IPSWICH — Growing up in Ipswich, David Bialek’s father John taught him everything there was to know about sports. After all, his late father was a three-sport athlete at the high school and was the co-founder and president of both Ipswich Little League and the youth hockey program in town. David too went on to lead a successful athletic career at Ipswich High as a four-year varsity player for hockey and baseball.
Last night, David, John and seven other honorees become the newest members inducted into the Ipswich Athletic Hall of Fame. Family, friends and the Ipswich community gathered at the Hellenic Center for the school’s special event.
“This night means so much to me,” said David Bialek (Class of 1970), whose father was inducted posthumously. “Ipswich High School has had many outstanding sports teams and individual student athletes over the years and it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as some of these people here.
“The highlight of my evening is that my father is being inducted as well. He was the finest man I’ve ever met and a tremendous athlete. My father started me out in sports, while he was coaching Little League. He would be out on this Ipswich River during the winter playing hockey and when I was old enough, he had a pair of skates on my feet as well.”
John Bialek graduated in 1933 and went on to play hockey at Northeastern University, where he was the leading scorer for three seasons.
The other seven inductees included five athletes, Chris Bromby (Class of ‘1993), Venetia Constantine (’76), James Larochelle (’71), J.J. Milette (’86) and Edward Sklarz (’53), one coach David Whipple (’54) and one meritorious recipient Angelo Perna.
Coach Whipple (1967-’78) guided the boys basketball team to three postseason appearances at the Boston Garden, won 33 straight games between 1969 and 1970 and finished with the highest number of program wins (172) at time of retirement.
Whipple was humbled by the honor as many friends went up to congratulate him on his career.
“It’s nice see a lot of familiar faces,” said Whipple also graduated from the high school in ‘54. “Especially people you haven’t seen in a while. I see some of the boys I used to coach quite frequently, it’s nice to keep in touch.”
Bromby echoed the same sentiments of keeping in touch with fellow classmates. As a member of the class of ‘93, Bromby thrived on both the lacrosse field and on the ice. He was the leading scorer in the state during his junior and senior seasons in lacrosse and was led the Tigers to an Eastern Mass. championship in 1993.
After graduation, Bromby went on to win a National Championship at Springfield College, before moving on to UNH where he led the team in scoring for two seasons and named offensive team MVP in 1997.
“It’s truly a great honor to be selected,” said Bromby who also played lacrosse professionally for the Boston Cannons in early 2000s. “Lacrosse is where I really excelled. I remember beating Beverly my senior year, which was a huge accomplishment for Ipswich.
“I always dreamed of playing Division 1 in college, so after my freshman year at Springfield, I transferred to UNH and ended up doing well there.”
The night started off with a cocktail reception where old friends had a chance to mingle. Dinner and the induction ceremony took place later in the evening.