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"The John J. Gabriel Award" is given out each year beginning with the 2006-07 season to the 8th Grade Player in the Cape Ann League who exemplified best throughout his career what the Cape Ann League co-founder John J. "Jack" Gabriel stood for  - character, teamwork, dedication, excellence and sportsmanship.

The winner will be presented the John J. Gabriel Award on the Saturday of the 8th Grade 3-point and Free Throw contest during the playoffs. Nominees will receive a special plaque for being considered for the Award. The winner will be given the John J. Gabriel Trophy.

The following 8th Grade Cape Ann League 8th Grade players are nominated for the Jack Gabriel Award for 2009-10 - The League's highest honor:


1. Newburyport: Kevin MacDougall -
Kevin MacDougall (#11), has been a member of the Newburyport Cape Ann travel team since 6th grade. What has been gratifying for the coaching staff, and the Newburyport basketball community,  has been watching Kevin grow from a very timid, end of the bench, 6th grader to the leader of his  8th grade team. In fact, this year, while drawing the most difficult defensive assignments, Kevin has been our most consistent scorer and leading rebounder and shot blocker.  His development as a player comes from an intense love for basketball and a willingness to work on his game throughout the year. While he is a three season athlete, basketball is his passion. This passion and hard work is evidenced by the fact that Kevin has not missed a single practice in his three seasons of travel basketball. Kevin’s athletic growth is overshadowed by his classroom and community efforts, where he is an honor roll student at the Nock Middle School and a counselor-in-training (C.I.T.) at a local summer camp. As a C.I.T., Kevin has received recognition from camp leaders for his efforts to teach campers basic sports skills, while stressing teamwork and sportsmanship. In summary, Kevin embodies the principles that were important to Jack Gabriel and would be a worthy recipient of this wonderful award. Coaches Bob Miller and Steve Bradbury.

2. Marblehead: Andrew Raisner-RUNNER UP -
Andrew Raisner is our choice for this years Jack Gabriel Award. This fine young man is a four year starter who loves the game of basketball, his hard work and dedication make him a true student of the game. Andrew always puts his teammates first and he often asks questions and he listens intently trying to improve his game. Andrew approaches practices just like he would a real game with focus and a desire to play  to the best of his abilities. Andrew leads by example both on and off the court. He is a three sport athlete and more importantly a high honors student. Andrews impressive character will carry him well beyond the basketball court. Coaching him the past 4 years has given me a great opportunity to see this youth mold into a standout athlete and an outstanding young gentlemen and although I will miss coaching him I cannot wait to see Andrew  continue to excel in athletics and academics in the coming years.   

3. Saugus: Jack Furey - Jack Furey is small in stature but his heart, perseverance, and sportsmanship set him apart from basketball players at all levels. Jack has had to overcome adversity since he was three years old, when he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Jack must check blood sugar with a finger stick 5-10 times a day on practice and game days. He must inject himself with insulin four times a day and despite this Jack never gets down or uses diabetes as a way to avoid practices or drills. Practice after practice and game after game when things got tough Jack never let diabetes stand in his way. As Saugus’ point guard since the third grade, Jack has been an unselfish student of the game. Jack controls the game from the point and although he has a great outside shot, he sees the whole court when he’s bringing up the ball, and he sets up the offense before taking his shot. He is a relentless defender and he often asks to cover the opponent’s top scorer despite a potential disparity in height. He is capable of single-handedly breaking the press but understands that as a team every player needs to work and learn so he will run the press breaker and work with his teammates to improve. Jack has a positive attitude and is gracious in defeat. In tournaments when faced with a superior team Jack will keep working and motivating his teammates to play hard and to understand that if the game results in a loss the players have still won by not giving up or giving in.

4. Manchester-Essex: Petey Morton - WINNER -
Petey has been a stalwart on the team since the 5th grade. The smallest player on the team and usually the court, Petey’s character has been evident since the first practice then and has not changed throughout his career on the travel team. He is a leader on the court as all good point guards are and he does not worry about individual points scored but rather what he can do to help the team win. Petey’s teammates respond to his constant hard work from the opening tip to the final buzzer, regardless of the score. Petey takes losses hard but remains a good sport with no outward display of disappointment nor any sour words about his opponents. Petey works incredibly hard on his game year round. In a game dominated by size, Petey realizes that his ball handling and shooting skills are the great equalizer and works on both to assure that his contribution to his team is as good as it can be. He’s a great teammate, very supportive yet demanding. He is a student of the game and is truly a floor general. He absolutely loves the game.

