Exclusive Lowell High club adds five
By David Pevear, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 11/21/2014 08:02:06 AM EST
DRACUT — Their accomplishments were there for all to read in all their magnificence inside the dinner program.
The great games and stirring performances that stamped five individuals as the latest certified Lowell High athletic legends.
But these Hall of Fame inductees spoke not of glory and headlines but of their teammates, their coaches, their families, their great pride in just putting on a Lowell High uniform.
“Honestly, everything but the games stand out,” said Raunny Rosario, who from 1997-99 rushed for 3,337 yards and scored more touchdowns, 52, than any Lowell High football player ever has.
“Just the teammates I had. The coaches. That’s what I remember,” said Rosario.
Rosario (Class of 2000) was inducted into the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame along with former baseball and swimming standout Joe Durkin (1996), field hockey standout Lilly Silva (2001), soccer, basketball and track star Chris Burns (1997) and left-handed pitcher extraordinaire Billy Moloney (1974) at Lenzi’s.
This 29th annual dinner brought the number of Hall inductees to 150 in a school that has played sports for more than 100 years.
Moloney, 58, who reached Triple-A with the Red Sox and is now a minor-league pitching coach in the Tampa Bay Rays’ system, choked back tears as he went into the LHS Hall of Fame 31 years after being inducted into the UMass Lowell Hall of Fame.
Despite fundamentals of the game instilled in him by Lowell High baseball coaches Mike Skaff, George Cunha and Bart O’Sullivan, Moloney said he knew he wasn’t headed to Cooperstown like his boyhood hero Carl Yastrzemski.
“At least tonight I can say I am a Lowell High Hall of Famer,” said an emotional lefty who once struck out 15 St. John’s Prep batters for the Red and Gray.
Earnestly humble. Those whose high school athletic careers are actually worth bragging about never do brag the way so many of the rest of us often do.
“It’s not about me. It’s about us. Lowell High field hockey,” said Silva, who figures she owes much for who she is to Lowell High field hockey coach Lisa Kattar.
Silva grew up playing soccer, “because coming from a Portuguese family, soccer is important.” But one day she was spotted by Kattar wandering the hallways of LHS.
“I wasn’t cutting class,” said Silva. “I had to go to the bathroom.”
Right there in the hallway, Kattar sold Silva on trying field hockey. Without field hockey, Silva figures she never would have gone to college. She became Plymouth State’s all-time leading scorer and last year was inducted into that school’s Hall of Fame.
“Finding out I was inducted into my college hall of fame was special,” said Silva. “But tonight is super special. Lowell is where my heart is. It’s made me what I am today.”
Silva, 31, works in biotech product development for Genzyme in Cambridge. She recently bought a house in the Belvidere section of Lowell.
Durkin, a four-time All-Merrimack Valley Conference selection in swimming and two-time selection in baseball, said he had trouble writing his speech before his Hall of Fame bio recently appeared in the newspaper.
“Nothing sticks out like crazy (as far as individual accomplishments),” said Durkin before the dinner. “I was on a lot of good teams. I saw that thing (in his bio) that we were 49-16 during that run (in baseball).”
Later, during his speech, Durkin spoke not of himself but of his support system, including his parents, Mike and Mary Ann, and his grandfather Brendan Durkin.
“My father spent countless hours throwing BP to me,” said Durkin, whose dad Mike is in the Lowell Catholic Hall of Fame due to his Keith Academy exploits. Durkin, who went on to play baseball at Boston College, as did his younger brother Brian, jokingly said his father “got thrown out of at least one game of mine at every level I played at.”
Durkin, 36, lives in Lowell and runs a janitorial supplies business with his uncle. He and his wife Meghan, from the famous Crowley athletic family, have three boys, ages 9, 7 and 2.
LHS Hall of Fame members talk of being part of a family. But it is really becoming a family. Durkin’s younger brother Brian (LHS Class of 1998) was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Burns’ sisters Jennifer Burns Martin (LHS Class of 1990) and Melissa Burns Botto (1994) are former swimmers who were inducted in 2000 and 2006, respectively.
Silva’s partner, Katie Dolan, is the sister of former LHS wrestling and football star Jon Dolan, who was inducted into the LHS Hall last year.
Four of these five inductees still live in Lowell. Burns lives in Hudson, N.H., with his wife Dale and their 2 1/2-year-old twin sons, Christopher and Benjamin. He teaches physics at Greater Lowell Tech and is the head boys’ varsity soccer coach at Tewksbury High.
Burns thanked his two Hall of Fame sisters, who he would see coming home exhausted from 6 a.m. swim practices, for showing him the value of hard work in what he considered his less stressful endeavors of soccer, basketball and high-jumping.
But his greatest inspirations were his mother Roberta, who was there on Thursday night, and late father William, who died of cancer in 2005. It was his mother who insisted he stop lazing around in the spring and take up track (he became a 6-7 high-jumper at Lowell and also competed at URI and Union).
“My dad was the first and still the best coach I ever had,” said Burns, 35. “Soccer. Little League. Travel basketball. He instilled in me a love for sports I carry to this day. He gave me confidence and belief in myself. This honor is directly related to him more than anyone else.”
Rosario, who works construction, lost his right eye at age 2 while playing sword fights with a cousin. He still went on to become one of the greatest running backs in Lowell High history, and went on to play at UMass.
“People always ask me how I could run with only one eye,” said Rosario. “The secret was I ran scared. Every time I ran I expected to get hit (hard).”
Rosario, 33, wearing a white suit with a maroon shirt, said he was “shocked” to hear he had been selected for the LHS Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t know this kind of stuff happens so fast,” he said. “I thought I had to wait until I was in my 40s.”
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The group photo can be purchased here at Smug Mug