The Town Crier’s popular series ‘Where Are They Now’ returns with a look back at the Robinson Family of Wilmington.
WILMINGTON — Dating back probably the last 60-70 years, Wilmington has had its share of families who have all thrived in athletics. Whether it's the Woods Family, the Gillis Family, the Burns Family or the Stewarts to name a few, when it comes to sports, it seems like those families have built up terrific reputations as being excellent athletically as well as top-class people.
On Sunday, October 25th, the Town Crier met with another family who certainly fits that criteria — the Robinsons. For nearly two hours on the Wilmington High School baseball bleachers, six of the seven siblings chatted about various topics. They each talked about their athletic days from the 1970s, 80's and 90's, about growing up in a three bedroom house with one bathroom, about their father and their brother, who unfortunately are no longer here with them.
Throughout the time of the interview, each of the siblings found out some things about one another that they hadn't known, while they also had some fun as reporters asking each other questions. Above all, like always, the group had countless number of laughs.
Dick and Marilyn Robinson raised seven absolutely wonderful children, who have 13 children of their own — many of them have also excelled athletically — and two grandchildren.
The seven kids — Richard, Jean, Kevin, Kathy, Maureen, Laurie and Kristine — are 13 years apart. Richard lives in New York, Kathy lives in Andover, Laurie lives in Reading, while, Jean, Maureen and Kristine as well as Marilyn all still reside here in town. Dick passed away in 2004 and Kevin, who was living in Hawaii, passed away in 2017.
Between the seven kids, athletically speaking, what they accomplished throughout their young, high school and adult lives is nothing short of astonishing. Four of the seven played either ice hockey or field hockey at the collegiate level. Three of the seven ran in the Boston Marathon. One of them was a member of the state championship youth softball team back in 1980 and she was also a two-time Merrimack Valley Conference League MVP in Field Hockey. Another played in three Women's Beanpot Championship games. Another played at the old Boston Garden and throughout his career on the ice, skated against several players who went onto the National Hockey League. Another one, termed as 'the crazy one' spent a lot of time in the penalty box and will forever be known as the best uncle who ever lived.
Collectively, they were all part of a number of league and tournament championship teams, whether in ice hockey, field hockey or softball.
The seven of them are children of two amazing, yet extremely humble parents. Mom, who despite having seven children, didn't miss any sporting event. She was there carting every kid around to every game and practice. She was in the stands supporting her children in the ice cold rinks across the state and the country. She was there for the championship wins and the tough losses. She was there when the youngest, Kristine, scored the game winning goal in the 'Chicks With Sticks' fundraising event held several years ago. Everything her children have been involved with throughout their lives, Marilyn has been there with full support and a smile from ear-to-ear.
Dad, who was a Veteran as a member of the Army and Korean War, spent a decade coaching youth hockey and youth softball teams in Wilmington, while he also assisted on coaching the St. Anselm men's team during their summer seasons. If you ask those kids he coached in hockey, all you would hear is how he was one of the best coaches they ever had. He was thrown in as a father who could help with the paperwork and management of teams that his kids played on and although he really didn't learn how to skate, he just became so enthralled, passionate and dedicated to the teams and the kids he coached from 1974 to 1983.
"I remember them all playing (sports)," said Steve Scanlon, the current high school hockey and soccer coach, and former three-sport athlete at WHS. "We all hung around in the same neighborhood growing up. They lived up off of North Street. Back then you had kids in the street always playing street hockey no matter what. I remember the (Robinson) girls played right with the guys. Kevin was very much like Richie as a player. They were excellent skaters and I remember Maureen being the same. They also had their cousins next door, the McGraths so we had a whole neighborhood of people so we were always playing pond hockey or street hockey, or whatever else together.
"Their father was real instrumental in those early youth hockey days. Then down on Chestnut Street, he would go down there with the snowblowers and all of that stuff. That family was always doing whatever they could to help everybody play hockey. Their father did the 5:00 am pick-ups of everyone and he was just a real good guy."
THE GOOD GUY WHO MARRIED A GREAT GIRL
Dick Robinson grew up in Brighton and attended Columbkille Catholic School. After he graduated and proudly served his country, he worked for Verizon as a Marketing Manager. From Brighton, he moved to Medford and he eventually met Marilyn, who was from Burlington. The couple got married in 1961, ended up moving to Wilmington and were together for 43 years.
