High 5: Lowell High’s Hall grows: 2016 Induction Ceremony

High 5: Lowell High’s Hall grows

By Carmine Frongillo, cfrongillo@lowellsun.com

Gathering for the 31st annual Lowell High Athletic Hall of Fame dinner Thursday night were, from left, 2016 inductee Katelyn Hebert, 2016 inductee Caitlin Barry, Dick Harrington, who represented his brother, Robert Harrington, who could not attend, and 2016 inductee Bruce Desmond. The class also included the late Joseph Palermo. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

DRACUT — As a group, the newest members of Lowell High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame left behind a legacy of triumph on their respective fields and in the classroom while representing the Red Raiders as student-athletes in the truest sense.

Many of the greatest athletes in the history of Lowell High gathered at Lenzi’s on Thursday evening to celebrate the individual talents and accomplishments of their newest class of peers.

This year’s Fab Five of inductees spans several eras: Joseph R. Palermo, Jr. (Class of 1954), Robert T. Harrington (Class of 1962), Bruce Desmond (Class of 1972), Caitlin Barry (Class of 2004) and Katelyn Hebert (Class of 2006).

On a night filled with sweet nostalgia, the 31st annual induction ceremony honoring the best of the best in Lowell’s rich sports history was a trip down memory lane for those being enshrined.

“It’s such an incredible honor to even be selected,” said Hebert. “You look at the names of the people in Lowell High’s Hall of Fame and it’s such an impressive group.”

Hebert is part of a family of sisters that helped put Lowell’s softball program on the map. Her older sister, Tabitha, was a Red Raider softball standout who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. Hebert’s sisters, Rachel and Danielle, were also excellent softball players at LHS.

In the spring of 2005, Hebert went 12-1 on the mound with a 0.83 ERA and established school single-season records for hits (44) and triples (12) as the Red Raiders captured the MIAA Division 1 state championship. Hebert, who also competed in field hockey basketball and indoor track, concluded her softball career with her named listed at or near the top of many offensive and pitching categories. Hebert then played softball at UMass Lowell.
“I really don’t have words to explain the emotions I feel right now,” said Hebert. “It’s kind of unbelievable. I saw Tab get inducted here a few years ago and I was like, ‘Wow, she really deserves it.’ For me to get the call and to be here tonight, I’m still soaking it in.”

Desmond was a two-way standout, starring as a running back/linebacker, for legendary Red Raiders’ football coach Ray Riddick. He played a key role on the 1970 Red and Gray, which posted a 9-0 record while being named the Eastern Mass. Class A co-champions. In 1971, Desmond’s stellar all-around play helped lead Lowell to a 7-2 season.

Desmond had many memorable games. Desmond recorded 20 tackles against Weymouth, the second highest total in school history to that point. He scored three TDs and rushed for 120 yards in a win over Haverhill, and capped his illustrious LHS career by scoring a TD and earning the James Scondras Memorial Award as the outstanding player in the Red Raiders’ 19-0 win over Lawrence. Desmond, who also competed in track, played football at Northeastern University.

“Being honored like this means an awful lot,” said Desmond. “My father was a big sports fan for Lowell High. So he was always talking about Lowell High sports with his friends. I grew up watching the great 1967 (LHS football) team. That’s the team that really lit my fire when it came to Lowell High football. So to even be mentioned with great players like Timmy Green and Rod Redmen, and all the athletes in the Hall of Fame, is a tremendous honor in my eye.”

Barry excelled in softball, basketball, field hockey and most notably golf at LHS. After competing in field hockey in the fall as a freshman and sophomore, Barry went out for golf as a junior and made an immediate impact on the boys squad, serving as the Red Raiders’ No. 1 player as a senior.

“I didn’t feel like a pioneer (when I went out for golf),” said Barry. “I was just doing what I wanted to try to do because I like playing golf. It was fun, plus I fed on the competition. I was always trying to be as good as I could be.”

Barry, who went on to play golf at Rollins College and has won five Women’s City Tournaments, is best known for her exploits on the links, but she was a deadly three-point shooter and MVC all-star in basketball and a three-year varsity performer in softball. Barry received the prestigious John J. Beaulieu Award as the outstanding female athlete at LHS.

“This is a pretty huge honor,” said Barry. “I never expected it. It’s overwhelming, but it’s great. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Harrington wasn’t able to attend the ceremony due to health reasons. One of the most accomplished student-athletes in LHS history, Harrington was a stalwart lineman on coach Riddick’s powerful football teams in the early 1960s, and a standout shot putter in track. Harrington, who earned four varsity letters as a senior, was LHS’ valedictorian of the Class of 1962. He competed in track at Harvard University and became one of Boston’s most respected attorneys. After his retirement, Harrington became a volunteer track coach in the throwing events at LHS.

“He’s very sad that he can’t be here tonight,” said Harrington’s older brother, Dick. “Sports was such an integral part of his life. You can tell by the number of sports he played.

“Bob epitomized the scholar athlete. The preparation, preservation and strong desire to prepare are the key characteristics of Bob’s success in athletics, academics and his professional career.”

Palermo, who is deceased, was a star football and basketball player. During his three years on the varsity football team, the Red Raiders complied an overall record of 29-1, including a 24-game winning streak. Palermo played guard on offense and linebacker on defense.

The valedictorian of the class of 1954, Palermo played football at Dartmouth College. He was a three-year starter for the Big Green on offense, defense and handled the place-kicking. At Dartmouth, Palermo was a first-team All-Ivy League, All-New England and All-East selection. In 1957, Palermo received the George Bulger Lowe Award, presented annually to the most outstanding college football player in New England.

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