2013 Phelps Scholar-Athletes

 The 2013 Boston Globe/Richard Phelps Scholar-Athletes: Back row, from left, Needham’s Ned Connolly, Lunenburg’s Greg Abare, Arlington Catholic’s Kevin Connors, Melrose’s Zeke Vainer, and Latin Academy’s Nikiander Pelari. Front row, from left, Avon’s Maegan Hoffman, St. Mary’s Alison Butler, Braintree’s Rachel Norton, Auburn’s Erin Scanlon, Charlestown’s Sara Centeio, Gloucester’s Sophia Black, and Lexington’s Sara Lehman. Not pictured, A-B’s Tim Cox and Barnstable’s Nick Peabody.
Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff
The 2013 Boston Globe/Richard Phelps Scholar-Athletes: Back row (from left), Needham’s Ned Connolly, Lunenburg’s Greg Abare, Arlington Catholic’s Kevin Connors, Melrose’s Zeke Vainer, and Latin Academy’s Nikiander Pelari. Front row (from left), Avon’s Maegan Hoffman, St. Mary’s Alison Butler, Braintree’s Rachel Norton, Auburn’s Erin Scanlon, Charlestown’s Sara Centeio, Gloucester’s Sophia Black, and Lexington’s Sara Lehman. Not pictured, A-B’s Tim Cox and Barnstable’s Nick Peabody.

Meet the standout performers who earned honors for their work on and off the field this year.

Sophia Black


Black was a Northeastern Conference All-Star in cross-country, basketball, and softball for the Fishermen her senior season. When she wasn’t averaging almost 15 points a game on the basketball court, Black was likely practicing on her cello, which she has played since fourth grade, or peer-mentoring her classmates. Considering the fact that the three-sport athlete also graduated 12th in her class of 234, one would be hard-pressed to find a better mentor. Black is a member of the National Honor Society and volunteers with Gloucester City Wide Basketball and Cape Ann Animal Aide. “Not only does Sophie always strive for her personal best, but she is also a young woman possessing the talent and desire to make a positive difference in our world,” said Gloucester principal Erik Anderson. Black hopes to play collegiate basketball at Wheaton, explaining that her “greatest athletic experience has been with basketball.”

Tim Cox


During his time at Acton-Boxborough, Cox was a five-time cross-country Dual County League champion and nine-time indoor track all-star. He was also a four-time Globe All-Scholastic selection in outdoor track and his 4x400 team won the state title at the All-State meet. “Tim is a true student of the sport and spends the extra effort asking very involved questions,” said Colonials track coach Brian Crossman. Essentially, there’s not much Cox didn’t accomplish on the A-B track. In the classroom, Cox finished with SAT scores of 730 or higher in each section and was fifth in his graduating class. “If ever there was a kid who was deserving, it is Tim,” said Acton-Boxborough principal Alixe Callen. “In addition to his incredible academic and athletic achievements, he is a magnificent role model to the students in our community.” Cox served as a member of Callen’s school council that met monthly to provide feedback and input on school initiatives.

Sara Centeio

Charlestown/Holy Cross


At Charlestown High School, Centeio was a three-sport athlete, competing in basketball, soccer, and track. She was named to the Boston City League All-Star team in both soccer and basketball, and finished second in the mile at the City League meet in 2009 and 2010. In her senior season in soccer, Centeio posted eight goals and three assists. On the basketball court, she averaged 19.5 points per game. “I can say with confidence that Sara is the most determined athlete I have ever coached,” said Townies girls’ basketball coach Alexandra Ventura. Academically, she finished No. 2 in her class of 201 students with a 4.82 grade point average. “Being the youngest of 15 children, one may find it difficult to be unique or stand out,” said Charlestown guidance counselor William Thomas. “But one student manages to defy this stereotype with flying colors. She is one of the most outgoing, vibrant, and top-notch students I have ever worked with in my 10 years as a guidance counselor.” Centeio is also a National Honor Society and Europe Trip Club member.

