IPSWICH — To members of the Ipswich High School Athletic Hall of Fame, sports were more than just a hobby, they were a way of life.
That reality was on full display during Friday night’s induction ceremony and banquet at the Hellenic Center, as individuals from this year’s class took to the podium to not only thank those in attendance for the great honor, but share fond memories from their special athletic careers.
From standout basketball and baseball player Henry “Hank” Cowles (class of 1963), to all-around athlete Ann L. “Traskie” Trask (‘66) and each of the other six athletes and two teams chosen in 2019, it was clear that every single inductee was truly honored to be forever remembered by their Tiger peers.
“Not only is this a great honor, but it’s a great event to be a part of,” said Dan Alexson, team captain of the newly inducted 1969 boys basketball state champion team.
“I’m 68 years old and it was 50 years ago that we won that title. Just to get to see all these people is worth it and to be honored as one of the inducted teams is an unbelievable honor,” he said.
Ironically for Alexson, it wasn’t even the state championship triumph that he remembered most; it was the thrilling win over Acton-Boxborough in the Eastern Mass. title game that brought the sincerest of smiles to his face.
“We were down by two points with three seconds to go and Ruben Britt (a member of the 2010 inaugural HOF class), who was standing next to a guy who was 6-foot-6, 6-5, 6-4 and 6-3, tipped the ball in to tie the score up. There were about 7,000 people at the Garden for that game and the whole place went berserk and I was told the whole town of Ipswich that was listening to (the local) radio station at the time, went berserk, too.
“It was just a rare moment and we went on to win the game in double overtime,” he said. “I’ll never forget that play; it was the single most impressive individual play you’re ever going to see and it rocked the whole Garden. That was something special for the town of Ipswich.”
It’s memories like those that made Friday evening so special.
Another inductee in this year’s class, Gary Sinclair (‘71), was particularly excited to be able to share the distinction with the 180-plus people in attendance after striking out three times prior.
“When I first got the letter saying that I was an inductee, I showed it to my wife and she said, ‘Well, we’ve already made plans and we’re going to Disney World,’” Sinclair, who shined in football, basketball and baseball during his days at Ipswich, said with a laugh.
“So then I called my father because it didn’t work so well with my wife. My father just turned 90 and I think he went to every game during my high school career so I knew he’d be proud of me. He said, ‘Congratulations, Gary; did you play sports in high school?’ He doesn’t remember anything after having a couple of strokes,” Sinclair again added with a smile.
“So I went to work the next day, still with a little bit of pride and humility left and told my boss I needed Thanksgiving off because I had to travel to Ipswich. He said, ‘How come it took them 50 years to elect you to the Hall of Fame?’ So I was three-for-three after that.
“I’m just truly happy to be here and it’s a real honor,” Sinclair concluded as the large crowd chuckled at his remarks.
The jokes, memories and heartfelt cheerfulness continued from there as each of the other inductees gleefully reminisced.
Among them was Peter Adamowicz (‘66), a remarkable basketball, baseball and track star; John J. Hopping (‘78), a baseball and soccer standout who went on to shine on the diamond at Husson University; Harry Lampropoulos (‘77), a jack of all trades known as the unofficial “mayor” of Ipswich; Michael Marini (‘97), an exceptional three-sport stud in football, basketball and baseball; and the entirety of both the 1969 boys basketball state championship team and the 1995 girls basketball state championship team.
“I was certainly surprised and it’s quite an honor to be a part of this considering all the talent that Ipswich High School has had go through the school system,” said Hopping. “It’s phenomenal and a great feeling.”
This year’s class was the 10th in Ipswich High history, with the tradition sure to be carried on for many more years to come.