Seven ORR alumni inducted into athletic hall of fame
Old friends, good memories and past glories brought together former athletes and coaches to the Old Rochester Regional Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8.
For the first time since 2019, the ORR Athletic Hall of Fame has inducted new members after Covid-19 canceled previous induction ceremonies.
The seven inductees are: Mark Reeves, from the class of 1983; Meredith Days, from the class of 1986; Dean Vincent from the Class of 1990; Josh Smith, from the class of 2000; Alan Miner, from the class of 2005; Polly Lawrence, a coach who retired in 2018; and Joan Walsh, who served as ORR superintendent from 1978 to 1998.
“This is a very special group,” said Bill Tilden, the Athletic Director at ORR. “The athletes are amazing — these guys could have walked in the first [hall of fame induction].”
The first person who was presented with an award was Joan Walsh. During her time as superintendent she was a driving force in securing funding for girls’ sports at ORR, said Steve Heath, a member of the hall of fame board.
“It wasn't a welcomed idea at the time by the school committees, but she pushed through and made sure there was funding for all those programs — boys and girls,” said Heath.
Polly Lawrence, who coached girls field hockey at ORR was inducted by her protégé Lauren O'Brien who is taking over as girls field hockey coach at the school. Lawrence coached at ORR since 1982.
“Coach Lawrence genuinely cares about her past players, including me,” said O’Brien. “I am proud to stand here today to honor coach Lawrence and her dedication to female athletics here at Old Rochester.”
The next person being honored was Alan Miner, a baseball player who pitched a perfect game in 2005, the first in ORR’s history. In addition to baseball, Miner was a three-season athlete who also played basketball, football, soccer, and ran track.
Since graduating, Miner attended Salem State University and now works as a carpenter.
Josh Smith was honored for his time playing varsity tennis at ORR, where he was known as “the surgeon,” for his precision on the court, said former ORR tennis coach Jim Merchant.
Smith, who now works as a tennis coach in Connecticut, shared words of wisdom with the crowd.
“This is something that’s taken me at least 40 years to fully grasp, understand and appreciate,” said Smith. “In order to continue to grow and improve, you need to practice and focus on your weaknesses. It sounds obvious, but maybe it's not — it wasn't for me.”
Dean Vincent, who played football, hockey and track at ORR found his old varsity jacket and wore it for his induction into the hall of fame. He spoke about the pride he feels as a former ORR athlete, and how the support he felt from his family, his team, and his coach.
After graduating, Vincent joined the military and he now works as a firefighter in New Bedford.
Next to be inducted into the hall of fame was Meredith Days. During her time at ORR she set school records for seven track and field events. Records that were only broken by ORR students she later coached, she said.
Finally, Mark Reeves, who transferred to ORR from Chicago as a sophomore, was inducted into the hall of fame for his skill and demeanor on the court, said fellow hall of fame member, Michael Barros.
Since his time at ORR, Reeves founded a non-profit organization that provides life-counseling and other support services for youth in Massachusetts.
Reeves told the audience that when he first moved to Rochester with his father in the early 80s, he was unsure of how the move would impact his life. But in retrospect, said Reeves, coming to Rochester was a blessing in disguise.
“I tell people this all the time, it was probably the most impactful two and a half years of my life coming to old Rochester,” said Reeves. “If it wasn't for this experience, I wouldn't be the person that I am now.”