|DEIRDRE MANNING CRYER ’75
Deirdre graduated from Thayer in 1975 after an illustrious career in athletics. She played field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse all 4 years at Thayer. Dee’s teams had winning records in all of her seasons, and the basketball team was undefeated one year. Dee was co-captain of all 3 of her sports her senior year, and she received the Gilbert Booth Award for Sportsmanship at Commencement.
Although, Dee loved to win and excel at practices and in games, her favorite part of Thayer athletics was the time she spent with her teammates and coaches and the fun they had. Dee went on to participate for 4 years in field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse at Wesleyan University.
Dee has coached both youth soccer and youth, high school, and select tournament teams for over 20 years in the sport of lacrosse. Her teams have won numerous championships at all levels including the Pepsi Cup Youth Soccer Tournament, the Gore Range Classic Lacrosse Tournament, the Metro League High School Lacrosse Championship, the Centennial League High School Lacrosse Championship, and back-to-back Colorado State High School Lacrosse Championships. Dee was named the Metro League High School Lacrosse Coach of the year in 2008 and the Colorado High School Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 2011.
Dee has served on many boards and committees dedicated to the promotion and administration of youth and high school athletics. Dee’s number one priority in coaching is to teach sportsmanship, teamwork, and the importance of accountability. Her goal has always been for her athletes to transcend what they learn on the playing field to their lives whether it be that day or 40 years later. Dee is forever grateful to the coaches and teammates at Thayer who shared those lessons with her.
WILL CONROY ’00
Will Conroy was an extraordinary multi-sport athlete at Thayer. Though he was most brilliant as a football player, Will participated and earned letters in 5 different sports (football, basketball, track & field, baseball, and wrestling). At Commencement, he received the Ward S. Donner Award for excellence in academics and athletics.
In football, Will was captain in both his junior and senior seasons, earning All-ISL and All-New England honors as a linebacker/offensive lineman. In addition, Will was chosen as a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete, a highly prestigious award given to only a select few for excellence on the field and in the classroom. In June of 2000, Will played in the Shriners’ Classic, an eastern Massachusetts all-star game.
Will went on to play football for 4 years at Yale, earning 3 varsity letters and starting in his junior season as offensive guard and in his senior year as center. Will was named All-Ivy as a senior. That year, the Bulldogs’ offense set every school record in addition to numerous NCAA offensive records. In addition to his All-Ivy honor, Will garnered Academic All-Ivy, Academic All-District ,and the Jordan Olivar Award, given to the senior who has earned the highest level of respect from his teammates.
Thayer’s wrestling coach Marc Rando reflects on Will: “As far as wrestling goes it is a shame that he hurt his shoulder as he could have been very good. Will’s calm demeanor and careful focus was always an asset in any athletic arena.”
Coach Rob Dixon '79 on Will as a basketball player: “I have coached a lot of great players at Thayer, but none more valuable than Will Conroy. Although he was undersized compared to most of the centers on teams we played against, he more than held his own. And as coaches, we admired his willingness and ability to set the perfect screen when we needed a big shot during the game. He became the glue for a team that was trying to establish an identity, and he was an important part of that identity.” Will was a member of 2 ISL Championship basketball teams at Thayer.
In the spring, Will excelled in the throwing events for coaches Jeff Browne and Peter Robarts. He captained the squad in his senior year. Will earned the bronze medal in the discus at the ISL Championship Meet in his senior year, helping the team to a 2nd-place finish in the league and a 3rd-place finish at the New-Englands.
Coach Robarts on Will as a track & field athlete: “His effort, enthusiasm, and coachability earned him a Coach’s Award, as a senior.”
Will and his wife Stacy live in St. Petersburg, Florida with their two children Paige and Jack. He is the youngest partner in a law firm of 55 attorneys.
ANTHONY AIELLO ’05
Anthony was a exceptional hockey and lacrosse player and was awarded the Thayer Athletic Association Award, honoring the school’s top male athlete.
Anthony had an illustrious hockey career at Thayer. He was a member of the varsity hockey team for all 4 years, and was chosen as a first-team All-New England defenseman during his junior and senior seasons.
In addition, he was also selected as an All-ISL player during his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. In his junior year, Anthony registered 11 goals and 26 assists, which were both season highs for him during his high school career. Also during that season, Anthony led his team to the ISL Championship.
