In East Boston, one family name has risen to prominence on the softball diamond over the past 15 years.
Robert Elliott was a football, hockey, and baseball player at East Boston High. He later devoted much of his adult life coaching his four daughters — Renee, Danielle, Kayla, and Brittany — in softball.
In 2007, Renee threw her first pitch for East Boston, beginning a 15-year run of an Elliott working in the circle that concluded this spring when Brittany, the youngest, threw her final pitch as a senior..
“I had no idea then that this game would become something my sisters would also fall in love with,” said Renee, now 29 and a teacher in the Boston Public Schools. “It has been an incredible experience to watch each of them become strong, fierce competitors.”
The Elliotts all wore the number 17, a tradition they picked up from their dad. Robert wore 17 at Eastie and developed an attachment to the number. That attachment was passed on to his daughters, who see the number as an extension of themselves.
“Any time we stepped onto the diamond, we were representing ourselves, along with our family members before us who wore that jersey number,” said Kayla, now 22. “At this point, 17 isn’t just a number to us, it’s part of who we are . . . Every time we see the number somewhere we immediately think of one another.”
When Brittany walked away from the circle after her final game, the emotions hit the entire family. It was the end of an era, one that went by too quickly.
“I don’t think we realized how special our tradition was until my youngest sister walked off the field for the last time wearing the uniform,” said Danielle, 25, who works in social media engagement.
“For 15 years straight we didn’t have to question who was going to be wearing the jersey next because we knew one of the Elliott sisters would be taking it over. In the end we realized we had something so special and so rare that not many people get to say they had.”
The East Boston High softball field is where this family shared so many memories. There were senior days, all-star festivities, championship games, and countless practices. While those on the outside may not understand the significance, the entire Elliott family blossomed on that diamond for 15 years.
“We all watched one another grow as people and as players as we were building our legacy on that field,” said 17-year-old Brittany, who plans to try out for the Salem State softball team. “The memories we created extended beyond our family. We all shared ups and downs as individuals and as teammates.”
First-year East Boston softball coach, Amanda Abromson, considers the family to be great people.
“The Elliott family is just one of those families that everyone knows, and to know them is to love them,” said Abromson, who has been working at East Boston since 2015. “They’re respectful, polite, smart, and they do well in the classroom and on the field.”
Their father, said East Boston athletic director Mike Smith, was incredibly dedicated in making sure they were ready to take the field.
“They are good character kids, too,” Smith said. “In the classroom, you couldn’t ask for better kids.”
Rita Elliott, who has also played a large role in the success of her daughters as both athletes and students, works at East Boston High.
“Without my wife none of this have been possible,” said Robert.
The Elliott sisters have left a legacy, but their father plans to stay on with the Jets as an assistant coach.
“I breathe Blue and Gold until the day I die,” said Robert. “It’s a new era and I’m not going to abandon those kids.”
The East Boston motto is “class, pride, and tradition.” There is no family that greater exemplifies those three words than the Elliotts.
“The only way schools like East Boston High survive is people who come back and give their time to something they enjoy,” Robert said. “If you don’t give back and you’re not part of that school then the traditions are lost forever.”