Sara Lehman


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A decorated three-sport athlete with a pair of 800s on her SAT résumé, Lehman is equal parts scholar and athlete. As captain of the ice hockey team, Lehman earned Middlesex League All-Star honors three times and finished her career with 77 goals and 72 assists. This winter she also played in the Mass. Coaches Association High School All-Star Game. Lehman also earned all-star honors in field hockey, finishing her career with 35 goals and 25 assists. And this spring, playing goal, she led her team to the MIAA postseason and again earned Middlesex League All-Star honors. None of her sports kept her from excelling in the classroom. She was a member of the National Honor Society and earned a gold medal on the National Spanish Exam and National Latin Exam. Her combined SAT score of 2,370 represents near-perfection. “Her insight and candor, as well as her well-thought advice and suggestions, have been instrumental to improving not only the teams she has been a part of here in Lexington, but all our teams,” said principal Laura Lasa. “Her greatest quality is her character.” As proof, she was awarded a 2013 Outstanding Lexington Youth Award, given to two Lexington seniors who have gone above and beyond to give back to their community, have strong academic standing, are of sound character, and display outstanding leadership qualities.

Nikiander Pelari

Latin Academy/Holy Cross

Pelari put all of his athletic energy toward his role as defender on the Latin Academy soccer team during high school. For his efforts, he was named to the Boston City League All-Star team from 2010-12 and was team captain this year. During the offseason, Pelari cocaptained the Dutch Masters indoor soccer club in the Sudbury Division 1 Indoor Soccer League. The Dutch Masters reached the finals for four consecutive seasons with Pelari on the roster. “In a long and distinguished career, he will be remembered for his dedication and total commitment to the team and the school,” said Latin Academy boys’ soccer coach Dennis Allen. “He often was my voice on the field and he demanded and got from his teammates their best effort.” On the SATs, Pelari scored a 1,760, with a 630 in the history subject test and 650 on the math. While studying for the SATs and taking four Advanced Placement classes at Latin Academy, Pelari also worked at two restaurants and interned as a dock assistant at UMass-Boston. “Nikiander is very bright, articulate, focused, linguistically talented, and a credit to Boston Latin Academy and the Greater Boston community,” said his Ancient Greek teacher Paul Properzio.

Zeke Vainer


Vainer finished his senior year at Melrose High School with a 4.61 grade point average after taking eight Advance Placement courses and recording an SAT score of 2,070. A two-sport athlete, Vainer was captain of both the soccer and wrestling teams. He was a Middlesex League All-Star in soccer and qualified for the state championships in the 182-pound weight class for wrestling this year. Vainer was goalie for the soccer team, recording 25 shutouts over three seasons manning the net. “He is the reason that in any game we scored, we either won or tied, with the exception of one game,” said Melrose boys’ soccer coach Dean Serino. The accomplished athlete is also a member of the Melrose Alliance Against Violence, helping to educate his community about healthy dating relationships. In this role, Vainer attended and spoke at a conference at the White House on the subject of healthy relationships. Melrose guidance counselor Jeff Bolduc commended Vainer’s extracurricular activities, saying he has “worked closely with Zeke as his guidance counselor and I am familiar with his work as a community leader. I can say, without reservation, he is one of the top students I have encountered in my years as an educator.”

Ned Connolly


Needham’s class president for 2013 finished his time at the school as captain of the lacrosse team after playing sports year-round. In his final regular season as a Rocket, Connolly was named a Bay State Conference All-Star. He was also a guard for the football team and earned a Bay State All-Star honorable mention as captain of the track team this past winter. In the classroom, Connolly finished with a 4.71 GPA and made a lasting impression on teachers like Patrick Corcoran. “Ned is a very special student,” said Corcoran, a physics teacher. “He is a naturally talented physics student. For as strong as he is intellectually, he is even more mature, responsible, and hard-working.” Connolly was also described as a “mature, confident, and well-rounded young man who holds high personal values and is highly respected by all his peers,” by his Advanced Placement US History teacher, Sherrill Neilsen. Considering his role as a three-sport athlete, class president, and avid student, it’s fair to say Connolly was one of the most active members of the Needham High School student body.

