On Friday night Shrewsbury High School and Shepherd Hill Regional squared off as two of the top football teams in Central Massachusetts. Shrewsbury won the game 34-27. But when reading the Turtlegram’s coverage of the game, this part stood out:
Shepherd Hill played without recent transfer Kevin Mensah — a standout running back when he played for Holy Name — in the active lineup, a situation that reportedly prompted coach Chris Lindstrom to sit out the game as well. “Coach Lindstrom made the decision — and the team knew about this yesterday — that in solidarity with Kevin (Mensah), if Kevin was not able to play today that he wasn’t going to coach,” said Dugan, who led the team on the sideline. “It was a decision that had the support of all of the coaches and the support of all of the players.”
“(Coach Lindstrom) believes that we are all in with Kevin, and he felt that it would be a statement that football is more than wins and losses,” said Dugan, who only stated that it was an issue with the MIAA. “Football is about is getting better and bettering yourself as a person and as a student.”
“That’s what Kevin is trying to do and the fact that he wasn’t able to play was very disappointing. Coach Lindstrom wanted to make sure that people knew — particularly our team — that we’re going to stand with him no matter what.”
Oh look, the MIAA is actively working against the best interest of kids. In other words, nothing has changed. This is an organization that schools are required to join. The MIAA then extorts money from its members for membership fees, and creates insane amounts of rules and regulations that completely take the fun out of sports. Like that time they suspended Beverly lacrosse players from playoff game because they smoked a cigar with their Dads at graduation. Or that time when they refused to reschedule a baseball playoff game become Methuen and Chelmsford, even though 40% of the players could not go to the game because of SAT’s, simply because rescheduling the game would mean less gate revenue. They literally made kids choose between the game and SAT’s. Or that time they made Gardner forfeit their swim title, and banned all other Gardner teams from participating in the postseason, unless the Mayor of Gardner handed over a state championship trophy to them.
Screwing over kids is just par for the course. Because ultimately all they care about is power and money, which is why they pay their Executive Director William Gaine a salary of over $230,000 according to their tax return.
So what was the infraction exactly? Kevin Mensah is a senior, and he is extremely fast, and very good at football and track.
He’s actually getting a lot of looks from Division 1 colleges, including UMass, Boston College, and Michigan, who he visited with recently:
He was gonna go to prep school for his senior season, so he left Holy Name. However, his mother decided that she wasn’t ready to give up her baby quite yet (because that’s how Moms can be) and he decided to enroll in nearby Shepherd Hill instead. And as you can see from his preseason highlight video for Shepherd Hill, Kevin Mensah is a dynamic and filthy football player:
But kids switch schools all the time. Especially when they’re moving from public to private schools. But I guess when the opposite happens (a student moves from private to public school) it becomes a MIAA issue. So what exactly is the problem here? Well, according to the long and arduous MIAA rules, rule 57.3 and 57.4 states the following:
Before a transfer student can be certified as eligible in a specific sport within the year of his/her transfer, the sending school principal and athletic director must certify on Form 200 by signature what the student participated in – sport & level (sub varsity, varsity or non-school team) during the year prior to the actual transfer.
The receiving High School Principal may utilize Form 200 to declare a transfer student eligible, providing it is prior to the start of the season and if the sending school Principal certifies the following (3a through 3e on Form 200):
- a. Recruitment was not involved in any way.
- b. At the time of transfer, the student was in good standing.
- c. The student would be academically eligible at the sending school.
- d. The transfer was in no way motivated by athletics.
- e. The student would have been eligible by MIAA and local rules at the sending school.
In other words, Holy Name and Shepherd Hill would both have to fill out this form, stating that Kevin Mensah was not recruited by employees of Shepherd Hill, he wasn’t flunking classes at Holy Name, and he wasn’t transferring for athletics:
OK, so the adults sign this form and the kid gets to play for his new school. That’s what is ultimately in the best interest of the kid right? And these adults are in this for the kids, correct?
Well as it turns out the administration at Holy Name is refusing to sign the form.
Why? Because they’re butthurt that his best athlete has left his school and wants to play football at a new school. Ya got that? Adults are actively trying to keep a kid from playing a sport during his senior season in which he is actively being recruited by Division 1 schools. No big deal. Not like there’s college scholarships or once in a lifetime opportunities on the line. Ed Reynolds and company don’t just let a kid walk away from their football team like that. Because ultimately your future is irrelevant. The only thing that matters to them is winning a pissing match in order to screw over a kid.
Of course the ironic part about this is that Holy Name is a “catholic” school that has long been a destination for kids who want to start super teams for sports. Parents don’t send their kids there for a good education. They send them there to keep them away from North High kids. In 1998 Holy Name had one of the top basketball teams in the state. They wanted to go over the top and win a State Championship, but they needed more height. So what did they do? They literally recruited from across the ocean. They went and found a 7’5″ sophomore named Neil Fingleton from England, who never played much basketball. They brought him here for one reason and one reason alone – to play basketball.
