Reunion special as Athol’s 1962 undefeated football team gathers again

  • The 1962 Athol football team gathers at a past reunion. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2021 8:07:16 PM

It’s been nearly 60 years since the Athol football team went unbeaten, yet the team is still as close as ever.

The 1962 team got together for its 12th reunion (they gather about every five years) on June 26 at Robert “Bo” Warren’s house in Shelburne Falls. Warren played defensive end for the team that went 9-0 and outscored its opponents 284-50 en route to the Central Mass. Class B championship.

“The thing with it now, it’s been nearly 60 years since we played so it’s not so much about our accomplishments from decades ago but the fact that we still get together,” Rocky Stone, quarterback of the ’62 team, said. “Sometimes when I call people to tell them about the reunion I get moans and groans but when they show up they tend to have a good time.”

The 1962 squad tries to get together every five years, but decided to make it every three years starting in 2017. It was delayed as they weren’t able to get together in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirty people attended this year’s reunion, which includes team members and coaches along with spouses, relatives and friends. It’s an impressive number that shows just how much that team meant to those involved.

“Some people aren’t always able to make it, a few couldn’t this year for different reasons, but it was a very nice setting,” Stone said. “Bo has quite the spread out in Shelburne. We always put out a bunch of memorabilia and photos from past reunions. We’ll keep doing this for as long as we can.”

The fact that the team is getting together after all these years shows the camaraderie of the group. As the players get older, the conversations — and events at the reunion — have changed from talking about their own lives to more about their families.

Though the former players might not party the way they did at the first couple reunions, it’s no less of an enjoyable time.

“I don’t think there’s too many organizations — whether it be in athletics or others — that still get together after all those years,” said Stone, who went on to coach the football team at his alma mater from 2000-2009. “It’s nice to talk about everyone’s grandkids, and in some cases great grandkids. It’s a very nice time. There’s not as much hooting or hollering or consumption of beverages as there used to be. It’s mostly water now so it’s not as rowdy as it used to be.”

Jerry Godin, a star end on Athol’s undefeated 1949 team, was an honorary guest for the latest reunion. Godin is the brother-in-law of Walter Perkins, who was the starting center for the ’62 team.

Tracking everyone down to send out invitations isn’t the easiest of tasks, with some players still in the area and others as far away as California and even Asia. Stone typically gives five-to-six months notice and asks those he gets in touch with to spread the word. 

The invitations aren’t just for former players, as coaches and sometimes even children of the coaches attend the reunions. The next one is scheduled to take place in 2024. 

“Some people show up and some want nothing to do with it,” Stone said. “It’s kind of like a class reunion in that respect. There are people in town who don’t come and people from California who do. We invite the spouses and in some cases the spouses of the players who are no longer with us. Our goal in 2024 will be to get as many people as we can there, hopefully we’ll see some of the people who weren’t able to make it this time. We try to keep everyone who was somewhat involved with the team included.” 


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