<
>

Chelmsford team offers support for LaSpada

CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- Chelmsford head football coach Bruce Rich and several members of the team offered their support this morning for Billerica quarterback Nick LaSpada, the star player of their Thanksgiving Day archrivals who is currently hospitalized with blot clots in his lung.

The condition was first reported last night by the Lowell Sun; since the news broke last night, Boston Globe high school editor Bob Holmes reported that LaSpada additionally has a hole in his heart, citing Billerica head football coach Peter Flynn.

Flynn has since been advised by Billerica officials not to comment anymore, in accordance with privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Billerica athletic director Dave Lezenski said the school will not be releasing any statements regarding LaSpada. Officials, administrators and members of the football program have also been advised not to comment.

Rich was being presented with the New England Patriots Coach of the Week award this morning in the gymnasium, and said he was "shocked" when he first heard the news last night.

"He's a great kid," Rich said. "I was in shock to hear that...just, tough luck. He's a great competitor, and he's a class act. It's a shame he's not going to be able to finish his high school career. Hopefully, he'll make a full recovery.

"I wish him all the best, I hope he has a full recovery, and again I can't say enough about him as an athlete representative of not only Billerica High School, but the Merrimack Valley in football. He's a great athlete, and a great person."

Asked what he would say to the Billerica program, Rich said, "I don't know what they're going to do, it's got to be a shock to their system, to their coaching staff and players. Knowing what Billerica kids are capable of, and what Billerica people are capable of, I think there will be lots of kids stepping up and going beyond what they're capable of doing. It will be a emotional game that they'll play this weekend, and the following week."

Senior linebacker and Boston College commit Tim Joy called LaSpada, "honestly the best player I've ever played against", and expressed remorse.

"Right away I just thought as a player, you know, I have a little bit of an ankle injury, and you feel bad for yourself," Joy said. "But then then you think about something like that and it shows you how much he's going through, how much his family must be going through. Your heart goes out to him and his family. You really hope he gets better."

Said senior defensive end Brett Harrington, "No one wants to suffer anything like that. I remember last year when I broke my leg, I was out for the season. I know exactly how he feels. I know it's a lot more serious, but hopefully he gets better soon."