5. Lynnfield - Matt Costello - Matt's character can best be displayed by his commitment to community service: elementary school tutor, Greater Boston Food Bank, Cradles to Crayons, and the Special Olympics. He shakes hands with teammates following a free throw, picks them up after falling, and hands the ball to the referee. He dedicates each day to improving his skills and commutes into Boston year round to play. Matt was a member of the local AAU team that won the national championship. He is the former champion in both Massachusetts free throw shooting and Cape Ann three-point shooting. For Lynnfield travel basketball, he is respected by his teammates as well as league peers, coaches, and referees. While Matt has the ability to score the basketball in bunches, he takes just as much pride hitting a teammate sprinting down court with a one-handed baseball pass. An example of sportsmanship came in a tough loss after a big game. Matt had scored 35 points, and the opposing coach and a few of his players came over to tell him how well he played and Matt said, "Thank you, but you guys played the better game. Good luck this season." Matt embodies many of the athletic and personal traits that the Jack Gabriel Award represent.

6. Salem - Austin Connelly - One of my top players, Austin is consistently the one player that I never want to take off the court because of the qualities he shows in practice and games every week, without falter.  He, more than any other player, has garnered respect from me and his fellow players.  His character is exemplary, on and off the court, and his work ethic is second to none. Coach Mike Munroe.  As league director, I can also attest to Austin's hard work and dedication to his team and friends. Playing in the rec league for years now he is yet to make any remarks to the refs or a player on the other team. I can think of no other player that is more deserving of such an honor, or will embody the spirit of Jack Gabriel any better than Salem's Austin Connelly. Cowan White, Director SYB

7. Pentucket: Ryan Kuchar, #10
– Ryan has been the unassigned leader of this team since our first game back in the 5th grade. Never afraid to take the ball to the basket, even though he is one of the smallest players in the league, Ryan has led our team in foul shots every season. Not bad for a point guard. In our four years together, I have never seen Ryan argue with a referee or complain to his coaches about a missed call. Team leaders usually have the ball at the end of close games – Ryan is no exception. Whether he makes the winning shot to extend a playoff run, or has the ball stripped to end a season, he is always first in line to shake hands and congratulate the other team. On the court sportsmanship cannot be faked or switched on and off, it comes from family values and off the court behavior. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Kuchar family since our son’s met in the Kindergarten. For Ryan’s 4th Grade Birthday party he asked all his friends to skip the presents and bring $5 for the Katrina Relief fund – we tried to bring both, but Ryan would not accept the present. Examples like this are what make coaching Ryan and all our boys a great pleasure. With regards to Character, Teamwork, Dedication, Excellence and Sportsmanship it is my belief that you will find no better choice than Ryan Kuchar for this years Jack Gabriel Award!

8. Gloucester - Reese Fulmer - RUNNER UP: From the moment Reese (#44) entered the Cape Ann League as a 4th grader, his play, practice, and the joy he has brought to the court have been an inspiration.  Because of such character, parents, coaches, refs, and opposing players have enjoyed his play over the years as much as his own teammates.  If you coach him, he will always listen, translating your words into action, with all of his energy, without hesitation.  He challenged others to be their best simply by always striving to play excellent team basketball.  He would make passes and shots (twice 3-point champion) you didn't think possible, would handle the ball like it was part of his being, all with a great respect for the fundamentals of the game.  His size didn't give him the advantage on either end of the floor, but his success on defense was from sheer determination.  He has benefited from the opportunity to play in this league, as his skills have developed as a result of dedication and work.  If he lost a game, he suffered the disappointment because he took the responsibility of the game to his heart.  When his team won, he would not put on a show, but offered an empathetic hand shake in recognition of the effort and courage of his opponent.  I am sure, and am grateful to know, that people who have seen him play have appreciated him as a person, as well as a fine young basketball player, as these qualities were apparent in each game that he has played. 

