Role model Umemba steps up for the kids of Chelsea
By Cary Shuman
Kyle Umemba has modeled on runways around the world, but his real work as a [role] model is here in Chelsea.
Umemba is one half of the co-founding team with Cesar Castro of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament that will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Jordan Boys and Girls Boys Club on Willow Street. The fourth annual basketball extravaganza brings to Chelsea some of the best talent in the area.
Umemba, 25, was once one of those aspiring players who carved out an impressive basketball career at prestigious Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Cambridge. A product of the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) and an AAU standout, the 6-foot-3-inch guard/forward caught the attention of college coaches.
He thought of walking on at Division 1 George Washington but chose to focus on academics. He graduated with a degree in finance and currently works as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers – in addition to his celebrity appearances as a fashion model in New York, London and Milan for major designers.
“It’s a good balance,” said Kyle.
This month, Kyle is busy working with Cesar on the finishing touches for what has become the most anticipated summer youth tournament in the area.
What was the inspiration for Let It Fly?
“We saw that there was a lack of basketball leagues for the kids,” said Umemba. “We wanted to help out the players and also Chelsea graduates.”
And Umemba and Castro have done that in a big way, presenting $500 scholarships to 11 graduates of Chelsea High School and the Phoenix Charter School.
The unsung hero of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament is none other than Joan Cromwell, Kyle’s mother and the president of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC).
“Without CBC and Joan Cromwell, this tournament would not be possible,” credited Castro.
Joan’s company, Brown Sugar Catering, is the official
caterer for the tournament.
Kyle Umemba was asked whether he considers himself a role model for Chelsea kids.
“I don’t really look for that – if my actions determine that, so be it, but I’d rather just have some type of positive effect on people,” said Umemba.
Former hoop star Castro mentors players as a coach at CHS
By Cary Shuman
Cesar Castro could dribble, drive, shoot, and pass – but what he did best in his four years on the basketball court for Chelsea High School was: score.
Twelve-hundred-and-fifty-two-points worth, which makes him the second-leading scorer for boys in school history behind the legendary Craig Walker. He was the Commonwealth Athletic Conference MVP and led Chelsea to the conference title in his senior year (2010).
The 6-foot-guard is still very much active in the game. He is an assistant coach on Judah Jackson’s staff at Chelsea High School. Interestingly, the Red Devils won the CAC championship this season.
“It feels good to win a championship as a coach and a player,” said Castro, who went on to become an All-Region player at Bunker Hill Community College.
He is a paraprofessional aide at the Wright Middle School in Chelsea and is close to receiving his bachelor’s degree from Salem State University.
Because of daily interaction with Chelsea students in the schools and in the CHS basketball program, Castro, 27, saw the need for a summer tournament that could unite the community and bring some excitement to young players.
And he’s not resting on the past success of the Let It Fly Tournament that filled the gym to capacity last year with a succession of exciting games. There are free refreshments, musical entertainment by DJ Max Max, and Raffles.
“We’re going to start something new this year with a middle school division with four teams,” said Castro. “And we still have an eight-team high school division. It should be another great tournament.”
Teams from Lynn, Boston, Cambridge, and Chelsea will compete in the older division. Some of the top prep school players in New England will be playing in the tournament.
“It’s a one-and-one format so they have to come ready to play,” said Castro. “There’s no time for feeling it out. The players were talking about this tournament on social media back in December so they’ll be ready to compete.”
Castro said he and Umemba were members of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea while growing up in the city.
“We want to thank [Executive Director] Gina Centrella, Jonathan Perez, and John Perez for all their cooperation and allowing us to hold our tournament there,” said Castro. “That’s our home and we thank them a lot.”
Castro also thanked Chelsea Police officers Sammy Mojica, David Batchelor Jr., and Keith Sweeney, and Chelsea firefighter Jonathan Morilli for their assistance at the event, along with City Councillors Damali Vidot and Jamir Rodriguez, who have been big supporters of Let It Fly.
The question of being a role model for Chelsea youths was posed to Castro.
