Belmont Boys’ Girls’ Hockey Right The Ship Before The Holiday Break

Photo: Game winner by Belmont junior Matt Brody against Woburn.

Belmont Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey stopped a streak of dropping points with wins on the first day of the holiday recess on Saturday, Dec. 22.

The boys’ got out in front midway through the game to defeat Woburn, 2-1, at the Skip while its compatriots defeated the host Tanners – coming off consecutive Division 1 state titles – by the same 2-1 score.

While the Boys’ now head to New Hampshire for its annual trip up north starting Dec. 26, the Girls’, now sporting a 3-1-1 record will get into the swing of things when school resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 2 away against Lincoln-Sudbury, Thursday, Jan 3 at Waltham before returning home vs. Lexington on Saturday, Jan. 5.

The Boys’ took the ice Saturday against Woburn riding a three-game losing slide with a 1-3-0 record while the Tanners coming to town at 2-3-0, records both teams did not expect to have at this point in the season.

The first period was balanced if not that exciting affair as both teams had a limited number of chances with Woburn will the better of the opportunities. The Tanners were on the attack in the second as Belmont had to kill a five-minute major penalty at the start of the period and then skated a man down shortly afterward due to a two-minute minor.

Belmont struck first on a sweet individual effort by junior forward Matt Brody – who had been stellar being a pest on the shorthand – who with the puck on his backhand was able to hold off a defender and then place the puck top glove side past the Woburn goalie at 6:28.

Woburn nearly got the goal back less than a minute later but Belmont junior goalie Nico Carere gloved the shot from the Tanners’ forward.

The game-winner started with a miscue producing a magic moment in the final minute of the period. After a face-off in the Marauders end, a pass back to the Tanner defender was fumbled that resulted in the defender stumbling after losing his skate edge allowing Belmont a 3-on-1 counter. While at full speed, sophomore forward and line mate sophomore Ben Fici found that man Brody with a pitch perfect pass at the right post for a bang-bang goal with 13 seconds remaining in the second.

While Woburn would spend most of the third on the front foot against the Marauders, the Belmont defense was able to clog the passing and shooting lanes to prevent any difficult shots against Carere – who was named man of the match – who was finally beaten on Woburn’s fifth power play with less than two to play in the game.

After its trip to the Live Free Or Die state, Belmont boys will be back in league action on Saturday, Jan. 5 away at Lexington at 8:30 p.m.

Opinion: Working To Keep Teens Safe Over The Holidays

Photo: Keeping teens healthy over the recess.

By: Lisa Gibalerio, Prevention Specialist, and Laura Kurman, Program Director

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network

With the holiday season underway and the opening of retail marijuana shops in Massachusetts, adults are urged to pay close attention to teenagers’ behavior concerning alcohol and other drugs in the days and months ahead.  The Belmont Wellness Coalition is working collaboratively with many partners across town to reduce underage use of alcohol and other drugs. Please be part of the solution and do what you can to reduce youth access to alcohol as well as marijuana products.

As we know, teen alcohol use can lead to unsafe behaviors that put our kids’ health and safety at risk. If we work together, we can help to ensure that our kids stay healthy and safe!  (By the way, for each year that a teen does not use alcohol, the odds of lifelong dependence decrease by 15 percent.)

Retail recreational marijuana shops are opening around the state. In Belmont, although there are no licenses or special permit applications at this time, the town could approve up to two retail marijuana establishments within certain zoned areas. While shops in Belmont would not be allowed to sell marijuana to people under the age of 25, teens may nevertheless find ways to access these products.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), administered several years ago in Belmont, revealed that approximately one-third of teens reported that they are drinking.  Most are getting alcohol from older siblings, older friends, or home.  In many instances, students said, their parents do not know they drink, or do not know how much they drink.

Often, due to their developing brains, when teens drink, they tend to drink too much. Teens who drink put themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning, car crashes, injuries, violence, or unprotected/unwanted sex, and, if they are athletes subject to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) regulations, they may lose the privilege to participate in sports.

As a parent or guardian, you can and do make a difference!

Here are some tips to reduce teen drinking and use of marijuana:

  • Keep alcohol in a secure location, preferably in locked cabinets. Even if you trust your teen, their friends may be tempted by what’s available in your home.
  • If you are hosting a party, do not leave unsupervised alcohol around where it is accessible to underage guests. Tell other relatives not to serve alcohol to your child under the age of 21 as well.
  • Let your child know what you expect. Tell your teen that adults may be drinking during the holidays, but under no circumstances is he/she allowed to drink alcohol.
  • If your child is attending a party, check on the details. Find out if there will be parental supervision, and be sure no alcohol will be available at the parties that your teen will be attending.  Wait up to greet your child when he/she/they arrives home at curfew time.
  • Never serve alcohol to anyone under 21, and don’t allow children to serve alcohol to others. It is illegal to serve or provide alcohol to underage youth, or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control.  See Social Host Liability Law:
  • Do not to leave your teenagers home alone if you go out of town. Word gets out quickly and a drinking party can develop – sometimes without your child’s consent.
  • Do not relax your family rules with your own teens during the holidays. It can be difficult to return to previous expectations.

