There are several reasons that Harry Agganis All-Star Classics Week has become the area’s premier summer sports extravaganza for graduating players, coaches, and fans.
One is you get the opportunity to see the best athletes perform for the final time in their high school careers. Take Rockport’s sensational soccer goalie, Keady Segel.
Segel will be performing in the Agganis Soccer Classic on his way to becoming the goalie for the Boston College men’s soccer team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Segel, who ended St. Mary’s soccer season in the State Tournament, is worth the price of admission. Can he hold a team of opposing All-Stars players scoreless? We’ll find out at Manning Field.
Jim Pettengill is another great story. The retiring Newburyport High School baseball coach won a state championship in his 40th and final season and he’ll be making his last appearance as a coach in the Agganis Baseball Game.
And then there are the Lynn high school athletes, especially those at Agganis’s alma mater, Lynn Classical, who have grown up watching the Agganis Classics each year and now get the honor to end their high school careers in their backyard. Classical’s Hannah Byrne, arguably one of the best softball players ever in Lynn, will be making her final high school appearance before heading to St. Anselm College.
Classical coaches Tim Phelps (football), Mike Zukowski (baseball), and Keri Altieri (girls soccer) have the honor of coaching in the games.
Jeff Newhall, who led St. Mary’s to the Division 3 state championship in March, returns to the bench as a coach in the Agganis Girls Basketball Classic. Gloucester coach Jon Flanagan, who was named the athletic director at Swampscott High School, may be coaching for the final time in the Basketball Classic.
Most importantly, Agganis Week is about honoring the legacy of Harry Agganis. Agganis Classics Executive Director Paul Halloran said $61,000 in scholarships will be presented to student-athletes this year, bringing the total to $1.4 million that has been distributed to 845 students through the years.
Halloran said there are several unsung heroes who have helped the event become the phenomenon it has. One such contributor is St. Mary’s High School football coach Matt Durgin, who serves as the director of the Agganis Football Classic.
“Matt has done a superlative job since taking over five years ago as director of our Football Classic,” said Halloran. “He really works hard at it. He’s there every night at both practices. Anything that the coaches need, he is there for them.”
Halloran also credits John Kasian, who oversees Lynn fields, for being instrumental in the event’s success.
“John has been unbelievably helpful making the facilities available,” said Halloran. “Every request is met with the answer yes.”
The basketball games will move back to Lynn Classical this year. “We’re pleased to be going back to Classical,” said Halloran. “The athletic director, Bill Devin, made a strong push. The Classical people take a lot of pride in having the game there since Agganis was a Classical student. The English people have been great in accommodating us for basketball and football.”
Halloran was asked why Agganis Classic Week has become so popular.
“I think it turns into a festival similar to the Bay State Games where we went from just the football game to gradually adding other games so it’s a weeklong event,” said Halloran. “For all of these athletes, it’s the last time they’ll compete as high school students, but for many, it’s the last time they’re going to play – the ones who aren’t going on to play in college.”
Halloran said that NESN will present a television segment on the Harry Agganis Football Classic and the Agganis Foundation that will air on the sports channel the week of July 11. Agganis trustee Tom Demakes and former Agganis Scholarship recipients Peter Woodfork, Dr. David St. Pierre, and Amanda Webber were interviewed for the piece.