He’s Working Hard so Every Kid Can Play
This is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series.
By Robert Mills
LOWELL -- If a kid shows up to a football or lacrosse game as part of the Lowell Junior High Athletics league without cleats or another piece of equipment, the equipment that’s missing has a tendency to miraculously appear, according to Maureen Hovey.
Hovey said most people who work with the group know who get the items needed, but that the prime suspect, Marty Tighe, rarely comments.
“He never says who gets them,” Hovey said.
Tighe, who has led the volunteer organization for nine years now, doesn’t like to talk about himself much at all.
“He never wants accolades. He never wants credit. He never wants a pat on the back,” Hovey said. “He just wants the kids to play.”
Lowell Junior High Athletics runs a football league for kids in grades 5 to grade 8, as well as lacrosse leagues for boys and girls in the same age group. The group recently started a wrestling program as well.
Participation in the group’s leagues is completely free.
About 130 kids played last year. This year that number is around 120, according to Tighe.
Contacted about a profile documenting his volunteer work, Tighe talked instead about Chris Smith, the Lowell cop who founded Lowell Junior High Athletics in 2002.
Tighe noticed that many kids weren’t taking part in sports, largely because of the costs involved. But Smith’s new group was changing that by making access to those sports free.
“I saw that it was helping the kids an awful lot,” Tighe said. “I believed in what Chris was doing.”
Nine years ago, Smith began to move on from the group as his kids got older, so Tighe ended up taking over.
Tighe also talked about Maureen Hovey’s husband Tim, Nancy McGovern, Dan Shanahan, Danny Rourke and several other volunteers who help out with the group.
“It’s become quite a great group of folks who have been doing this over the years,” Tighe said.
Then Tighe talks about the “great partners” the organization has in the Greater Lowell Boys & Girls Club and Girls Inc.
State Rep. Tom Golden has known Tighe for about 30 years, going all the way back to when both men were still at Lowell High School. He wasn’t surprised Tighe didn’t want to talk about himself.
“Marty talking about what everyone else does is exactly what a good leader does,” Golden said. “He’s not looking for fortune or fame. He’s just doing it because it’s the right thing. It doesn’t surprise me. Marty is a shining example of dedication and selflessness.”
“The league couldn’t run without him,” Hovey said.
Tighe does talk about the organization, though.
“What we try to do through sports is teach commitment, teamwork, hard work and dedication,” Tighe said. “And for those kid who buy into it, I think it really helps them out.”
But everyone other than Tighe had plenty to say about the man who leads the organization.
“I’ve seen him pay for gym memberships for kids. He buys cleats for kids. He goes above and beyond,” Rourke said. “It’s really pretty amazing what the guy does.”
Rourke said Thursday night was a good example. Thunderstorms delayed football practice, but Tighe still made sure the fields were set up and stuck around in the rain to ensure no kids showed up and found themselves alone.
“His first thought is always about the kids’ well-being; how things are going at home; how things are going at school,” Rourke said. “He teaches accountability, responsibility, teamwork. It’s a pleasure to work with him.”
Rourke said the organization is a year-round effort for Tighe now that it has expanded beyond football to lacrosse and wrestling too. Rourke said Tighe also sponsors kids in basketball leagues around the city.
“It’s a year-long commitment that he puts into it,” Rourke said.
Hovey said that when she first got involved with the organization, she suggested charging a small fee for those who could afford it, but Tighe would have none of it.
“He makes sure that it stays 100 percent free for every single kid,” Hovey said.
Hovey said Tighe is a booster for Lowell in any situation, and that he’s also a booster of every kid in Lowell, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
“It doesn’t matter to him where they come from, what neighborhood or whatever,” Hovey said. “He’ll go to The Acre if a kid can’t get to practice. If a kid shows promise and interest in another sport, he either gets someone else to sponsor them or sponsors them himself. God knows how many times Marty has written that check.”
She said Tighe often also bids on items at the group’s fundraisers, even though it was often him who got the items for the fundraiser in the first place.
“It’s not just his money,” Hovey said. “It’s his time, his patience. He’s truly dedicated to keeping it 100 percent free.”
To learn more about the organization, visit www.lowelljrfootball.com .
Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills.