Eagles football win over Catholic Memorial serves as a fitting tribute to newly minted Prep sports immortals
Steady and sometimes heavy rain couldn’t dampen St. John’s Prep Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies this past Saturday as a star-studded group was honored, including eight entrants who graduated since the turn of the century. Nine of the 10 inductees were multi-sport athletes, but the primary sports represented were football (three), basketball, rugby, baseball, soccer, golf, track and field, and ice hockey. The late Jean DePlacido, a local sports journalist who covered North Shore high school sports for nearly 50 years, was awarded the 2023 Crystal Eagle Award posthumously. The Prep also formally recognized the 1997 state championship football squad as a legacy team.
Collectively, the individual honorees combined for nine personal or team state titles as Eagles. This list of high-achievers includes a current Major League Baseball outfielder, an investment banking managing director, the co-founder and head of strategy at Zephyr, a startup in the home services industry, and a professional ice hockey forward skating in the AHL, among other impressive careers.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were James F. Traa II ’83 (Boxford; football and track & field), Dean Lukfin ’88 (Manchester, MA; track and basketball), Michael Kent ’93 (Peabody; football and basketball), Tim Acquaviva ’02 (Andover; golf), Jermaine Anderson ’02 (Beverly; basketball and track & field), Nate Brakeley ’08 (Marblehead; rugby and football), Mike Yastrzemski ’09 (Andover; baseball, basketball and football), Deklan Robinson ’12 (Hamilton; soccer and track & field), Alexander Moore ’13 (Boxford; football, basketball and baseball), and Brian Pinho ’13 (North Andover; ice hockey). It marked the first time since 2008 that a former or active St. John’s coach was not inducted.
Kent, MVP of the 1992 football team, a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete, and still a Manchester resident, credited the Prep for not only giving him a platform for athletic success, but also delivering life building blocks that he relies on to this day.
“You don’t realize how much you love St. John’s and how much of an impact it’s had on you until you move on from it,” he said. “My time on campus became the framework from which I developed important life skills: time management, classroom discipline and preparation, collaboration and critical thinking, handling success and failure in a competitive environment with humility and grace, and compassion and understanding. I look back 30 years later and these tenets have been instrumental to how I’ve grown as a person, as a friend, as a colleague, and perhaps in my most important job: as a parent.”
Kent serves as a managing director at the investment bank BellMark Partners.
Fellow inductee Pinho, a two-time ice hockey captain who was named to the Boston Herald Dream Team, echoed Kent’s sentiment.
“My memories on the ice or the field will always be important to me, but the beauty of the Prep is that the school is able to teach its students the importance of building relationships with all of your peers, and not simply the people you played sports with,” said Pinho, a forward with the New York Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, CT. “Teachers and coaches taught me the importance of treating everyone with respect, something that I continue to live my life by daily.”
“At St. John’s, we devote ourselves to building an athletic culture that understands sports is about more than just wins and losses,” said Head of School Ed Hardiman, Ph.D. P’19 ’21 ’26. “Being a student-athlete is about learning and working to be your best. Through our Hall of Fame, we celebrate athletes, teams, coaches, and individuals who have developed habits of excellence that extend far beyond the realm of athletics.”
The 1997 football squad is well remembered as one of the Eagles’ most successful teams in history, especially considering its wire-to-wire dominance. Ranked No. 1 in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 the entire season, this roster soared to an 11-0 record, culminating with a Super Bowl win over New Bedford.
Honoring DePlacido, a fixture at the Salem News for more than two decades, was a bitter-sweet moment. Often called the “The Mother of North Shore Sports,” DePlacido passed away this past summer at the age of 80. She covered Prep athletics, especially football, starting in the early 1970s when her husband, John, was a writer and photographer for the Peabody Times. While John wrote the stories and took the photos, DePlacido would keep stats and write down coach quotes. Over time, she began writing the articles and her husband would edit her work. By the mid-1980s, Jean was doing it all by herself, but continued to write under John’s name until about 2000.
A trailblazer in her field, DePlacido was one of the first women on the North Shore to cover local sports. While she never sought the spotlight, she received recognition from various teams for her work. The daughter of the late Arthur and Mildred (Haney) Ramsdell, she was raised and educated in Winchester and graduated with Winchester High’s Class of 1961. She continued her education at the former Boston State College, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1965. She worked as an elementary school teacher in Medford Public Schools system before becoming a prolific sportswriter.