Steve Baldassare, Class of 1991
Looking back, Danvers Police Officer Steve Baldassare says he really didn't have a favorite sport during his stellar career at Danvers High School.
"Honestly, I really didn't. I remember when I was figuring out what I wanted to play in college, it was a hard decision. When it was hockey season, I loved hockey. When it was baseball season, I loved baseball. It was just normal for me to always be playing something," said Baldassare, a 1991 DHS grad and captain of three sports – golf, hockey and baseball – as a senior. Playing multiple sports, he said, taught him time management skills and sharpened his focus in the classroom.
Baldassare and five other former Falcons' stars, one long-time coach, a principal known for his support of student-athletes and the school's first state championship team will be inducted into the Danvers High School Blue and White Club Hall of Fame on Tuesday at the Danversport Yacht Club. The festivities begin at 6 p.m.
"I'm very honored, having grown up in the town and having played from youth sports right through high school for Danvers teams," said Baldassare, also a 2002 inductee into the Fitchburg State University Hall of Fame, where he excelled in hockey and baseball.
"I spent a lot more years playing for Danvers teams than I did for Fitchburg, so I think this is more of an honor," he said.
As a senior, Baldassare guided the 1991 DHS hockey team to an unbeaten record in the Northeastern Conference (16-0) and finished with 53 career goals and 101 career points. He was also co-MVP of the baseball team and a key performer on the Falcons' NEC championship golf team.
Among many memories, what's his favorite? That's easy.
"I'd have to say my senior year in hockey when we went undefeated. I'm pretty sure we're still the only team to finish with no losses and no ties in the NEC. And, it was the first time in 10 or 15 years that we'd won the NEC title, so those two things definitely," Baldassare said.
These days, the proliferation of AAU programs in baseball and Junior Hockey programs across New England and beyond provide today's athletes with options other than playing for their hometown. While Baldassare did a post-graduate prep year at Bridgton Academy following high school, the experience of playing for your hometown school can't be matched, he said.
"It's pretty cool to grow up with the same group of kids and get to high school after all the work put in during youth sports (Danvers American Little League, Danvers Youth Hockey) for the ending goal of getting to high school and doing well there. That was special," he said. "There are different opportunities now, so I guess it depends on the individual player."
Baldassare still hits the links when possible but has turned his athletic pursuits toward coaching these days. He will assist with the high school hockey team this winter, serves as freshman baseball coach in the spring and also coaches both Little League and youth hockey.
"I'm still the type who doesn't like to sit around. I've got three boys now – the oldest is 7 and the twins are 3. It's not about me anymore – I still love the competition, but it comes in a different form now," said Baldassare. His wife Dani works as the public relations officer at Brooksby Village in Peabody.
Members of both his and his wife's families are attending Tuesday's festivities and, Baldassare added, "a bunch of old teammates and buddies said they're stopping by as well." Which should add to that list of memories.
Elizabeth King Flood, Class of 1999
Lettering in field hockey, basketball and softball, Elizabeth King was selected for the Boston Herald and Boston Globe All-Scholastic Teams in 1997 and 1998, was a Northeastern Conference Player of the Year in 1997 and a conference All-Star in 1996, 1997 and 1998, just to name a few of her accomplishments in Danvers. She went on to play varsity field hockey at Boston College for three years.
Flood's favorite memories as a Falcon included anytime they could beat Gloucester in anything, as well as state tournament games in field hockey.
"The last game I played in Danvers, was a special bittersweet moment and a great one to share with my teammates. I especially remember with fondness playing for such a great coach like Barbara Damon," Flood said.
She says sports were very influential in shaping her into the person she is today.
"Anytime a person plays sports, I think especially a girl, it gives them a great deal of self-confidence."
When asked her thoughts on being inducted into the Hall of Fame, she responded, "It is a huge honor, one I didn't expect. To go in with such other great athletes, especially to go in with Coach Damon, is really great."
John 'Jack' Flynn, Class of 1956
John Flynn was a member of the class 1956 in what was then Holten High School. He was a three-sport athlete lettering in football, basketball and track. He went on to star in football and track at Bates College, before he began a 42-year career as a coach at two high schools in Maine, the highlights of which included a football state championship in 2002, Coach of the Year awards in 1977, 1981 and 2002, and induction into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
Recently, Flynn shared his thoughts with DanversPatch on being inducted into the Danvers High Hall of Fame.
Flynn's favorite memory from high school athletics was winning two out of three Thanksgiving Day games with his friends and teammates. He said playing sports was very instrumental in his going to college as well as a career in education and coaching.
He credits sports with teaching self-reliance, to fight back when knocked down and the concept of working within a team.
When asked how he felt to at being into the Danvers High Hall of Fame, he responded, "It is an honor and a humbling experience. I haven't lived in Danvers since the mid-fifties, and to be able to come back and be remembered and honored this way, is just great."
The rest of the players
The other honorees making it into the Blue and White Club Hall of Fame, which was created in 1992, are as follows:
- Barbara Damon, longtime field hockey coach for the Falcons, will be honored as well. Since 1983, Damon has compiled a distinguished career coaching field hockey with 13 NEC titles, 11 of them consecutive, and an 87-game winning streak from 1987-1995. She also coached softball and swimming, honing stellar play there as well.
- Shawn Hills, Class of 1986, a two-sport letterman in soccer and baseball and NEC All-Star in both sports. Hills actually played varsity soccer for five years, starting while still in the eighth grade. He's been an assistant coach for girls' varsity soccer since 1999 and coached the JV squad before that.
- Brian Marshall, Class of 2000, a three-sport letterman in golf, ice hockey and baseball and NEC All-Star in the latter two sports. Currently an assistant baseball coach at DHS, Marshall garnered accolades from the Boston Globe and went on to start all four of his years playing baseball at the University of Southern Maine.
- Cyrus J. Newbegin, Class of 2000, a three-sport letterman in soccer and indoor and outdoor track, was an NEC All-Star and an All-State and All-New England runner. He won similar accolades running track at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
- Paul Coleman, Sr., former high school principal from 1979-1995, is being honored as a special contributor to Falcons' athletics for his longstanding support and encouragement for student-athletes and coaches.
- The 1993-1994 Boys' Ice Hockey team will also receive special recognition as the first DHS state championship squad. Head Coach Kevin Flynn; Assistant Coaches: Chris Caron, John Chaput, Mike Clifford, John Lawrence, Duke St. Pierre; Statistician Arthur Orechia; Team Members: Brian Baldassare, Joseph Campbell, Bob Caron, Keith Chouinard, Matthew Churchill, David Dolph, Justin Halupowski, Jeffrey Harrington, Adam Kobierski, Robert Lumb, Rick Lundgren, Captain Jeffrey McGonagle, Christopher McNeill, Sean McNeill, Captain Sans Milbury, Matthew Munzing, Brian Murray, David Nemeskal, Richard Selvitella, Captain Jeffrey Silva, Daniel Tsoutsouris and Daniel Tremblay.
If you go:
The event Tuesday night is sponsored by the Touchdown Club of Danvers. Tickets cost $40 and there is a reduced rate for the children's menu. For reservations and tickets, call Sean Dunn at 978-479-8412 or Barry Robertson at 978-821-9972.