Dick played baseball in high school — and never laced up a pair of skates.
"I think my dad would have been a much better athlete, but his mother died when he was real young, so his father worked day and night," explained Kathy. "I think there were eight or nine years between my dad and his sister. They were basically on their own raising themselves with no guidance."
Marilyn didn't play sports growing up.
"We would always tell her that's where we all got our sports talents from," said Richie with a laugh. "We would get my father going saying that. Mom is a sports fanatic though."
Richie was the first of four of the children who played hockey with Kevin, Kathy, Maureen and Laurie following. He said he fondly remembers his father calling the shots from behind the rink benches.
"I remember in 1976 there was a parade in town and someone built an artificial rink on a bed. That was his second year of coaching so I believe he started in 1974," said Richie. "When kids were in the Mite and Squirt age group, they needed a coach, so my father knew someone who knew the game of hockey and my dad would do the organizational part of it.
"Then later on, he would have myself and Kevin help organize and run some of the practices. Back then enough fathers knew enough about hockey that they could coach so he ended up taking care of the line-ups and stuff like that. That's how he got involved and then he was a coach for probably ten years. He knew enough about hockey to manage it, but the technical stuff like how to stop and how to shoot, we had to help him with that. He knew enough about the game, by watching us and picking up stuff on his own."
Yet he barely knew how to skate.
"He would put his skates on and stand at one spot usually, just whistle and tell everyone what to do," said Richie with a laugh.
Dick was involved at nearly every age level of WYH. He passed in 2004 and the family was taken back with the amount of former ice hockey players who came to his services to pay their respects.
"When everything comes full circle, you want to mimic the behavior taught to you by your parents, " said Laurie. "I looked back when I was in high school and I was somewhat embarrassed when my father was the hockey coach because he was very vocal, just really vocal so I would get embarrassed. Then when he died, I was so impressed that so many people my age, or just so many of his former hockey players who said that after all of the years, my dad was still one of the best hockey coaches that they ever had."
After Richie graduated from Austin Prep, he went on to play four years at St. Anselm College. Once again, his dad was part of that program.
"The assistant coach actually helped coach with my father in Danvers as we had some summer league teams that all of the college guys played for," he said. "The St. A's assistant coach and my father would coach together during those games. My father, who had never played hockey, was the one coaching the team because the assistant coach couldn't because of the NCAA rules.”
Besides youth hockey, Dick also spent a lot of time coaching youth softball.
"I remember my dad coached me when I was younger," said Kristine. "I remember my mom had her Blue Bombers (from Wilmington Youth Softball) hat on and she kept the books. All five of us girls were on the Blue Bombers and he coached all of us."
Somehow Dick and Marilyn kept the household intact, despite all of the kids playing so many sports.
"We only had three bedrooms and one bathroom," said Jean. "We would have to go to the bathroom or take showers at my Aunt Lois (McGrath's) house."
Added Richie "My mom had some simple expectations besides being well behaved and getting good grades and that stuff. When I was in college and would come home, she would say no motorcycles, church on Sundays and don't stay out all night without telling me. My mom didn't treat any of us differently. She had the same expectations for all of us, even though we grew up in different times between the 70's and the 80's."
About five or six years after Laurie graduated from WHS, she came back to participate in the Alumni Games. Field Hockey was her sport and she will never forget something that was said to her that day.
"Somehow my mother never missed a game — I mean not just me but all of us," said Laurie. "She was at every single one of my high school games. You don't realize these things when you are younger, the support that you have from your parents, until you become a parent or you look back.
"I remember when we were playing in the alumni game and someone said, 'the only thing we are missing is Mrs. Robinson in the stands.' At that time, I couldn't believe that a former teammate said that. That's how much of an impact or presence that she had — and it wasn't just my field hockey playing days, it was being there for all of us. She didn't miss anything — not one thing."
NOOGIES AND LIFE LESSONS
Richie was 13 years old when Kristine was born, but as he got into high school, he was the one in charge when mom and dad weren't home.
"He would give us all noogies, all of the time," laughed Kathy.
Kristine said that Richie was more like a father-figure to her because of the age difference and the fact that their father started to get really sick when she was in middle school.
While Richie may have treated Kristine like a daughter-type figure, he treated the other sisters like tackling dummies.
