In December of 1997 a slick quarterback by the name of Kyle Van DeGiesen led North Attleboro to a High School Super Bowl win over Swampscott.
Kyle went on to play quarterback at St. Anselm’s College. Shortly after graduation he chased his lifelong dream and became a military pilot, a US Marine Captain. Kyle was killed October 26 in Afghanistan during a midair helicopter collision, it was his third tour of duty and he was due to come home a week later for the birth of his son. Like any small town, Kyle’s death paralyzed
North Attleboro. Yellow ribbons seemed to be wrapped around every
lamppost in town and every citizen wrapped themselves in their own
memories of Kyle. The town grieved for days with a vigil at the
football stadium, his funeral procession drove by that same football
field, where Kyle gave this town so many reasons to smile. The Red
Rockateer’s scheduled game with Mansfield was postponed until the day
after the funeral. Nobody felt like playing, a game seemed meaningless.
The game was re-scheduled for the next afternoon. A town turned its
lonely, sad eyes to this squad for 2 hours of diversion. Sports have a
way of uniting and galvanizing people like no other activity. Coach Don
Johnson told his team to “go out and give the Van DeGiesen family
something to smile about.” North Attleboro trailed 25-14 with 1:17
remaining; their physical and emotional tanks were on empty.
players began chatting in desperation “we’ve got to win this for Kyle,
he’s looking down on us.” Next play – touchdown, 25-20. Onside kick
recovered by North Attleboro and with 45 seconds remaining and down to
their last play they scored to win it 28-25. There are instruments to
measure speed, height and weight, but the human spirit is immeasurable.
After the game the team awarded the game ball to Kyle’s brother Ryan,
an assistant coach for the Red Rockateers. A week later Kyle’s widow
Megan gave birth to a boy named CJ who will receive the game ball and a
framed #12 jersey that his dad wore for North Attleboro, the team that
put a smile on the face on an entire town when it needed the most.