The Telegram & Gazette honored over 300 local high school athletes on Thursday night as part of the Best of Hometeam All-Stars Awards Show virtual event.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the event was held online and featured professional athletes and coaches reading names of area athletes selected as Hometeam All-Stars in the fall and winter seasons. Among the group of presenters were New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, Olympic champion Michael Phelps, tennis legend Venus Williams and NHL Hall of Fame Wayne Gretzky.
The online-only event can be viewed for free at www.telegram.com and preps.worcester.gatehouselive.com and honored Telegram & Gazette Hometeam Fall and Winter All-Stars.
Leicester football and basketball star Jack O’Neill was named the Hometeam Male Athlete of the Year, as he helped the Wolverines to the Division 7 state football final in the fall and led the SWCL in scoring for the second straight season in the winter.
O’Neill led Central Mass. in receptions (59), receiving yards (1,194) and touchdown catches (16) to earn a spot on the T&G all-star team. In basketball, O’Neill earned his third-straight SWCL all-star nod and finished with 1,144 career points before heading off to WPI to major in engineering and play basketball for the Engineers.
Nashoba’s Abby McNulty earned the Hometeam Female Athlete of the Year award, as she was named the Hometeam girls’ soccer Player of the Year and was selected to the Super Team in girls’ basketball.
McNulty, who will play soccer at Boston University in the fall, led the Mid-Wach B in scoring in both sports. In soccer, she helped the Chieftains to a share of the league title, and in basketball she propelled Nashoba to the Division 2 Central semifinals.
The Division 4 state champion Millbury girls’ soccer team was selected as the Team of the Year, as the Woolies topped Millis, 1-0, to clinch the title. Millbury stormed through the regular season with a 13-3-2 mark and went 10-0-1 in the SWCL. The Woolies started 11-0-1 before dropping games to Grafton, Sutton and Nipmuc, but Millbury recovered to allow just two goals the rest of the season.
In the state final against Millis, sophomore Grace Martin scored in the second half to lead Millbury to its third state title in five years.
Wachusett girls’ basketball coach Jim Oxford was selected as the Coach of the Year, as once again the Mountaineers dominated Central Mass. opponents. Wachusett won 21 straight games, but fell to Natick in overtime in a Division 1 state semifinal. Oxford led Wachusett to a 22-1 season in 2018-19 before losing by a point to Franklin in the Central Mass. title game. Oxford’s teams haven’t lost a regular-season game since Feb. 2, 2018 — a four-point setback to Groton-Dunstable. Wachusett and Oxford will take a 46-game regular-season winning streak into 2020-21.
The Hometeam Courage Award was given to former Bay Path student Trish King, who passed away after a battle with Leukemia in August of last year. King was unable to play her final high school season while fighting with the disease, but she inspired her family, friends, teammates, coaches and teachers and brought the Central Mass. community together during her battle.
King was a three-sport star in soccer, basketball and softball star for the Minutemen, and many area schools like Valley Tech, Assabet Valley, Clinton and Auburn showed support for King with fundraisers in her name. New England Patriots star Julian Edelman, upon seeing a Telegram & Gazette story documenting King’s fight, wrote her a message of encouragement on Twitter.
Upon her passing, her teammates wrote a tribute to her on Twitter with the message: “As we all grieve the loss of Trish, we must also celebrate her and the foundations she helped build. Trish helped pave a pathway for enduring success. Her legacy at Bay Path will not be forgotten.”
The Telegram & Gazette will also offer a keepsake edition of the honorees in the Sunday Telegram print edition on June 21. Keepsake editions will also be available for purchase online at telegram.com/BestofHomeTeam for a limited time.
—Contact Jim Wilson at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JimWilsonTG.
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