On a December morning in 1972, Newton North freshman Brian Vallely was eyewitness to state football history.
Vallely played on special teams for a Tiger squad that qualified for the first Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.
North lost to Brockton, 16-14, in the Division 1 championship game.
“It was a great experience and the first time I had played on artificial turf,’’ recalled the 59-year-old Vallely, now an officer with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Insider Threat Mitigation Team.
It was the final game for North head coach Jim Ronayne.
“He was a true gentleman, with a thoughtful, cerebral demeanor,” said Vallely. “My final three years, our head coach was Jim’s former assistant, Norm Walker, who taught English and wrote po
etry and prose and got inside your soul.’’
Vallely also wrestled and was a goalie on the lacrosse team at North.
A knee injury prevented him from playing in the Agganis All-Star football game his senior year and also limited him to one season on the gridiron in college.
At Curry, Vallely was a goaltender on the Milton school’s first varsity ice hockey team and a varsity baseball player for four seasons for his father, Jack.
The elder Vallely, a star athlete at St. Mary’s High in Waltham, coached at Curry for an NCAA-record 51 seasons (1948-98), compiling a 726-278-4 record. The Curry baseball diamond is named for him.
Brian, a 1978 Curry graduate who resides in the Beacon Hill section of Boston, was his father’s as
sistant coach for 22 of those years.
“As a young boy, all I ever wanted was to be like my dad,’’ he said. “As a coach, I would tell my players that in time, when your ability to hit, throw, or catch a baseball becomes less important, what endures are your personal qualities.
“The greatest tribute you can be given is simply that you were a good teammate and a good person.’’
After graduation, Vallely worked as a special education teacher at Dedham High School and as director of Curry’s conference center and director of development.
He has also owned and operated sports camps and, like his dad, scouted for major league baseball teams.
“On Feb. 9, 1999, in what would have been my father’s 52d year of coaching at Curry College, he suffered a stroke,’’ Brian recalled. “On that day, my focus turned from coaching to caring for my dad, who died 10 years later.
“My father would often tell his players that if you are ever tempted to give up in a game that you would take that same approach to life. He would tell them you must fight through adversity — which he did.’’
Vallely said his current job has been “a worthwhile endeavor, particularly meaningful in a post-9/11 world. Working with dedicated individuals who support the mission, vision, and values of protecting our country is humbling and an honor.’’
Marvin Pave can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.