Commonwealth Motors and Charlie Daher Congratulate Erick Duffy and Kenisha De La Rosa on their Achievement
Right down to the red carpet the athletes walked prior to the event. The "swag bags" they received were almost Oscar-worthy, too.
The overall winner among the 24 area schools certainly was big-time.
Erick Duffy is one of the country's top pole vaulters with a best of 16-6, smashing his own state record last summer. And the North Andover High senior has a big-time future. At Harvard!
Eagle-Tribune sports editor Bill Burt called him "the bowtie guy" and the dapper Duffy is impressive sartorially, athletically and academically.
Burt said all 24 were "special, special kids."
They were treated as such at the banquet at Michael's Function Hall.
Event sponsor Charlie Daher of Commonwealth Motors of Lawrence gave Duffy a $2,000 scholarship for winning. He also was so moved by Kenisha De La Rosa of Lawrence High's inspiring story of overcoming adversity he promptly gave her $2,000, too.
Duffy, an All-American, also received a special proclamation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives which was presented to him by State Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).
Duffy said of being named Eagle-Tribune Student-Athlete of the Year, "It's amazing. It means the world to me. I'm just blessed."
Duffy, who is also a soccer captain for the Scarlet Knights, said the scholarship money is huge.
He also was grateful for the proclamation.
"That is really cool," he said.
He looked at the signatures including by DiZoglio and Gov. Charlie Baker.
"Hopefully one day I'll be signing it!" said Duffy, who is considering a career in politics.
Daher told the athletes and their families and coaches, "There are about 10,000 student-athletes in the Merrimack Valley. You are the 24 best. Congratulations. My hat's off to you."
The guest speaker was Andover High Hall of Famer Tim Perry. After playing quarterback at Harvard — he was MVP of the historic Harvard-Yale game in 1989 — he's embarked on a successful career as an attorney in Boston.
He stressed the role of family and coaches.
He gave a shootout to his mother, Barbara.
"She is 79 and two weeks ago had her knee replaced," he said. "She's here and I hope I don't let her down."
It's safe to say neither Perry nor the 24 top student-athletes have let their loved ones down.
Perry said, "You dedicated yourselves to excellence. You've achieved excellence. I know how hard it is. Most don't want to do both or can't do both."
This group can do both.
Duffy is going to Harvard, Londonderry's Chris Zaino scored a perfect 800 on his math SAT and Sanborn's Meg Sheehan has climbed 41 of the 48 4,000-foot mountains in New Hampshire.
Windham's Susie Poore writes like a best-selling author and will run at Division 1 Lehigh. Phillips Academy's Beth Krikorian of Windham is a top recruit for powerhouse Tufts field hockey.
All the finalists had a similar story. It truly was an impressive group.
DiZoglio, Burt, Merrimack College hockey coach Mark Dennehy, Whirlaway Sports Center owner Dave Kazanjian and Eagle-Tribune assistant sports editor Michael Muldoon made up the committee which chose Duffy.