In addition to hockey, Anthony was an excellent lacrosse player at Thayer. He played on the varsity lacrosse team as a sophomore, junior, and senior. He earned All-ISL honors in lacrosse in his senior season.
In addition to his career at Thayer, Anthony was a member of the Under-17 United States Select Team that won the gold medal at the 2002 U17 Five Nations Tournament in Prague.
After graduating from Thayer, Anthony was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft; he then continued his hockey career at Boston College, where he was a 4-year letter winner. His best season for the Eagles came during his junior year in 2008, when he registered 3 goals and 10 assists. That same year, Anthony and the BC Eagles went on to win the Beanpot Championship, the Hockey East Championship, the NCAA Regional Championship, and the NCAA National Championship. For each of his 4 years at Boston College, Anthony was awarded the John P. Cunniff '66 Memorial Hockey Scholarship.
After graduating from BC, Anthony played for the Florida Everblades and Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. During the 2010-2011 season, he was promoted from the Stockton Thunder to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. He finished his professional hockey career with 56 points in 110 games.
|JENNIFER B. CARNE ’95
Jen was a superb 3-sport athlete while at Thayer. She excelled at soccer, basketball, and track & field. Jen was awarded the Nancy DiNatale Taylor Award at Commencement, as the best female athlete in her graduating class.
Jen was a member of the varsity soccer team, and a 4-time varsity letter winner. She was awarded the distinction of team MVP in both her junior and senior years. She was captain of the team in her senior year and was awarded ISL All-League status for her performance throughout her senior season.
Jen also had a very successful basketball career at Thayer. She was a member of the varsity team from her freshman to her senior year, earning a varsity letter for each year of participation. She was a valuable member of the team both as an offensive and defensive player. Jen was awarded team MVP honors as a sophomore. She was also selected for ISL All-League and All-New England status, while averaging 13.9 points per game.
As a junior, Jen served as a co-captain and averaged 13.3 points per game. She was again selected as an ISL All-League player and a New England All-Star. In her senior year, she wrapped up her Thayer basketball career by again being selected as co-captain. At the conclusion of the season, she was voted team MVP for the second time. During her career as a varsity basketball player, Thayer qualified for the NEPSAC post-season tournament 3 times, finishing as high as 2nd place.
In the spring, Jen competed in track & field. Her speed and strength were assets that allowed her to excel in a variety of events. She was again, a 4-time varsity letter winner in this sport. She served as captain of the team for her senior season. She was a member of the 4x100 meter relay team that set school records during her sophomore and junior seasons. She also excelled throwing the javelin as a senior, and was awarded All-League and All-New England status. During her senior year, she set a school record for throwing the javelin 125’ 9”.
After her playing days at Thayer, Jen continued her schooling at Brandeis University, where she earned a BA and at Simmons College where she completed an M.Ed. She earned a Professional Diploma in School District Administration from Long Island University C.W. Post and holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University. She is an assistant principal at a high school in Long Island, New York.
STEVE GREELEY ’00
Steve transferred from Milton Academy to Thayer Academy for his junior and senior years and was a 2-sport varsity athlete, playing golf and hockey. Although Steve was successful in both sports, it was in the hockey arena where he received countless awards. He received the Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic Award and an All-ISL award in both years, and during this time, he also led the team in scoring. In addition, Steve was awarded the Ed Taylor Scholarship Award from Pilgrim Arena, given in recognition of that South Shore hockey player who best exemplifies outstanding citizenship and athletic excellence. These exceptional qualities on and off the ice are what earned Steve his role as captain of Thayer’s hockey team in his senior year. These accolades, plus his performance as a player and team member, made it easy for coach Jack Foley to award Steve the team MVP award in his senior year.
Steve earned a scholarship to Boston University, where he continued to dominate in ice hockey.
At BU, Steve enjoyed enormous success. In all 4 years there, Steve was selected to the All-Massachusetts team for the USA National Festivals and he was awarded the Bennet McInnis award, given to that player who best exemplifies the qualities of what a Boston University player should be. On top of this, Steve took part in 2 NCAA tournament appearances and 2 Beanpot championships.
After playing at BU, Steve enjoyed playing professionally for one year, and soon after, he excelled as a coach. In 2005, Steve was an assistant coach for Thayer’s boys’ varsity hockey team. From 2006 to 2013, Steve climbed rapidly through the ranks in the Los Angeles Kings' organization as a scout and coach, winning a Stanley Cup in 2012. Throughout his tenure with the Kings, Steve was the youngest staff member for any NHL team.