"We were competitively close. I played ice hockey and I learned how to check by sending my sisters into the walls. I remember breaking the sheet rock in one of the bedrooms by doing that," he said while his sisters all shared in on the laugh. "I think the girls learned how to be tougher athletes because they were picked on by us boys."
The boys of course were Richie and his sidekick, Kevin.
"Kevin pushed buttons that you didn't even know that you even had," said Kathy with a laugh.
Richie was asked what it was like for him and Kevin to have five sisters — if they ever won any arguments since they were outnumbered.
"Growing up with five sisters, I learned when to shut up and Kevin didn't," he said chuckling. "He was very aggressive. But growing up with five sisters, you do learn life lessons that you can carry on with you for the rest of your life."
Richie is 56 years old now and Kristine is 43. Growing up as a young child in the 60s and 70s was certainly different and much different than it is today.
"I just feel like everything is different now than when we were growing up," said Kristine. "We always did everything with other families and now all of the kids have AAU or you are playing with kids on teams from other towns, and it's not just the Wilmington community. Back then a lot of the families were bigger. Sometimes I wish my kids could have grown up at the time that we did and my kids say that to me all of the time."
Richie grew up playing in the WYH program before he went off to play at Austin Prep. Back then AP was part of the Merrimack Valley Conference. At AP, he was teammates with Tony Visone, who went on to have a great career at Harvard University, played against Chelmsford's Phil Bourque, who went on to play in the NHL and several others who went pro.
During Richie’s sophomore season, he was a second line winger on a team that advanced to the Division 1 state semi-final, losing 8-0, to the perennial powerhouse Matignon Club. Robinson along with guys like Visone, Steve Sheldon, Jim Knowlton and Tewksbury's Russ Ahern, helped lead the Cougars to an 11-win regular season, including two games against Wilmington, a dramatic 4-3 come from behind win and then a scoreless tie.
"At that time, we were part of the Merrimack Valley Conference so we played Wilmington, Chelmsford, Billerica and those were our biggest rivals, so I got to play against my friends," said Richie. "Sophomore year we made it to the Garden and lost to Matignon. Actually, three of the guys who were on Matignon, I ended up playing with at St. Anselm's. They buried us pretty good that game at the Garden. Junior and senior year we didn't make it that far. I remember my senior year, we lost to Chelmsford by one point for the league championship title."
Matignon scored five goals in less than nine minutes during that game held at the Garden, which obviously took away some of the awe of playing on the same ice as Bobby Orr did.
"It was great. It's interesting to play in a place that holds 20,000 people and we had like seven or eight thousand at our game. Playing there was quite the opportunity. Even back then before the digital world, the publicity from all of the papers was really good. It was just a great experience even though we lost."
A year before that, he was teammates with Scanlon.
"Richie and I were in the same grade and we played youth hockey together, all growing up," said Scanlon. "We went to Austin Prep together and then I came back (to WHS) after my freshman year and he stayed over there. He was a real good player. He was very quick, had a beautiful stride and he could really skate. He was a good hockey player who could put the puck in the net.
"Richie then went to St. Anselm and had a good career there. He was a smart kid and a good hockey player. He played in all three zones. I always remember him for his stride and quickness. He was a fast skater."
Richie played four years at St. Anselm and the team hovered right around the .500 mark each year. He finished his career with 36 goals and 31 assists, and had just seven minor penalties in four years.
"We were a .500 team there and at that time teams like Merrimack and U-Lowell and a couple of the bigger D1 schools now, were in D2 so we had some pretty good competition," he recalled. "Most of the time we were a .500 team and we played pretty good. I think we were more of an offensive team and we didn't have as strong of a defense, so we would either win or lose, 8-6."
Today Richie lives in New York with his wife Monique and their twin daughters, Janelle and Megan. Janelle played field hockey and was part of a state championship team in high school and went on to play four years at St. Michael's, where Megan played four years of soccer, also at St. Michael's in Vermont.
A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Two years younger than Richie is Jean. She dismisses her athletic days, but truth be told she was pretty good in softball. She played subvarsity field hockey and basketball, but really made her mark on the diamond. Back then, there was no windmill pitching. Girls weren't throwing 50 to 60 miles per hour, there was no slap hitting and defense was a struggle — or at least it was for the Wildcats. You saw a lot of 15-10 games and not the 2-1 scores of today.
