Another high school winter sports season is
complete, culminating with the basketball and hockey championship games.
A canvas of lifetime memories and dashed dreams. I watched a number of
hockey and basketball games at the Boston Garden and found myself
impressed with the discipline, control and passion of the Brighton High
School basketball team.
I looked at the coach pacing in front of
his bench in his bright orange sweater and thought he looked very
familiar. He most certainly was. His name is Hugh Coleman. I first met
Hugh in 1997 when he was a senior at Charlestown High School. Like many
of the students who were bussed to school, Hugh was up each day a 6:00
a.m., rode a bus to Charlestown, practiced and got back home to
Dorchester well after dinner. Hugh was the oldest of nine children. His
mother, battling drug and alcohol abuse, was rarely home. Hugh raised
eight younger brothers and sisters by himself. Nobody from his family
ever went to college. Hugh studied hard and never let the burden of his
home life deter him from his dreams.
He wound up going to
Bowdoin College where he graduated after scoring more than 1,000 points
and still is the Polar Bears all time three point king. As I watched him
coach his team in the Boston Garden on the way to Brighton's first
EMASS title, I wondered how his life had evolved. After the game I
sought him out in the hallway.
"Mr. Lynch," he bellowed (he's 33 years old now he can call me Mike).
embraced and he introduced me to his young son. He told me he is
teaching English and Business at the Burke HS in Boston in addition to
his coaching duties at Brighton. He proudly boasted that all eight of
his younger brothers and sisters have either finished college or are all
still in school.
"This is the life I have chosen because sports
gave me my life back," said Hugh. "Every day I have a chance to make a
positive impact on a student's life. I don't go into particulars about
my background, but I can identify with a teenager who feels that his
life is a dead end. Sports without an education can be a dead end. I
think I've made an impact but I have a long way to go to settle up for
all the people that helped me along the way."
You think you've got it rough? Talk to Hugh, he'll set you straight.