There is no need for hyperbole when it comes to the 2019 Andover-Punchard Hall of Fame class.
Not when it includes a major league catcher, a PGA pro golfer, the greatest girls basketball player in area history, the No. 1 high school boy swimmer in the country and ... well, you get the picture.
Friday night at Andover Country Club before a sell-out crowd of 350 attendees, a group of 16 Golden Warrior greats (14 athletes, 2 coaches) and a pair of back-to-back state championship teams were inducted in just the third class since 1995. The previous classes were in 2006 and 2016.
Hall of Famers and their supporters came from Las Vegas, Oregon, Chicago, Virginia, Colorado, San Francisco and Florida, among other places.
David Blank (AHS '91), the former Eagle-Tribune and Massachusetts Gatorade MVP, jokingly rolled his eyes when he had to follow the youngest Hall of Famer Nicole Boudreau (AHS '12). All she did was score 2,200 points and carry Andover to three straight state titles.
Boudreau thanked her twin sister and biggest fan, Danielle, a reserve on the championship teams.
"It couldn't be easy being my sister," Boudreau acknowledged.
She heaped praise on the Fazio family (teammate Aly, boys coach Dave and his wife Colleen) and her AHS coach Jim Tildsley.
"He (Tildsley) believed I could do things beyond my wildest dreams," said Boudreau, who is working in Las Vegas after starting for four years at BC and playing a year of pro ball in the Czech Republic.
Sprinter/football star Bruce Brown got the night off to a fun start, reciting a line from his days as a West Point student/football player.
"Be clear, be brief, be gone," said Brown, who follows his sisters, Connie and Sally, and his proud grandmother/swim coach icon Marilyn Fitzgerald into the Hall.
He said, "We could be playing before 45,000 fans at West Point and I could always tell where Grammy was."
Jim Oppenheim spoke for his son, pro golfer Rob, a golf, basketball and baseball star at Andover who was playing in a golf event in Savannah, Georgia.
"I thought he was more a baseball player than a golfer," said Jim.
He told a story about concentrating on golf one summer because Rob said, "Dad, I don't think I'll play for the Red Sox."
But, Dad pointed out with a laugh, Rob's friend and fellow inductee Ryan Hanigan did just that, catching for the Sox in an 11-year MLB career.
Hanigan, who now lives in Southern New Hampshire, said, "It all started here, playing for great coaches and great competition in the MVC."
Meghan Thomann said, "It's an honor I never even dreamed about."
She starred at Division 2 basketball power Bentley but also was Eagle-Tribune MVP in volleyball.
She told a story about her volleyball coach, fellow inductee George Sullivan, who would make the team make 10 straight serves in practice. She tried and tried and tried but couldn't do it. Everybody on the team thought he'd let her move on, but he wouldn't.
She had to do it ... and eventually she did.
"I'm so honored to be inducted with you Coach Sullivan," she said.
Blank told a great story about Dave Bettencourt, the brilliant coach for the 1991-92 state championship teams, which were inducted.
Blank had had his fill of the early-morning, off-season weekend practices and was going to sleep in.
Then he heard a familiar voice .... Bettencourt!
"Rise and shine, Big Boy!" he said. "It's time to go to work."
Blank recalled, "Please tell me I'm dreaming."
Nope, no dream. Bettencourt and a caravan of Golden Warriors were parked in the driveway at 7:20 a.m.
LIKE STATE FINAL
Inductee Jim Hanning's baseball career was like a fairy tale. He won his last 21 decisions with the Blue and Gold. But he always preferred pitching to talking.
"Coming to the podium felt like coming to the mound in the 1991 state finals," said the Florida banker, who aced his speech just like that 1991 state finals gem.
The Hannings are hard-working people and Jim inherited that work ethic. It just was, at times, different work.
When his sisters asked why he didn't have to work at DeMoulas like them, he had the perfect answer.
"Read The Eagle-Tribune!"
Yes, he was busy earning a scholarship with his well-chronicled pitching exploits.
Andover's produced some great boys basketball players but it's unlikely anyone had a senior year like Ted Kelley (AHS '82) of Foxboro, who averaged 23.8 points a game and earned a scholarship to BC.
While beaming at the Hall of Fame honor, he admitted it was bittersweet with the passing in the last few years of three family members.
"My only regret is my parents (Ed and Ann) and brother (Dick) are not here. I miss them every day," said Kelley, whose 7th-grade son has inherited his height and hoop genes.
Alan Wilson (Punchard Class of 1952) was a great back in the day who finally got the Hall call.
"I'm so thankful, so grateful, so humbled," he said.
Stephanie Casper said she and her sister always had a good-natured rivalry to be the favored child with their parents.
She said with a big smile that tonight it was her. It was tough to argue that.
She showered praise on field hockey coach Maureen Noone, who was inducted after leading the Warriors to three state titles and is still winning big every fall.
Casper said, "You took over a borderline bad program with plaid skirts and turned us into a state champion program."
And no more plaid skirts!
But nobody has to worry about the great coach getting a big head.
When her mom found out Maureen was being inducted, she responded, "Oh, that's great. What are they going to serve?"
NAME GRADUATED COMMENT
David Blank 1991 Baseball Mass. Gatorade MVP
Nicole Boudreau 2012 2,200 points, 3 state titles
Bruce Brown 2002 Tribune All-Star track/football
Stephanie Casper 2003 Track/field hockey star
Nick D’Innocenzo 2010 Ranked No. 1 swim recruit in US
Jim Hanning 1992 Pitcher went 14-0 as senior
Ryan Hanigan 1991 11-year major-league catcher
Paul Keefe 1978 6-9 high jumper (2nd all-time area)
Ted Kelley 1982 23.8 ppg as senior
Tom Marjerison 1966 3-sport standout
Rob Oppenheim 1998 3-sport star made PGA Tour
Emily Pallotta 2005 2-time Tribune soccer MVP
Meghan Thomann 2008 Tribune volleyball MVP; scholarship hoopster
Alan Wilson 1952 3-sport standout
Maureen Noone Coach 326-53-55 with 3 state titles
George Sullivan Coach 441-161 girls volleyball record
Baseball 1991-92 Back-to-back state champs
Field Hockey 2010-2011 Back-to-back state champs