Past and present generations of Tiger athletics came together at the Sheraton Inn in Needham, Saturday, Mar. 30, as the Newton North athletics department honored the induction of 11 former athletes into the Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees are Dylan Ahrens ‘00, Jed Carpenter ‘05, Katie Caruso ‘12, Bill Drew ‘82, Mike Engel ‘95, Maxine Inniss ‘93, Mark Mahoney ‘97, David O’Connor ‘88, Adam Pfeifer ‘00, Sam Shames ‘10, and Lee Waxman ‘78.
The Hall of Fame honors the school’s greatest athletes, reaching all the way back to Newton High School.
“This whole thing started from trying to make a community connection with the school and our local community,” said athletic director Tom Giusti. “Jack Heavy and Lisa McKinney were the starters of the whole thing. They got the thing rolling and organized it all.”
Giusti’s mission of connecting with the community was especially true for the families of Inniss and O’Connor.
“Maxine really loved being a Tiger,” said Marsha Inniss-Mitchell, Inniss’s sister. “The years that she spent at Newton North were her best years, and she loved the Newton community.”
O’Connor was represented at the ceremony by his friends and family. According to health and wellness teacher Robert MacDougall, who graduated with O’Connor, “He was one of the fiercest competitors I ever played with, but also he was the nicest person. Very quiet, calm, always gave time to listen to anybody, but if you wore a different jersey than him, things didn’t go so well.”
With the recent death of former track coach Jim Blackburn, inductees who he worked with reflected on the incredible influence he had on them. In his speech, Pfeifer recalled a race in which he had a stomach ache and decided not to run. According to Pfeifer, Blackburn came up to Pfeifer and, saying nothing, pulled out a clipping from a newspaper. It said, “Blackburn wins State championship on a broken foot.” Inspired, Pfeifer raced and ended up setting his personal record.
Carpenter also reminisced about his high school track days. According to Carpenter, Blackburn taught him, “work ethic, loyalty, devotion, giving it your all, pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do, and more.”
However, Blackburn wasn’t the only coach thanked by the inductees. Inductees acknowledged a variety of coaches including math teacher Joe Siciliano, the baseball coach, health and wellness teacher Lauren Baugher, the softball coach, and recently retired lacrosse coach, Bussy Adam.
Engel who played lacrosse said that, “Bussy taught me that you don’t give in, you don’t give up, you persevere, and that you get those riches on the other side.” He added, “So if you persevere through that dark tunnel on the other side is the state championship or the new house or a new son or getting married.”
Inductees also reflected on how it felt to be in the company of so many North athletic legends.
“It humbling,” said Drew. “When I was a kid growing up in Newton, some of the guys and girls who are older than me are in the hall of fame, and they were people who I looked up to and I aspired to be.”
Caruso added, “It’s amazing. It’s crazy. I can’t honestly believe that I am here.”
English teacher Kate Shaughnessy, a member of the committee summed up the event saying, “It shows the tradition. Not only recognizing athletic accomplishment but also the connection and the bond people have to Tiger athletics.”