Before the 1982 season started, Wilmington had a new coach Jack Fahey. He inherited a team from Ed Harrison that had some strong athletes, including Hall of Famer Megan Donnelly, as well as Karen Evans and MaryBeth Gentile to name a few. His pitcher was Jean.
"The year before Janelle Fitch was the pitcher and I pitched a little but she did most of it," recalled Jean. "Windmill really started after us, but I remember facing a few teams like Burlington, who would have a pitcher throwing windmill, but she had to wear a mask."
That '82 season, Wilmington opened with a 10-7 win over Reading. The next game was a 16-11 win over Lawrence with Jean leading the offensive attack with three hits. After some tough losses to Chelmsford, Tewksbury and Dracut, the 'Cats got back on track with thrilling wins over Billerica, 6-5, and Haverhill, 2-1. In that win over the Hillies, Gentile knocked in the game winning run in the top of the eighth inning. Jean went the distance, all eight innings, allowing two hits and her performance was described in the Town Crier as "outstanding."
A week later, she recorded another win as Wilmington trounced Greater Lawrence 16-0. She gave up two hits and also had two hits at the plate. The win gave the 'Cats a 6-6 record at the time (finished 6-8) and Jean ranked fourth in the entire conference in wins with six.
"I remember playing with Karen Evans, Megan Donnelly, Eileen Woods played center field and Donna Foley was the catcher," said Jean. "We just had so much fun."
Jean went to Assumption College where she met her husband Tom, who was a fantastic baseball player for the Greyhounds. He served as a captain his senior year, helped the team win two conference championship titles. In 1982, he was a Triple Crown winner, leading the team in average at .410, home runs with nine and RBI with 39.
The couple have two children, Lauren and Chelsey, who both played softball and graduated from WHS in 2008 and 2011.
"That meant a lot (having my daughters carry on the tradition of playing softball)," said Jean. "Lauren was a dancer and when she played softball, she could really hit the ball. Chelsey could also hit. It was really neat to see them both play when they were in youth softball and my husband coaching them.”
Jean and Tom are also proud grandparents to Lauren's two children, Jordan (18 months) and Tori (1 month).
YOU ARE JUST A CRAZY KRUNKLE
On October 15th, Jean had a really nice picture of her and Kevin on her Facebook page. It was his birthday and he would have been 53 years old. He passed away in January of 2017 in Hawaii, where he had lived for 18 years, which came after living in Germany for several years.
"Kevin was the jokester and he was always instigating," said Kathy. "He never had kids but he was obsessed with all 13 of his nieces and nephews. He treated them unbelievably. The kids called him 'Krunkle', for 'Crazy Uncle'."
Kevin was also an excellent hockey player. He too attended Austin Prep, graduating in 1984. He went on to play at Trinity College. When the Town Crier reached the Trinity College Sports Information Director David Kingsley for some information on Kevin, he passed along a message going through the archives from Coach John Dunham who said, "Kevin was the fastest kid on the team when we won the ECAC Championships in 1986, '87 and '88."
Kevin finished his four-year collegiate career with 51 goals and 42 assists, falling just shy of 100 points. He was a left winger and was instrumental in the three ECAC Championship titles. Today he still ranks fifth all-time in program history with 171 penalty minutes.
"He would go one hundred miles per hour on the ice but he never had a stop button whether that was with his feet, his body or his stick," said Richie. "I tried to take the finesse game, but he took the tough game. If one of the finesse players on the Trinity team was attacked by the other team, Kevin's role was to take care of that guy when you really weren't supposed to do that."
Kristine remembers those days of seeing Kevin in the penalty box — sometimes more than he was on the ice.
"I was a little girl and would be in the backseat going home from of Kevin's games and my parents were mad saying, 'we didn't drive two hours to see you spend the whole game in the penalty box'. It's not surprising that he had that many," she said, while laughing.
During Kevin's senior year, Richard remembers watching his brother pour his heart out on the ice.
"They won the ECAC Championship three years while he was there and they were really one of the better teams in the area. I remember his senior year they won the league championship. It was a good crowd, it was a good game and they actually had three Wilmington kids on that Trinity team with Kevin, Frank Newark and Dan Ward."
While he was fast and aggressive on the ice, Kevin was really known as being the complete opposite when it came to his family and friends.
"Kevin had what you may say like a contradicting personality because he was the funniest guy and loud, but he was also super sensitive," said Kristine.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
Growing up as the fourth of seven children, Kathy watched her older two brothers play hockey and her older sister play softball. She quickly joined those two sports.
