Why play? To be with
a team, says alumnus
Joel Israel , a former football and track captain at Andover High, delivered inspiring words as alumni speaker at the B’nai B’rith Sports Lodge of New England’s All-Scholastic Awards breakfast last Sunday in Dedham.
A 2011 graduate of Bates College, Israel was a B’nai B’rith honoree five years ago.
“Someone once asked me why I played for four years [at Bates] and had only been a part of six wins. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer,’’ Israel told the gathering of standout Jewish high school athletes and their families. “Today I can say there was no alternative other than to do what I loved.
“I learned passion. I learned pride. And I learned that there is nothing like the camaraderie of being part of a team,’’ he said. “The feeling of brotherhood is unmatched. The bonds you build can last a lifetime.’’
The Merrimack Valley Conference’s Lineman of the Year, and a Globe All-Scholastic his senior year at Andover, Israel registered 75 tackles and 11 sacks for the 8-3 Golden Warriors at nose guard. At Bates, the 5-foot-11, 230-pound Israel played in every game his junior and senior seasons, registering career totals of 45 tackles and 2 sacks.
Israel, who now works in the finance industry, added that “each problem you solve or goal you achieve closes one door but opens another. It doesn’t get easier — you just get better at it.’’
Honorees at the 32d annual affair included Emily Freedland, a sophomore point guard who led Marblehead High in scoring and 3-pointers, and Masconomet Regional sophomore outfielder Alexandra Mendelsohn of Middleton, who led the Cape Ann League Division 1 champions in batting average, runs, and on-base percentage.
The Saul Nechtem All-Around Athlete Award, named for the late Chelsea High coach and athletic director, was presented to Needham High senior basketball/lacrosse standout Tory Waldstein (Harvard) and Sharon High tennis star Eric Bloom (Cornell).
Amputee, 14, runs
with a passion
Brendan Driscoll, a 14-year-old amputee sprinter from Essex who set an American record in his age group in the 100- and 200-meter dash, has been invited to the US Paralympic Track and Field Trials that begin Friday in Indianapolis.
He will be the youngest competitor — by six years — according to Paralympic officials.
Driscoll, who was born with a congenital anomaly that required the amputation of his lower left leg when he was 5, was fitted with a custom-designed prosthetic leg three years later at the Hanger Clinic in Methuen.
An incoming 9th-grader at Manchester-Essex Regional High, Driscoll competed at the Kansas Relays in April and gained confidence after posting qualifying times among a field of experienced record-setting sprinters.
“It's very exciting. I never thought I’d get there at this age and while I don’t expect to go to the London Paralympics, it will be a good motivation for me to keep running,’’ said Driscoll, who began racing competitively in 2007 and whose dream is to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Driscoll, who works with personal and strength trainers, has raised more than $25,000 for the San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation.
“They gave me my first running leg, and they also supply me with travel grants,’’ said Driscoll, who has competed in 15 triathlons. Last year, he posted the best time in the 1.3-mile swim at the foundation’s San Diego Triathlon Challenge.
“When Brendan was very young,’’ said his mother, Ginger, “all he wanted to do was run. Hanger Prosthetics really changed his life, and now Brendan is running in hopes of showing other young amputees what is possible.’’
Vesey, Blackwell get
Lake Placid invites
North Reading’s Jim Vesey and North Andover’s Colin Blackwell are among 46 invitees to USA Hockey’s National Junior Development Camp, to be held Aug. 4-11 in Lake Placid, N.Y. They will be vying for a spot on the US team that will take part in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
A 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward, Vesey scored 48 goals (16 on the power play) and racked up a league-record 91 points in 45 games for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League last season. He has committed to Harvard, but was projected to be a second- or third-round pick in this weekend’s NFL draft. His father, also Jim, a prolific scorer at Merrimack College, was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the eighth round of the 1984 amateur draft and played briefly with the Bruins in 1991.
Blackwell, drafted in the seventh round by the San Jose Sharks last summer and a two-time Globe All-Scholastic at St. John’s Prep, is coming off an impressive freshman season at Harvard. The 5-10, 175-pound Blackwell had 5 goals and 14 assists in 34 games and was an ECAC Rookie of the Week.
Here and there
Phillips Andover Academy graduate Cayla Hatton was second in the 5K at the USA Junior National Championships last weekend at Indiana University, qualifying her for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona next month. . . . Merrimac’s Matt McDermott, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback who threw for 1,318 yards and 11 touchdowns at Central Catholic High last season, and Emmitt Smith, a 5-foot-8, 165 pound all-state speedster from Derry, N.H. who excelled at kick and punt returns at Pinkerton Academy, have committed to Bentley University.