Mike Tempesta, a senior for the Walpole
High School Rebels, is your average All American "boy next door." On
February 7th Mike's world was shattered when his dad, Thomas, passed away
unexpectedly. Mike had to deal with grief, sorrow and adversity. He
used his immeasurable inner strength and courage to turn it all into
triumph. The next night Mike decided to play against first-place Wellesley and
he led Walpole to a win. The night after his father's funeral Walpole was tied
with Dedham, 47-47, with ten seconds remaining. The ball wound up in Mike's
hands and with three ticks left on the clock Mike hit the game winner. "He was
looking down on me." said Mike, "I put it in but it really was probably him,
Two evening later it was senior night. Mike was the last player
introduced. As he walked to center court to present flowers to his mother Kathy
and his brother he was embraced with a long standing ovation. The best was yet
to come. Mike had a career night scoring 31 points while hitting 8 three
pointers, a new Walpole record.
"I kept shooting and getting open looks. He
(his dad) must have had something to do with that too," grinned Mike.
David St. Martin concurred.
"It was an emotional night, whether you believe in
that stuff or not there were two special games and somebody up there had to be
looking out after him."
Mike wears the phrase "RIP T.T." on the toes of each of
his sneakers and so do all of his teammates.
"Every time I am at the free throw
line I look down, see his initials and it helps me. Even though I am in the
middle of the game I think of him - it helps."
Mike has had to digest quite a
bit in a short period of time.
"We've always played with heart but now that word
has a new meaning for me. This whole town has been like one big family to me and
I'll never forget what it has meant."
Height and weight can be measured with
rulers and scales but they haven't invented the instruments yet to measure the
courage and heart of Mike Tempesta of Walpole High