Many people say Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Some prefer this holiday because it brings family together, is not as commercialized as other holidays, and there is always plenty of great food.
Another reason that Massachusetts gridiron fans love Thanksgiving Day is high school football. The tradition of playing a rival team in the morning before heading home for turkey dinner has many families looking forward to the day.
The Hillies face their Thanksgiving Day rival Lowell at home this year. Kickoff is slated for 10 a.m. at Haverhill Stadium. The Hillies have won three straight games and will look to take home the Thanksgiving Day trophy for the first time since 2016. WHAV will broadcast all of the action live starting at 9:30 a.m.
This Thanksgiving, we at Haverhill High School are thankful for the success of our teams, as well as the individual athletic accomplishments of our student-athletes. But more importantly, as director of athletics I am grateful for:
— The conduct of our student-athletes both on and off the playing fields. They constantly represent Haverhill public schools in a positive manner.
— The effort and countless hours put in by our coaches. They truly care about our student-athletes.
— The Haverhill School Committee, Mayor James Fiorentini, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and Haverhill High Principal Glenn Burns for making the commitment to eliminate playing fees for student-athletes, improve sports facilities and provide the athletic program with the resources needed for success.
— The game day workers. Athletic events would not take place without ticket workers, public address announcers, game supervisors, officials, clock operators and concession stand workers.
— The booster clubs, for their tremendous hard work and dedication.
— The support of our fans and the community. They attend our events and consistently cheer on our Hillies. We are especially grateful this year to have Bill O’Boyle, one of our biggest fans, back on the sidelines with Jean Ray and Dave Butler.
— The parents of our student-athletes. The athletic endeavors of their children would not be possible without their encouragement, cooperation, sacrifices and car pools.
— The athletic department staff of Amy-Jo Gallagher, Andy Berube, David Warwick and Shannon Pettis. They go above and beyond and truly care for each and every student-athlete.
— Our equipment manager Brandon Gobbi, who spends countless hours volunteering to make sure our equipment and uniforms get first-class care.
— Marilyn Caradonna, the official photographer of Haverhill High Athletics, for her dedication to capturing special moments that our student-athletes will never forget.
— The Haverhill High School facilities staff led by Heather Forgione — especially staff members Jim Hayes, Joe Gauron, Kevin McAnich, Brice Russell, Dante Gobbi and Tom Tavera. Their work on the playing fields, gyms, pool, Haverhill Stadium and in the buildings provides safe environments for our student-athletes to compete in.
The Haverhill High security staff, led by Officer Bill Mears. They provide tremendous assistance at sporting events and ensure a safe environment both inside and outside the schools.
Tom O'Brien is athletic director at Haverhill High School. He contributes this regular column to the Gazette.