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It basically covers everything we did, but they do interview Shepherd Hill coach Chris Lindstrom about how he feels about Holy Name Athletic Director Jim Manzello refusing to sign a simple waiver to let Kevin Mensah play at his new public school. Coach Lindstrom is notorious in the coaching community as being the guy who doesn’t really care about winning, but wins all the time anyway. He helped his team prepare all week, but in order to draw attention to the fact that adults at Holy Name won’t let a kid play football at the school he takes classes at, Coach Lindstrom sat out the game. They play St. John’s this week and he’s gonna do it again:
“If he doesn’t play this week, we’re going to do the same thing,” the coach said. “We don’t care about wins and losses. That’s not why we’re doing this. If I sit out to support him, I know our other kids will see that and know I’d do the same thing for them if it needed to be done.”
That’s a leader right there. That’s a guy who is in it for the kids. He feels confident enough in his assistants to have them coach the game itself so that he can show how committed he is to his students. There’s a reason 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.
Of course this hasn’t stopped morons on the Internet from writing stupid things.
Illegally recruiting? You think this is Friday Night Lights? The kid’s mother lives in Worcester, but his cousin (who he is apparently close with) lives in Dudley and Kevin stays at his house a lot. And since his cousin had a great experience at Shepherd Hill, and since he is well within his rights to apply for school choice, he did so and attends Shepherd Hill now. He lives with family, goes to the closest school, and chose this school because they’re very good academically and it would help him get into a good college. God forbid a kid think about his future and act in his own self interest.
But just to show you how dumb and wrong these people claiming he was recruited are, here’s what Coach Lindstrom told the Turtlegram:
Lindstrom said he offered to send Mensah back to Holy Name, or to North High — his public high school — if it allowed Mensah to play football again.
“I’m doing everything I can to help Kevin emotionally,” Lindstrom said. “What they’re doing to this young man is despicable in my mind, I don’t care what the rules are — figure it out. … It’s crazy to think about what they’re doing. We just want him to be able to play football, and if they decide that one school is better for him than another, I’ll drive him there myself.”
Does that sound like a guy who gives a shit about winning? He knows that the only reason Holy Name is putting up a stink about this is because he chose to go to a school that’s better at football than them. So he’s offered to have him to go to whatever school Holy Name sees fit. Because we all know that Holy Name wouldn’t be doing this if he transferred to North High School, since North High isn’t very good at football. Lindstrom isn’t obsessed about winning high school football games, but Holy Shame sure is.
Of course the ironic part about this is that Holy Shame recruits more than any school in the area. And they don’t even try to hide it. Remember when a 7’6″ sophomore in England just up and decided he would travel to America, board with friends of Holy Name’s J.P. Ricciardi, and play basketball for a random school in Worcester he’d never heard of before? Yea, I’m sure he wasn’t recruited at all. Because things like that just fall in your lap when you’re an academically challenged high school on Vernon Hill.
By the way, this is nothing against Neil Fingleton. Everyone who ever met the guy swears that he’s a great guy. We’re just pointing out the utter hypocrisy of a school that has been recruiting students solely for athletics for years, accusing another school of recruiting because they’re butthurt that their best player won’t be on their team anymore.
It’s not the only time something like this has happened at Holy Shame either. Mike Pucko made a name for himself coaching West Boylston football from 2001-04. One of his best young players at WB was current Indianapolis Colts tight end Emil Igwanegu. When Pucko was offered the coaching job at the much more sports oriented Holy Name, he took it and he brought his star player with him:
Igwenagu lives in Boylston, just over the line from Worcester, and played at West Boylston High before transferring to Holy Name. Pucko was his coach at West Boylston, too, and had Igwenago all the way up through his junior high days until he was a sophomore.
That’s like the definition of recruiting. But it’s OK when Holy Name benefits from it, just not when they lose a player. Once again, nothing against coach Pucko. People swear by this guy’s integrity, and Turtleboy has zero problem with what he did. We’re also told that Coach Pucko proudly supports Kevin Mensah’s right to play football for the school he attends. The coach doesn’t care. The Holy Name players we’ve spoken with don’t care. The only person who seems to care is Jim Manzello.
Holy Name basically formed dream teams in football and basketball while Igwanegu was there. The basketball team won back to back Central Mass titles, before eventually losing in the state championship both years. The football team dominated Central Mass and eventually won the Super Bowl. Those teams featured current Indianapolis Colts linebacker Nick Haag, former UMass football star Dominique Price, and Assumption basketball star Michael Balderelli.
But I guess it was probably just a huge coincidence that this much talent ended up on the same team, in the same school, at the same time. After all, Holy Shame has zero tolerance for recruiting. According to Holy Shame AD Jim Manzello, he has no choice but to maliciously deny at high school student the ability to go to college. Ya know, because rules are rules:
“As an MIAA member school, we are obligated to abide by all MIAA rules and regulations,” Manzello said. “Presently, this circumstance is in process with the MIAA, and are unable to comment further on it.”
What a garbage human being this guy is. Do you have any shame dude? All you have to do is sign the Goddamn piece of paper. That’s it. The details are irrelevant. All you need to know is an adult was handed paperwork that he knows will directly impact the ability of a KID to have an opportunity to get a college scholarship, and he’s not signing it because he’s selfish, petty, and thinks that high school sports are some sort of end-all. If you’re butthurt about him going to Shepherd Hill, fine, whatever. Coach Lindstrom doesn’t care, and neither does Kevin Mensah since he’s willing to play for North, or even go back and play for Holy Name.
Of course this is ultimately what they wanted in the first place. Jim Manzello views Kevin Mensah not as a student athlete, but as his personal property. He owns the rights to Kevin Mensah, along with his extraordinary talent. If he can’t have him then no one can.
The messed up part about this is that Kevin Mensah has to appeal this ridiculous decision to the MIAA. And guess who sits on the MIAA’s board?
Yup, Jim Manzello. But he’s not the only one on the committee, so we’d really like to see Ray Cosenza, William Foley, Bill Leaver, Christopher Kursonis, James Pignataro, and Brian Reagan put some pressure on him to do the right thing. Because God knows he can’t be trusted to do the right thing on his own.
Most importantly, this is a CATHOLIC school. What kind of catholic school does this to a kid? This is what Jesus would do? Refuse to sign a simple waiver? Oh that’s right, catholic schools are only catholic in name. In reality they’re a place that gives away scholarships to the best athletes that the city has to offer so they can put together dream teams. Jim Manzello is the squid on the far right in the sweater vest:
He never misses a photo op when one of his athletes signs a recruiting letter to college:
He’s always there to celebrate district and state championships:
And to pose for pictures with the never ending list of alumni who he helped pry away from public schools:
All he has to do is sign the paperwork. Even if this kid was “recruited,” which he wasn’t, what does it matter? Jim Manzello has been recruiting for years. Most importantly this isn’t about Jim Manzello. He’s an adult trying to live out his glory years. This is about Kevin Mensah, and kids like him going forward who should not have their futures robbed from them by vindictive adults who must win at all costs. We encourage you to keep calling the school and emailing them to let them know that they need to sign the stupid waiver and let the kid play.
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