By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — St. John’s Prep held its 24th Athletic Hall of Fame induction for eight individuals and one highly successful coach on Saturday morning in the Commencement Tent at Ryken Field.
By the time the ceremony began the heavy rain had ended and the skies had cleared. It was a different story a few hours earlier when special events manager Heather Buthmann arrived very early with grave concerns about the torrential rain.
“I got up at 4 o’clock to try to get it under control,” said Buthmann, who worked with an administration team to pull everything off smoothly. “It was like a river in here earlier, but we were able to solve the problems, and it’s fine now. We have a great crowd, good food, and some outstanding people to honor.”
St. John’s also honored six state championship teams.
Traditionally, the Hall of Fame ceremony has been held in the evening during the fall, but this year was changed to be part of commencement weekend. For inductee Brian Currie it was not only a homecoming, but a return to the site where he played left field for the Eagles. Currie, who now makes his home in Studio City, California where he is a writer for TV shows and movies, is a member of the class of 1979. He starred in football and baseball before going on to play linebacker at Middlebury College.
“I’m standing in right about the same place that used to be left field where I played only now I’m diving for a cup of coffee instead of a baseball,” he joked. “I have to totally credit my parents because it was their idea for me to go to St. John’s, and I got a fantastic education. St. John’s never let me down, and you can’t say that about many things. I’m delighted to be back.”
Mike Thibault, class of 1983, was a baseball and football star for the Eagles. His favorite memory is beating Danvers High, 22-21, when he scored two touchdowns and the winning conversion.
“We didn’t have a Thanksgiving game back when I played so the rivalry with Danvers was something we looked forward to,” said Thibault, who grew up in Salem and now lives in Haverhill. “That was the big moment of my high school career.
“I have to thank my family and my teammates because I wouldn’t be here today without them. I have a lot of Prep cousins in my family; this has been a great school for us.”
Thibault played baseball at Ithaca College and has been in the music business for over 20 years. He has released two albums, and his band (Mike Thibault Band) keeps him busy.
Sean Greely, class of 1998, captained the sailing team for three years and was a member of the 2001 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Dinghy National Champions at Tufts University. Greely grew up in Rockport and now makes his home in Marblehead where he still enjoys racing. He was a little surprised to be selected for the Hall of Fame because sailing is a non-traditional sport.
“I’m happy for my teammates and the recognition it gives the whole program,” said Greely. “My Dad is a St. John’s graduate which is one reason I decided to come here. The other is because they had a sailing team and I knew some guys on it. My whole experience at St. John’s was tremendous, and I have a lot of good memories. It’s like one big family. I grew up on the ocean, and it’s always nice to get back out there whenever I can.”
For wrestling star Nathan Cote, class of ‘99, joining his brother Kevin in the Hall of Fame made the honor extra special. He also was delighted to be inducted with his coach Manny Costa. Cote had an illustrious career as a four-year Eagles captain, including winning the New England championship his senior year. A high school All-American, he finished fourth at Nationals in 1998 and had a career record of 166-21 with the most takedowns in the state in ‘99. He was also a goalie for the soccer team.
“Going in with my coach is amazing,” said Cote, who wrestled at Lehigh University and now lives in Lancaster, Penn. “We’d always be at his house working out or staying over when we had to leave early for a tournament so it means a lot to me to see him honored, and it’s great to see some of my old teammates.”
Another wrestling champ, Austin Hover (’93) was the Division 1 North champion his senior year and fourth in the state. He also played football and lacrosse before going on to start for the Ohio Wesleyan football team for four years where he played with his brother Dan (QB).
“This is an unbelievable honor,” said Costa, who has been the Prep coach for 24 years and has a record of 562-135-5. He has coached 32 individual and 100 match winners, eight All-Americans, 47 Academic All-Americans, six New England champs, 11 All-State winners, 24 Division I state champions, and 33 D-1 North Sectional winners. He has built one of the top programs in New England.
“It means so much to me to go in with Nathan and Austin and have so many of my former guys here today.”
Costa was a 23-year old member of the Judo National Team, who had just graduated from Northeastern when former AD Fred Glatz gave him the opportunity to coach.
“I happened to run into Manny at the North Shore Mall right before my son Ben’s junior year,” said Steve Ring, who came to the induction to see Costa honored. “It was late August, and we still didn’t have a coach. I asked Manny if he was interested and when he said he was, I told Fred that we found our coach. Manny used to keep saying he would stay on for one more year but always had somebody special coming along so here he is all those years later closing in on 600 wins. I was here for win No. 1 and all the big ones after that.”
Daniel Pucci (’94) starred on the soccer and basketball teams. He ended his Prep soccer career as one of the top all-time Eagles in scoring, and was the all-time points leader at Babson College as well as a two time NCAA All-American. He went on to play professionally.
Pat Barry (’78) grew up in Peabody and had a great career for the Eagles in baseball, football, and track. He led Eastern Mass. in both touchdowns and receptions in his senior year. Barry went to Northeastern on a baseball scholarship and was a four year starter in the outfield.
Michael Clement, class of 1974, was inducted posthumously. Clement was a track star, who won 11 different events in winter and spring track and set records in seven events. He won the high hurdles at the State Coaches Meet and was NE Catholic champ in both low hurdles and long jump. He also was a two way starter for the football team and went on to play at Mass Maritime Academy.
Six special state champion teams were honored including the 1988, ‘89, and ‘90 fencing teams; 1966 and ‘67 football squads, and ‘89 ski team.
“Buster DiVincenzo coached the ‘66 team, and ‘67 was my first year as St. John’s coach,” said Glatz. “Both teams were undefeated, but Buster had one tie in ‘66. It’s unbelievable to see all those guys again. Some have full beards now, and others have lost their hair. It was great to see them again.”