The Score with Ken Powers: Remembering Pat Oroszko

The passing of Pat Oroszko last month is one of those things that makes people wonder what the universe is thinking when it decides to call some people home and not others.

Ken Powers

Ken Powers

Patrick C. Oroszko, a basketball player who honed his craft at St. John’s High School of Shrewsbury and Clark University – and later served the Cougars as an assistant men’s basketball coach and rose to Clark Graduate School’s director of student recruitment – died last month of cancer of the esophagus after a valiant and gritty seventh-month fight.

This past Wednesday he would have turned 35.

Pat with his daughter Allison, wife Courtney and son Ryan.

Courtesy Courtney Oroszko

Pat with his daughter Allison, wife Courtney and son Ryan.

Oroszko’s obituary did a commendable job of detailing the events of his life, including the name of his wife, how long they’d been married, the names and ages of his children, the names of his brother and parents and in-laws. It even mentioned that he was a two-time team captain at Clark and that he enjoyed concerts and golf, the New England Patriots and watching professional wrestling on television.

What Oroszko’s obituary did not do — could not do — is adequately describe the man behind the death notice.

With the help of his wife, Courtney, brother Chris and former Clark teammates John Ginnity and Bobby Corazzini, here goes:

“He was just a good guy,” Courtney Oroszko said about her husband of five years, while unsuccessfully fighting back tears. “He was the most good and genuine person. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He was just such a good person, a good friend.

“We started off as friends and then he became my best friend and we fell in love, and here we are. He was a good man.”

WPI’s Ama Biney doubles down on athletic stardom

The former Holy Name standout and born-and-bred Grafton Hill girl never wanted to choose between softball and basketball. So she didn’t. And now two WPI sports teams are making history by the day. Ken Powers profiles a true Worcester original.

The Score with Ken Powers: Mark Peters relishes latest dugout gig; Holy Name football picks Romeo

No one was more surprised last year when lifelong Worcester resident Mark Peters was named head coach of the Wachusett Regional High School varsity baseball team than, well, Mark Peters.

The 60-year-old Peters had moved on from coaching after the 2012 American Legion season, his 16th year as head coach of East Side Post 201. He had made a seamless transition from coach to umpire.

“It was great,” said Peters, who still lives in the Clark Street house he grew up in with his wife, Patricia. His son, Michael, who played baseball and football at St. Peter-Marian Junior-Senior High School and then for two years at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., grew up there as well. “I really enjoyed umpiring; it kept me involved, kept me connected to the game.”

Wachusett baseball coach Mark Peters, right, stands alongside Mountaineers’ senior pitcher Brendan Case. Case’s father, Bob Case, pitched for South High when Peters coached at Burncoat High from 1994-97.

Courtesy Mark Peters

Wachusett baseball coach Mark Peters, right, stands alongside Mountaineers’ senior pitcher Brendan Case. Case’s father, Bob Case, pitched for South High when Peters coached at Burncoat High from 1994-97.

All was good for Peters, who has spent the last seven years as a middle school physical education teacher at Worcester’s Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School. He had coached baseball in the city for more than 20 years – four as head coach at Burncoat High, and then another 16 for East Side. He also was the athletic director at St. Peter-Marian for several years.

Peters was content; his life seemed complete.

More baseball from the Sun: Bryan LaHair and Worcester’s many boys of summer continue the journey [March 27]

The Score with Ken Powers: Beede meets Buster and WPI’s Saucier spins a no-no

Tyler Beede has pitched all over the country and walked the red carpet at film premieres in Hollywood, but upon arriving at Major League Baseball spring training last month he had the quintessential I’m-not-in-Auburn-Massachusetts-anymore moment.

Ken Powers has something to say.

Ken Powers

Beede’s travel bag had not even completely settled on the carpet of the San Francisco Giants clubhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona, when he looked around the room and saw pitcher Madison Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP, in one corner and catcher Buster Posey, the 2012 National League MVP, in another.

“I grew up watching those guys play, seeing them become stars,” Beede said in a phone interview from the Giants clubhouse last week. “Just to be able to be in the same locker room, share the same uniform, to be able to take the field with them was something special.”

Tyler Beede of Auburn is the San Francisco Giants' top prospect

Courtesy Walter Beede

Tyler Beede of Auburn is the San Francisco Giants’ top prospect

The experience got even more special later in the day when Beede pitched his first bullpen session at Scottsdale Stadium. Crouching behind the plate about 61 feet away was none other than Posey.

WPI’s Ama Biney doubles down on athletic stardom

WPI’s recruitment of Ama Biney was a classic double team.

Whitney Goldstein, the Engineers softball coach, knew Biney as a power-hitting, fleet-footed centerfielder, who would be a home run for her program.

In the early stages of recruiting Biney, though, Goldstein learned her target was an outstanding basketball player as well and may decide to pursue a college career on the hardwood rather than the diamond.

Upon hearing this, as well as a rumor that some schools may offer Biney the opportunity to play both sports, Goldstein met with Cherise Galasso, the women’s basketball coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Galasso had Biney on her radar, too, but the longtime coach was under the impression that one of the city’s brightest scholastic hoop stars was going to play softball in college.

