by Jonny Levenfeld
Boys’ basketball’s 72-42 victory over Norwood on Senior Night Thursday featured a very special moment thanks to senior Ryan Gallagher. Gallagher, the team’s manager for the past four years, dressed as a player for the first time ever, and he did not disappoint.
As the 13th ranked Tigers held a lead over Norwood late in the fourth quarter, Gallagher got the call from coach Paul Connolly and checked into the game with a standing ovation from 6th Man, this school’s student cheering section.
After playing a defensive possession, Gallagher curled around to the top of the key around a few defenders and caught a pass from senior Korey Mui. Without hesitation, Gallagher rose up and drilled a three pointer, sending the sea of orange fans and the Tigers’ bench into a frenzy.
“It’s a huge moment,” said Gallagher. “I finally got to play on the varsity team. I made the three point shot.”
Connolly attributed Gallagher’s success Thursday to his dedication and work ethic. “He’s at practice everyday and he deserved the opportunity to get out there and show what he can do. He works hard for us everyday, you know, I wasn’t surprised.”
Principal Jennifer Price was in attendance Thursday, and she called Gallagher’s big shot “a great moment for North, the boys’ basketball team, and the Gallagher family.”
Throughout the game, 6th Man had been cheering for Connolly to put Gallagher in the game, and every time a Tiger player who wasn’t Gallagher entered the game, the 6th Man would cheer “That’s not Ryan.”
At the end of the game, Gallagher was mobbed on the court by fans and teammates alike, and 6th Man lifted him into the air. Posters depicting this image were circulated around this school the next day.
Price believes that the Newton Public Schools’ emphasis on inclusion is something that many school systems in the United States and across the world should encourage. “Including all students in every aspect of schooling enriches the lives of every student. Ryan playing against Norwood is one of the many examples of what our system believes,” she said.
Price also praised Gallagher, his teammates and his coaches. “I applaud Ryan’s incredible effort and his perseverance over the last four years, the team’s commitment to supporting Ryan, and the coaches who understand the true role of sports in our society.”
Although this was the only game that Gallagher will play in this season, he will continue to work hard for the team as a manager.
“I wouldn’t give it up for anything in my life,” he said.
Watch the news segment featuring Gallagher and his four minutes of fame.