"I was the only girl playing on the boys youth hockey team," she said. "I think it was the Mite and Squirt level. I remember Mike Newhouse was on the team and he was such a gentleman. Anytime I got knocked against the boards, he would always come over to make sure that I was OK. That's Mike and he's always been that way. Some of the boys did not appreciate a girl being on the team."
During that time, there were no girls leagues. It wasn't until Maureen got into middle school when she left WYH and went to play in an all girls' league in Stoneham. Kathy said she wishes that was the case when she was that age.
"I really never wanted to stop playing," she said. "I was getting older and they didn't have any kind of girls' league — the Stoneham League didn't happen then. I loved hockey and I never would have stopped playing. I was getting older and I didn't want to continue to compete with boys. The option of playing in a girls league was available to Maureen but not for me, so I stopped playing and I really missed it. Maureen ended up going to the Stoneham League and played for years there, and I definitely would have done that without a doubt. I stopped playing hockey and became a cheerleader for Pop Warner and then I switched to field hockey."
Before her cheerleading and field hockey days, Kathy was part of the 1980 Wilmington Youth Softball 12 and Under State Championship Team, which beat Jack Berry of Worcester, 10-2. In the team's first win over Woburn, she had several big hits in a 7-6 victory, while she came through with several other big moments throughout the entire tournament.
Kathy went on to play softball and basketball at WHS and had success but her true calling came in field hockey, a sport she didn't try until she the fall of her freshman year.
She was named the Merrimack Valley Conference League MVP during both her junior and senior years. She along with Lisa Cutone held the program record for most points in a season of 31, which was broken later that decade by Laurie's scoring mate Jen DelNinno, before Jillian Fitch shattered that record back in 2017.
"Kathy was just a great all-around kid. She has lots of skills, she was very fast. She was a winger so she would have plenty of room to move," said then head coach Jan Cassidy-Wood.
In 1983 as a junior, Kathy helped the Wildcats finish 12-2-2, which included a win over Reading 1-0 and then a 3-0 loss to Woburn in the state tournament.
The following year as a senior, the team finished 14-3-1 and advanced to the Division 2 North Sectional Final, losing to Rockport, 1-0. Along the way came exciting wins over Lynnfield and Marblehead, both 1-0 scores. That team broke many program records, including most goals in a season with 63.
"Those days were awesome and just so much fun," she said. "All of my best friends were on the team like Janet Crowley, Kristen Butt, Marcia Burns and Sharon Carbone. Those days were really fun. We were really good and I remember all of us being cocky, well maybe not cocky but real confident. Playing for Miss Cassidy was terrific, I loved playing for her."
After graduating from WHS in 1985, Kathy attended Bentley College (University today) and remained teammates with Crowley. She played two years of field hockey and helped the Falcons finish 14-2 and 16-3, making it to the Final-4 of the NCAA Division 3 National Tournament each year. In 1986, the Falcons finished fourth overall.
In '85, as a freshman, Kathy ranked fourth on the team in goals with six and fourth in points with eight. The next year she finished with three goals and two assists.
"I just played just the two years there. There were a lot of really good girls on our team and against the teams we played," she said. "Janet Crowley was with me but she ended up staying on the team all four years. Playing there was a lot of fun but it was also a lot of work, just like it is for any other college athlete. It just takes so much time with all of the training."
Kathy married Glen Sargent, also of Wilmington, who was also an outstanding athlete at WHS, excelling as one of the conference's best quarterbacks as well as star baseball pitchers. He is four years older than Kathy, so they never attended high school together.
"I didn't meet him until after college and we met at a party," she said with a big chuckle. "Before that, when I was in the third grade, I can remember Richie coming through the house with his friend Billy Hanlon and another boy, that I thought was the cutest thing that I have ever seen. After they left, I asked Richie, 'who was that boy'? And he said 'Glen Sargent'. I never forgot the name so as a kid, I would always go to the (high school) football games and I remember watching Glenn knowing how cute I thought he was.
"It was after college when we met at the party and at first I didn't recognize him. He said his name and I said to him, 'did you ever come to my house and hang out with my brother Richie'? And he said yeah and I said 'I remember you'."
