Winthrop High seniors Stephen Ruggiero and Jenny Fucillo were honored as recipients of the Northeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete Awards at the annual banquet Sunday night at Porthole Restaurant in Lynn.
The awards are presented to the top male and female scholar-athletes from each of the 12 schools in the Northeastern Conference. The event features an impressive ceremony in which the athletic director from each school invites the principal to the podium to take part in the presentation ceremony. Each honoree receives a plaque symbolic of his/her excellent achievement in the classroom and in the athletic program.
Athletic Director Rob O’Leary and Principal Fail Conlon presented the awards to Ruggiero and Fucillo.
Anthony Fucillo, brother of award recipient Jenny Fucillo, was the guest speaker for the evening. Fucillo, a student-athlete at Tufts University, was the fourth Winthrop alumnus to be invited as the featured speaker, joining Mark D’Ambrosio (1998), James Arena (2002), and Elizabeth Wallace (2000) in that distinguished group.
“Athletics has taught me so much in my life and I’m sure all of you feel the same way,” Fucillo said. “We are a different breed, you might say. While everybody heads home at 2:15, we continue our hard work on the field, ice, or court. Everyone of you should be proud of yourselves because when it got difficult, you never stopped, you never quit and it’s something that you will never lose. I believe that being a student-athlete teaches you how to multi-task, how to persevere and when the going gets tough, all of you keep going.”
Fucillo said the students should enjoy their last weeks of high school because they will be memories that will never leave them.
“Make sure to thank all your teachers, coaches, and enjoy your time with your classmates,” said Fucillo. “Lastly thank your parents and your family, and don’t be afraid to say, ‘I love you,’ or give them a hug everyday because they are the ones who got you here today and also the fact that you will probably run them close to broke over the next four years.”
That last comment drew hearty laughter from the audience.