Ama Biney hit .445 as a freshman center fielder for WPI's record-setting softball team.

Courtesy WPI Athletics

Ama Biney hit .445 as a freshman center fielder for WPI’s record-setting softball team.

“During the recruiting process Ama told me she loved both sports,” recalled Goldstein, whose grandfather was former Red Sox manager Don Zimmer.

“So, one day, I just went to Cherise and said, ‘I think this kid is an exceptional athlete who has All-American potential in softball.’ I told Cherise, ‘She’s a game-changer. She is an immediate impact player for us. Is there a way that she can be a part of your program, too?’ We kind of went from there.”

The Score with Ken Powers: Doherty’s Massenburg one to count on; St. John’s boys hoops ready, as always

Sports are, at their core, a numbers game.

You keep score to see who wins and loses. You keep track of who has the most points, the most rebounds, the most yards, the most carries, the highest shooting percentage and the fewest number of turnovers.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Doherty High senior Tariq Massenburg, a two-sport standout for the Highlanders, wants to major in accounting in college. But, it’s not for the reason you think.

Tariq Massenburg eyes football in college, but the Doherty star more than holds his own on the high school hardwood.

Ken Powers / For Worcester Sun

Tariq Massenburg eyes football in college, but the Doherty star more than holds his own on the high school hardwood.

“I like math because there is always just one right answer,” Massenburg said after dropping a game-high 27 points on Dorchester in Doherty’s 53-46 victory in the regular season finale. “In English and social studies you can argue about what the right answer is. In math there is only one answer. The answer you come up with, it’s either right or it’s wrong.”

Thing have been pretty right – as in all right – this year for Massenburg.

The Score with Ken Powers: Bill Gibbons Sr. holds court, back where he belongs

Back in the day, when I worked at Worcester’s daily newspaper, my colleague Nick Manzello wrote a column that kept readers updated on local sports celebrities. One of the features of the column was the welcoming back to full health of area athletes past and present who had been under the weather for a time or who had surgery.

That will also be an occasional feature in this space. So it is with great joy in my heart that I welcome back Bill Gibbons Sr. — a longtime staple of Manzello’s “Sports Street” and Worcester — from a harrowing medical issue that has essentially consumed the last 13 months of his life.

Gibbons, 81, was diagnosed last January with colon cancer. The ordeal that ensued tested even his belief in God, he said. And Gibbons, a longtime basketball coach at North and Doherty high schools, is a man of great faith.

Bill Gibbons Sr. is glad to be back involved with local scholastic basketball and tennis.

Jim Fay / Courtesy Bill Gibbons

Bill Gibbons Sr. is glad to be back involved with local scholastic basketball and tennis.

“I went to the doctor last year in early January for my annual checkup and he said, ‘Bill, everything looks good. You’re doing great’,” Gibbons recalled. “So, I’m going out the door and he says, as an afterthought, ‘I think you should go in for a colonoscopy.’ ”

Gibbons did as his doctor requested and the colonoscopy revealed two cancerous tumors.

“There were no signs at all,” Gibbons said.

The Score with Ken Powers:  Bowl-winning Pucko rings in new chapter

When Mike Pucko became head football coach at Holy Name Central Catholic High School back in 2005, and for several years thereafter, the Naps annually played — and beat — some of the perennial Central Massachusetts powers, like Fitchburg, Leominster, Wachusett Regional and Nashoba.

For the last few seasons, though, due in large part to realignment and declining enrollment numbers on Granite Street, Holy Name’s schedule has included smaller-but-well-heeled schools such as Algonquin and Auburn, not to mention the even smaller likes of North and Hudson.

Mike Pucko, former Holy Name football coach

Ken Powers / For Worcester Sun

Mike Pucko, former Holy Name football coach

The downgrade in the Naps’ schedule, along with fact that fewer and fewer student-athletes were choosing to play football every year, were the major factors in Pucko’s decision last month to resign.

The Score with Ken Powers: Mosley courts success, own legacy

When you think about it, Mya Mosley couldn’t help but become a basketball player.

Mosley, a senior at Wachusett Regional, is averaging 13.2 points per game for the 8-1 Mountaineers [as of Friday, Jan. 22]. To say that there is a strong basketball influence in her gene pool is kind of like saying the Porsche 911 is a fast car [Editor’s note: Um, KP, maybe a car not from the ‘80s; I’d have gone Bugatti Veyron or McLaren F1, myself. But, anyway — carry on].

Wachusett basketball star Mya Mosley stands with her parents, Will Mosley of Worcester and Donna Gillogly, who captained the team at Worcester State.

Ken Powers / For Worcester Sun

Wachusett basketball star Mya Mosley stands with her parents, Will Mosley of Worcester and Donna Gillogly, who captained the team at Worcester State.

Mosley’s father, Will, a Worcester firefighter (and former police officer), was a standout player at Burncoat High who went on to play briefly at Division 2 Assumption College. Will still competes in adult leagues throughout the city and works with many Worcester-area athletes as a personal trainer.

Mosley’s mother, Donna Gillogly, excelled in basketball in both high school and college.