Northeastern University basketball player Jamie Conroy says new Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has become her family’s “guardian angel.”
“He came to us when we needed him,” Conroy says.
On Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower, nearly 300 employees of the insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan were killed, including Jamie’s dad, Kevin Conroy.
Soon after the tragedy, Valentine, who was managing the New York Mets at the time, began doing community-service work with 9/11 families.
In October 2001, he took Jamie’s older brother, Matty, to a Yankees playoff game.
Valentine quickly became close to Matty, Jamie, their mom Georgette, and sisters Jill and Christine. In 2009, he even took the Conroy quintet to Japan. “He’s always been there for us,” Jamie says.
For his part, Valentine says Jamie and Matty — who preceded his sister at Northeastern, graduating from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities earlier this year — have taught him an invaluable lesson: “Love conquers all, and the inner strengths of a family are very difficult to destroy.”
“I love them,” Valentine adds. “They have blessed my life.”
Last Thursday, Valentine was part of a pep rally of sorts for some 900 students from four Boston public schools who filled Northeastern’s Cabot Physical Education Center for a series of activities and lectures that promoted the importance of education.
Later in the day, he took in the Lady Huskies’ first win of the young season, a 78–62 triumph over Vermont on Solomon Court.
Conroy, a 5-foot-7-inch senior guard, scored 16 points and dished out six assists.
According to Valentine’s practiced eye, Conroy has more than enough potential to achieve her dream of playing pro basketball overseas. “She handles the ball well, and has the discipline and determination,” he says.
“She doesn’t let things stand in her way.”
Head coach Daynia LaForce-Mann, who is accustomed to watching Conroy dive for loose balls on the hard court, couldn’t agree more with the new Red Sox skipper. “Jamie is very intense,” the coach says. “She has a game face on from start to finish.”
– by Jason Kornwitz