That conversation at the party eventually led to a wedding and three children. It also led to Glen going through a health scare when he was diagnosed in 2016 with "MantleCell Lymphoma", which is "a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." About 15,000 people in the United States presently have it.
"It's a rare form of lymphoma that doesn't have a cure," said Kathy. "He was very lucky because five years before he was diagnosed with it, there was only a two-year life expectancy. They won't treat anyone who is over sixty years old who has this, or anyone with poor health conditions. You have to go through these rigorous tests to prove that you are strong enough to go through it all. He did those tests and he looked paper thin. He was losing like a pound a day at that point. We went through this program which was rigorous chemo, a stem cell replacement and at that point he was in the hospital for two weeks. They basically took all of his stem cells out and cleaned them and put them all back in so it's like he has a whole new immune system.
"He started a chemo trial drug that he takes once a day for four years. He's been healthy as a horse ever since. The doctor had told him after he got through this, that he could guarantee Glen four healthy years. It wasn't a cure, but since this (trial) was so new, there was no determination if it would ever cure anybody. Now, Glenn goes every three to six months to get his tests, full body scans and the bloodwork and every time they come perfectly. His doctor told him the last visit that good news, if it comes back, we've got new treatments that we can use, but he also said 'something tells me that it's not going to come back'."
He was diagnosed in December of 2016 and just a month after that, Kevin had passed which came six months after their Aunt Lois had passed.
"Glen couldn't even come to Kevin's services because of everything that he was going through," said Kathy. "It was a real tough six-month period." But she added that it was Glenn, who made it all a little bit easier to deal with during that terrible stretch, "It was hard but because of his personality (things were a bit easier). He was never down. Not once. When he first found out, it was like 'OK, what do we do now? Let's go, let's do it'. He was just so strong and positive about it all. He was so strong and the support and love we received from my family and our friends was incredible."
The couple's children include Jesslyn, Katherine and Brian, who are all graduates of Andover High School. The girls were mostly dancers and cheerleaders, while Brian played hockey. He went on to George Washington University and was a member of the National Championship Club team.
THE ONE WHO STARTED IT ALL
Over the years and decades, the Town of Wilmington has had many outstanding female ice hockey players. Kristen Thomas certainly ranks up there after her phenomenal career at UNH and while no one has repeated her accomplishments, certainly there's been a pretty good list of girls who have excelled either at WHS or other programs.
Way before Thomas came onto the scene, by far, there was no one better than Maureen Robinson.
A graduate of WHS in 1987, she like Kathy, started her playing days in WYH.
"Everybody was good and it was hard. Once you hit ten or eleven years old, the boys are bigger and stronger. The boys on the team all accepted me and they were my friends. For me I would feel weird because I knew I was the only girl on the team. The boys never made me feel weird," Maureen said.
Once she reached Pee Wee/Bantam level, Maureen made the switch and played in an all-female independent league based out of Stoneham. She traveled all across the country and played in a number of extremely competitive tournaments.
"When I played, there were probably only about ten to twelve good college programs in the country for women's hockey," she said. "There were maybe another ten that were OK. By my senior year, it got a lot better."
During her high school days, Maureen also was a terrific softball player and just a superior athlete. Cassidy was hoping that she would also be the same way with a field hockey stick.
"Maureen was an ice hockey player and we tried our hardest to get her to play for us," said Cassidy. "I remember at the time that she didn't want to wear a skirt, so we said 'well you can be the goalie so you don't have to wear a skirt.' She chose the ice hockey route."
Maureen received an athletic scholarship to play at Northeastern starting in the 1989-'90 season. In terms of stats, she gradually got better each year finishing with 12, 13, 20 and 25 points and totaled 33 goals and 37 assists for 70 points. That included breaking her wrist during her freshman season.
She said even thought there were some weaker teams in the league, for her playing at NU, it was difficult day-in and day-out playing at that level.
"You had everyone on scholarships, everyone wants to play and you really have to compete to keep your spot. You had to work really, really hard so that was different than playing (in the Stoneham League)."
In her freshman year, the team was 20-5, were crowned the Beanpot Champions with wins over BU (2-0) and Harvard (3-2). The next year the team was 20-7 and again Beanpot Champs. That followed with records of 20-5-2 and 14-7-3. In all four years, the Huskies were defeated by UNH in the playoffs, including losses of 9-5, 6-1, 5-4 and 6-5 (OT), all in the semifinals.