The Belmont Wellness Coalition welcomes your input!  Please consider joining us as we work to keep our kids safe and healthy – it really does take a village!

The BWC, along with Wayside Multi-Service Center, wishes you a peaceful, safe, and happy holiday season.

If I can be of support to you or your teens, please contact me at:

Campaign To Name HS Basketball Court After Legendary Coach Lyons

Photo: Paul Lyons at a recent Belmont High hockey game.

For David Ramsey, the proposal he and his colleague Ralph Jones are promoting “is a layup to me.”

Officials with the Marauder Basketball Association, Ramsey and  Jones believe it’s time for the town to honor one of its great coaches and residents, former Belmont High Boys’ Basketball headman Paul Lyons. And what more appropriate place than where he did most of his work.

If approved by the committee, the plan is to place a banner with Lyons name and achievements on the Wenner Field House wall and name the field house the “Home of Coach Lyons Court.” The campaigners said there would be no wording applied to the court surface, and the new name would only be mentioned when an announcer welcomes teams and fans to the site.

The pair came before the Belmont School Committee on Dec. 18 to have Lyons lionized for his sports leadership abilities and character. A one-time player at Boston College, Lyons coached the Belmont High boys’ basketball team for a quarter century and led them to the state championship in 1993 on top of five Middlesex League titles. By the end of his Belmont career, Lyons had racked up 335 victories (and 473 overall) and was installed in the Massachusetts Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame.

His legacy continues as one of the founders of the Belmont Youth Basketball Association in 1977 and the Marauders Basketball Association in 1986 which has supported both the high school teams as well as introduced thousands of elementary and middle school-aged children to the game. Nearly all the players of the current undefeated boys and girls high school teams started playing hoops in the BYBA.

But Ramsey and Jones also said they wanted Lyons to be known for how he coached, always with sportsmanship and teamwork in mind. 

“He was very competitive and always wanted to win, but [Lyons] did so with a great deal of class and integrity,” said Jones, who is a former selectman and noted local basketball historian whose daughters played.

The committee, as its policy, would not respond to the motion at last week’s meeting. According to district policy, the School Committee has sole authority over naming or re-naming buildings, interior facilities and grounds to a person whose “work or service has contributed significantly to the Belmont Public Schools or to the Belmont community.”

As for Lyons, he continues to display his modest demeanor when pressed during a chance interview at the Belmont/Woburn hockey match Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Skip.

“We’ll see,” he said.

Top 10 Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoopsters Off On Tournament Tour

Photo: Belmont’s Jess Giorgio in the paint.

After starting their seasons with four relatively easy wins and each finding a place in the top 10 of the Boston Globe’s Top 20 Poll, Belmont’s Boys (ranked 10th) and Girls (number 9) Basketball teams will be finding a tougher crowd during the holiday recess as both heads off to meet some stiffer non-conference competition this week.

After entering the recess with wins against visiting Winchester in the Friday doubleheader matches, the Marauders have Thursday, Dec. 27 dates against small-school powerhouse and regaining Division 4 state champs Pope John (the boys) in Boston and Stoughton (the girls) at Newton North. On Friday, Belmont will play 19th ranked Burke High School of Boston.

Belmont’s start to the season has been a time to put together best performances – senior guard Danny Yardemian’s 46 point single-game points record and senior center Jessica Giorgio personal high of 24 points – and prepare for a series of games against top-notch Middlesex League rivals, starting away at Reading next Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Both teams are showing an offensive punch – the Boys are averaging 85 points during the stretch while the Girls are just over the 63 point mark – while the Girls are stellar on the defensive end keeping opponents to just about 30 points.  

The Boys and Girls finished their respective early season run with comfortable wins over the Sachems. The Girls allowed only a single point in the first quarter while putting up 23, then put the game away in the second quarter as the Marauders took a 36-7 lead into the half. Head Coach Melissa Hart played everyone who suited up, allowing several reserves a chance to run the floor. Sophomore Maiya Bergdorf led Belmont in scoring with 17, followed by senior Meghan Tan with 13 and freshman guard Bridgette Martin who hit double digits with 10, as Belmont cruised to a 73-23 victory.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Hart, who said she expects Stoughton, who played Belmont tough last year, will give the regular season challenge they have been looking for.