9. Amesbury - Pat Halloran:- Pat Halloran exemplifies the term "leader." He's the coach on the floor. He leads vocally, but even more so by example.  At a recent practice that Pat had to miss, the team was completely lost and couldn't quite snap out of it...this wouldn't have happened with Pat on the court.  He may not lead our team in any one statistical category, but he's in the top two of EVERY category, including floor burns.  He's also very clutch.  He's stepped to the line in critical situations and has always come through...I can't think of a single time where he's missed a free-throw that would have cost us the game...and this is over a 4-year period!  Pat's quick to help up a fallen mate and does whatever is asked of him without EVER giving it a second thought.  Aside from being a straight "A" student, Pat's best attribute is his enthusiasm and passion for the game of basketball...he's just an all around great kid.

10. Ipswich - Luke Sprouse: Luke Sprouse is a four-year player in the Cape Ann Travel League. We nominate Luke for the Jack Gabriel Sportsmanship Award because we believe that he embodies the spirit of that award. Without exception, Luke is respectful of his coaches, the referees, and his teammates. He thanks the coaches for their time and direction after each practice; he seeks out the referees to shake their hands after every game; and he always supports his teammates. He is a true gentleman. Whether from the bench or on the court, Luke always has an encouraging word to lift the spirits of a player who may be struggling. He is also a positive force in the huddle. He believes in his team and his “can do” attitude encourages everyone to do their best. Luke not only works hard in practice, but has also put in countless hours on his own in order to improve his basketball skills. He was a second string player in the 5th and 6th grade, and through his enthusiasm and dedication to the sport he was able to elevate his game and be a positive contributor to a very successful 8th grade team. We are proud to have Luke on our team and hope you will consider him for the Jack Gabriel Award.  

11.  North Andover, Charles Patane - RUNNER UP -- In fifth grade, Charles probably ranked about 50th among his basketball-playing peers in town, which is about 30 spots below our two travel teams. The next year, he moved closer to our radar, up another 10 spots or so. Then in 7th grade, again Charles showed up at the tryouts, but this time he was a contender. We orginally asked Charles to be an "alternate," our 11th player. We told him he could practice with us and maybe play a few games, if needed. It became evident early on that he was no alternate. He was an indeed a full-time player. As we speak today, nearing the end of eighth grade, Charles has become a key player on our team. His rise through the ranks and desire to get better borders on special. He has become one of our best rebounders and one of our hardest workers on defense. When we win a close game, it seems Charles scores two or three memorable hoops in those games. While his story of resiliency is an inspiring one, it is not the best part about Charles are what this award is about: teamwork, character, dedication, character and sportsmanship. Charles is a coach's dream. He never complains. He never talks back. He always tries to win a sprint in practice. He dives on the floor for loose balls. And, maybe best of all, he holds out a helping hand for an opposing player who is one the floor. Charles is an example for me that we can't simply dismiss a kid who struggles in the third and fourth grade. Charles made himself into a good basketball player and because of that his coaches and teammates are lucky they got to know a nice young man.

12. Peabody, Brian Onessimo - Character, teamwork, dedication, excellence, and sportsmanship are the five qualities that a player should possess to be nominated for the Gabriel Award.  Many of my players possess many of these qualities but only one, Brian Onessimo, embodies all of these traits.   Brian has been on the Travel Team for three years, and I have watched him grow from a quiet sixth grader to a leader on the 8th Grade Team.  I know that this is an over-used expression, but Brian is a pleasure to coach.  He plays CYO and AAU but Peabody Travel has always been placed first.  Brian is committed to being the best he can be.  He takes all drills seriously to improve his game.  He is like having an additional coach on the court.  Brian is always supportive of teammates and is a unselfish player.  He treats opposition and referees with utmost respect.  Most 8th graders want to be the high scorer, but Brian shuns statistics to the benefit of his team.  He always puts the interest of the team before himself.  He has worked diligently at all facets of his game to become a complete player, and I believe that the dedication shows in his performance.  A college coach told me a few years ago that he can always find players that can score, his difficulty is finding players who want to play defense.  Brian definitely takes pride in this part of his game.  A hard worker, with nothing but positive things to say, Brian epitomizes what this award represents.

