NORTHBOROUGH – On April 23, hundreds of friends, family and fans gathered in the Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) cafeteria to celebrate the school’s recent hall of fame inductees.
The ARHS Hall of Fame Class of 2023, the first group of Titans honored since 2019, includes four athletes, two coaches, and the 1979 boys varsity basketball team.
“Today we are honoring outstanding student-athletes, their unique spirit, and recognizing their outstanding athletic achievements while competing at Algonquin,” hall of fame committee chairperson Rob Berger said. “They went well beyond – all in – during their practices, games and athletic competitions. Their remarkable spirit and shining character have been strong building blocks in continuing the exceptional athletic program that exists today at Algonquin.”
Alison Haigh of the Class of 2006 was the first athlete to be recognized. Haigh played varsity lacrosse throughout high school, becoming a Worcester Telegram & Gazette all-star and going on to play lacrosse at the University of Vermont. Outside of lacrosse, Haigh holds several Algonquin track records.
Kevin Brown of the Class of 2009 played four years of varsity baseball and was captain for two years. The state champion played baseball at Bryant University and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. Brown was inducted into the Bryant Athletics Hall of Fame this year.
Director of Athletics Michael Mocerino, who was the event emcee and Brown’s former baseball coach, said, “No matter what [was] asked of him. No matter what the challenge was. He was ready. He was committed. He was always hungry. But what made him a true competitor was his dedication to the team.”
“If you’re going to do something, do it right,” Brown said. “If you’re going to commit to something, commit to it – have passion… and conviction in what you’re doing. I think you see that in Algonquin… in the students [and] in the athletics. Algonquin gives you an opportunity to be yourself.”
Brown recalled that an Algonquin drama class gave him the courage to advocate for himself as he fought for a spot on the baseball team. On a team loaded with shortstops, Brown was able to improvise and asked whether he could play outfield.
Without the drama class, Brown said he “never would have had the courage or confidence to say that.”
James McHugh from the Class of 1969 played basketball and ran track throughout his time at Algonquin. As a senior, he claimed three first-place titles at the league championship. McHugh was involved in track at Bowdoin College, and he has run several marathons.
“It’s really a great honor to be a part of this school, this organization, this event and being inducted into the hall,” he said.
McHugh thanked his wife, parents, coaches, and friends for their support.
Chris DiBello of the Class of 1986 – a four-year varsity football starter who surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards – was the final athlete to be honored. After Algonquin, DiBello coached youth hockey and ran the Boston Marathon. DiBello died in 2016, and his friends and family accepted the award on his behalf.
In a statement given to the Algonquin athletic director and printed in the award ceremony’s program, the family said that DiBello “looked upon his time at Algonquin on and off the field with pure joy; those were indeed the glory days. He cherished the experiences and friendships he had acquired during those years and felt fortunate that they had endured into lifelong friendships.”
Tom Bertonazzi of the Class of 1967 boasts 30 years of coaching experience, leading Algonquin basketball teams to five straight seasons over 17 wins, including an undefeated season in 2019. Several speakers mentioned Bertonazzi’s passion and dedication to Algonquin athletics.
“You are the epitome of this community and this high school and the passion that this community has,” Brown told Bertonazzi during his speech.
Bertonazzi made an impact on many kids, but the kids also had an impact on Bertonazzi.
“I miss having the kids, teasing them, finding out how their day is, talking to them [and] finding out if they have a problem,” he said. “You want to have a positive effect on these kids, and doing that is the greatest reward you can get.”
The 1979 boys varsity basketball team was also inducted, going 74-6 over four years and becoming Midland Wachusett League champions. Several junior and senior team members reunited to share the stories of the team’s dominant run.
John Healy – the Metro-West Daily News lacrosse coach of the year in 2012 who also lends his voice to broadcast sports games – won the spirit award. Healy led the varsity girls lacrosse team to several highly successful seasons and multiple Mid-Wach A League championships.
“What brings us all together is the Algonquin spirit – it’s what makes what I do so enjoyable,” Healy said.
Northborough baseball star is living the dream