Yardemian found that he’s made a lot more friends on the court after breaking the long-standing points against Lexington as Winchester would drape two or three defenders on the league all-star when he would head for the basket. Winchester kept it close in the first, leading 12-9 with two and half minutes remaining in the opening quarter, before the Marauders behind Yardemian, senior center Daniel Seraderian, and sixth man sophomore forward Preston Jackson-Stephens (who had his second impressive outing) took the Marauders offensively and defensively on a 10-2 run to take the lead, 19-14, at the end of the first eight minutes. 

Belmont exploded for 23 points in the second quarter led by Seraderian with a three, a hoop and two from the charity stripe and reserve sophomore guard Tim Minicozzi who contributed six to see Belmont up the advantage to 42-27 at the half. The third prove decisive, as early on Yardemian hit a three and put in a driving layup, stole the ball that sent sophomore guard Mac Annus his own layup, the first two of nine points in the quarter. He joined senior shooting guard Ben Sseruwagi with 7 points to lead the Marauders to a 66-39 point lead at the end of the third and a comfortable 83-56 win. 

Asked why he tends to schedule tough as nail opponents each school break, 19 years Head Coach Adam Pritchard said he remembers what UMass (and current Kentucky) head coach John Calipari – whom he was an assistant – saying that you should play “anyone, anywhere, anytime” especially the best teams.

“You only go around once so why not make it interesting,” said Pritchard. 

Two New Belmont Police Officers Sworn In

Photo: (from left) Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, Belmont Police Officers Brian Conneely, Evan Nichols, Belmont Chief Richard McLaughlin.

New Belmont Police Officers Brian Conneely and Evan Nichols were sworn in by Belmont Town Clerk Ellen O’Brien Cushman at a ceremony held in the Board of Selectmen’s room at Town Hall on Friday Dec. 21.

On Thursday Dec. 20, Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin along with command staff attended the graduation ceremony for the Conneely and Nichols graduated from the Randolph Regional Police Academy 8th R.O.C. on Dec. 20 after a 21-week intensive academy program hosted by the Randolph Police Academy.

The new officers are pictured with McLaughlin and Cushman.


School Committee Says ‘Yes’ On Interest To Host New Rink Along Concord Avenue

Photo: A new rink would likely be built in this location near the present rink (in photo).

The pieces are beginning to fall into place pointing to a new skating rink coming to Belmont in the next two years.

And while there are a pair of locations where the replacement for the ancient “Skip” Viglirolo rink is expected to be sited, there is growing support over the past month pointing to Belmont School District property along Concord Avenue across from the Underwood Pool as the likely spot, beating out a facility at the former incinerator site on upper Concord Avenue on the Lexington town line.

In an important step that would keep the rink adjacent to Harris Field, the Belmont School Committee vote unanimously at its Tuesday, Dec. 19, meeting to proceed with a Request for Proposal (RFP), which will solicit proposals through a bidding process.

“This is a town project, not just a schools project,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan at the meeting.

The School Committee Chair Susan Burgess-Cox said while moving forward with a RFP, the committee would be open to all suggestions and comments from the public on developing the site which will have its chance to express its opinion at a January community meeting on the future of the incinerator site that will impact the rink development.

While hardly the size of a new public/private venture in New York City that will house nine skating rinks, Belmont Youth Hockey in a presentation before the School Committee in April proposed a space with an ice sheet-and-a-half (with the half ice sheet covered for nine months and used by spring, summer and fall youth and high school sports teams) with recreational open space, an indoor track and locker rooms that can be used by indoor and outdoor sports teams.

(A public/private rink to replace the aged “Skip” is not a recent concept as it has been talk about around town since 2015.)

While no decision has been made by either the School Committee – which owns the property – and the Board of Selectmen which has final say what will go on the incinerator land, recently presented analysis of the two locations appearing to give the clear edge to the school’s site.

At the school committee meeting Tuesday, Phelan presented a pro and con comparison of the two sites. Noting that the 1970s-era “Skip” is well-passed its useful working life and is only kept running with “McGyver”-style hacks to the ice-making machinery, Phelan said a new rink built through a public/private partnership – in past schemes, Belmont Youth Hockey would manage the rink that is constructed on land provided free of charge by the town or schools – would provide local access to ice time for the community and the Belmont High School ice hockey teams. Under this scenario, the direct cost to town ratepayers would be zero.