"Yes (we did lose to UNH all four years), ugh! We were the Buffalo Bills (of the 90's)," she said jokingly. "I thought (those UNH teams) were a little bit better than us. That was around the time that the first Women's Olympic Hockey team was being formulated. It was just super competitive and UNH had a few of the top players (from the country) and they were just a really good program."
Maureen met her husband Ed, who was a baseball pitcher, while at NU. The two have since traded in their hockey stick and baseball glove for running shoes.
"I stopped playing hockey after college. When you get older, everything hurts," she said with a laugh. "Lately I have taken up running with Ed."
The couple also have 13 children — well not quite.
"Maureen and Ed are a lot like Kevin. When you ask them how many kids they have, they'll say thirteen because they are so great as an aunt and uncle to all of the kids," said Laurie.
A NATURAL SCORER
Just like Kathy, Laurie didn't start playing field hockey until she reached high school and also made an immediate impact. Laurie was fast, had strong skills, she set up her teammates to score and she too could find the back of the net.
"Laurie was very similar to Kathy in her skillset, but she played an inside position, so that's a different dynamic of the whole team," said Cassidy. "She was equally as good. Jen DelNinno was her wing and at the end of the season, Jen was injured with a broken cheekbone or something. Laurie had to move over and take Jen's spot at the wing position. Laurie made that transition so seamless. She did a super job and she was an overall excellent player as well."
Laurie was brought up to the varsity team before the state tournament begun as a sophomore. Then she became a two-year starter and played a key role in the 1987 MVC League Championship team. She was named to the All-Conference team as a senior in '88. That year in the playoffs, the 'Cats defeated Ipswich in a three-overtime thriller before losing to Triton.
"It was Friday afternoon home game," recalled Cassidy. "We went to three overtimes to a stroke off. I remember the parents who had trucks and their cars, they went out to the parking lot and they brought the cars in and around behind the fence to put the headlights to shine light onto the field so the players could see the ball. It was just amazing and I had never seen anything like that before."
Scoring the goals in the penalty stroke period were Laurie and Hall of Famer Judy O'Connell.
"Field Hockey wasn't even in the cards when we were growing up," Laurie said. "It was always soccer and cheerleading, so we didn't have field hockey until we got to the ninth grade. The five of us girls all basically played the same sports growing up with soccer, basketball, softball and cheerleading. I remember (high school) field hockey and playing with Jen DelNinno, Leanne Bishop and Laurie Cormier. We had a real good team. Field Hockey was a great sport. We had wonderful times and Miss Cassidy was a great coach."
Laurie's competitive field hockey days ended when she graduated from WHS in 1989. She and her husband Jeff are proud parents of three children, Ryan, Aly and Ava. Ryan is at Reading High and plays three sports, golf, hockey and lacrosse. Ava is 14 and is on the Reading High freshman field hockey team. Aly attends the University of Tampa and she was also a three-sport athlete at RMHS with field hockey, gymnastics and lacrosse.
While Laurie and her husband have watched their children perform in many different sports over the years, she still remained active. In 2008, she completed her first Boston Marathon, following Richie and Kevin who did it in the early 1980's. Five years later, Laurie wanted to give it a go once again — a decision she will unfortunately always remember.
"I always loved running and I really didn't start doing it until after I had kids. Running the marathon was on my bucket list so I did it in 2008 and then in 2013, I said that I wanted to do another one."
That other one was no ordinary Boston Marathon. It was the year that the bombs went off near the finish line. Laurie was coming up on Haverford/Boylston when everything happened, all the while her siblings and youngest daughter were at the finish line waiting for her. They too were extremely fortunate to come out unharmed.
"I was running with a friend and he was really starting to lose his steam at like mile 19. I asked him if he would mind if I just went ahead. At this point, I was doing it casually, but I wanted to beat my time from 2008. I started to pick up my pace and I knew that I had eight family members and some friends at the finish line. Then I was at Haverford and Boylston and I called my husband and told him that I was picking up pace, so why don't you tell me where all of you are so I don't miss any of you. That's when the bombs went off."
Neither of them were quite sure what had happened in those few seconds while on the phone with one another.
"I asked him what was that, what happened? He said either it was a gas line or bombs. He said I'll call you right back. He tried to figure out what it was. He called me back saying it was a bomb. I told him to get the kids and to get out of town."
She got off the phone and was immediately stopped in her tracks.
