Where Are The Now? Bellingham the Beneficiary of Grupposo’s Giving Nature
Feb 28, 2019 06:00AM
By Pamela Johnson
written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor
Kevin Grupposo didn’t coin the phrase “It’s better to give than to receive,” but he’s lived by that philosophy just about every day of his adult life. The 67-year-old Grupposo, who has resided in Bellingham for 42 years, is a native of Natick and a graduate of Marian High of Framingham; but, in so many ways, he’s a Bellingham kind of guy who has evolved into a purebred Blackhawk.
Grupposo is quick to roll up his sleeves when a specific project needs attention, and he functions without fanfare.
Consider his volunteer work that spans three-plus decades—he spent 27 seasons coaching and serving on the board of directors for Pop Warner football, youth basketball and Little League baseball; for 17 years he was a Bellingham High booster club member in basketball, football and golf; he announced football and basketball games and hosted a sports talk show for Bellingham’s cable TV station; he has coached BHS basketball at all three levels and currently is the jayvee team’s assistant; and he’s vice-chairman of the high school’s Hall of Fame Committee. From 2014 to 2016 he worked as an assistant to the BHS athletic director for a meager stipend.
The father of four sons (Jeff; Sebastian, who died a day after his birth; Keith; and Peter), Grupposo launched his athletic journey in 1984 when his oldest son (Jeff) began playing Pop Warner football. At a practice, Grupposo met Don Floyd, one of the organization’s coaches. “Don asked me if I would be attending future practices,” Grupposo recalled. “I said ‘Yes’ and Don said, ‘Congratulations; you’re now my defensive coordinator.”’
What followed was a 10-year association with Pop Warner football. Grupposo coached, served on the board of directors and finished as the group’s president his last two years. The personable Grupposo also became a valuable asset for youth baseball and basketball.
“John Simpson stepped down as president of youth basketball, and Chip Leedes, Jim Jennings, my wife (Mary Louise) and I ran the league for five years,” Grupposo said. “Chip and I became certified referees and officiated in the league and taught rules to coaches. In baseball, I coached T-ball, farm league and Little League teams for seven years.”
As time moved on, Grupposo’s sons were playing football, basketball and golf at Bellingham High. Their dad still has vivid memories of those days. “My top thrill in Bellingham sports was any time my three sons were on the field, the court or the course,” he noted.
Four of Grupposo’s fondest memories occurred in 1993, 1998 and 2014. Those years included a pair of Super Bowl triumphs (1993 and 1998), and the spring of 2014 put BHS on the map on two different occasions.
“Bellingham’s victory over Marian in the 1993 Super Bowl was the first and only time I really got emotional,” Grupposo said. “I watched my sons (Jeff and Keith) compete and I was involved with the regional cable telecast. At the 1998 Super Bowl, I ran the clock at Boston University. My father was in the booth with me. In the victory over South Boston, my son Peter had two interceptions and a sack, and my father kept yelling, ‘That’s my grandson’ when Pete made those plays.”
Working as an assistant to Athletic Director Dennis Baker in 2014, Grupposo was ecstatic when BHS won three Tri Valley League championships in May (baseball, softball and boys track) and a month later, on June 14, won State crowns in baseball and softball.
“I was with Dennis and also coach (TJ) Chiappone when I got a text message from (track coach) Peter Lacasse,” Grupposo noted. “The baseball and softball teams had clinched TVL titles and now Peter was letting us know that the track team had also won a championship. Lots of pride that day because I felt like I was part of the administrative team.”
Capturing State titles in baseball and softball in Worcester on the same day remains an indelible feat that still makes Grupposo smile.
“What’s so memorable was the bus ride home,” he said. “I was happy for the kids, but the way the community was cheering as the buses traveled to Richardson Field was amazing. Since Dennis had to leave the baseball game to prepare his softball team for its battle against Grafton, I had the privilege of handing out the championship medals to the baseball players. Everything about that day was simply beautiful.”
Grupposo has known plenty of coaches and ADs and is quick to list them. The ADs include George Anderson, Baker and Leo Dalpe. “They helped me in my roles in the youth leagues, and they are still role models and terrific mentors,” Grupposo said. “Coaches I’ve admired at BHS are TJ Chiappone, Dennis Baker, Peter Lacasse, Rob Evans, Rich Blue, Dave Gibbs and the late Barry Hutchinson. One coach I’ll never forget is the late Hugo ‘Scooch’ Giargiari. He was a teacher and coach at Marian and later at Ashland. He was a great educator who taught life lessons in the classroom and on the field.”
Grupposo hasn’t many negatives about BHS sports, but there was a dark day in 2006 when news broke about Hutchinson’s death at the age of 47. Three years before his passing he had led the Blackhawks to a State title in basketball. “I got a call at 5 am from my son Jeff, who had coached with Barry,” Grupposo said. “It was a difficult time. Barry was younger than me, but he taught me a lot. He always welcomed advice.”
Grupposo also points to the deaths of students and athletes he’s known during his days in Bellingham as “very sad times.”
His knowledge of and association with so many of Bellingham’s blue-chip athletes made Grupposo a natural to be the master of ceremonies at the first Hall of Fame induction ceremony last November. His delivery and recollection of the inductees’ achievements got high marks.
“Seeing many of the inductees compete was a help, and I’m really pleased that we can now honor people for their accomplishments,” he said. “It’s also great to see the community get recognition for its teams and coaches. A Hall of Fame also gives our current athletes a goal to strive for. I’m hoping to start a Hall of Fame for Marian High.”
Grupposo lauded the Bulletin for its coverage of the Hall of Fame ceremony and its continual coverage of the town. “I’d like to thank Pam Johnson and her staff for keeping readers apprised of all the happenings and events in Bellingham,” he noted.
Grupposo is now retired, but during his earlier days he worked in management for Prime Computer and Stratus Computer (Lucent Technologies). Embracing a competitive philosophy that focuses on winning, reaching one’s potential and enjoying the opportunity to play sports, Grupposo firmly believes that athletics teach valuable life lessons. “Being accountable, overcoming adversity and becoming a leader, even if you’re not a captain, are great lessons,” he emphasized.
The future for Kevin Grupposo will be to stay involved as a high school basketball coach and to stay connected to his town. “I promised my late son that I’d always work to make things better for the kids in my community,” he said.
Spoken like a man who prefers to give rather than to receive.