“It’s not my intention to be a role model,” said Castro. “I just try to be genuine. And when I grew up, I truly appreciated someone pointing me in the right direction and that’s what I try to do in the schools and in the basketball program.”
St. Mary’s High School sophomore guard Christina Nowicki played in the Boverini Basketball Tournament in Lynn with a heavy heart, having lost her grandmother, Beverly Nowicki, who died on Dec. 27 after a long and courageous battle against illnesses.
Christina and her sister, Mia, a St. Mary’s 2017 graduate, a freshman at Assumption College and an All-Scholastic softball pitcher, each delivered beautiful remarks in memory of their beloved grandmother at the funeral Dec. 29 at the Welsh Funeral Home in Chelsea. Grandson John Paul Nowicki was also present at the memorial observance.
Paul Nowicki gave a heartfelt eulogy about his mother, who was a registered nurse and director of the Cottage Manor and On Broadway Nursing Homes in Chelsea.
Paul remembered how residents of the nursing home would often comment to him about the tremendous care his mother and her staff provided to the residents.
“It was overwhelming how much good she brought to everyone else,” related Paul.
Mrs. Nowicki and her husband, retired Chelsea firefighter Fred Nowicki, provided tremendous support and encouragement to Paul and his brother, Scott throughout their lives. Paul is undisputedly one of the greatest athletes in Chelsea history. He was a three-sport performer and two-sport All-Scholastic at Matignon High School and went on to earn a spot in the Division 1 Clemson University football program. Mr. and Mrs. Nowicki were at all their sons’ games beginning in Chelsea Little League and Chelsea Youth Hockey, humbly remaining in the background as Paul brought countless memories with his exploits on the field and in the rink, and the many individual awards he received.
“Scott and I always said that Mom was our foundation,” said Paul. “Dad was the provider and the protector and mom was the foundation. Mom was everything to Scott and me and it is something that will never be replaced. In good times and bad times, mom was always there for both of us.’’
Speaking to his father, Paul noted, “As Mia and Christina said, your love for my mom, how you treated mom, how you provided for mom, how you protected mom – it inspires us every day and will continue to inspire us every day.”
Paul was elected as an alderman and city councillor in Chelsea and it was mother, a popular resident of the city and the daughter of Police Capt. Robert Renfrew, who organized those successful political campaigns.
Paul told the gathering how the doors of the family home were always open to family and friends, thanks to the warmth and kindness of his gracious mother, who made everyone feel welcomed at the Nowicki residence.
“It was always an open door at the house and there was no better time than Christmastime – mom and dad would host both sides of the family and then around 5 o’clock the doors would open and in come all the friends and those are the times I remember,” said Paul. “You realized you were a part of something bigger.”
Addressing his many friends, Paul said, “No matter when you came in to our lives, my mother always loved you guys because you were loyal to Scott and me and that meant a lot to us because my mom respected and liked you so much an that Scott and I made good decisions with our friends.”
In Beverly Nowicki, Chelsea has lost one of its most popular and well-known citizens. The children of Paul and Tracy Nowicki and the grandchildren of Fred Nowicki and Beverly Nowicki are carrying on the family’s legacy with their excellence in athletics, combined with their exemplary character, cordiality, and kindness.
Tournament co-directors Cesar Castro and Kyle Umemba hold a jersey promoting their Second Annual Let It Fly Classic on Saturday, Aug. 13 at Highland Park.
The first annual Let It Fly Basketball Classic was such an overwhelming success that it surpassed the expectations of co-tournament directors Cesar Castro and Kyle Umemba.
Eight teams competed in the inaugural event on a hot summer day at Highland Park. Teams from Revere, Cambridge, and Lynn came to Chelsea to play in the highly competitive tournament. Lynn won the title.
The Chelsea Police, led by Chief Brian Kyes and Officer Sammy Mojica, supported the event with their presence at Highland Park. There were trophies, music, basketball jerseys, and great food, free of charge, for all participants.