Steve's rapid ascent in status earned him the position of Associate Head Coach at his alma mater Boston University. This year he helped lead the team to their first Beanpot victory in 6 years.
Steve comes from a long and successful line of siblings who attended Thayer. He and his wife Lauren live in Milton with their two daughters Riley (2) and Sloane (1).
CHIZOBA EZEIGWE ’05
Chizoba was the sensational athlete who cemented the reputation of Thayer's girls' track program as a powerhouse in the ISL and New England. She was a 4-year letter winner and during that time, she led the team to a 51-0 record with 4 ISL Championships and 4 New England Championships. There were many girls who contributed to the start of the girls' track & field success, and there will be others who will continue thta tradition, but there will never be another Chizoba, who was so dominant in her sport.
“Chizoba was the most decorated and successful track & field athlete (on both the girls' and boys' teams in Thayer history. She won so many individual championship titles it would take me a while to count. She also set an uncountable number of Thayer, ISL, and New England records,” says coach Jeff Browne.
Chizoba was a sprinter. She competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 300m intermediate hurdles, 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay. She held or still holds School, ISL, and New England records in all of these events.
In her freshman year, at the ISL Championships, she was the event champion in the 200m and ran on the winning 4x100m relay team. As a sophomore, she was the event champion in the 200m, the 400m, and ran on the winning 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams. Her junior year brought continued success in the league, as she won the 400m and the 300m intermediate hurdles. She also continued her relay success, as she was a member of the champion 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams. During her senior year, she was the 400m champion for the third consecutive year. Again, she was the mainstay in the winning 4x100m and 4x400 relay teams. Chizoba won 13 league titles and was awarded All-ISL status each season. She was also elected League MVP in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
Chizoba's success at the New England level ran parallel to her accomplishments in the league. She was the 400m champion for 3 consecutive years. She also won individual gold medals twice in the 200m and the 300m intermediate hurdles. She helped her team capture championship the gold 3 more times in the 4x100m relay and once again in the 4x400m relay. All together, she earned 10 New England titles, each bringing her All-New England status. Her performances were so remarkable that she was voted New England Meet MVP during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. Coach Jeff Browne has said “We would not have won the New Englands in 2004 and 2005 without her heroics.”
Her athletic prowess also benefited her team at Wheaton College, where she ran 8 seasons of track & field – 4 indoor/winter seasons and 4 spring/outdoor seasons. Chizoba graduated from college as an 8-time All-American athlete. She currently works for DTZ, and coaches the sprinters on Thayer's track & field team.
|JOHN HIGHTOWER ’95
John Hightower '95 was a legendary basketball player at Thayer. A 3-year starter at point guard, John was the leading scorer for the Tigers during his junior and senior seasons, leading Thayer to ISL Championships all 3 years.
Coach Rob Dixon '79 on John Hightower: “Hightower was one of the most competitive athletes we ever coached. Tenacious defender and explosive scorer, he was our leading scorer in his junior and senior years. He and Courtney Eldridge '98 were nightmares for the opposing team's backcourt. Those who watched him play came away with a genuine appreciation of mental toughness and tenacity; those who played against him were often overwhelmed and intimidated by his will to win. A high-character young man, he was a leader in everything that he did. As a player he was a great role model and mentor for so many other players that followed him.”
After his stellar career at Thayer, John went on to Holy Cross, where he starred for the Crusaders. A starting point guard for 3 years, John averaged 10.5 points per game as a sophomore, 11.1 as a junior, and 5.6 as a senior. He led the team with an average of 4 assists per game over the course of his career, and in his senior year, John captained the Crusader squad.
After college, John went on to Suffolk Law School. He currently operates his own law practice in Randolph, specializing in criminal defense and complex civil litigation. He and his wife Amanda reside in Brockton with their son Jamar.
JULIE ROTONDI ’00
Julie excelled in tennis and basketball at Thayer. In tennis, she was a 6-time team MVP, and a 5-time Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic, a two-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic. In addition, she was a 4-time NEPSAC champion and went undefeated in singles throughout her high school career, except for one injury default.