And play basketball he did. Here’s a true story. This Turtleboy went to South High. We sucked and we had to play them twice a year. We went to a game his junior year at Holy Name. They were beating us 98-40 with 30 seconds to go in the game. I looked down at the bottom of the bleachers we were sitting at and I noticed a South High conga-line forming, led by an Ecuadorian midget. When you see something like this you don’t ask any questions. You just jump in the line.
So we did a conga-line around the perimeter of the court during a timeout, the refs waited for us to walk out the door, and that was that. The next day I came into school and found out that everyone in that line, including Turtleboy, was suspended from school for three days. Swear to God, real story. They used to be able to suspend kids for pretty anything back in day and we didn’t whine about it. Neil Fingleton and Holy Name made us do it by beating us so badly.
At the end of the day Holy Name won just one district title, and no state titles in Fingleton’s three years there. He ended up getting a full scholarship to North Carolina, where he SUCKED, before transferring to Holy Cross, where he continued to suck. Today he is a type-casted actor who played one of the ogres on Game of Thrones.
Anyway, “recruiting” isn’t technically allowed, but as you can see from Fingleton, catholic schools have been bringing kids in for athletics for as long as they’ve existed. Look at St. Peter Marian. Very small school, with an almost all white population. Except for the starting five on their basketball team every year. St. John’s is a great school all around, but if you think kids like Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers would be going there if there basketball team sucked, then I have a horse ranch in Nantucket I’d like to sell you.
So Kevin Mensah left Holy Name and went to Shepherd Hill. He does not live in Dudley or Charlton, but that’s OK because lots of kids school choice to Shepherd Hill. When your district borders Southbridge, Webster, Spencer, and Oxford, that’s gonna happen. Plus, Wachusett, Auburn, and plenty of other public schools have been getting kids from Worcester and Fitchburg for years. Kevin technically lives in Worcester, but he stays in Dudley a lot with his cousin graduated from Shepherd Hill last year and spoke highly of his experience there. He also played on some all-star teams with Michigan tight end and former Shepherd Hill star Sean McKeon, so school choicing to Dudley was a no-brainer.
Kevin does not come from much. His mother is an immigrant from Ghana. Football has opened up new doors for him, and is his ticket to social mobility as an adult. But he’s being denied the American dream because adults at the MIAA and Holy Name are being petty. And check out who is the MIAA’s Central MA representative:
Jim Manzello – the Athletic Director from Holy Name. This is how corrupt and abusive the MIAA is. They let adults like Jim Manzello screw over kids like Kevin Mensah because they’re butthurt about a game. He has the power to end this, but he and the rest of the Holy Name administration would rather keep a poor kid out of college than see him play anywhere else but Holy Name.
One of the rules for transferring is that athletics can’t be a motivation. Good luck proving what motivation is. What you can prove though, is that Shepherd Hill is a vastly superior academically than Holy Name. They have a longer school year, a much bigger population and thus offer way more AP classes and electives. They are viewed more highly by college acceptance boards, and their teachers are all required to have Master’s Degrees. Since Kevin Mensah wants to play football in college, and college athletes are students first, this move makes perfect sense.
But instead Ed Reynolds and the MIAA are denying this kid a chance at a superior education because they don’t want Shepherd Hill’s football team, which is one of the top teams in Central MA every single year and is already much better than Holy Name, to get THAT much better than them.
Not to turn this into a racial thing either, because that’s not really our style, but Kevin Mensah is black and administration at Holy Name is all white. They’re basically treating this kid like a runaway. If the fast black kid isn’t gonna play for their school then he isn’t gonna play for anyone. Yea, that’s not a good look. How can you get away with doing that in 2016? Where’s my good friends from black lives matter on this one? Here’s a good kid who could actually use your help. Some white guys are using their power to make sure he can’t get into a decent college or play high school sports. You wanna help him, or are you too busy rounding up the next herd of misguided youths who think a song oppresses them?
Anyway, the fact that coach Chris Lindstrom sat this game out speaks volumes. He’s not your typical high school football coach. First of all, he’s a former NFL player and BU legend, who towers over the kids he coaches:
Secondly, even though Shepherd Hill football is pretty much always really good, winning isn’t his main priority. He was one of a small minority of coaches who voted against the MIAA playoff format, because he believes these are kids first and foremost, and extending the football season is detrimental towards their overall purpose as students.
Thirdly, his teams at Shepherd Hill are widely known for their sportsmanship, which is why they always seem to win those awards:
He and his staff have won three CMCFO Sportsmanship Awards (2010, 2011, 2013). He was named a recipient of the Positive Coaching Alliance’s National Double Goal Coach Award in 2014.
If coach Chris Lindstrom is sitting out a game to protest the MIAA, it’s probably a pretty legitimate beef that he has. And he’s definitely in the right. What if Kevin Mensah was leaving Holy Name because his family fell on hard times and couldn’t afford the tuition? Would they punish a student for being too poor? As of right now Kevin Mensah will not play all season, and that’s not right. We’ve called the MIAA offices in Franklin but they haven’t returned our calls. But we’d highly suggest that you call Holy Name High School and let them know how deplorable it is that these adults are purposely screwing over a kid because they’re butthurt about football:
Do the right thing MIAA and Holy Name. Let the kid play. Let the kids be kids, just this one time.
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