Castro, a Chelsea High basketball coach and former star (1,252 career points) and a student at Salem State University, and Umemba, a graduate of Buckingham Browne and Nichols and George Washington University, are back for a second year of “Let It Fly” on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Highland.
Castro, 25, and Umemba, 23, were surprised but quite pleased that last year’s event was so well received by local basketball players and the Chelsea community.
“We knew it was going to be a decent event, but as it was going on, we said, ‘wow, this may be something big,’” said Castro.
“We had a vision of it and a plan to execute, but when it actually happened, so many people were there to support it and enjoy it,” said Umemba. “I hadn’t experienced an event in Chelsea like that in a long time. Everybody was happy.”
Castro said in high school he had played in tournaments in other cities and his thought was, “Why not do a tournament in Chelsea? Let’s bring basketball back to Chelsea.”
Umemba and Castro are role models who want to inspire youths to have an impact on their community.
“We want to show the youths that we can do this tournament, raise a lot of money for scholarships, and then give out scholarships to kids who aren’t that much younger than we are,” said Umemba. “You can make an impact at any age.”
Through proceeds from the tournament, the Let It Fly Classic was able to give scholarships to three Chelsea High School graduates who will be attending Providence, Bates, and UMass/Amherst.
“We’re aiming for five scholarships this year,” said Castro.
“We want to help students who have taken the initiative of going to college,” said Umemba.
The tournament co-directors said they are grateful to local businesses and organizations including Alex Johnson of Early Start Co (a clothing line), main sponsor Chelsea Black Community, an organization led by Kyle’s mother, Joan Cromwell, the Chelsea Department of Public Works and Joe Foti, and the Chelsea High Scholarship Committee.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are sponsoring teams. Robert Bradley, executive director of Chelsea Community Cable Television, hosted a show with the co-directors promoting the tournament.
The two long-time friends are proud of the tournament they founded and they welcome Chelsea residents to attend the games at Highland next week.
“Kyle and I have been friends for a long time – you know what they say, teamwork will make the dream work,” said Castro.
“We just go and do it – we leave the extra stuff aside,” added Umemba. “We’re here for the kids.”
(Please visit the Web site: www.letitflyclassic.com for more information).
Chelsea High basketball star Allysa Rivera is pictured with her parents, Jose Rivera and Nilda Justiniano.
By Cary Shuman
Chelsea High School senior Allysa Rivera entered the 1,000-point club in the manner one would expect – converting her specialty, the three-point shot.
Rivera hit a three-pointer deep in the left corner in the second quarter of Chelsea’s 44-19 victory over Minuteman Tech to reach the milestone, joining former CHS greats Denise Chappell and Autumn Lopez in the exclusive club. She needed 14 for her 1,000th point and she finished the game with 25.
The 5-foot-2-inch guard is an outside shooter extraordinaire, rekindling memories of former three-point artist John Saunders, who played for coach Jack Niven’s Red Devils in the 1980s.
Chelsea coach Ted Freeley has been Rivera’s coach for four varsity seasons. He’s helped develop her talents and built a winning program around the prolific scorer and reigning conference MVP. Chelsea has qualified for the State Tournament in three of the last four years.
“Allysa is an unbelievable ballhandler. She’s a one-person press breaker,” said Freeley. “And she’s an outstanding shooter, particularly on three-pointers.”
While Stephen Curry has been lighting up the NBA from three-point land, Rivera has been hitting nothing but net in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. She set a school-record with 7 three-pointers and 21 points in one quarter versus Northeast Regional and had 10 three-pointers and 30 points overall in the game.
“Allysa has worked hard on her outside shooting,” said Freeley. “We’ve been working on her short-range game and driving to the basket because I think that’s what she is going to need down the road.”
A very good student, Rivera has been in correspondence with Mitchell College in Connecticut, Nichols College, and New England College.
“Allysa can definitely play at the next level,” said Freeley.
Rivera’s achievement was part of a special night for the program. The Red Devils won their tenth game of the season to qualify for the State Tournament and Rivera and her fellow seniors, Amalia Alvarado and Ida Fernandes, were honored during “Senior Night” festivities before the game.
