One of the most highly successful coaches of the entire 100-plus year history of Lowell High School Athletics, George Bossi has earned renown at the local, state, regional, and national levels during a career that has spanned 5 decades as Lowell High’s wrestling coach.
During George’s tenure at the helm of the Red and Gray’s wrestling program (from its inception in 1966,with a 3-year hiatus from 1995–1998 while he served as Lowell’s Athletic Director), his teams have compiled over 600 dual meet victories against schedule annually including opponents from among the state’s elite programs.
During the post-season George’s teams have achieved an even more remarkable record. In addition to capturing 13 Division I North Sectional crowns, the Raiders have won an incredible 11 Massachusetts State Team Championships (1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1989, and 2002) and 4 New England Team Championships (1970, 1973, 1975, and 1987) under George’s leadership.
During the course of his phenomenal success, George has coached 59 individual Massachusetts State Champions and 21 individual New England Champions.
Many of his wrestlers have continued on to successful collegiate careers, earning All-New England, All-American and even NCAA Championship honors. Several have successfully pursued coaching careers at the high school and college levels.
During recent years, George has been honored for his efforts and achievements by his induction into both the Massachusetts and the National High School Wrestling Coaches Halls of Fame.
George joins many of his former wrestlers in the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame–including Rodney Redman, Frank Elliott, Richard “Gauch” Gauthier, Jeff Lambert, Paul Lanoue, Cliff Whalen, Earle McQuaide, Rick Freitas, James Kennedy, Stephen Beati, and George Kacavas.
Lowell coaching legend George Bossi calls it a career
by CARMINE FRONGILLO, Sun Staff
LOWELL- Above all else, Lowell High wrestling coach George Bossi is a man of principles and beliefs. For close to four decades, the mat has been his classroom. Many of the student-athletes who survived a season in the Red Raider wrestling room with Bossi found it to be the ultimate learning experience.
But now, the state’s foremost teacher of high school grappling has ended speculation about his future, resigning as head coach after nearly 40 years.Bossi, 67, has been in charge of the Red Raider program for all but three seasons since the winter of 1964-65. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of winning, which includes 11 state team championships, several New England crowns and numerous Merrimack Valley Conference titles.This season, Bossi notched the 600th dual-meet victory, one of only a few high school wrestling coaches in the nation to accomplish the feat.”I still have my health,” said Bossi, who retired from full-time teaching after serving as Lowell’s athletic director for three years in the mid-1990s. “I’m not stepping down because of health reasons. I just feel a head coach needs to be in the building every day.”I do some substitute-teaching, but it’s not the same. To be successful at a school like this, you just can’t show up for practice. You need to be a teacher-coach who is around the kids every day of the school year.”I hope to stay on and help out as an assistant,” continued Bossi. “Of course, that depends on whether or not the new coach wants me around. “The position has already been posted. Lowell athletic director Walter Nelson would like to name a new head coach as soon as possible.Former Red Raider standout Tim O’Keefe, who’s been an assistant on Bossi’s staff the past four seasons, is considered one of the leading candidates.O’Keefe, a physical education teacher at Lowell High, played a key role in Lowell’s success in recent years.”Timmy is a logical choice,” said Bossi. “I feel he’s ready. He knows the system. And he teaches in the building.”
In a gray world, Bossi is a black-and-white kind of guy. If you wanted to wrestle at Lowell High, you learned the team rules and followed them.”He has set the standard for wrestling in the state,” said Nelson. “He’s truly an institution. He’s the bridge between what we knew as coaches in the ’40s and ’50s to the coaches of today. “He’s big on discipline and fundamentals. He drills the kids until they know what they are doing inside and out. The Lowell wrestling family bought into his style and it shows in his record. He reached the 600-win plateau, and that’s a significant achievement. He really has nothing left to accomplish. He’s reached all attainable goals.”
Over the years, Bossi has taken a lot of kids with rough edges and helped smooth them out.”I don’t think you can find many guys over 65 who are high school head coaches nowadays,” said Bossi. “The demands are great. And the kids need somebody young to relate to them. I’m very much old-school. I’m like a drill-sergeant out there.”I’m successful because I can still motivate. That’s one of the skills I’ve been blessed with. I’ve had a lot of luck reaching so-called street kids. Kids who’ve had problems at home or in their personal life, I’ve been able to bringing out the best in these type of kids.”Bossi not only taught his teams how to win, he taught them the values needed to succeed in life. For that, his wrestlers will forever be grateful.
“I know I’m a better person after having him for a coach,” said this year’s Red Raider senior co-captain Paul McNeil, a two-time Division 1 state champ. “He teaches you how to believe in yourself and go after your goals. “I loved having him for a coach. He’s a great guy. I know he’s getting older, but I’m a little surprised that he isn’t coming back because of the quality of the team that’s returning.” Bossi’s last hurrah was a memorable one. Lowell won the MVC crown this season, had four state champs Casey Boyle (112-pounds), McNeil (119), Brian Sheehan (130) and Pat Sheehan (171) and finished fourth in the team standings at the New England championships.”George Bossi built the program, he made it what it is,” said O’Keefe. “He’ll always be a part of the Lowell High wrestling program. He’s a true legend. “I’ve been his assistant for four years and I still call him Coach when I talk to him. I never call him George. That’s the respect I have for him. I still look up to him. All the guys I know who wrestled for him feel the same way.”
Bossi also commands the respect of his peers. “When I was starting out, Lowell was the program to beat and it’s still the team to beat,” said long-time Billerica coach Vin Viglione. “George has been around forever. His record is remarkable. You hear the name George Bossi and you think of Lowell High wrestling.” Bossi, a Milton native, attended the University of Vermont and Springfield College as an undergrad. Then he went to University of Illinois for graduate school, where he served as an assistant on the football and wrestling teams.He was in charge of the Illini’s freshmen scout team in football, which was quarterbacked by a future reverend named Jesse Jackson. Bossi also did a lot of recruiting and helped Illinois land a linebacker named Dick Butkus.
Despite his many accomplishments, Bossi’s ego is hard to find.”I’ve never been into self-promotion,” said Bossi. “The satisfaction I get out of coaching is taking raw kids and making state champs out of them through hard-work, practice and discipline.” Bossi plans on being at every Red Raider wrestling match next winter. “My roots are here in Lowell,” said Bossi. “If I’m not on the side of the mat (as an assistant), I’ll be up in the stands yelling at the ref.”
Graduation/Class Year: Did not attend LHS as a student
LHS Sports Played:
LHS Sports Coached: Wrestling, Football
LHS Teacher or Admin: LHS Athletic Director
LHS Sport Captain:
College: Springfield College, University of Vermont
Graduate School: University of Illinois
Coach-Other Organization: Coached University of Illinois' freshmen scout football team
Other Halls of Fame: Massachusetts and the National High School Wrestling Coaches Halls of Fame