Rachel Norton



When reviewing all of Norton’s efforts at Braintree High School, it’s hard not to come back to athletic director Michael Denise’s comment that she is “the real deal.” Norton is the Wamps’ all-time leader for assists in a season in girls’ volleyball. She helped bring the girls’ basketball team to the Division 1 EMass final her last two seasons on the team. She averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals per game. “Every team has a certain personality attached to it that is often determined by a team’s leader,” said girls’ basketball coach Kristen McDonnell. “We were extremely fortunate to take on Rachel’s personality: fiercely competitive, tough, intense, hard-working, fun-loving, smart, talented, and classy.” In addition to captaining both the girls’ volleyball and basketball teams, she was also the girls’ lacrosse captain this year. Norton is a member of both the National Honor and Spanish National Honor Society and also the student body president. Even with all of her extracurricular activities, Norton ranked 11th in her class of 378 students. “She is truly a mature young lady who gives of herself in bettering her teams, our school, and this community,” said Braintree headmaster James Lee.

Nick Peabody


A talented two-sport athlete, Peabody started off his senior year by earning the Globe’s Division 1A Player of the Year award in football. The Barnstable quarterback finished his career with 42 touchdown passes and 3,500 yards through the air. The team won two Old Colony League titles with Peabody at quarterback, and he finished the fall playing in the Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. In the spring, the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation named him one of its Scholar-Athletes. He also played basketball and was a cocaptain for the Red Raiders. He averaged a double-double per game on the varsity team. Peabody finished No. 1 in his senior class and had a 2,190 SAT score. “Over the last three years, I have come to know Nick’s intelligence, work ethic, and passion for all endeavors. He is the complete student-athlete,” said Barnstable principal Patrick Clark. Football coach Chris Widden echoed Clark’s words, saying, “Nick Peabody represents all of the positive characteristics you hope to see in a high school student-athlete. When you combine his academic excellence and his athletic prowess with the drive and dedication to maximize his potential, you have a pretty special individual.” Peabody will attend Princeton University this fall.

Maegan Hoffman


Finishing No. 1 in her class of 58 students at Avon Middle High School, Hoffman had an SAT score of 2,090 and a 4.08 grade point average. She was also a three-sport athlete, playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. Since her sophomore year, Hoffman was a captain for both the basketball and softball teams. On the court, she was a Mayflower Athletic Conference All-Star in 2010 and 2011 and finished with 798 career points. On the softball field, she was the Mayflower MVP from 2010-13 and made the league all-star team as a freshman in 2009. She finished the regular season this spring with 46 career wins on the mound and 236 hits, including 11 home runs. When she wasn’t racking up MVP awards, Hoffman was leading her fellow students as class president from her freshman year up until graduation. “I believe that Maegan truly cares about the success of her class and her school,” said Avon principal Sharon Hansen. Hoffman and her family also hosted two students from China each of the last two years. “Maegan has taken advantage of every opportunity that has been available to her while she has been a high school student, both in and out of the classroom,” said Avon guidance counselor Myles McPartland.

Gregory Abare

Lunenburg/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

As a member of Lunenburg’s football team, Abare played quarterback, defensive end, outside linebacker, and tight end. He was also a team captain and Wachusett League MVP. In his senior season, Abare threw 18 touchdown passes and ran for 1,234 yards. At defensive end, he recorded 37 tackles, including eight sacks. “Greg is a true leader,” praised Lunenburg football coach Steven Boone. “Greg is the go-to guy. He is also the one who is always willing to help the younger kids.” Abare also played basketball and ran track at Lunenburg, captaining and earning an all-star nomination in basketball. With a grade point average of 91.5 (out of 100), he finished No. 6 in his class of 124 students. On the SAT, Abare posted a score of 1,810. “In addition to his accomplishments in the classroom and on the athletic fields, Greg is also an active member of the Lunenburg community,” said Lunenburg principal Brian Spadafino. “He is a member of the Lunenburg High School chapter of Best Buddies. During the course of the year, he meets with his Buddy inside and outside of school.”

