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St. Lawrence Central welcomes new members into hall of fame

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BRASHER FALLS - They came from North Carolina, Florida, Potsdam, Brasher Falls, North Lawrence and Webster, but regardless of where they came from they were all coming home.

“Some of them came from many miles and some of them from walking distance,” according to emcee Chris Rose, who welcomed everyone to the St. Lawrence Central School’s 2012 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The Larries welcomed six new members to their hall, as well as three new teams Thursday night in a ceremony at the school that was followed by a reception at the Winthrop American Legion.

The first of the inductees, John Burns graduated in 1973. He was introduced by Tom Geagan, who recalled Hubie Sullivan had recruited the then sophomore to play football for the first time.

“He’s 6 foot, 235 pounds and as a defensive coach my eyes lit up like it was Christmas in August,” Mr. Geagan said, recalling one of the first time he laid his eyes on Mr. Burns, who played football and track and field while at St. Lawrence Central.

“One of the most important things he got out of football was the respect of his teammates and confidence in himself,” Mr. Geagan said.

Mr. Burns has parlayed that confidence into success in the business world, operating the KFC/Long John Silver’s franchise in Massena for the past 30 years.

Looking back on his coaches, Mr. Burns said, “They taught us how to win, but they also taught us to be winners, not only on the field, but off the field in every aspect of our life.”

Mr. Burns, who called the evening “one of the most unforgettable nights of my life,” also reflected back on what it was like to be a football player at St. Lawrence Central in the ‘70s.

“What really stands out in my mind is running the damn hill,” he said, drawing laughter from both the crowd and his fellow inductees.

While Mickey Locke may now best be known as the school’s hockey coach, he was once a Larrie athlete himself, graduating in 1976, playing and excelling in hockey and golf.

He was presented by Barney Lantry, who noted Mr. Locke’s athletic accomplishments didn’t end when he graduated, as he also excelled in hockey at Cortland State, where his name still appears in the record books.

Quoting Wayne Gretzky, Mr. Lantry said, “Some people skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck will be.’ Mickey definitely skated to where the puck was going to be.”

Mr. Locke attributed his success partially to growing up in a different time.

“Today’s athletes have so many more opportunities and I don’t mean that as a good thing necessarily,” he said. “My generation was always outside playing.”

Mr. Locke recalled shinny hockey games that would start as five on five with the rule no shots above the ankles.

“Then the first shot would be head high, we would have a little melee and then everybody would be on the ice,” he said. “If you wanted the puck, you had to learn how to stick handle.”

Mr. Locke also recalled leaving school early for golf matches.

“The seven seconds it took to leave her classroom were the longest seven seconds of my life,” he said, recalling the death stare he would receive from “Ms. (Rita) Trippany” as he left history class for the gold matvhes.

David Barnes graduated in 1982 and played hockey, baseball and football while wearing the Larries uniform.

He was presented by Richard Cootware, who recalled a game against Tupper Lake in the early years of his football career.

“It was one of those collisions you could hear downtown,” he said, recalling a fourth and one play “with about a foot to go” when Barnes stopped the Lumberjacks power back on the last play of the first half. “He didn’t make it and everyone went ecstatic.”

But as Mr. Cootware noted, Mr. Barnes contributions to the school stretched beyond the football field.

“To get up here. you have to excel in one sport. Dave excelled in three of them, he said.

Mr. Barnes said he was humbled by the honor and fortunate to have been a part of some great teams with some great teammates.

“We had a great cast of characters in the 80s,” he said, adding all of the pickup games they played together as children had he and his friends feeling like a team before they even put a uniform on for the first time.

And although pickup games may be fun, there was one thing lacking.

“We were fortunate enough to have some great coaches when we got into high school,” he said. “That’s something we didn’t have in the pickup games.”

Anthony “Tony” Collette traveled to the ceremony from his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he has helped to introduce the sport of lacrosse to hundreds of children who had never played before.

Mr. Collette, who graduated in 1988 and played football, hockey and lacrosse at the school was introduced by his younger brother, Jeremy Collette.

Jeremy Collette recalled being asked by his brother to introduce him at the ceremony, remembering the first thing that came to his mind was a photograph of his brother that appeared in the newspaper.

“Underneath it it said ‘The Claw.’ As his younger brother I just thought that was so cool,” he said. “There’s so much I could say about my brother Tony, we could be here all night.”

When Mr. Collette did take the stage, he had one very special fan in the audience who was letting him know just how much he was loved.

“That’s my boy making all the noise down there,” he said. “Hi Carter.”

Mr. Collette also spoke about what the hall of fame means to him.

