SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

November 17, 2012

Jean DePlacido column: Family affair at next week's Peabody Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Helder Braz will join his siblings Fernando and Gina in the Peabody High Athletic Hall of Fame next Friday.

That same night, there will also be another member of the Bettencourt family inducted when Kevin Bettencourt joins his brother Ted and his sister Julie (Broughton).

Braz was a three-season track standout for the Tanners and went on to run at UMass Dartmouth, where he set the school 5,000 meter record that stood for several years.

This marks his second induction after going into his college’s Hall of Fame last year.

“I was surprised to hear about the Peabody one,” said Braz, who still makes his home in the city. His son Ben Braz is on the Tanner track team, and older brother Evan was also an outstanding runner. “Usually you go into your high school one first. so this took me by surprise, but what a nice honor. We’re going to have a good crowd there and fill a couple of tables with all the relatives.

“To be honest, I had kind of wrote the Peabody Hall of Fame off. I was a better track athlete than cross country in high school, but in college I turned it around to become better at the longer distances. I think the reason was because I got more serious about it. I never even knew I had that 5,000 meter record until somebody told me about it not long ago.”

That record stood for a long time before being broken two years ago.

Braz said he relied on his natural talent and didn’t work as hard as he could have until his college years. “I think I realized they were paying for my education and I better work harder,” he said. “I was one of those guys who didn’t do my summer running, so for a mile or two I used my speed. When I realized how much more there was to the sport, I got better.

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