High School Hero – Boston Herald

Families of high school athlete in Greater Boston have refrigerators covered in memories of glory days, newspaper clippings, and hard copy proof that these events weren’t dreams but a reality.

Chances are these memories come from Danny Ventura.

Since 1991, Ventura has been a staple of the region’s high school sports scene and a must read for student-athletes, coaches and administrators. And like a gifted referee, people hardly notice his presence.

“Danny makes sure he’s never history,” said WBZ-TV presenter and sports reporter Dan Roche. “He’s as good as anyone I’ve ever seen at covering people and players the right way.”

Ventura has been playing sports all his adult life. After graduating from Boston University, he worked at the Boston Red Sox box office and also as a writer at the Dedham Transcript, where he met former Boston Herald sports editor Hank Hryniewicz, Boston Globe High School sports editor Craig Larson and former Herald writer. Tony Massarotti.

When the transcript faded, Ventura joined the Herald in September 1990 where he mixed a combination of part-time reporting and working on agate before becoming a full-time reporter. Ventura was put in charge of various tasks in its early days, but mainly focused on high school sports under the guidance of Bob Holmes. He developed the now famous Sweet 16 for high school football rankings in 1993.

“Danny quickly established himself and developed a strong bond with everyone,” said Karen Guregian, Herald New England Patriots columnist. “He was a hard worker. He was funny. He did everything he could to get an assignment.

From the early ’90s to the mid-2000s, Ventura worked alongside Stephanie Tunnera and Jim Clark as the de facto deputy editor of high school sports and saw some of the best amateur athletes to ever pass through Massachusetts. He’s covered Matt and Tim Hasselbeck’s Xaverian teams, Brockton and Durfee’s dominant years, football classics Everett and Peabody, and the latest basketball in the Boston City League.

“When I was in South Boston he would always come early and take the time to come to my office and we would just talk about basketball in the area,” former South Boston basketball coach Bill said. Loughnane. “It was just the best. He was always there for the big games.

It wasn’t just high schools where Ventura showcased his talents as a journalist. He has become a key asset for Patriots coverage of the Herald in both Super Bowl races, the NBA Finals, NCAA college hockey and the NCAA basketball tournament at TD Garden.

“We had a really good thing with some really great people and Danny was always there,” said Massarotti, who worked as the Herald Red Sox writer from 1994 to 2008, said. “He’s very versatile and reliable as a writer, which says a lot about him. It also tells you how much Danny enjoys what he does.

But high schools have always been his passion.

“I remember waking up early in the morning coaching football at Lynn Classical, then basketball at Marblehead and you would run just to see if ‘Danny V’ picked you,” said Jeff Newhall, athletic director of St. Mary’s. . “When you talk about sports in high school, he’s the pinnacle of it. No question asked.

Ventura officially became the editor of high school sports at the Herald in 2006. Since then, he has been the face of high school sports in the region, creating specific verticals for each sport to improve coverage, and providing rankings. weekly at all levels and an outline of a dedicated approach to coverage of each large-scale event. He developed the ‘Hot Shots’ series to spotlight the region’s top student-athletes on a weekly basis, ‘Stars of the Week’ during the football season, a weekly wrestling notebook and oversaw the creation of the All-Scholastics page for each sport.

“Danny can get all the information he needs because he’s honest and trustworthy,” said Phil Stacey, editor of Salem News, who has known Ventura for over 30 years. “He’s clearing up his facts. He’s a friend in business and in real life. When I’m about to write a story or cover a game outside of our region, I call him because I know he will know the answer.

Away from the journal, Ventura’s knowledge, wit and sense of humor have earned the trust of some of the region’s top coaches and sports directors. So much so that some of them played a prank on Ventura early in his career.

Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin vividly remembers when, in the early ’90s, he and others decided to order Chinese food from Ventura at 3 a.m.

“I don’t think he spoke to us for about six months, he was so angry,” Tobin recalls, laughing. “He was one of our best. I want to be clear that while I participated and was there, I was not the one who ordered the Chinese food.

Matt Hasselbeck, whom Ventura considers the best quarterback he has ever covered, still follows the area’s high school athletic scene closely and always turns to the man who often interviewed him after games for the last few. new.

“Danny doesn’t write stories about himself, instead he shines the spotlight as hard as possible on the athletes in the game,” he said. “Nonetheless, his impact on the sport here is similar to that of the best coaches and players in the region. And he’s a great social media follower for the latest scores and breaking news too.

“There is nothing better than sitting next to Danny and being with him at a big event,” said Bill Zeoli, a longtime friend and former high school official. “He’s the dean. His phone rings constantly as people come to thank him, always trying to provide information or seek information. Everyone turns to him. It’s really special to have that here.

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