The Chelsea High boys basketball team dropped its first contest of the season, coming out on the short end of a 43-34 decision at Medford, one of Chelsea’s former long-time rivals from the Greater Boston League.
The Red Devils led for most of the way, grabbing an 8-7 lead after one period and a 25–20 advantage at the half which Chelsea extended to as many as nine points in the third period.
However, a turnover that turned into a three-point play for the Mustangs switched the momentum of the contest. Medford soon erased the CHS lead and took control in the fourth period.
Chelsea battled back when Medford moved ahead, but poor foul shooting — the Red Devils missed 14 attempts from the charity stripe on the night — sank their comeback efforts.
“We hd a chance to put the game away in the third period, but we couldn’t hit our free throws,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “This was a very disappointing loss, because it was a game we could have — and should have — won. We did not execute in the fourth period and that led to too many turnovers.”
Steve Lacey topped the CHS scoring chart with 14 points. Chris Torrez added nine points, followed by Malik Bissett with four, Balmeiro Daveiga with three, and Ralphie Otero and Angel Alvarez with two each.
Seigal and his crew, who now stand at 3-1 on the season, were set to take on Melrose last night (Wednesday) in another non-league encounter. They will host Medford in a rematch Monday and then entertain Shawsheen Tech Thursday.
A Successful season
The BHCC men’s soccer team, the Bulldogs, ended another incredible soccer season with a new high. For the first time in its history, the Bulldogs soundly trounced two higher-ranked teams to advance to the third and final game of the NJCAA National Tournament, held November 12-16 at Herkimer Community College in Herkimer, New York.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the Bulldogs have won the Region XXI NJCAA New England championship, beating Roxbury Community College and Holyoke Community College this year to become regional champions for the fifth time on November 1, 2015. Their win placed them among the top eight teams in the nation in their division, and qualified them for the NJCAA National Tournament in Herkimer.
The Bulldogs were unranked during the season and were the clear underdogs going into nationals, seeded eight of eight teams. Their regular season had ended with a record of 14-7. “The only people that believed we could win were the people in the BHCC uniforms,” said Head Coach Scott Benjamin.
Featuring a healthy mix of first-year and veteran players and a high-pressure style of play, the Bulldogs upset the top-seeded team, the #1-ranked Genesee Community College Cougars, who entered the tournament with an undefeated, 19-0 regular season record. In the opening round, Bulldog offensive threat, BHCC sophomore Tevin Reid, scored the first goal for the Bulldogs, his tenth of the season, to even up the score at 1-1 in the first half of the contest. First-year midfielder Eric Marakami scored his fourth goal of the season in the second half to put the Bulldogs up for good.
After taking down #1-ranked Genesee Community College, the Bulldogs set their sights on another group of cougars, the #4-seeded Camden Community College Cougars from New Jersey. The Bulldogs had the majority of possession but Camden played a strong defensive style. The two teams remained deadlocked until the nail-biting 81st minute of the contest, when Bulldog sophomore forward Nuno Pereira scored his second goal in three games, his third of the entire season and the game winner. The goal propelled the Bulldogs to the third round national title game.
From underdogs, the Bulldogs almost became top dogs. The team fought hard in the first half, only allowing one goal by the #3-ranked Nassau County Community College Lions. After having a number of scoring opportunities fall short, the Bulldogs gave up three more goals to the Lions to finish as a NJCAA National Tournament Finalist. The new season—and the Bulldogs’ quest for further dominance—begins August 1, 2016.
by Bob Morello
Bruins-Montreal: The NHL Cold War
Tuesday night’s Boston-Ottawa game produced 110 minutes of penalties, and it also produced a 7-3 victory for the Bruins who ended their three-game skid. Despite having lost David Krejci who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, the Bruins were able to mount a sustained attack good enough for two goals in the first period, one in the second, and finally four goals in the third. Dorchester’s Jimmy Hayes joined the Bruins to start the season, and was off on a slow scoring pace, but he found his groove against Ottawa, scoring his first hat trick, and boosting his goals total to eight. Also finding the back of the net with a pair of goals each, were Patrice Bergeron and Matt Beleskey, as the Bruins hit their season-high for goals.