“The hall of fame for me isn’t just about recognizing great athletes, but it’s also about hearing about the history of the school,” he said. “Without the hall of fame, it would be difficult to bring all these generations together.”

He also talked about introducing lacrosse to children in Florida, noting one of his mentors, Mr. Geagan, had done the same thing decades earlier when the Long Island native introduced lacrosse to Brasher Falls in the late 1970s.

“To bring lacrosse to a non-lacrosse area you face some challenges, but once the dust settles you look at it and realize it’s worth it,” he said.

Like Mr. Locke, Mr. Collette also remembered his youth, growing up in Fort Jackson.

“We left the house when the sun came up and came back home when the sun went down,” he said. “Probably more so on the farm, because if you got caught at home they put you to work.”

The class’ lone female inductee, Francine Grow, graduated in 1992 playing soccer, basketball and softball for St. Lawrence Central and hockey for the Louisville Chicks.

Rose Bronchetti served as her presenter and remembered Ms. Grow and her teammates quite fondly.

“These girls were like daughters to me. The daughters I never had,” she said, adding that while she enjoyed coaching them in soccer, watching them play softball was even more fun.

“I wasn’t coaching yet, so I could yell at the umpires,” she joked.

The sense of family Ms. Bronchetti spoke of was also the focus of Ms. Grow’s speech, who recalled playing varsity soccer as an eighth-grader.

“My sister was on the team. I don’t know how excited she was to have her little sister on the team,” she said, attributing the success she had to her teammates.

“It wasn’t just me, it was a group of girls who like to have fun, but when we stepped on the field we knew it was time to listen to Coach Bronchetti.”

Ms. Grow also recalled an old newspaper article that contained a quote from one of her teammates, Amy Wells.

“We were just a bunch of girls who wanted to win,” she said remembering the article. “That pretty much sums it up.”

The youngest inductee was Mark LaFave, who graduated in 2001, playing both football and hockey while at St. Lawrence Central. He was introduced by his hockey coach and fellow inductee, Mr. Locke, who described his former player as an elite two-way player and a team leader, off and on the ice.

“He was a defenseman’s worst nightmare,” Mr. Locke said. “A 50/50 puck. That’s not an accurate description. It was an 80/20 puck. Mark was going to come away with the puck.”

Mr. LaFave was also part of a special class for Mr. Locke, who noted that he and his teammates never lost to a Division I opponent.

“That means they never lost to Massena. How sweet is that?” he said.

Mr. LaFave, who was the evening’s final individual inductee, kept his speech short.

“Just because it’s hot in here, I’ll keep it short,” he said. “That’s the only reason.”

“I was very blessed to grow up in a town that gave me the opportunity to play the sports I love,” he said, adding he still keeps in touch with many of his teammates, often talking about the “glory days,” including that 4-3 win over Massena in his sophonore season that marked the first time the Larries had beaten the Raiders in a varsity high school hockey game.

“Often those conversations place us well above our ability level,” he said.

Mr. LaFave, who played collegiate hockey at both SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, noted that while he may have worn a lot of jerseys over the years there is one that will always be his favorite.

“I’ll always be proud to be a Larrie,” he said.

Those six individuals were also joined by members of the 1972-73 baseball teams, a squad that had a combined 35-7 record over that two-year span.

Members of that those teams included Tony Austin, Mike Murtagh, John Keenan, Jerry Smith, Matt Nezezon, Hubert Brown, Marlowe Vilnave, Rick TenEyck, Kelly Dempsey, Kim McLaughlin, Jeff Rose, Rodney Truax, Rick Bradish, David Vilnave, Bruce Hibbert, Tom Tyo, Brien Hallahan, Joe LaValley, manager Keith Savage, scorekeeper Julie Green and coaches, Frank Mammano and Ward “Butch” Shorette.

The 1991 boys lacrosse team was also inducted and despite a 11-9 record, that squad won the Section X crown and was the school’s first lacrosse team to advance to the state playoffs.

“You look at our record and it was 11-9. I didn’t know that until tonight. I thought we won them all,” according to Tim Hayes, coached the team with a then recent college graduate, Mr. Rose.

Members of that team included: Chris Burl, Ian Hazen, Jonathan Rose, Matt Scharf, Jason Lashomb, Travis Phillips, Mark Mahoney, Mac Sutton, Jamie Lyon, Jason Taylor, Adam Klein, Chad St. Hilaire, Jim Sullivan, Jamie Newtown, Terry Francis, Michael Morse, Brian Bordeleau, Rodney Jones, Andy Dufore, Ron Vilnave, Andre Gardner, Bobby Dow, manager Clint Vilnave and scorekeepers, Mary Kay Burl and Michelle Sullivan.





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