The speech was a classic, but what else would you expect from John DiBiaso, who always delivered the goods in big moments?
He spoke about his beautiful wife and family, administrators like Kay Donovan and Frederick Foresteire, who supported him well on his successful journey, the great players he coached, and the unforgettable memories of his teams playing at the Boston Garden.
He was gracious, humble, self-deprecating, and humorous. If there’s a Hall of Fame for acceptance speeches for the Hall of Fame, John DiBiaso is a unanimous selection there, too.
The momentous occasion was the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday at the College of the Holy Cross where John DiBiaso was honored as both an inductee and for surpassing 500 wins in his coaching career at Everett High School.
MBCA President Tom Cavanaugh introduced DiBiaso as “the only coach in Massachusetts state with 500 basketball wins and 300 football wins.” His Catholic Memorial football team will play in the Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
The proud Everett High and Tufts alumnus began by thanking the Association for the prestigious award.
“It means a lot to me having coached 35 years of high school basketball at the same school,” said DiBiaso. “The first superintendent (Kay Donovan) gave me the opportunity at 26 years old as a head coach and during that time I’ve also had a great superintendent in Fred Foresteire, who came aboard in 1990. I’ve worked for four different principals, Ed Leo, Tom Kingston, Lou Baldi, and Erick Naumann. All have been extremely supportive. The administration at Everett has been great to me. The assistant superintendent, Charlie Obremski played for me, so he’s been supportive of the basketball program and he also runs the concession stand for me – you don’t see that too often.”
Foresteire, who has made sure that Everett coaches and basketball players had the resources and support they need to succeed on the court and in the classroom, congratulated DiBiaso on the esteemed recognition from his peers in coaching.
“It’s just another deserving recognition – it shows what an outstanding coach and individual that John DiBiaso is,” said Foresteire. “Without question, he is a special guy. Obviously he runs an exemplary program. He has shown it now where he is at Catholic Memorial. He’s a legend in his own time.”
DiBiaso thanked his assistant coaches through the years, noting the helpfulness of 21-year assistant Paul Bertone, “who was totally organized, the opposite of what I was. He had a checklist of everything when we got on the bus: basketballs, medical kits, spare shirts, spare pants, basketball pump. We were driving to Lynn and he told me he forgot a pencil sharpener. He used to carry two No. 2 pencils for the scorebook in case one broke. Paul and I got along great because we kind of filled in each other’s gaps.”
There were the respectful nods to some of Everett’s all-time hoop greats such as Pat Bradley, who played at Arkansas and set the SEC record for three-pointers, Shannon Crooks, who became a captain at UMass/Amherst, John Sagarino, who led Bentley to the Division 2 Final Four, and Ghared Boyce, who scored 2,000 points in his career.
“I can’t name them all, but they were all great kids,” said DiBiaso. “They call me at Christmastime and during the holidays. I’ve been extremely fortunate over the 35 years to meet some wonderful young men, and hopefully I’ve been a little part in contributing to them becoming men.”
He mentioned the team managers, including Mo St. Fleur, whom the DiBiaso family so generously welcomed in to its home when St. Fleur’s house burnt down and he had no place to live. DiBiaso was instrumental (with Leo Papile) in getting St. Fleur a job with the Boston Celtics.
DiBiaso recalled his teams’ three trips to the Boston Garden in 1991, 1994, and 2017. Future NBA player Travis Best and an undefeated Springfield Central team denied Everett’s bid for a state title in 1991.
He saved his most heartwarming tributes for his family, his wife, Maureen, who has been the Everett High cheerleading coach, and his children, Kristina and Jonathan.
“The person I want to thank the most is my wife and children,” said DiBiaso. “I actually met Maureen on Jan. 16, 1987. We’ve been married 30 years.”
He told an anecdote about how then-Everett High teacher Maureen Shields came to an Everett boys basketball game and a group of teachers, John DiBiaso included, went to a local restaurant after the game.
“We went out with a bunch of teachers,” recalled DiBiaso. “Lo and behold, I’m left with Maureen and three other male teachers at the table. Maureen left the table, so while she was away, I strategically took out $30 and gave each teacher $10 to leave, so I was the only one there when Maureen came back. I called Maureen Saturday night and we talked for six hours. We went to Mass the next day, we dated for a year-and-a-half, and we got married a year-and-half later.”
DiBiaso said he and his family have “so many fond memories” about the 35 years of coaching in Everett.
“It’s been a great opportunity and a great lifestyle for me and my family over these years and we’re going to miss (coaching basketball),” said DiBiaso. “My wife and children have been great. I’m definitely going to miss the Friday night games, the Saturday morning practices, and the March (MIAA) Tournament – which I still say is the most exciting event in Massachusetts high school sports. Playing at the Garden is an experience of a lifetime your players never forget.
“It’s been a wonderful ride,” he concluded. “Maureen and I have enjoyed every second of it. My daughter, Kristina, my son, Jonathan – we’re going to remember this for the rest of our lives, and hopefully we’ll tell our grandchildren about all these wonderful memories.”
A second standing ovation accompanied the greatest coach in Everett history – and now a two-sport Hall of Fame inductee – back to his seat next to his wife, Maureen, his loving companion and biggest supporter.