Framingham Celebrates 6 Inductees Into Framingham High Athletic Hall of Fame

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By Danielle Achin

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FRAMINGHAM – It was an evening filled with celebration as the Framingham High Hall of Fame Foundation held its fourth annual Framingham Flyers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center on Friday night, November 4.

The 2022 honorees were Dan Balboni, Steve Burton, Katie Cox Thomas, Shaunna Kaplan Gay, Allison Manzella, and Phil ‘Smokey’ Moresi.

Thomas was unable to attend the ceremony due to a family emergency.

The event raises money for the Framingham High Athletic Department. The Foundation announced more than $20,000 was raised, thanks to sponsors. The Championship sponsor for the event is MutualOne Bank.

Balboni has made his mark in Framingham history known for his outgoing and loud personality when it comes to him and wrestling. He wrestled all throughout high school and began coaching a couple years out of high school. He coached the JV team for two years before he was offered the head varsity coach position after the previous coach retired.

Balboni was the varsity head coach for 17 years. He said one of his favorite memories was winning the State Championship title in 1994.

“You win with athletes, your team, and I was fortunate enough to have those guys,” he said.

Balboni said he was more nervous about that night’s induction than when he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019. He said although he is honored, the success comes more from the support for the program from families and athletes of Framingham High School.

“It’s special because it’s my hometown – it’s family,” he said.

Moresi has been a ‘hoopster’ since he first started basketball at just 8 years old.

Growing up in the Southside of town, Moresi lived “within a stone’s throw” of every captain of every sport in the high school at the time.Naturally he wanted to become a professional athlete when he grew up. Fortunately for him, he excelled in basketball.

Not only was he an excellent player, his coaching skills proved to be more than proficient. Moresi coached the Framingham South High School for 12 years, in that time his teams won 7 Bay State League Championships and competed in 8 state tournaments.

Moresi said one of the most surreal moments of his career was when his team competed in the then “tech tournament,” now known as the State Tournament in the Boston Garden before a full house.

Friday night was more than special for Moresi as one of his former All-American players, David Blatt, introduced him at the induction.

Moresi said he felt incredibly honored to be part of such an event for the city Framingham.

He said, “I took over a program that has been successful, and I wanted to take it to another level.”

Thomas made her mark in Framingham history as one of three players in the history of the MIAA girls hockey program to score 300 or more points.
While still holding several Framingham High records, Thomas graduated in 2001 and in those four years, finished her career with a total of 303 career points. She now resides in Tennessee with her husband and three daughters.

Growing up in a sports orientated family, athleticism was in Burton’s blood. Despite not starting football until his sophomore year of high school, he became the starting quarterback at Framingham High School for the remainder of high school. He then continued his football career at Northwestern University.

Burton said one of his favorite memories playing football in high school was his team beating their rivals at Framingham South.

Burton said there isn’t enough appreciation for him to show how thankful he is for being part of the Flyers’ legacy.

He said, “Framingham High made me grow up more. It matured me more.”

Manzella also made her mark in ice hockey history for the Framingham program. Starting her career when she was just three years old, Manzella has been on the ice for 28 years. Manzella played on the varsity hockey team for all four years of high school, even starting as a freshman.

Every year in high school was more successful than the last. Her freshman year she scored 28 goals and was named to the Bay State All-Star 2nd Team and the Middlesex News All-Star Team. In her sophomore year season, Manzella netted 23 goals and was named to the All-Star teams of the Bay State Conference and the Middlesex News. Manzella was nominated captain by her junior year at Framingham High. She was not only named Framingham High’s most valuable player for girls ice hockey, she also earned her 100th point of her career.

By her senior year, Manzella was again named Framingham High’s most valuable player for girls ice hockey. She was also again named to the All-Star Team for the Bay State Conference and named Most Valuable Player in the Bay State Conference.

When asked what it meant for her to be inducted into Framingham’s Athletic Hall of Fame she replied, “I think it’s awesome, I am so incredibly honored to be with such amazing athletes tonight.”

Kaplan did not excel at one but two sports throughout her athletic career – soccer and lacrosse. She began soccer when she was just five years old.

It wasn’t until her freshman year at Framingham High School when she began her lacrosse career. Kaplan said it was her P.E. teacher who convinced her to go out for the team despite her looking to play softball like her older sister.

Throughout her athletic career in soccer, Kaplan accumulated 65 goals and 45 assists in her four years of high school. She was also named Bay State League All-Star in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

In her time playing lacrosse, Kaplan was named the Eastern Massachusetts Player of the Year and Boston Globe Player of the Year in 2006. Kaplan also was named Bay State League First Team All-Star in 2004-2006.

Although Kaplan said she doesn’t have a favorite of the two, she loves each sport in their own individual way. She said, “I think my passion was always soccer so I’m deep-rooted in that but lacrosse was so new and so fun and something I had never done before. I think that was more like a honeymoon
phase. I don’t really have a favorite – they’re just different.”

Kaplan said she was very humbled and flattered to be part of such a special evening for the program of Framingham High School.

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Danielle Achin is a fall 2022 SOURCE intern. She is a senior English major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in psychology at Framingham State University. Danielle has been an athlete since she started gymnastics at age 4. She joined the Framingham State cheerleading team freshman year and recently won the 2022 National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) National Championship for the first time in Framingham State history. She is also one of the Sports editors for Framingham State’s student newspaper The Gatepost.

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