"I'm on the phone and all of a sudden (the race officials) stopped us and nobody knows what's going on as runners. Then the (cell) towers went down so all I could do was text. I was just texting with my husband. One of my kids was with my siblings and my husband was with my other two kids at the Red Sox game and it was just a mess. Jean, Kathy, Kevin, my niece Chelsey and my youngest child Ava, who was in first grade, were all together but at that time I didn't know that. Jeff texted me saying he didn't know where Ava or any of my siblings were at the time.
"Jeff told me that one of the boys said that he wasn't going to leave without Mom, so I told Jeff to pick him up and just start running. Jeff was with a friend, Ava's godfather, and all of them just ran.
"My ride into the marathon was the running mate, so at that point I was separated from him. After the bombs went off, we weren't allowed to go the finish line so I started going back I found him. Once they started detonating bombs, we knew that our car was about a mile and a half away and we just ran as fast as we could to the parking garage."
While all of this was going on, Laurie didn't know who had Ava and where her siblings were exactly.
"We were going to get something to eat and go to the bathroom and Ava was with me," told Jean. "We went into the building and we looked out to the window and we waved to Kathy because they were right where the flags were right at the finish line. We waved to Kathy and we went back in and that's when the bombs went off. I went back to the window and all I see is smoke. I can't see anything else. We went towards where they were standing and at that time I had no idea if Kathy or my daughter were one of the injured people. I didn't know if they were alive, dead, or gone. I remember going down to the ground because I didn't know if they were dead or alive. I started crying and I told Kevin to find them and he said, 'I can't' because he couldn't get through past the police officers."
Described Kathy, "When the first bomb went off, we were standing maybe a couple hundred yards away, but at the time, you really couldn't see and know what was going on. You saw it afterwards watching videos. I remember exactly where we were standing because I had taken a lot of pictures.
"I was with Chelsey and at first I thought it was an explosion underground. I looked at Chelsey and we were like 'what was that'? Then the second one went off and that's when I said let's go towards the water. I took her and left. When we got to the Charles River, our phones finally worked and somehow we were able to get through to Tommy (Jean’s husband). That's when we found out that everyone was fine."
Right when Laurie and her running mate arrived at their car, she got texts saying that Ava and the rest of her family were all OK.
Twelve months after that horrific day, Laurie — and just Laurie — returned for another 26.2 mile journey.
"In 2014, I definitely ran on adrenaline," said Laurie. "I didn't want anyone to come in and I didn't want to have to worry about if there was going to be another attack. I just remember I ran all on adrenaline. When I crossed the finish line, the first thing I did was facetime my kids. All I remember was my kids saying, 'I can't believe your time.' That was probably my proudest athletic thing of my entire life. Just seeing those kids on facetime and them saying 'you kicked butt, Mom'. That's what I remember. I don't remember stats from field hockey, our records, or my times from other road races and marathons, but I do remember that facetime session with my kids. I always will."
THE LAST IN LINE
The youngest of the seven children, Kristine, didn't really play high school sports, but today it's a part of her own family. After graduating from WHS, Kristine went on to UMass-Amherst where she met her husband CJ Witalisz, who played three sports, football, hockey and lacrosse, while growing up in Westfield. They have three boys, Evan, who is a guard on the WHS Boys Basketball team, Jake and Sean.
"I always played sports growing up but I don't remember the reasons why I stopped playing," she said. "I think I played basketball my freshman year. I remember that I went to field hockey tryouts. At the time I was working at Stelio's so I told Miss Cassidy that I want to try out but I work Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and she said 'well you just can't miss two days a week' so I didn't play."
Kristine played soccer, softball and basketball growing up, played for her Dad with the Blue Bombers, and also dabbled at bit at the subvarsity level with field hockey and basketball.
"I look back and it's almost a regret but at the time, I felt that it was more important for me to work and study instead of playing sports. It's a bit of a regret to a certain extent."
During the time she was in middle school to her four years of high school and into her college days, Kristine's father was sick.
"People have asked me all of the time if I was jealous or if I felt any pressure because of my siblings' success or that they all played sports," she said. "Honestly I never felt any of that. I honestly think that with my dad being sick at the time and I was so young that my perspectives changed. He got sick and I was in the seventh grade. For me, I just thought at the time that other things were more important."
Things were indeed more important, such as her wonderful family, the Robinsons.