With their impressive effort and win behind them, the Bruins prepare to renew their rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens on New Year’s Day (Friday at 1:00pm), as they face-off for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Since their 1924 NHL beginnings, these two teams have met 909 times, with Montreal winning 454 games, and Boston 343, with 103 games tied.
The National Hockey League has produced a lineup for the event that includes musical guest, Montreal-based band Simple Plan. The band will perform the Canadian national anthem, and return to the stage during the second intermission. With over 10 million sales worldwide, the band’s single, “I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed,” featuring Nelly, is currently climbing the global charts. Jordan Smith, season nine winner of “The Voice,” will sing the U.S. national anthem, accompanied by musicians from the Boston Pops. Both anthems will be followed by pilots from the 143rd Airlift Squadron of the Rhode Island National Guard, who will fly a single C-130J plane over Gillette Stadium to celebrate the start of the Winter Classic.
In addition, a color guard made up of members from each of the five military branches, with Greater Boston Junior Bruins’ youth hockey players serving as flag bearers. As previously announced, alternative rock band American Authors and singer/songwriter Nate Ruess, lead vocalist of the indie pop band Fun, will give pre-game and first intermission performances, respectively.
While the temperature at game time will surely be cold, fans can expect both teams to turn up the heat for this highly-contested rivalry, in a game that is highly important in the standings, as the Bruins currently in third place in the Atlantic Division, trail Montreal by a single point (with three games in hand), and first-place Florida by two points (with one game in hand). Eastern Conference standings presently have the B’s in the fifth spot, and a victory in the Winter Classic would vault them over Montreal for fourth place, and could possibly move them into a tie for second place with Florida.
Winnisimmet 38th Charity Golf Tournament members are warming up for the big event that will be held Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Lynnfield Center Golf Course. Front row, from left, are Chet Hoak, Joe Gallant, Jim Guidi, Bob Gallant, Arthur Bouchie, and Fred Nowicki. Back row, from left, are Bruce Black, Joe Shea, Steve LaRosa, Steve Tierney, Peter Steriti, Dean Spiriti, and Bob Chiuve.
Summer doesn’t officially end until Sept. 22, but when our students start returning to school and our Revere High School and Pop Warner football and cheerleading teams begin practices, we know that the “real” summer season is coming to a close.
It’s been a great summer in Revere where the annual Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival was a tremendous success, along with the seventh annual “Reach the Beach” Festival, the Revere Beach Foundation’s Kite Festival, and the Revere Firefighters Volleyball Tournament — all wonderful events that bring our community together in the months of the summer. We’re fortunate to have in our midst a true treasure in Revere Beach, the first public beach in America.
Of course, any reflection on the Summer of 2014, must include the tornado that struck our city on the morning of July 28. That incredible weather event will remain indelibly etched in the minds of our residents for years to come. Mayor Dan Rizzo’s outstanding leadership — and the tremendous work of Revere’s Police and Fire Departments and its Department of Public Works — in the immediate aftermath of this incredible storm and in the days following, were efforts that the entire city could be proud of. Mayor Rizzo was on the scene coordinating emergency response efforts, keeping the public well-informed, and making sure that the cleanup was safe and swift. Our mayor deserves commendation for his leadership and decision-making in what was the first tornado ever to strike Suffolk County.
Students have begun their final year at the McKinley School — a new school will open on the former site of Hill Park in 2015. Our other students will begin school Monday and we wish them well in the 2014-15 academic year. With students back in school, we ask motorists to be cautious in their travels throughout our city.
The Chelsea Fire Department Hockey Team took first place in the 6th Annual Metro-Fire Hockey Tournament, which took place last week at the Stoneham Arena.
Some 16 fire departments participated in the tournament, which was put together by Somerville Fire Department’s Mark Wall. Proceeds from the tournament were donated to the families of Boston Fire Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, who were killed in the line of duty in March while battling a 9-alarm fire in Boston.
