Sports 03-31-2015

Antonio Anderson to coach in Salem State basketball program

By Joyce Erekson

Seven years ago Lynn native Antonio Anderson was traveling the same road as the players on the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team are today.

He and his teammates on the University of Memphis men’s basketball team were gearing up for the NCCA Final Four and they were doing it under head coach John Calipari. Today, Anderson is enjoying March Madness as most of us do, as a spectator, but the experience of having been in the middle of the Final Four frenzy as a player is something Anderson will carry with him the rest of his life.

“I remember what a busy week it was as a player, getting ready for the Final Four, trying to get things done with all the media all around you,” Anderson said. “It’s not easy, but it’s all fun. That’s what you live for as a kid, to play in this. It was amazing. It’s hard to explain.”

 Anderson, who now lives in Revere, said he has enjoyed seeing his former coach bring Kentucky to the Final Four

“I love every bit of it, especially seeing my old coach coaching and doing well. That makes it  even better. He’s still my coach. He gave me the opportunity to be there,” Anderson said.

His Memphis team and this year’s Kentucky team have more than just a trip to the Final Four in common. Memphis was also one of the most successful teams in college basketball history, having set a record  for most wins in a season (2007-2008) with a 38-2 record. Kentucky tied that record with its win over Notre Dame last weekend. Memphis, unfortunately, saw its wins vacated that season after it was determined that Derrick Rose, who now plays for the Chicago Bulls, was ineligible. Memphis, like Kentucky a No. 1 seed, defeated UCLA to get to the championship game where it lost to Kansas in overtime.

Basketball is still a big part of Anderson’s life these days. This past season he got his feet wet coaching as a member of the Wheelock College men’s basketball team staff.  Next season he’ll be a little closer to his old home town when he serves as an assistant coach of the Salem State University men’s basketball team under head coach Chris Harvey.

Anderson, who played at Lynn Tech before transferring to a prep school,  said he’s very thankful to Wheelock head coach Matt LeVangie for giving him the opportunity to coach at the college level.

“Coach LeVangie gave me the opportunity to get my career going,” he said. “He’s been very supportive since I took the Salem State job.”

Anderson said the transition from player to coach was difficult at first.

“You see things in a different light when you’re coaching than when you’re playing, but I made the adjustment” he said.

Anderson said LeVangie did a great job teaching him some of the things coaches have to learn, like watching game films, breaking things down and game preparation. Anderson said his goal is to be a Division 1 coach someday.

“I’m in it for the long haul,” he said.

Anderson said the experience of having played in the NCAA Championship game helps when it comes to coaching because he’s been where the players he’s coaching want to go, whether it’s Division 1, Division 2 or Division 3.

Anderson’s “day” job is at the COMPASS School in Boston where he works with an at-risk population of young people and their families who are referred to the program through various ways including the  schools as well as the Department of  Children and Families. Some are already in the court system. He has been there for about a year.

“I enjoy trying to steer kids in the right direction and help them turn things around,” he said.

Winthrop coach Ignacio Oyola of Lynn named Globe Coach of the Year

By Joyce Erekson

The high school basketball season is over, but the accolades continue to roll in for the Division 3 North champion Winthrop High girls team and coach Ignacio Oyola of Lynn.

The Vikings defeated St. Mary’s in the North semifinal and Bishop Fenwick in the North final before falling to Archbishop Williams in the state semifinal at The Garden. Winthrop finished 20-6, earning Oyola the Boston Globe’s Division 3 Coach of the Year honor.

Although a Lynn resident for past 10 years, Oyola’s basketball roots are in Winthrop. He was on the Winthrop High boys team that won a Division 3 State title back in 1995 under coach Peter Grimes and he was an assistant coach/junior varsity coach in the Winthrop High  boys program for eight years under head coach David Brown. Brown, who along with Oyola is a police officer in Winthrop, now coaches the St. Mary’s High boys team.

Oyola left the boys program to take the girls head coaching job five years ago, the same year the Winthrop boys went on to win another state title.

“We joke it was addition by subtraction,” Oyola said. “But they still gave me a ring.”

Oyola knew his team this year had the potential to do well. The Vikings had finished 21-4 the year before, reaching the Division 3 North final before getting knocked out by St. Mary’s. St. Mary’s went on to win the state title. The Vikings avenged that loss (and several others to the Spartans  this year when they defeated St. Mary’s in the North semifinals to earn a crack at Bishop Fenwick in the North final at the Tsongas Arena.

