Flyer for the first annual Henry Thevenin Football Clinic held at Brockton High School on Saturday.
BROCKTON, Mass. (July 2, 2015) - Former Stonehill College running back Jamal Johnson '14 and members of the coaching staff helped organize and run the first annual Henry Thevenin Clinic at Brockton High School a success.
Former wide receiver and current assistant coach John Gomes '13 joined Johnson to assist with the first year clinic which welcomed 90 kids to Marciano Stadium at Brockton High School last Saturday.
Below is a feature by Brockton Enterprise contributing writer Mark Blaudshun on the event:
Tribute to Henry Thevenin a celebration of Brockton football
It was all there on Saturday afternoon – the past, present and future of Brockton football, spread out on display at Marciano Stadium over a five-hour period.
Jamal Johnson '14 (right) helped organize the event along with Zeyanna Defortunato (center) and Carlito Weaver.
BROCKTON - It was all there on Saturday afternoon – the past, present and future of Brockton football, spread out on display at Marciano Stadium over a five-hour period.
Officially, it was labeled as a clinic/alumni game, dedicated to the memory of former Boxers football player Henry Thevenin, who died in June 2011 after a two-month battle with leukemia.
The death of Thevenin, a 2009 Brockton High graduate and player at Stonehill College, has served as a rallying point for his family and friends and the football community at Brockton to not only remember the 6-foot-2-inch, 270-pound lineman, but to re-affirm what Brockton football has been about.
"It's a great way to remember Henry and to give Brockton's players a platform to display the talent that has been part of this program for so many years," said Carlito Weaver, a former teammate of Thevenin who is now a math teacher at the West Middle school in Brockton and assistant football coach on the varsity squad.
The format Saturday was a mixture of teaching andcompetition. Three hours of instruction for an eager group of 90 7- to 13-year old kids, many of whom want to be part of the tradition of Brockton football firmly established by legendary Boxers coach Armond Colombo and now run by his son, Peter.
"He (Thevenin) was something special," said Peter Colombo, standing on the field named after his father and wondering if a future star was in his presence. "He made friends with everyone."
The clinic for eager participants of the Brockton youth football leagues, overseen by former Brockton stars such as Albert Louis-Jean (Boston College, Chicago Bears), Dominique Williams (BC), Greg Hilliard and Darren Thellen (UMass) and an assortment of other former Boxers was more than just a teaching session.
"It was a way to bring this community together in a lot of ways,'' said Louis-Jean, who went from Brockton to BC to the Bears but still remembers his roots. "There's been a lot of positive vibes, which is great for a city that has had to deal with a lot of negative stuff."
UMass athletics feature on former Minuteman Darren Thellen, who was a part of Saturday's clinic.
The idea for the alumni game came from Thevenin, even as he was fighting a losing battle with leukemia.
"I was his best friend," said Zeyanna Defortunato, who took the ideas she and Henry talked about as a way to unite a community which had football as one of its main arteries. "At first it was just a dinner, but then this year, I thought why not try and put a game together as part of it."
The idea was an easy sell. A few phone calls, text messages, emails and the former players were lined up.
Standing at midfield of a stadium that had produced an era of football that made Brockton High football one of the top programs in the United States, Armond Colombo smiled when asked what he was thinking about the activity around him.
"Nothing but good feelings on this field," said Colombo. "It's such a great way of getting people together."
"This," said Thellen, looking at the field where he became a star, "was like Friday Night Lights for me when I was a kid. There were stars and great players and great games."
Thellen was one of the two-dozen former Brockton players who volunteered a Saturday afternoon to give something back to the school, to the town.
So was Louis-Jean, although with training camp only weeks away, he was wise enough not to participate in the scrimmage, which was a trash-talking 7-on-7 battle of what Weaver laughingly described as the pre-historic guys (Class of 2009 and before) vs. the new guys (Class of 2010 through 2014).
The scrimmage was a major victory for the new kids on the block – an easy 30-6 win over the "old-timers." The new kids scored on an interception return in the first series of the game, prompting a new kid to comment, "This game is over."
So it was, but not after an afternoon of memories and catching up with old friends and former teammates had come to an end.
"All positive vibes," said Williams, who hopes to extend his career in the NFL as a free agent with Cleveland this summer. "Just bringing us all together like this has been great."