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Honoring Papa’s Legacy Why I Began Scholarships in My Grandfather’s Honor
I can still remember the football game where my grandfather almost called a penalty against me. I had been lining up with my team, when Papa, a referee, said that I better get back behind the line or else he was going to call me for being offsides. I have no doubt that he would have thrown down that yellow flag and penalized his grandson, but at least he warned me first!
That was Papa.
My grandfather was always passionate about youth sports. Readers may remember from my June 2019 edition that, in addition to being a referee for high school football, Papa was also an umpire for high school baseball for years. I have many childhood memories of Papa as a referee on the baseball diamond and football field. As little kids, we used to try on his baseball padding and hobble around the house. Papa refereed until he couldn’t run up the field anymore, and he devoted countless weeks of his life to calling fair games in youth sports. During his tenure as an umpire and referee, Papa also held stints as president of the New England Football Officials and president of the New England Baseball Officials. The ring he received as the baseball officials’ president sits in a case on a shelf in my office and is one of my most prized possessions. Every day, I look at it and feel empowered to help others and work hard, because that was how Papa lived his life. “I know Papa would be proud to have such an honor bestowed upon him. But honestly, he was never the type to care about personal compliments or accolades. To Papa, he was just doing his job.” I’ve always been proud of my grandfather, and since his passing, I knew I wanted to do something that honored the life of service he
lived. I reached out to New England Football Officials and New England Baseball Officials, who still remember my grandfather. Together, we decided that setting up two scholarships in Papa’s honor would be the best way to honor the legacy he left on the field. This school year, we hope to award one football student-athlete and one baseball student-athlete through my grandfather’s scholarship. Papa had so much respect for student-athletes. He valued their dedication to the team and their studies, and he would always talk to me about how hard it was to balance practices, games, and schoolwork while excelling at these activities. As the father of athletes, I can attest to this. I’m so proud of my children’s ability to achieve what they do while supporting their team, keeping their grades up, and enjoying their respective sports. Hopefully, these awards will show those student-athletes how worthwhile their efforts are. If he were alive today, I know Papa would be proud to have such an honor bestowed upon him. But honestly, he was never the type to care about personal compliments or accolades. To Papa, he was just doing his job.
Papa will always be my hero, and now, a piece of him will always be a part of the community he so deeply cared for.
-Michael Monteforte Jr.
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