The Chelsea Fire Department team defeated Medford Fire on Friday, April 4, 4-0 and Cambridge Fire, 6-2, on Wednesday, April 9. The Everett/Revere Fire Department team handed Chelsea their only loss on April 10, by a score of 10-8.
The Chelsea Fire Department Team advanced to the semi finals where they defeated Somerville Fire 2-0, then defeated Wakefield Fire 3-1 to advance to the tournament finals.
On April 13, Chelsea Fire faced off against Everett/Revere Fire for the championship and a year’s worth of bragging rights. Chelsea jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals by Karl Houghton and Nick Quatieri. Everett answered with a power play goal to make it 2-1 at the end of the 1st period. The score was 3-3 with 10 minutes remaining in the game when Karl Houghton scored his 3rd goal of the game putting Chelsea out in front 4-3. Despite an all out assault by the Everett/Revere team in the last two minutes of the game, Chelsea Fire held on to win.
This is the first time the Championship was won by a team other than Somerville or Malden.
The 2014 Metro-Fire Hockey Tournament Champions, Chelsea Fire Department Hockey Team. Pictured in front row, Kevin O’Keefe, Nick Quatieri, Sean Fitzpatrick and Dave Asci. Back row, Al Peters, Steve Purcell, Artie Caissie, Mike Lee, Chris Troisi and Karl Houghton
Brimmer and May basketball star Sammy Mojica of Chelsea will be playing at Chelsea High School in the BABC Prep Classic Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Saul Nechtem Gymnasium.
Mojica, who will be heading to Division 1 Drexel University in Philadelphia on a basketball scholarship, will lead his Brimmer and May team into action against Boston Trinity High School.
Mojica played three seasons for the CHS basketball team high before transferring to Brimmer and May, where he has been a starting guard for one of the top prep school teams in New England.
“We’re very excited to host this tournament at Chelsea High and welcome back Sammy Mojica for his final high school game in the city,” said CHS Athletic Director Frank DePatto. “BABC Coach Leo Papile always runs a great tournament that has outstanding teams. We hope Chelsea basketball fans will come out and support the teams and enjoy the games.”
The schedule for the Prep Classic is as follows:
(At Chelsea High)
11 a.m. Vermont Academy vs. Pingree
12:30 p.m. Rivers vs. Cheshire Academy
2 p.m. St. John’s Prep vs. Melrose
3:30 Milton Academy vs. Marianapolis Prep
5 p.m. Brimmer and May vs. Boston Trinity
“We’re very excited to host this tournament at Chelsea High and welcome back Sammy Mojica for his final high school game in Chelsea,” said CHS Athletic Director Frank DePatto. “BABC Coach Leo Papile always conducts a great tournament that has outstanding teams. We hope Chelsea fans will come out and enjoy the games.”
We always enjoy seeing our old friends and long-time readers of The Chelsea Record and thus was the occasion when we ran into former Chelsea resident Lester Erickson Wednesday morning.
What a pleasure it was to see Lester and reminisce about his days at Shurtleff Junior High School where was ninth grade class president (Students didn’t enter Chelsea High until the tenth grade), a star on the Shurtleff School basketball team, captain of the school traffic squad, and one of the school’s most popular students and best athletes.
“I peaked in the ninth grade,” Lester told us with a smile.
At the age of 14, Lester began working at Brigham’s Restaurant on Broadway. He said it was Shurtleff School Principal, the late Joseph E. Henry, who helped him get his first job.
Brigham’s was a popular restaurant, widely known for its iconic ice cream brand. Lester eventually became the manager of the Brigham’s in what then a thriving franchise of restaurants.
Lester always had a smile and knew his customers well from his many years in Chelsea.
Lester is now living on the North Shore and he told us that he follows the Chelsea High sports teams, especially in the State Tournament.
And like all Shurtleff School students who had the honor of having Mr. Arnold Goodman as their English teacher, Lester had great memories of Mr. Goodman, his former teacher and coach who passed away this year.
Lester Erickson is a wonderful link to the Chelsea we knew years ago.