Athletics at Franklin High at Its Peak for 2018-19 School Year

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Franklin High School Athletic Director Tom Angelo knows that the cost for success is high but Franklin athletes have always been willing to pay the price.
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

Tom Angelo’s 35 years of experience in education include roles as a teacher and administrator. He not only knows the formula for success in both venues, but, as Franklin High’s athletic director, he also has a firm grip on what that function involves and what ingredients are necessary for success.
As Angelo prepares for his fourth year at the helm of the Panthers’ athletic department, it’s not surprising what his goals are for the 2019-20 school year.
“We want to continue to promote excellence among our student-athletes,’’ said the 57-year-old Marion native. “We also want to continue our community service efforts, build on our leadership initiatives and promote inclusion with our unified programs.’’
All those boxes were checked for the 2018-19 school year. The Panthers won 11 Hockomock League championships, four Sectional crowns and one State title. The school will have 12 student-athletes competing at Division 1 and 2 colleges in the fall and another 30 playing in Division 3.
On the leadership front, Franklin hosted the Hockomock League’s fall captains’ conference on May 23 when speakers conducted workshops on topics like social media, hazing, inclusion and leadership. “At Franklin High, we strive to promote excellence and leadership in our student-athletes,’’ said Angelo, who’s serving as the president of the Hockomock League. “We emphasize community service and a unified and inclusive atmosphere.’’
When Angelo arrived at Franklin three years ago, he immediately began a unified sports program. The goal of unified sports is to bring together athletes, with and without intellectual disabilities, to practice and compete on the same team. Franklin began with basketball and track and, for the coming year, bocce. “The program is thriving and growing,’’ Angelo said. “Athletes and parents really enjoy the inclusion aspect.’’
Angelo, who previously was an A.D. at Somerset-Berkley and Plymouth North, has settled in nicely at Franklin.
“What’s exciting about my role is that every day presents a new challenge,’’ he said. “Every day I prioritize my to-do list, and on my drive into work, another half dozen items get added to it. I wish I had more time in a day to get to know our student-athletes better. So often, my job involves putting out the biggest fire. My prime challenge is keeping all the plates spinning, without letting any of them fall.’’
So far, Angelo has excelled with his balancing act.
Participation rates are top-notch, facilities are dynamic and the varsity teams’ overall winning percentage of 74 puts them in position to win the prestigious Dalton Award In Division 1. The award goes to schools with the highest winning percentage for the entire school year. Franklin’s varsity teams compiled a combined record of 300-105-15.
“I’m delighted with our athletic participation,’’ Angelo said. “Every season, we have 600 students competing. That’s one-third of the student body that totals 1,800. We’ve got the largest sports menu in the league. We have 57 teams at all three levels, and that includes 90 coaches. A lot of credit goes to the recreation department, headed by Ryan Jette, and to the town’s youth sports programs.’’
Angelo says that the school is fortunate to have outstanding facilities, which include three turf fields and two baseball and softball fields. “We’ve got lights at the varsity baseball and softball fields,’’ he noted. “One turf field can accommodate football, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse while another is used for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse at the freshman and jayvee levels. Our tennis courts are on campus and our hockey rink is just around the corner.’’
Never forgetting to laud his staff of coaches, Angelo added two high caliber varsity mentors at the start of last year — Kelsey Weymouth in volleyball and Michelle Hess in field hockey. “We’ll be filling the vacancy left by Chris Spillane in ice hockey, hopefully in September,’’ Angelo said. “Chris was outstanding,’’ he said. “A gentleman and a great human being who taught great life lessons.’’
Two others get high marks for their efforts — athletic trainer Jen Edmunds and athletic administrative assistant Sue Jacobson. “Jen ensures the health and safety of our athletes,’’ Angelo said. “She’s caring and respected and I’ve often said she’s a full-time trainer and a part-time psychologist. Sue is incredible, just an outstanding person at so many levels. It would be difficult to do my job without her. She’s honest and sincere.’’
Two student-athletes that Angelo cited for their well-rounded ability are Franklin’s choices for the Hockomock League scholar-athlete awards. They are Julia Fenerty (track and cross-country) and Arun Kavishwar (soccer, swimming and track). “Julia will be attending Dartmouth, and Arun will be going to Brown,’’ he noted. “They’re just phenomenal kids. They’re intelligent, well-spoken and dedicated.’’
When it comes to athletic philosophy, Angelo is acutely aware of what must transpire to field successful teams. He values winning but he also admires teamwork, quality coaching and the valuable life lessons that students learn in competition.
“Winning occurs when athletes strive to reach their potential and when they experience joy in competing,’’ he emphasized. “There’s great lessons that can be learned in athletics like overcoming adversity, becoming better leaders, and setting goals. Developing relationships and learning to be good teammates are also important.’’
Angelo is pleased with the results the 2018-19 school year produced in athletics. He’s also delighted with how Franklin’s student-athletes performed off the field. Looking forward to the new school year and its challenges, he’s eager to continue to develop high quality athletes at Franklin High.
“Franklin athletes are respectful and they’re gritty competitors,’’ he said. “I played sports in high school and college and it amazes me how talented our kids are. The expectations are always high and students who might start on teams at other schools may have to be role players here.’’