Julie was ranked #1 in New England for 5 consecutive years from 1996-2000, and was ranked #6 nationally for Under-18. In 1999, Julie played juniors doubles U.S. Open and was selected to play for the U.S. National Jr. Team in 1998 in Uruguay. In 1997 & 1999, she received the New England Sportsmanship Award.
As a 4-year starting point guard, playing under coach Karen Jodoin, Julie was also a major contributor to the basketball team at Thayer. During her Thayer basketball career, Julie was a 3-time All-New England selection, and MVP of the NEPSAC Class A Tournament. She was a 4-time All-ISL selection as well. The Tigers won 3 consecutive ISL titles with Julie playing point guard.
At Commencement in June 2000, Julie received the Nancy DiNatale Taylor Award as the outstanding female athlete in her class.
Julie was offered full tennis scholarships to UNC, Georgia, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Cal, Notre Dame, U. Miami, Florida State, Texas, Arizona State, and Virginia.
She went on to play at UNC where she garnered first-team All-ACC Honors in both her freshman and sophomore seasons. She transferred to the University of Florida and was first-team All-SEC for two years and was also selected as Division 1 All-American. In her junior year, she won the NCAA Championship, playing #2 singles vs. Stanford, clinching the match for the Gators. She was MVP of the SEC Tournament in her senior year.
JEFF BROWNE P ’04, ’05
Jeff Browne came to Thayer in 1991 to build an instrumental music program where none had existed for many years. He began that year with 1 group of 3 students, and from there, he expanded the program to where it is today, with 8 Upper School combos, an Upper School Ensemble, and 2 Middle School Ensembles. As arts department head, one of Jeff’s goals is to allow all students to develop both their athletic and artistic talents, rather than having to choose one over the other. He has achieved this by collaborating with the athletics department to eliminate scheduling conflicts, and has fostered a program that enrolls 90% of the student body in arts courses each year.
Jeff’s passion is not solely for the arts, however, and when he first arrived at Thayer, nobody knew about his other obsession: track & field. In 1993, he worked with Coach Richard Sawyer as an assistant coach for the boys’ track & field team, and established a rapport with athletes and fellow coaches that continues to this day. In 1994, Jeff became head coach for the boys’ team, and under his leadership, the boys won 4 consecutive NE Division III Championships from 1994 to 1997. The program grew as he planned customized workouts for each individual athlete. The depth of his knowledge in the sport and his continual quest to learn about new techniques support his coaching philosophy, which seeks to get the most out of each athlete. Jeff’s major goal is the daily improvement of each and every member of the program. Athletes are encouraged to focus on PRs (personal records), not winning. Winning is, nevertheless, a welcome by-product!
In the spring of 1997, Jeff accepted the role of head coach for both the boys’ and girls’ programs because he felt it would be a better use of resources. He sensed that if each coach had expertise in specific events, they could instruct both boys and girls at the same time, and this system has paid off.
The girls’ program has posted unprecedented results. Having finished in 2nd place at the ISL Championship for 3 consecutive years (1997-1999), in 2000, they finished in 1st place, and have held the league championship title ever since. Now the girls’ team holds 15 consecutive ISL Championships. At the NE level, the girls have also seen great results in the Division II Championships, winning their first New England title in 1998. Since then, they have taken 17 consecutive trips to the top of the NE Championship podium.
After moving up to Division II and competing against larger schools, the boys’ team placed 1st in NE in 2001 and 2002 and has finished in 2nd place 4 times. At the ISL Championship Meets, the boys took 1st place in 2001, 2002, and 2014. Under Jeff’s leadership, the boys have had 3 undefeated dual-meet seasons, have amassed an overall record of 215 wins against 36 losses (an 86% win record), and have captured 9 championship titles. The girls’ team has had 14 undefeated dual-meet seasons (9 consecutive and counting). They have accumulated 222 wins against 4 losses (a 98% win record), with 32 championships.
Jeff’s overall track & field coaching record amounts to 437 wins, 40 losses, and 41 championships.
In addition to his accomplishments as a track & field coach, Jeff has recently taken over as head coach of the girls’ cross-country team. His coaching methods (which, contrary to conventional wisdom, do not overload the athlete with volume in every practice) have produced a team that runs smart races. By building each runner’s strength, stamina, and speed incrementally, and by including strategically planned periods of rest, Thayer’s girls’ cross-country team finished 9th in 2011, 7th in 2012, 5th in 2013, and 1st at the NE Championship Meet in 2014.