Greenfield Recorder sports editor receives distinguished service award

  • LAJOIE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/22/2020 5:04:52 PM

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Recorder Sports Editor Jeff Lajoie has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Joao Rodrigues Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an individual’s dedication and commitment to interscholastic athletics in Massachusetts.

“I think it’s been a particularly trying year for covering sports and talking about sports every day,” said Lajoie, referencing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on athletics. “The spring season was straight up canceled; the fall season, there were only a few sports that ended up being played. I think trying to keep tabs on all that, and talking to people to try and keep a sports section somewhat vibrant throughout a pandemic — it’s always nice to have people acknowledge that.”

Each year, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) recognizes an individual from each of the state’s eight athletic districts who has volunteered their services to the schools and communities in their districts, according to MIAA and the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors’ Association (MSSADA). This individual is not a paid member of coaching staff, but rather someone who has had “longstanding involvement” with high school activities at the local level.

The award is named for Joao Rodrigues, a longtime athletic director of Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett, who died in 2001.

Lajoie — the recipient for District F, or the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which includes schools in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties — said he was nominated by local athletic directors.

“The (athletic directors) are the ... people I interact with pretty much every day and have to deal with on a regular basis,” he said. “So for them to even think of my name, or have that be something that was even in consideration, was pretty cool.”

Speaking on behalf of other area athletic directors, Joe Gamache, athletic director for Franklin County Technical School, said the local athletics programs appreciate the amount of time Lajoie puts into covering not just local high school sports, but youth athletics, too.

“We certainly appreciate his dedication to making sure the kids get adequate media coverage in this area,” Gamache said. “I know a lot of families appreciate it as well when they get to read their kids’ names in the paper for sports accolades and so forth.”

Gamache said Lajoie not only takes the time to honor the achievements of the students on the field or on the court, but also recognizes their accomplishes off of it.

“We definitely appreciate all the newspaper does — and Jeff does, in particular — to help promote youth sports and high school sports,” he said.

Joan Livingston, the Recorder’s editor-in-chief, said she is pleased that Lajoie’s dedication to covering local sports has been recognized by MSSADA with the Joao Rodrigues Distinguished Service Award.

Livingston noted Lajoie had to adapt when the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed the local sports scene, leading to the cancellation of high school games, outdoor recreation and special events such as road races. Also, she said, his workload increased after the Recorder laid off its two sports reporters.

“Jeff single-handedly kept our local sports coverage going by doing the reporting and writing himself, and on Sundays, laying out the pages,” Livingston said. “And, typical of Jeff, he did it without a complaint. We are fortunate to have him on the Recorder’s editorial team.”

In response to the “evolving nature” of sports this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant the cancellation of spring sports in March, Lajoie did a full-page spread for the seniors of each school who wouldn’t get to play in their final season. It was something to “help make the kids feel appreciated,” he said.

With the modified return of high school sports, plus winter recreation, Livingston said the Recorder brought back sports reporter Tom Johnston, expanding the Recorder’s local sports coverage under Lajoie’s leadership.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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