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Tony Bibbo Honored with HOF Induction

By New England AAU, 12/31/15, 2:15PM EST


This is a very special year for girl's AAU Basketball as it marks the 30th Anniversary of its start. This was at a time that the NCAA was not recognizing girls basketball and I believe it was four years later that NCAA Women's Basketball was sanctioned. We were fortunate that Leo Papile was then heading the AAU Boy's Basketball and unlike the Board of the NEAAU, he was not threatened by what the NEAAU Board felt was competition that they did not want. The NEAAU indicated that Basketball was a boy's game and also were concerned that the girls might take away some of the funding.

Leo approved the girl's program and on the Sunday that John Havilcek was honored at the Garden with his retirement, Don Fay and I went to the NEAAU Headquarters on Causeway Street.  I signed on as the First Chairman of NEAAU Girl's basketball, with Don Fay as the first coach. We had 111 girls from throughout New England try out for the 11 slots on the team. It was difficult for Don and his assistants but they did put together a great team.

In addition to Leo, the mother of Jackie McMullen of the Boston Globe staff set up the travel arrangements. We raised enough money so that the team could travel by a private bus to our only available tournament (the Junior Olympics in Tennessee) and were housed three to a room. Jackie, herself was a good high school player on her Westwood High School team which featured exceptional players at that time. They were deprived of this kind of opportunity as NEAAU Girl's program was not sanctioned until after they were out of high school. Jackie McMullin and a number of girls from the area at the time were an important part of the inspiration which helped bring this movement forward.

Having watched the Girl's NEAAU Program grow and thrive, over these years has certainly surpassed any expectation I might have had when we began some 30 years ago.  I have had the pleasure of watching my grandchildren play, as well as the coaching of both my son and daughter both of whom currently coach for the North Central Blaze out of Fitchburg.  I think it important to get the word out about the history and more importantly what the program has meant to the girl's and their families over the 30 years of operation. Girls can and do play a great game of basketball.

It was a struggle at the outset but I must say as I attend these many tournaments the program has gone well beyond what Don and I ever could have imagined. Please don't hesitate to contact Don or myself if you feel that the program might benefit from any mention of the past and the 30th Anniversary of Girl's AAU Basketball in New England. I might just also mention that the point guard on the squad that knocked us out of the tournament the first year was Kim Mulkey, now the coach at Baylor the National Champions of 2005.

-Tony Bibbo

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