This weekend's basketball tournament in his hometown of Milford is a fitting tribute to Paul “Wally’’ Seaver, honoring his 30 years as a high school and youth basketball coach in several area communities, and his courageous fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly know as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Organized by his son, Paul M. Seaver, a former basketball captain at Milford High who surprised his dad with the details on Father's Day, the tourney will feature 16 boys’ high school teams clashing on the courts at Milford High and Milford (East) Middle School on Saturday and Sunday.
Each squad paid a $275 entry fee that along with ticket sales and corporate and individual donations will be presented to the Falmouth-based Compassionate Care ALS, an organization that has aided the Seaver family, and help support ALS research.
Wally Seaver was diagnosed on Feb. 16, 2011, the day he coached his final game with the Wellesley High junior varsity.
A 1977 graduate of Milford High, where he played basketball and football, the 53-year-old Seaver was the JV basketball coach at Milford High and then the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Franklin High until 1999. His 1998-99 Franklin team won the Hockomock League title.
For the next eight years he coached his two sons, Paul and Daniel, in the Milford Youth Basketball program.
“I've followed his example and inherited his passion ever since I was on the sidelines when Dad coached at Franklin,’’ said Paul, a basketball all-star in the Midland Wachusett League’s A Division in high school, and 2011 graduate of Nichols College.
“It took about five or six weeks to put this tournament together, but we had all the teams lined up in two weeks and in time for Father's Day,’’ added Seaver, a graduate student in the sports leadership program at Northeastern University.
The teams are Milford, Hopedale, Blackstone-Millville, Ashland, Uxbridge, Sutton, Wachusett, Lunenburg, Framingham, Franklin, Wellesley, Brookline, Dedham, Canton, Mount St. Charles in Woonsocket, R.I., and Rocky Hill High in Connecticut.
The out-of-state connection is also about family.
“My uncle, Tom Seaver [no relation to the Hall of Fame pitcher], is varsity baseball coach with two state titles at Mount St. Charles,’’ explained Paul Seaver, who also was an assistant basketball coach in 2009-10 and 2010-11 at Blackstone-Millville Regional High. “And my cousin, Tommy Seaver, is on the basketball team at Rocky Hill.”
Seaver’s best friend and a high school basketball teammate, Greg Lewis, is serving as codirector of the tournament.
Daniel Seaver has also honored his father.
A volleyball captain as a senior at Milford High, he organized an ALS fund-raiser at the team's opening game. The Endicott College-bound Seaver helped lead the Scarlet Hawks to the state championship game this spring against Cambridge Rindge & Latin.
In addition, the Milford and Wellesley varsity basketball teams played a home-and-home series last season for the same cause, with Wally Seaver watching from the sidelines.
ALS is a neurological and progressive disease that affects approximately 30,000 Americans at any given time. There is no known cure.
“This whole process has been very touching for both of us,’’ said Seaver's wife, Debbie, a 1978 Milford High graduate. “I'm not surprised that the teams jumped on board as quickly as they did, and I know my husband plans to go, especially when Milford High plays.’’
Seaver was recognized by the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association as a 2011 Assistant Coach of the Year. Last October, the Milford Youth Center Gymnasium was renamed the Paul F. Seaver Gymnasium in his honor. He is a past chairman of the youth center’s commission, and past president of the Milford Amateur Basketball Association.
In March, he received the Emilio E. Diotalevi Memorial Award for his devotion to Milford area youth and the sport of basketball, an award given by the South Central Massachusetts Board 208 of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials.
“Wally is unsung in his mentoring and tireless efforts on behalf of youth in the Milford area and one of the most humble individuals you’d want to meet,’’ said Board 208 past president Ron Martel of Bellingham. “It's our highest award and no one was more deserving.’’
For the tournament schedule, go to www.facebook.com/WallySeaverHighSchoolInvitational. For other information, Paul Seaver can be reached at 508-498-9864, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an e-mail, the elder Seaver said he and his wife are very proud of the efforts of their sons to organize fund-raisers for ALS awareness.
“We have been blessed with two great boys,” he said. “We are not surprised at their devotion to this cause. Paul has done a wonderful job communicating with the high school basketball coaches. Putting together a tournament is not an easy job, but Paul has done it with tremendous emotion for me. I have had so much comfort from family, friends and the community. There has been unbelievable love and support.''
Here and there
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