As for the pro’s of the high school site, it would be convenient for the school’s teams, it would increase locker space for boys and girls teams who play at Harris Field, it would not need state regulatory approval and just town zoning permits and there would finally be on-site parking as opposed to using  Concord Avenue and several side streets.

“There’s a nice energy of uses if it was on the high school site that would complement the new fields,” said Phelan.

One big con would be the potential loss of playing field space during and after the building is completed, additional traffic and the possible congestion created as the rink will be constructed while the 7-12 school is being built less than a quarter mile away “would be challenging,” said Phelan. 

The incinerator site does have its pro’s as in less traffic impact on the local neighborhood, doesn’t interfere with new school’s construction site and there is enough land to build a rink with two full-size ice sheets.

But the cons at the incinerator are steep: school teams would need to take one bus to and from practice at a cost of approximately $400 daily or $2,000 each week for up to 14-16 weeks. Because there are state-issued conditions on what can be placed at the incinerator location and environmental issues, it is expected to take up to four years before the first shovel is put into the ground, which will also require the town to pick up maintenance costs and likely repairs at the old rink until construction is completed. There is the issue of capping the toxic landfill site which will cost the town approximately $3.5 to $4 million, an amount a non-profit rink organization would find daunting to help pay and would force up rental fees. Finally, there are concerns that a foundation for the building and ice sheet on ground that is infill and close to wetlands could be prohibitively expensive.

While a number of committee members voiced some concern about the loss of fields for high school sports teams (depends what the winning RFP bid specifies) and would a new rink replace the locker room space lost when the White Field House is demolished (“yes,” said Phelan), they also felt the added transportation costs and far-off location of an incinerator-located rink were less than attractive.

By the end of the presentation, the committee was ready to put the school district’s stake in the ground for new rink. But while interested in building on the property, the district and committee “[are] not yet committed to doing so,” until the public process is completed, said member Andrea Prestwich.


Ho-ho-ho: What’s Open and Closed on Christmas Day in Belmont

Merry Christmas, Belmont. If after unwrapping all your presents and watching the latest holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel you have a “need” to get out of the house, here are a few places around town open on Christmas.

Dunkin’ Donuts

• The Dunkin’ Donuts at 353 Trapelo Rd. near Beech Street will be open from 5 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

• The store located on Church Street in Waveley Square is closed today.


• The Belmont Center store at 47 Leonard St. is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CVS Pharmacy

• The stores at 264 Trapelo Rd. and 60 Leonard St. in Belmont Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas, although the pharmacy at both locations will is closed.

What would Christmas be if the local movie theater was closed? Thankfully, Belmont’s Studio Cinema at Trapelo and Beech will be open and screening “Mary Poppin Returns” (rated PG) at 7:30 p.m.

If you are looking to get around on the MBTA:

• The Fitchburg/South Acton Commuter Line will operate a Sunday schedule while buses and trackless trolleys that operate in Belmont are likewise running on a Sunday schedule.

Boys’ Hoops Set For Boston Garden Party Vs Algonquin Reg.; Sunday, Jan. 6 At 5 PM

Photo: The poster for the invitational.

Belmont High Boys’ Hoops will be heading for a garden party on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 5 p.m. as the Marauders battles the Tomahawks of Algonquin Regional on the parquet floor of TD Boston Garden as part of the annual Good Sports TD Garden Invitational.

Seeing the local team at the “Gah-den” is a special event as those who saw the Girls’ team win both games in 2016 and 2017 and the Boys’ battle it out until the final minute against a strong Somerville team in 2014 can attest. 

So, you may ask, where can I get tickets? Say no more:

Pantazopoulos Pulls Papers For Predicted School Committee Push

Photo: Peter Pantazopoulos (Linkedin)

Peter Pantazopoulos doesn’t know which Belmont School Committee seat he’ll be seeking at Town Election in April.

But he will be running.