Oyola had a senior-laden team led by Kristen Siscamanis, who will be playing at Caldwell College on a basketball scholarship next year. Siscamanis received some post-season recognition when she was named to the Boston Herald All-Scholastic team.

“We felt comfortable going into the season with our experience,” he said.

Oyola said even though they were winning games early on, he didn’t feel the team was playing its best. Although the Vikings lost to St. Mary’s in the Spartan Classic, he said it was around that time that his team really started playing great basketball. A couple of big wins against Salem and Revere also helped kick things into gear.

“I thought we really started playing better down the stretch,” he said.

The Vikings senior contingent also included starting point guard Niki Tsiotos, her twin sister, Poli Tsiotos, and Maura Lanza. Junior Nina Bartlette provided  the Vikings a force in the paint. Although Oyola will lose a lot of talent to graduation, Bartlette will be returning along with sophomore Allie Love and junior Jaida Hightower, who were the next two players off the bench. Juniors Gabby Massa and Catherine Johnson, and freshmen Francesca Capone and Isabella Mirata, also figure into the Vikings’ future plans.

Although the high school season is over, Oyola isn’t done with basketball. He and his wife, Sabrina, have three children. They have two sons, 10-year-old Santino and five-year-old Alessandro, and a daughter, three-year-old Gabriella. Santino is a basketball player. His Sewell-Anderson team won its division championship in the annual Lynn Elementary School tournament held over the last few weeks. One of Santino’s teammates is Brown’s son, David. The two boys also play on the North Shore Ballarz AAU basketball team. Their team, which also includes Brady Warren, son of former Classical High softball coach Chris Warren, won a tournament last weekend.

Oyola still gets the opportunity to coach high school-age boys as a coach in the North Shore Ballarz program.

Red Sox unveil new initiatives for children

The Boston Red Sox will introduce in 2015 a host of initiatives designed to bring children closer to the game. “Calling All Kids,” presented by Hood, will provide free membership in Red Sox Kid Nation, free tickets to as many as 25,000 kids, and new elements at Fenway Park including Gate K (for Kids), the Kids Concourse, and Wally’s Clubhouse.

For the first time, entry-level membership in Red Sox Kid Nation will be free, and every child in the program can attend a game for free. (If necessary, the club will limit membership to 25,000.) Membership is for children 14 and under. Fans can begin signing up for the membership and the tickets on

Also, all high school and college students 15 and over with a student ID can purchase tickets for only $9 for every regular season home game. The tickets guarantee at least an entry into standing room, but the club will also upgrade to seats when they are available.

Additionally, the Red Sox will create “Gate K (for Kids),” a kid-friendly entrance located adjacent to Gate B leading into the new Kids Concourse. The right field area of the Big Concourse will be revamped with games, entertainment, Aramark concessions, and amenities.

Also in the Kids Concourse, the club will create “Wally’s Clubhouse” from the 3rd through 7th innings in the Champions Club presented by ALEX AND ANI, below the Royal Rooters Club. The respite from extreme weather also provides room to play, walk around, and meet Wally the Green Monster.

“The point is simple: we want to do all we can to attract children to Fenway Park,” said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “We hope to do so at least three ways: first, by providing greater access to Red Sox games to children and students; second, by enhancing their experience at the ballpark; and third, by strengthening the game of baseball among the young in our community. We are blessed with an extraordinary fan base that comprises many boys and girls. We want to help ensure that they fall in love with baseball, just as their parents and grandparents did before them.”

 The Red Sox will also create community initiatives. The Red Sox Foundation will sponsor each of the 200 Little Leagues across Massachusetts and will again fund and operate 31 RBI teams (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and Rookie Leagues serving more than 1200 children. The foundation’s commitment is more than $220,000.

Kids Crew

Overseeing interaction with children in the Kids Concourse and Wally’s Clubhouse will be the new Red Sox Kids Crew, a staff who greet kids as they enter Gate K, lead children in games, and provide families with assistance and information about kid-friendly activities.

$9 Student Tickets for those 15 and older

The Red Sox will make tickets available for every home game for all students 15 and older – from high school through college. The $9 ticket is the lowest at Fenway Park, and it guarantees at least standing room, but may also be upgraded to seats when they are available.

The new $9 Student Tickets are available online at Students provide information and receive a special code via email to complete the purchase.

Student tickets will be delivered through My Tickets Mobile, via MLB’s Ballpark Application. Students can scan their tickets directly from their phone when they arrive at the ballpark gates, and are asked to bring their student ID for verification to gain entry. In 2014, the club introduced a limited $9 standing room ticket for certain students.

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