Erin Scanlon


The soon-to-be River Hawk wrapped up her high school career at Auburn as a two-year captain on both the basketball and softball teams as well as a one-year captain of the soccer team. Scanlon was a Southern Worcester County League All-Star all four years with the soccer team and two times with the basketball and softball teams. She finished with 500 career points on the basketball court, 45 goals in soccer, and a .424 batting average in softball. “I have watched her grow and mature into a humble academic scholar, a state-recognized student-athlete, and a trustworthy and self-confident young woman who is determined to succeed in whatever she puts her mind to,” said Rockets girls’ basketball coach Ellen Kaschuluk. Scanlon was also president of the school’s International Club and vice president of Auburn’s chapter of the National Honor Society as well as several other committees and clubs. “Throughout high school, Erin has made time to volunteer locally with youth sports as well as Bible School,” said Auburn director of guidance Tess Jarvis. “She has the ability to prioritize while still finding time to enjoy herself as a teenager.”

Alison Butler

St. Mary’s/Saint Anselm


A two-sport athlete, Butler played for the varsity softball and ice hockey team all four years at St. Mary’s. She helped the Spartans win two Division 1 state titles in girls’ hockey and was twice named to the Globe hockey Super Team. “Throughout her four years on the varsity ice hockey team, Alison has proven to be an outstanding leader and an exceptional example for her fellow student-athletes,” said St. Mary’s girls’ hockey coach Frank Pagliuca. In softball, she was named a Catholic Central League All-Star in 2012 and ’13 and was a member of the Division 3 championship team her freshman year of 2010 as well as this year’s Division 3 state finalists. “Alison is a superb athlete and is one of the finest offensive hockey players our school has ever produced,” said St. Mary’s principal Carl DiMaiti. “She is also an excellent softball player.” In addition to her accomplishments on the field, Butler has been an avid volunteer for her church, St. Richard’s. She has also volunteered at Camp Sunshine. “Alison approaches all of her responsibilities with great determination, character, and commitment,” said Pagliuca. Even with many hours of volunteer work and playing two sports, Butler still found time to dedicate to academics, finishing No. 28 in her senior class of 137 students with a 3.34 grade point average.

Kevin Connors

Arlington Catholic/Amherst College

Through his four years of playing three sports at Arlington Catholic, Connors was a a six-time Catholic Central League All-Star. He was an all-star all four years he ran cross-country and once each in basketball and outdoor track. “Kevin began having success in cross-country and track right from the start of his freshman year,” said Cougars track and cross-country coach Matthew Killion. “As much as I have enjoyed coaching Kevin, I have enjoyed getting to know him as a person even more. His intellect is far beyond that of the average high school senior.” Academically, Connors finished in the top 10th percentile of his senior class of 182 students with a 4.4 grade point average. He had an SAT score of 2,170 and scored a 550 or higher in his three SAT II subject tests. When not at Arlington Catholic, Connors could be found volunteering for the Belmont Recreation Department or Stowe Running Camp. He is also a National Honor Society member. “Kevin has somehow balanced his heavy academic load and athletic responsibilities with a wide array of extracurricular activities,” said Arlington Catholic principal Stephen Biagioni.