“I haven’t made a decision yet if I will run for three years or one-year term,” said the Winslow Street resident in an email interview. “I plan on making that decision when I turn in my nomination papers on Feb. 12” the deadline to turn in papers to the Town Clerk. 
The father of two “impressionable boys” and an 18 year resident with his wife Olga, Pantazopoulos said his run for one of the two open seats on the six-member board came about after he asked himself “how can I best serve my community.” 
“I have heard parents express their passion to me surrounding the Belmont School system. As I echoed their concerns, I decided the parent’s need a voice on the School Committee that they can trust and will be transparent with them on the intentions of the committee’s decisions that we make.” 
Pantazopoulos is an account executive at Weston-based Apps Associates. He matriculated at Bentley University (BA Accounting) and earned an Executive MBA from Suffolk and an MSIT from Bentley. Pantazopoulos is currently not a Town Meeting member.  
Pantazopoulos’ overall philosophy on education is based on “the passion that all parents have to ensure that their children will have a proper and fulfilling education.
“I want to see all children get the preparation they need to attend a higher education. That journey may require some students to have IEPs [Individualized Education Programs] to develop their social and learning developmental skills,” he noted.   
Pantazopoulos poised several questions which he believes need to be asked of and than answered by the school committee:
  • Are we doing enough for those children and getting them the assistance that they need to enjoy learning and socializing with their peers? 
  • Are students that are on a fast track in learning getting challenged in their studies and do we have the state of the art facilities to foster that hunger to learn? 
  • Do we have the right class sizes and the right grade levels in each facility? 
  • Are we being fiscally responsible in using the taxpayer’s dollars to fund large-scale projects and are these projects being done with the voice of the parents and community members?

He also got Belmont-specific on a pair of fronts. 

“Belmont will be making key decisions in the coming years with building a new 7-12 school. The committee needs someone with experience in managing complex budgets, understanding mandated, fixed and soft costs. Understanding policy and procedures and trusting compliance but verifying we are doing the right thing for the parents, children and the tax payers who are funding these projects with their hard-earned tax dollars.”
“I want to make sure we are starting school at a reasonable time and that working families have high quality after school care for their children at an affordable price,” he said.
Nomination deadline for town-wide and Town Meeting seats is Feb. 12.

Belmont Police Joins Restorative Justice Movement [VIDEO]

Photo: Restorative Justice project in Concord.

Your car has been vandalized. Someone broke into your house at night. Shoplifters attacked the business you own. You were assaulted by “a friend.”

You are a victim of a crime and you want justice.

In the past forty years, the expected action from law enforcement and the courts were to take the perpetrator, convict them with the harshest sentence and lock them up.

And while that might be satisfactory, it, for the most part, doesn’t restore a sense of safety to or provide a lasting resolution to the victim.

According to Erin Freeborn and Belmont Police’s Asst. Chief James MacIsaac, there is a better way. Rather than throwing away the keys, bring the victim and culprit together. “Hold the offender accountable so healing can begin and everything is put right,” said Freeborn, executive director of C4RJ, a non-profit community-police partnership that offers restorative justice to those affected by crime.

And Belmont PD announced at the Belmont Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, it has joined 24 other Massachusetts police departments (including Arlington, Cambridge, and Lexington) and the Middlesex and Suffolk country district of attorneys partnering with C4RJ.

The Concord-based organization in operation since 2000 is driven by a group of trained volunteers recognizes crimes is a violation of people and relationships, not just a violation of the law. The focus of the organization is to assist victims and offenders of a crime through a healing approach outside the court system.

C4RJ builds strong, respectful communities by responding to a crime in ways other than tough sentencing. C4RJ listens to victims, holds offenders accountable, and restores trust in communities.

Through C4RJ’s process, victims of a crime respond to an incident by directly addressing the person who committed the crime. In turn, offenders are given the chance to rectify their actions and avoid a potential criminal conviction on their record.

“Where once a fistfight after school was seen past part of growing up, now that could be considered a felony assault with real harsh consequences,” said Freeborn. “We want to reduce the number of people being incarcerated and [restorative justice programs] are one way to do that.”

Partner police departments recommend cases to C4RJ. If the victim and the offender agree to the process, the matter is given to C4RJ, which sets up a meeting between both parties, putting the decision making into the hands of those directly affected.

Together, under the guidance of the board of directors and law enforcement officials, the victim, the offender, and their loved ones and supporters, along with community members discuss the crime and find a way to move forward. The process is as follows:

  • Victims of crime address the person or people who have harmed them, to ask questions in a safe environment, and to share ideas on ways that the offender can repair the harm.
  • Offenders better understand the impact of their actions, are held accountable and encouraged to make amends to those they have harmed.
  • The community offers support for the process, addressing matters of public safety and strengthening connections with the police department.

At the end of the meeting, the offender pledges to change his or her actions, which are often accompanied by completing a number of service hours for an appropriate organization. In 60 to 90 days, all parties meet again to check in and reassess the situation.

This approach appears to work: the recidivism rate using the C4RJ approach is 16 percent as compared to 31 percent reincarceration rate (within three years) in Massachusetts, according to a 2018 National Reentry Resource Center study.

“By giving victims and offenders of a crime the opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment, we can have a dialogue that yields positive results for both sides,” said Freeborn.

C4RJ will be holding its next volunteer training on Feb. 8 (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and Feb. 9 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The first step is a volunteer application found at