Lowell High Athletic Hall of Fame grows by five members
DRACUT — From the moment she was born, Lynn Tucker was always chasing her twin sister, Laurie.
“Even at birth, she was born three minutes ahead of me,” she quipped at the 26th annual Lowell High Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Lenzi’s last night.
By the time they were both starring in cross country and track for Lowell High, Lynn had made up a lot of time on Laurie. But she could never quite catch up to her. Until ….
“There was a cross country race my sophomore year, and Laurie, who’s also in the Hall of Fame, was undefeated,” Lynn recalled. “I remember coming up on her shoulder, which was really unusual because she was always 15 seconds ahead of me in every race that I’d ever run against her.
“I said: ‘Laurie, let’s go,’ figuring we would sprint to the finish line and she’d beat me like she always did. But she looked at me with a face that was like: ‘I’m done. Go! Win!’
“I did go on to win that race,” Lynn continued, “and later on Laurie was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia that slowed down her times that season. What surprised me was her reaction to switching off from always being the leader of our team and always finishing first and handing that torch over to me.
“After that race she said: ‘You need to win for the rest of the season,’ because we were undefeated the previous year and up to that point that year. And that year I went on to win Runner of the Year for the Merrimack Valley Conference.”
Lynn Tucker Rourke, who graduated in 1991, was one of five former star Red Raider athletes inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame last night. Also enshrined were hockey star Brian Akashian (1996), tennis and basketball star Susan Petullo LaRoche (1979), baseball star Roland Roy (1945), and softball star Michelle Bergeron Montgomery (1998).
When you’re a successful athlete, it’s never easy to pick the most memorable game or event of your career. But last night’s inductees tried.
Roy grew up in an era when there was no Little League and very little coaching.
“Everything I knew about pitching, I taught myself,” he said. “(Lowell High coach Stan) Stoklosa is the only one who taught me anything. My freshman year I didn’t know anything about pitching, and I still threw a 3-0 shutout against Chelsea.”
What Stoklosa taught Roy was a pitch now known as the circle change.
“I didn’t know where it was going, but I threw it. It was a successful pitch when I could throw it over the plate because it was slow and it dropped in front of the batter and they’d swing at it,” Roy said.
He controlled that pitch masterfully in the most memorable game of his career, a 20-strikeout masterpiece that included 11 consecutive strikeouts in a 12-5 victory over Chelsea in 1945.
Petullo LaRoche’s fondest memory was a tennis match against the Academy of Notre Dame in 1979 when she beat Mandy Pyne for the first time in her life.
“Having played against each other in the City Tournament and a lot of other tournaments, I’d never been able to beat her,” she related. “It was my senior year, and it went to a three-set tie-break, and I ended up beating her by one point.”
For Bergeron Montgomery, it was pitching her very first game for the Red Raiders in 1995.
“There were so many great girls on that team, and I was so nervous starting on the varsity as a freshman,” she said. “I always had the jitters the first couple innings I pitched. But I would get better the further along I got.”
Akashian, who was LHS’s all-time leading scorer until his brother Brendan came along, picked the last game of his junior season in 1995.
“We’d had a tough year, and I think we were 0-18-1 going into Dracut, our last game of the year,” he said.
Dracut was always Lowell’s chief rival because the two communities shared the same youth hockey program.
“We pulled it together,” Akashian said. “It was 2-2 after two, and we ended up winning 6-5. I was fortunate enough to have four goals in that game.”
“The old maxim is you’re only as good as your last game,” Akashian added with a sly smile.