Lynn Classical graduate Helen Ridley is undisputedly one of the greatest basketball players in school history. During her four-year career under then-coach and now school principal Gene Constantino, she scored more than 1,000 points, including one unforgettable performance when she poured in 52 in a single game.
Helen Ridley’s All-Scholastic achievements were recognized with induction into the Lynn Classical Hall of Fame in 2011.
She played four seasons at Division 1 Quinnipiac University where she became captain of the women’s basketball team and graduated in 2005. She coached in the University of New Hampshire women’s basketball program before becoming an assistant coach in the Quinnipiac program for five seasons. She also received a graduate degree in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac.
After a one-year hiatus from coaching, Helen Ridley will return to her alma mater and be an assistant varsity coach in Tom Sawyer’s Lynn Classical hoop program. She will also continue in her current position as a physical education and health teacher at Lynn Tech.
“Tom and I had been talking at the summer league that I run with my father [Jim Ridley] and he offered me a coaching position at Classical and I accepted it,” said Ridley. “I think it will be a great experience and I’m looking forward to working with Tom and the Classical girls.”
Ridley said she has had the opportunity to work with some of the Classical players at practices in the Mass. Thundercats AAU program based in Lynn.
Though she was not on the sidelines coaching basketball last season, she has run a very successful clinic program under the umbrella of Ridley Basketball. Ridley and Tech boys basketball coach Marvin Avery will also be conducting a fall basketball clinic on Tuesday and Thursday nights (6-7:30 p.m.) starting Oct. 17.
“There is some really good girls basketball talent in Lynn,” said Ridley. “AAU basketball has grown tremendously every year in the whole country. As a Division 1 coach, I had the opportunity to see AAU basketball all over the country.”
The news of Ridley’s decision to join the Classical coaching staff was greeted with excitement at the school where the basketball program has flourished during Sawyer’s reign.
“It absolutely solidifies our coaching staff,” said Classical director of athletics Bill Devin. “Tom Sawyer is one of the best coaches in the state so to bring someone in of Helen’s caliber, who not only played at the Division 1 level but also coached at that level, she’s an outstanding addition to our staff.”
Devin said Classical players can look up to Ridley as a true role model.
“Every girl who puts on that Classical uniform can look to Helen as a role model, a young lady who not only played at Classical and was very successful but went on to get her college degree and play at a very high level,” said Devin. “As far as being a role model and someone who is energetic and personable, we’re absolutely blessed to have her join our staff. I’m really excited about it and I know our girls are going to be ecstatic about it.”
Sawyer said he let it be known to Ridley this summer that if she had an interest in coaching high school basketball, “We would love to have her coaching at her alma mater.”
Sawyer, who will begin his eighth season as head coach this winter, said Ridley told him she did have an interest in helping the Rams’ program and Ridley accepted the job offer to be an assistant coach.
“We’re very excited to have Helen joining me and [assistant coach] Irene Saranteas and helping at the varsity level,” said Sawyer. “Helen brings prior coaching experience and a real will to want to work with student-athletes of the city of Lynn. So it’s a great combination of skills, professionalism, attitude, and demeanor.
Classical should be in the thick of the Northeastern Conference race this season with returning seniors such as Kristin Lauria, Francesca Galeazzi, and Christine Connolly and up and coming sophomore guard Chenysse Hill.