Inbox [Sept. 3-9]: News and notes from Railers, WCAC, Research Bureau, GIlman Scholars and WPI

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Rucker, Myers rated among most influential people in New England hockey

Worcester Railers HC team owner Cliff Rucker and team president Michael G. Myers have been included in the New England Hockey Journal’s 2017 100 most influential people in New England hockey list.

The 100 most influential people in New England hockey include team owners, team presidents, coaches, writers and more.

Rucker was recognized for his success in returning a professional hockey team to Worcester, and his investment in the building of the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, a 100,000-square-foot practice facility for the Railers.

Worcester-area football stars to watch on Saturdays and Sundays

Central Massachusetts may not be one of the nation’s biggest football factories, but the region does produce its fair share of talent every year.

This season, Worcester County had five players in NFL training camps, including the only player from the commonwealth selected in the 2017 NFL Draft (Grafton High School alum Obi Melifonwu was taken by the Oakland Raiders in the 2nd round, 56th overall).

On top of that, CMass natives litter rosters of Division I collegiate football programs across the country — including eight set to suit up for UMass-Amherst — and it isn’t far-fetched to believe that some of them could gain national notoriety this season.

So, if you want to keep track of the Worcester County boys now playing at football’s highest levels, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a handy alphabetical list of, and outlook for, every CMass native playing in the NFL and the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.

Worcester’s Yiadom primed for big senior season for Boston College football

From the moment he stepped foot on Boston College‘s campus, Isaac Yiadom has done his part for the Eagles.

That part may get significantly larger this season, however, as the former Doherty Memorial star has been getting talked up by national media, and perhaps more importantly, by fifth-year BC head coach Steve Addazio.

Ever since Addazio mentioned that Yiadom had the potential to be an all-conference player in an interview with ESPN, Yiadom’s name has come up a lot more in talks about the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference, and college football in general.

But to the Worcester native, that’s all just noise.

Wachusett alum Tyler Catalina’s journey toward an NFL roster spot

[UPDATE: According to reports and social media, Tyler Catalina has secured a spot on the Washington Redskins’ initial 53-man roster. This story was first published on Aug. 23.]

It seems unthinkable that after playing at two high schools, two colleges, going undrafted and switching positions, Tyler Catalina has a legitimate chance to earn an NFL roster spot.

But that’s just where the Wachusett Regional alum currently finds himself, playing guard for the Washington Redskins, and running with the backups during the team’s preseason games. Along the way, Catalina has been doubted at every step, and yet here he is, perhaps only a solid preseason performance away from being an NFL player.

“He definitely took the scenic route, that’s for sure,” Catalina’s brother Tony jokes.

Twitter / Tony Catalina

Tyler Catalina signs his contract as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Redskins.

“I’ve played in so many systems, on so many teams, that I think I can adjust to anything at this point,” Catalina said of his first few weeks in the NFL. “It just is what it is. I’ve got to keep working and showing the coaches I can handle anything they throw at me.”

Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field

Inbox [Aug. 16] News and notes from Primetals, Bravehearts, Youth Council, WCLOC, Mass. Academy of Math & Science, and You Inc.

Primetals receives $228K state training grant

Recipient of one of the largest training grants from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Primetals Technologies will implement training for both new and existing employees at its Worcester facilities.

Training will include problem-solving skills, continuous improvement, lean certification, tooling and time and task management and will continue through the end of 2019. The grant, worth nearly $228,000, was one of 111 awarded, totaling $7.9 million. Grants are matched by award recipients.

Production employees will attend interactive online classes for specific competencies, engaging with video, audio and relevant images that include CNC simulators mirroring existing equipment at its manufacturing facilities at 40 Crescent St., Worcester.

Worcester World Cup is where city’s melting pot truly bubbles over

The Worcester World Cup, now approaching its 12th iteration, has evolved from a novel idea into a force to be reckoned with.

Organized by Cultural Exchange Through Soccer, a neighborhood-based soccer program at Elm Park Community School, Worcester World Cup was established in 2006 to bring youth together and to promote good health and understanding in the community.

For Worcester, a hub for immigrants and refugees from all over the world, this volunteer-driven initiative has become a vital component in the city’s ongoing development and its efforts to break down walls between the myriad cultures it has welcomed over the years.

“The Worcester World Cup, as the name suggests, was created specially to bring people together. We wanted everyone to come together,” said Adam Maarij, a volunteer and 2017 graduate of South High Community School.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 185]: Holden Little League and the (David) Price of fame

With summer at its apex baseball season, from the big leagues to the Futures League to Little League, is at a fever pitch.

And while the Sox battle it out with the Yankees, and the Bravehearts vie for a playoff spot, a gaggle of 11- to 13-year-old all-stars from Holden recently brought home the town’s first state title — and now have a chance at the national stage.

What kind of motivation could a certified (or is it certifiable?) ace like David Price offer such a team on the rise? Hitch was wondering the same thing.

Casey Stengel and Worcester’s Baseball Hall of Fame connections

The most enduring name connecting Worcester to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is turn-of-the-century star Jesse Burkett, a two-time .400 hitter with a .338 career batting average whose namesake Little League on the city’s West Side became a part of hardball history itself by advancing to the 2002 Little League World Series.

Burkett, who married the former Ellen G. McGrath after his first season in Worcester and settled in the city until his death in 1953 — less than two weeks before the devastating Worcester Tornado killed 94 and injured more than 1,000 — is not alone on the Worcester-to-Cooperstown ledger.

Wikimedia Commons / The Sporting News / Charles M. Conlon

Jesse Burkett was a coach for the New York Giants in the early 1920s.

Indeed, there are three other enshrined stars whose careers brought them to Worcester — more on two of them and other luminaries later — but the most endearing and unforgettable character to share the lineage is the indefatigable and incomparable Casey Stengel, manager of the Mickey Mantle-era New York Yankees.

If you didn’t remember — or ever know — that the irrepressible Stengel’s famed managerial career got its start in Worcester, and included a complicated transaction that would live in baseball lore, you can surely be forgiven.

As the Hall of Fame inducts its newest class today, it seems a fitting time to take a dusty and mostly monochromatic trip down memory lane through the early days of Burkett, Stengel and baseball in Worcester.

Anchors away: Worcester’s ABA basketball team has new name, home court

In hopes of solidifying a permanent home in Worcester, the city’s lone professional basketball team is making major changes to its branding by paying homage to an infamous winter storm and partnering with a celebrated nonprofit for a true home court advantage.

Known as the New England Anchors during its tenuous first year (2016-17) in the revamped ABA basketball league, the team will re-introduce itself next season as the Worcester 78’s — a tribute to the Blizzard of ’78 — in an attempt to make a nostalgic connection across the region while also better defining, team officials believe, its market for supporters and fans.

“It didn’t make a lot of sense to have a New England-based brand without any real ties to Worcester where we play,” owner and president Tom Marino said in a recent interview. “With this change, we are sending the message that we are here and we aren’t planning on going anywhere.”