When Revere High School Director of Athletics Frank Shea led the way for Revere to leave the Northeastern Conference for the Greater Boston League, he had a vision for the future composition of the GBL.
Shea reasoned that the two Lynn schools, Classical and English, might find the GBL to be a better fit competitively and geographically. Shea also believed that Chelsea High might be interested in rejoining the GBL, a league in which the Red Devils played through the 1980s before heading to the Commonwealth Athletic Conference.
Shea was right on the mark. Chelsea High will become a full-fledged, competing member of the GBL in September, 2021. And now in a story that first appeared in the Lynn Journal, sister publication of the Revere Journal, Classical and English officials are “exploring” the idea of applying for admission to the GBL.
The GBL currently has five members: Revere, Everett, Malden, Medford, and Somerville. Chelsea, Classical, English, and would make for a well-positioned, eight-team league, perhaps with two four-team divisions.
Shea, whose Revere teams have enjoyed much success since he took over the program, supports the Lynn schools’ move to the GBL. “That would a dream addition for us,” said Shea. “That was part of the vision a couple of years ago when we broke away from the Northeastern Conference. If we could get Chelsea (the Red Devils will join the GBL next fall) and the two Lynn schools in, that would really give us a really good urban league.”
Chelsea High Athletic Director Amanda Alpert understands the plight of the Lynn schools.
“I think like Chelsea, the Lynn schools are looking for a place that fits their needs,” said Alpert, whose program is an “independent” this year before joining the GBL next fall.
Why are Lynn English and Lynn Classical pondering a move to the GBL?
One reason is that officials and coaches from Classical and English were reportedly not happy when other schools in the Northeastern Conference decided to go forward with their fall sports seasons after the NEC principals had voted to move the entire season to “Fall 2” due to the coronavirus. All GBL schools stood as one and canceled their fall seasons.
NEC schools, including first-year entrant Masconomet Regional, are now concluding their fall seasons while the English, Classical, and Winthrop teams are on the sidelines looking in.
English Athletic Director Dick Newton said English and Classical have enjoyed their membership in the Northeastern Conference, “but times have changed, demographics have changed. Schools leaves leagues all the time. Lynn English is not the Lynn English of 1980 and anybody who thinks it is hasn’t really been awake.
“[Classical Athletic Director] Billy Devin and I care about our kids,” said Newton. “We want what’s best for them.”
Devin, whose sons have all been standout athletes at Classical, is also “all-in” on the move to the Greater Boston League.
“First and foremost the Lynn schools’ move to the GBL would give us competitive balance for all our teams, not just a select few – especially our girls programs,” said Devin. “Secondly the GBL is a perfect fit for English and Classical. The schools have similar enrollments. All of the schools have tremendous diversity. The proximity and the location of the schools works for Lynn. The GBL also has great facilities.
Devin said he is grateful to the GBL for “singlehandedly saving our Fall 2 season. I want to personally commend all of the GBL ADs. If we do have a Fall 2 season, they saved us. Because as you know, the NEC schools flip-flopped on their original agreement to move everything to Fall 2.”
The Greater Boston League ADs will next meet on Thursday, Nov. 12 and it’s a near certainty that the topic of English and Classical joining the GBL will be brought up informally for discussion.
And it’s our AD Frank Shea who foresaw this potentially historic moment in GBL history that could result in two Lynn schools entering the fold.
Meanwhile, the Chelsea-Revere GBL rivalry is set to resume next year. That means former Revere star and 1,000-point scorer Gena Restiano will be leading her CHS girls basketball team into two GBL matchups against her alma mater in the 2021-22 season.