2009 Induction event: Success stories abound

 Lowell High Scholl Clock Logo newSuccess stories abound

David Pevear, dpevear@lowellsun.comNovember 20, 2009

 DRACUT — He coached 13 track and cross country athletes who already were in the Lowell High Athletic Hall of Fame. Last night, Jim McGuirk joined them.

“I guess I rode their coattails by getting them to the bus, and then to their events on time,” he humbly said.McGuirk coached Lowell High girls’ track and cross country from 1979-2000, a career highlighted by LHS’ 1987 Eastern Mass. Class A championship won in 95-degree heat at Boston College. Lowell scored 26 points in the final three events to win the title.”The kids took the plaque and circled the track singing the Lowell High fight song,” said McGuirk, 62, a retired English teacher. “I’m getting chills right now thinking about it.”

Inducted with McGuirk (Class of 1964) during the 24th annual LHS Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner last night at Lenzi’s Mill House Restaurant were former state champion middle-distance runner Al Mangan Jr. (’67), swimming star Kristen Voutselas (’96), football star Tom Machado (’63) and girls’ basketball pioneer Ruth Merrill Bailey (’05).This class brings the Hall of Fame to 125 members

.”I’m accepting an award than means more to me than words can say,” said Machado, a junior halfback and linebacker on the 1961 LHS football team that played in the Gator Bowl after an undefeated regular season. “I learned lessons from coach (Ray) Riddick that I’ve used throughout my life: teamwork, fair play, hard work, commitment … I think I can say to coach Riddick, ‘lesson learned.’ “Machado, who captained Lowell High football as a senior in 1962, continues to bleed Red and Gray. He has been a fixture in the stands at LHS football games since he was a kid. His late son Tom was a LHS standout — the practice field is named in his memory — and Machado now watches his grandson, senior linebacker Todd Cresta.Machado, 65, a lifelong Lowell resident, owns a paving and construction company. He and his wife, Judy, also have two daughters, Laurie and Kerry.

Mangan Jr. won the Massachusetts Class A Championship in the half-mile in 1967, going on to finish second in New England. He set a school record of 1:56.4 that stood for 20 years. Last night he cherished his teammates in a sport often viewed through individual achievements.”Unless you have good teammates,” said Mangan, “you can’t develop … individual strength.”Mangan’s father, Al Sr., was Lowell High’s athletic director at the time, and had been a star cross country runner and Olympic race walker. He taught his son that “running is really about will.”Mangan, 60, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, lives in Atlanta with his wife, Jennifer. They have four children. He is an Army contractor in a land management program.

Voutselas, 31, a special-education teacher at the Wang Middle School in Lowell, remains near the swimming pool. She now coaches the Dracut High girls’ team and Greater Lowell Tech co-ed team. The 500-yard freestyle school record she set in 1994 still stands.”At first my parents weren’t sure this was the sport for me,” said Voutselas, recalling her first swimming lessons at age 7. “For quite a while, I hated putting my face in the water and getting my ears wet. This is not a good characteristic for a swimmer.”Voutselas overcame these phobias. After LHS, she swam at the University of Connecticut. She competes now in triathlons. She is engaged to be married in May to Jeffrey Iudice, who is in the Melrose High Hall of Fame for football and wrestling

.This was a night that dug deep into Lowell High’s archives. When Ruth Merrill Bailey (class of 1905) played basket ball (two words in its infancy), the game little resembled basketball today, other than shooting a ball into a basket. At that, Bailey was the best. She scored then “world records” of 66 points, and later 82 points, in individual games. She averaged 21.7 points a game for her LHS career while leading the Lowell High girls’ team to a three-year record of 42-0, including two state championships and one New England championship.Martha Mayo, director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Lowell History, accepted the Hall of Fame plaque and medal on behalf of Bailey, who died in 1990 at age 104. Mayo had continually come across newspaper articles about Bailey’s exploits, including in the New York Times, while researching Bucky Lew of Lowell, the first African-American to play professional basketball.



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