By Matt Jenkins
---- — DANVERS — Even with all the points that were scored, games and championships won, and goals achieved, there was another common memory that was ingrained in each of last night’s six new inductees into the Danvers High Blue & White Hall of Fame.
“Just the camaraderie,” field hockey star Joanne Lavender, Class of 1980, said. “Danvers is known for its sports, and everybody gets behind every team and cheers. The friendships I made and the coaches, it was just a wonderful experience playing Danvers High sports.”
That sentiment was echoed throughout the night as the Class of 2012 was formally inducted into the Blue & White Hall of Fame at the Village Green restaurant.
Amy Papamechial Barth, a standout softball player for the great Falcon teams of the early 1990s that reached a state title game, agreed with Lavender’s message.
“We were an awesome team. We dominated my junior and senior year. We had great team camaraderie,” Barth, a 1992 graduate, said. “I loved the bus rides to games.”
It may seem odd that a decorated high school softball player like Barth placed emphasis on trips to away games ahead of her three Northeastern Conference and Salem News all-star selections. However, not one member of the 2012 Hall of Fame class — which also included Robert Parsons (Class of 1947), Leonard Elwin (‘66), Michael Moroney (‘93) and Brian Thibodeau (‘91) — spoke of individual accomplishments.
“I’d definitely put my teammates first,” Thibodeau, who excelled in hockey and baseball, said. “I think 1991 was a great (hockey) season. We went undefeated, 16-0 (in conference play), and had some really great players and an excellent coaching staff.”
Thibodeau, like all of last night’s inductees, posted some impressive stats during his high school career. As a senior, he led the NEC in scoring with 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points. He was named conference hockey MVP as a senior and finished his career with 104 points (50 goals, 54 assists). He was also a solid baseball player for the Falcons.
Barth was a power-hitting first baseman, who hit over .500 in her junior year to go along with 52 RBI. That season, she led Danvers to an undefeated record in the regular season and an Eastern Mass. title. After batting over .600 as a senior, she went on to play softball at Bryant College.
Moroney did his work on the other diamond for Danvers. One of the top pitchers in Falcon history, Moroney is the career leader in strikeouts with 202 and innings pitched at 188 1/3. He also holds the single-season strikeout mark with 75. Before going on to pitch for Salem State, Moroney also played three years of basketball at Danvers.
Elwin was a standout basketball player for the Falcons, averaging 19 points, more than 10 rebounds and five blocks per game his senior year. He graduated as the third-highest scorer in Danvers High history.
Lavender played four years of softball, basketball and field hockey, but it was in field hockey that she made a name for herself. She was the MVP in her junior and senior years and was a four-time NEC and Salem News all-star. She earned a full athletic scholarship to Northeastern University for field hockey and helped lead the Huskies to the Division 1 NCAA tournament.
“It’s quite an honor to be inducted. Over the years there have been outstanding athletes that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Lavender said. “To be in the same family as them is quite an honor. I feel very, very privileged to be inducted.”
Parsons, a three-sport standout in football, basketball and track and field, made a lifetime commitment to Danvers education. He taught in Danvers for 35 years as a teacher, Guidance Counselor, Vice Principal and House Master.
A three-year starter on the football team, arguably Parsons’ most memorable sports moment was scoring the winning touchdown in a 1946 game against Cambridge on Thanksgiving Day to lock up the program’s first winning season since 1941.
“I’m 83 years old and I often look back over my lifetime hoping that I’ve made the right choices and the right decisions,” Parsons, who was also his class president, said. “This award just comes at a fantastic time because I guess it confirms that I did OK.”