13. Danvers, Ryan Heber - Ryan Heber is among the top student athletes to come through Danvers Middle School. While consistently earning High Honors in the classroom, this outstanding young man has also managed to become a standout in Football, Baseball, and Basketball.It's been a pleasure Coaching him for the last 3 years,and  I know he embodies what Jack Gabriel stood for. He has consistently shown outstanding character,regardless of the situation or outcome of a game.He is dedicated to the game, playing hard every practice and developing his basketball skills.Ryan is a fierce competitor and  the most prepared player mentally and physically on the team.Making every practice and game ,he is always among the first to arrive,going immediately into his stretching routine and leading his team as the best all-around defender.Ryan can match up with a quick guard or position against a big forward, and his energy and effort helps raise the level of play for the team

14. Beverly, Craig Hall - Craig Hall is this year's Jack Gabriel Award candidate for the Beverly Cape Ann team. Craig has consistently demonstrated loyalty and dedication to his team over the last 3 seasons. While Craig has improved his basketball abilities, his calm demeanor and support of his teammates has been a constant. As a coach, I can't truly put into words what it means to be able to work with a player like Craig. His leadership style is one of hard-work, dedication, humility, and friendship. He has an inner-confidence that has helped guide our team to a very successful season. Craig is a role model for any player in any sport. He is an exemplary student, a genuine friend, and simply wants to learn how to better his team's chances of success. Craig Hall is a player that every coach wishes to have on their team, and his tremendous character and sportsmanship is appreciated by his teammates and coaching staff.

15. Hamilton-Wenham, Stephen Brao - Stephen Brao is the embodiment of all that is wonderful about youth athletics and this wonderful game of basketball. He is courageous, disciplined, hard working, compassionate, and thoughtful. He never misses a practice and never takes a drill, play or moment off. He just plays. Never quits, never makes excuses just plays with a joy and love of the game and competition that is wondrous. He cares about his teammates both on and off the floor. He is the first to help somebody off the floor; he is the first to tell a teammate nice play or don't worry if he makes a mistake. His character and attitude is the best I have ever seen and far beyond his years. He has worked hard on his game paying attention to the details that make a difference. He is tremendously unselfish and never let's the fear of failure prevent effort and understands that adversity makes you stronger. The traits of character, teamwork, dedication, excellence and sportsmanship that exemplified Jack Gabriel are the fundamental core and fiber of this utterly fantastic young man.

16. Masconomet - Kevin Martin: In a landslide victory, Kevin Martin has been elected by his teammates and parents as Masconomet’s 2010 Jack Gabriel Award nominee.  In 5th and 6th grade, while playing on the Masco B team in the Eastern League, Kevin was working hard to improve his skills, including playing in offseason programs.  In 7th and 8th grade his hard work paid off and Kevin earned a spot on the Masco A team playing in the Cape Ann League.  Kevin’s success also came with adversity.  In 7th grade during a pre-season game Kevin fractured a bone in his foot and was in a cast for eight weeks.  In 8th grade during an early season practice, Kevin fractured his wrist, once again putting him in a cast for eight weeks.  For many young players, these setbacks would have been discouraging, but Kevin took them as a challenge.  He maintained a positive attitude, never complained and always participated.  While in casts, Kevin attended practices and worked on his game in any way he could.  When his foot was in a cast, he took foul shots.  When his right arm was in a cast, he dribbled and shot with his left.  While most players with these injuries would skip practices, Kevin showed up, paid attention, and learned the offenses and defenses.  He never gave up, and when the casts came off he was ready to play, and played well.  Unselfish by nature, respectful of teammates, coaches and officials, and committed to developing his game in the offseason, Kevin has been a powerful example of true dedication to his sport. 
17. North Reading - Colby Maiola: A trying year for his team, but he has kept his head up high and played at a high level. Does not question referee calls and respects his teammates and opponents at all times. Will succeed at the high school level because of hard work and determination. Has played out of position to help his team and always represents himself, family and town with dignity and class. He would be a class candidate for the Jack Gabriel Award.

18. Triton - John Brennan: John loves the game of basketball and has a tremendous attitude both individually and as a teammate. Unfortunately, his last season was cut short due to a major injury. His courage is the reason that he is nominated for this award.