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Needham High School football retrospective to kick off tercentennial celebration

Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010 by Freshman VPs
Needham Football documentary, 1
Wicked Local staff photo by Lisa Cassidy

Bob Giumetti, who graduated from Needham High School in 1958, tells a football story, as his son, Rob, who graduated in 1993, laughs during a gathering of former Needham football players for a Needham 300 documentary. The father and son were both captains of the football team. (9/28/10, Needham)

By Steven Ryan
Posted Sep 29, 2010 @ 06:09 PM

Even though the planned retrospective film on Needham High School football is still in the early stages, Jamie Walker, who is among five people working on the film, feels the movie will convey the program’s “sense of history” — including its historical Thanksgiving rivalry with Wellesley.

Walker noted all the historical events that have taken place during the more than 100 years Needham has played football. But he also hopes the strong community that has formed around the football program also shines through.

“I have the perspective of watching my two boys play and two girls be cheerleaders during the 2000s,” Jamie Walker said. “There is a feeling of community.”

The other four people working on the film are Charles Wright, Chick Jurgens, Laura Schindler and Dave Diccio. The men are still gathering material for the film.

“We’re highlighting every single team in some way or another with team pictures, reels and videos,” said Kathy Walker, Jamie’s Walker’s wife, who chairs the Needham 300 subcommittee in charge of the town’s football history. “We’ll slice it together, put it to music.”

The planned half-hour film will be shown on a large screen before Needham takes the field against Dedham as part of Needham’s 300th Birthday Kick Off Celebration Nov. 5. Wright said the team still “deep into” collecting all the data.

“We’re going through old newspaper clippings; we’ve got a lot of photos collected,” Wright said. “We’ve got almost every single yearbook photo. It’s a tremendous amount of work. It’s close to 130 years of football ... It’s kind of a Ken Burns thing.”

The Needham 300 Committee also hosted former players at the Village Club on Sept. 28 to share their football memories, many of which the committee hopes to use in the film. Players from the 1950s were hardest to track down.

“Some of the clips we’ll use and drop into the film,” Wright said. “Depending on the clips and other pieces, it will dictate how much time each decade is represented … I can go back to the 1960s, but it gets hard past that. [The newspapers] didn’t write about it much back then.”

Mike Riley, who does the Needham football games for the Needham Channel, will be narrating the film. Wright said he was brought onto the project after people remembered a piece he did on the rivalry with Wellesley when he ran the town’s community access station. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to locate a copy and started this project from scratch.

As for the Wellesley rivalry, which started when someone from Wellesley challenged Needham to a football game, it will be well represented. Wright feels the program’s history sets it apart.

“This is one of the first high school teams in the country,” he said, noting crowds in the 1910s were around 3,000 people. “It was a big deal even early on.”

Jamie Walker said he became involved since he filmed all the high school games during an eight-year stretch when his kids participated in the program. His favorite moments include a Thanksgiving Day victory against Wellesley during his older son’s senior year.

“It was minus-20 degrees in the sun and the field was iced up,” Jamie Walker said. “My son scored the obligatory touchdown. It was such a good feeling coming home for Thanksgiving after beating Wellesley during his senior year.”

Jamie Walker also remembers a game in which his younger son lost his helmet while running with the ball and kept on running despite the referee blowing down the play.

“Each game there’s something special to take away,” Jamie Walker said. “The real takeaway is the feeling of commitment these kids have toward the team. The level of camaraderie through thick and thin.” 

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