Agganis Classics Week – seven all-star games in five days – starts Sunday and that means 275 athletes will be competing in front of families, classmates, friends, and high school sports fans one last time on the North Shore.
The Agganis Football Classic is the granddaddy of all all-star games in this area – there was briefly a Carole Classic for the Middlesex-Merrimack Valley leagues but that folded five years ago – and 102 graduates will participate in the 49th gridiron edition on July 14 at 7 p.m. at Manning Field.
Softball and baseball (July 11), boys and girls basketball (July 12), and boys and girls soccer (July 13) will take center stage prior to the traditional football finale.
While the games are the most enjoyable part of the week for the athletes, the name Agganis has also become synonymous with academic scholarships. The Agganis Foundation, led by Chairman Edward Grant, stands second to none in its generosity and its scope, having awarded $1,375,525 in scholarships to 829 student-athletes since its inception in 1955.
This year the Foundation has added the Patrick J. McManus Scholarship to its list of prestigious awards. The award is named in memory of the former Lynn mayor and Lynn English alumnus who passed away in July, 2009. This year’s recipient is Lynn English scholar-athlete Jack Carter, who will attend Holy Cross in Worcester
Paul Halloran has a 25-year association with the Agganis Classics. As a reporter and sports editor at the Item, he covered his first Agganis Football Classics in 1985 and he is in tenth year as executive director of the Agganis Classics.
During Halloran’s reign, the event has grown considerably, becoming the most anticipated event of the summer for the athletes and the area sports community. With the absence of any other similar event in stature or significance, Halloran widened the geographic area for eligible athletes.
“We stretched the area out a little bit over the last five or six years and invited some more kids from the Middlesex and Merrimack leagues,” said Halloran. “The year after they stopped the Carole Classic, we said, ‘why don’t give those kids a chance to play in an All-Star game.”’
And you know your efforts are resonating with people when other sports are hoping to be added to the schedule. Halloran said he has fielded requests from the high school lacrosse community about becoming a part of Agganis Week. “That’s probably on the horizon somewhere,” said Halloran. “We’ll have to look at everything and decide whether lacrosse will be an add-on, or will it replace something. That’s a decision for after this year’s Classics.”
The good times start rolling at the awards ceremony/breakfast Sunday at 10 a.m. at Manning Field. It all concludes next Wednesday with the football classic. Halloran he is expecting 2,000 fans for the game.