hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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September 26, 2013

A salute to our city's fall athletes

Here’s to all our athletes who participate in a fall sport throughout our city. Whether they compete for Haverhill High or Whittier Tech, let’s give them the encouragement they may need to become successful.

And while we’re at it, let’s also salute those who till the soil in our middle schools and even on the recreational circuit. Add it all up and you’re talking hundreds of boys and girls destined to bring pride to our city and homage to themselves and their families.

It’s not easy being an athlete these days, or cheap. The best equipment complements the long and hard hours a student must spend to make the team. In many cases, it’s the survival of the fittest.

Half my journalism career was spent in the trenches, covering the Hillies and Whittier Wildcats. We made the rounds throughout the Cape Ann League schools and Merrimack Valley. Everything got covered, whether we were physically there or relied on correspondents and coaches to get us the report.

Some of my more exciting moments were at Haverhill High freshman games. Yes, we staffed them, too. The sports pages were covered with local news, whether it was football, soccer, swimming, golf or cross country. Today, you can add cheerleading to that mix.

I’m told cheering is anything but powder puff and the tournaments can be brutal.

Sports writing was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. There was no rest for the weary — no holiday for athletics. The bus trips to road games dug into your personal life. Never mind chasing the coaches down on a Sunday morning after they reviewed the films for a comment that lasted about three minutes.

I had the benefit of covering the legendary Charlie White, Paul Ryan Sr. and Ernie DeFazio back in the ‘60s. Other coaching greats like Joe Carven came along later to keep the wheels turning. Three of the very best in the business were John Ottaviani, Dawn Caputo and Rick Battistini. “Bat” is still at poolside and his girls swim team never had anything short of a winning record.

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