’s Andrew Klobucher, Ipswich’s Sarah Keiran, Manchester Essex’s Carolyn Heslop, Marblehead’s Ian Maag, Peabody’s Catarina Rocha, Pingree’s Hossam Hamdan, Salem’s Emilio Beato, St. John’s Prep’s Matt Brady, Swamspcott’s Peter Hale — was extremely gifted, both athletically and academically.
After some thoughtful deliberation by the five judges, Mann stood out.
“Among all the judges, Dylan was a 10 across the board,” said Stacey. “He really summed up everything that we were looking for. With Dylan, the athletics were almost secondary to everything else about him.”
The Salem News Student-Athlete Award trophy will be engraved with Mann’s name and will be displayed at Masconomet Regional (which has more winners, 8, than any other school) for the next year. Mann will also receive the $1,000 Nelson K. Benton Scholarship, named in honor of the retired Salem News Editorial Page Editor who championed the Student-Athlete program.
Mann ranks 6th in Masconomet’s senior class and has a keen interest in emergency response. He’s hoping to go into medicine, perhaps orthopedics, and as a member of the Student Emergency Response Team has shadowed Masconomet’s athletic trainer. His cool demeanor and his focus on reassuring a teammate during a particularly tough football injury last year impressed the judges.
Balancing the kind of time it takes to learn about treatment, and become a member of a National Honor Society in two languages (including German), with commitments to his Chieftains teammates isn’t easy, but its part of what makes Mann who he is.
“Academics always came first for me. Everything else is sort of a hobby, something you spend your free time on,” said Mann, who was very thankful to his parents, Kurt and Jill, and his older sister, who is studying at Boston University.
A football captain, he was the NEC/CAL Tier 1 Most Valuable Player while impacting all three areas of football: offense, defense and special teams. He had 100 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and a touchdown while scoring 12 touchdowns on offense and another on a return. A Mass. State Coaches Association Super 26 honoree and Shriners Game all-star, Mann was most proud that his team won their league title and advanced to the playoffs.
“That was what he coveted most,” said Masconomet football coach Jim Pugh. “He exuded confidence and leadership by his actions on the field and in school.”
Also a standout in lacrosse for the Chieftains, Mann plans to play football at Bowdoin College in Maine next year. He also studies Chinese, received awards of Excellence in Chemistry and German and has tackled Advanced Placement Calculus, Biology and Physics.
“I need to thank all the other athletes here. I read about you in the paper all the time and you’re all awesome,” Mann said to his fellow nominees. “I want to wish you all the best. You all seem like wonderful people, and it’s an honor to be up here.”