Phelps Scholar-Athlete nominees

District A

 Acton-Boxborough: Tim Cox. Amesbury: Emily Martin, Cassie Schultz. Beverly: Mike Dooling, Natalie Shea. Gloucester: Sophia Black, Jacob Holscher. Haverhill: Jackie Solimine. Ipswich: Sarah Keiran. Lincoln-Sudbury: Amanda Sifferlen, Paul Sorbo. Lynn Classical: Monta Connolly, Kyle Devin. Lynn English: Michael Gately, Lauren Pohlmeyer. Lynnfield: Abigail Norwood, Conor Sullivan. Masconomet: Dylan Mann, Becca Phillips. Newburyport: Jackie Krusemark. Notre Dame (Tyngsborough): Colleen Brothers. Triton: Connor Barry, Ryan Clay. Westford: Kelly Huber. Winthrop: David Gallo.

District B

 Belmont: Katie Leinbach, Matthew Muckjian. Boston English: Trayana Mair, Annie Mora. Burlington: Anthony Cruz, Derek DeCastro. Charlestown: Sara Centeio. Everett: Alea Martinelli, Juliana Martins. Latin Academy: Nikiander Pelari. Lexington: Jeff Lang, Sara Lehman. Madison Park: Kevin Bernandez. Melrose: Olivia Downey, Zeke Vainer. Winchester: Megan Hennessey.

District C

 Barnstable: Kayla Crook, Nick Peabody. Bellingham: Meg Edwards. Braintree: Rachel Norton. Dennis-Yarmouth: Allyson Collette, Elizabeth Egan. Hingham: Maggie Watson. Holliston: Lindy Kyger. Hull: Stephanie Striglio. Mansfield: Kelly McGee. Medfield: Mimi Borkan. Milton: Juliana Rush. Monomoy: Meghan Richer. Needham: Hallie Armstrong, Ned Connolly, Alyssa Raskind, Sam Tillotson, Caroline Turner. North Quincy: Brianna Mullaney, Danielle Mullaney. Whitman-Hanson: Gianna Cacciatore.

District D

 Avon: Maegan Hoffman. Barnstable: Nick Peabody, Kayla Crook. Bishop Feehan: Evan Grandfield. Bishop Stang: Morgan Lester, Jack Murphy. Bourne: Jack Canterbury, Amanda Wright. Bristol-Plymouth: Grace Anderson, David Nunes. Dighton-Rehoboth: Veronica Delaney, Liam Hoye. Durfee: Bailey Brooks, Emmanuel Fernandez. Martha’s Vineyard: Alayna Hutchinson, Jack Roberts. New Bedford: Alexis DeBrosse. Wareham: Wyatt Harunk, Elizabeth St. Germain.

District E

 Abby Kelley Foster: Gloria Essien, Isaac Nyarko. Algonquin: Mike Halloran. Assabet: Paul Harpin. Auburn: Erin Scanlon, Mike Vaitkunas. Clinton: Jill Hazel. David Prouty: Ashley O’Hara. Grafton: Tyler Reilly. Groton-Dunstable: Mike Keating, Adam Kmetz. Hudson: Kara Knights. Littleton: Kim Lizotte, Chris Murray. Lunenburg: Gregory Abare, Molly O’Connell. Maynard: Michael Fitzgerald, Taylor Kapsimalis. Narragansett: Krista Webb. North Middlesex: Chapel Guarnieri, Robert Johnston. Oxford: Emily Dawidczyk. Quabbin: Maggie Lacwasan, Ryan Wine. Sutton: Zack Brogie, Elaina Falcone. Tantasqua: Jessica Frio, Alex Hellyar. Uxbridge: Emily Cahill, Andy Reardon. Westborough: Mark Aronson, Kim Bretta. Worcester South: Andre de Souza Licht, Colleen Lynch.

District H

 Arlington Catholic: Kevin Connors. Cardinal Spellman: Lenny Paoletta. Fontbonne: Caroline Staples. Lowell Catholic: Cathryn DeMarco, Joe Levassuer. Marian: Cameron Hager, Maria Schwab. Notre Dame (Hingham): Julianne McShane, Shauna Owen. St. Clement: Allison Caloggero. St. John’s Prep: Matthew Brady. St. Mary’s: Patrick Barceleau, Alison Butler. Xaverian: Dana Pagliuca.