“Bossi” trailer for upcoming documentary
From Lowell High Hall of Fame website…….
LOWELL (2003) – Above all else, Lowell High wrestling coach George Bossi is a man of principles and beliefs. For close to four decades, the mat has been his classroom. Many of the student-athletes who survived a season in the Red Raider wrestling room with Bossi found it to be the ultimate learning experience.
But now, the state’s foremost teacher of high school grappling has ended speculation about his future, resigning as head coach after nearly 40 years.Bossi, 67, has been in charge of the Red Raider program for all but three seasons since the winter of 1964-65. He leaves behind a lasting legacy of winning, which includes 11 state team championships, several New England crowns and numerous Merrimack Valley Conference titles.This season, Bossi notched the 600th dual-meet victory, one of only a few high school wrestling coaches in the nation to accomplish the feat.”I still have my health,” said Bossi, who retired from full-time teaching after serving as Lowell’s athletic director for three years in the mid-1990s. “I’m not stepping down because of health reasons. I just feel a head coach needs to be in the building every day.”I do some substitute-teaching, but it’s not the same. To be successful at a school like this, you just can’t show up for practice. You need to be a teacher-coach who is around the kids every day of the school year.”I hope to stay on and help out as an assistant,” continued Bossi. “Of course, that depends on whether or not the new coach wants me around. “The position has already been posted. Lowell athletic director Walter Nelson would like to name a new head coach as soon as possible.Former Red Raider standout Tim O’Keefe, who’s been an assistant on Bossi’s staff the past four seasons, is considered one of the leading candidates.O’Keefe, a physical education teacher at Lowell High, played a key role in Lowell’s success in recent years.”Timmy is a logical choice,” said Bossi. “I feel he’s ready. He knows the system. And he teaches in the building.”
In a gray world, Bossi is a black-and-white kind of guy. If you wanted to wrestle at Lowell High, you learned the team rules and followed them.”He has set the standard for wrestling in the state,” said Nelson. “He’s truly an institution. He’s the bridge between what we knew as coaches in the ’40s and ’50s to the coaches of today. “He’s big on discipline and fundamentals. He drills the kids until they know what they are doing inside and out. The Lowell wrestling family bought into his style and it shows in his record. He reached the 600-win plateau, and that’s a significant achievement. He really has nothing left to accomplish. He’s reached all attainable goals.”
Over the years, Bossi has taken a lot of kids with rough edges and helped smooth them out.”I don’t think you can find many guys over 65 who are high school head coaches nowadays,” said Bossi. “The demands are great. And the kids need somebody young to relate to them. I’m very much old-school. I’m like a drill-sergeant out there.”I’m successful because I can still motivate. That’s one of the skills I’ve been blessed with. I’ve had a lot of luck reaching so-called street kids. Kids who’ve had problems at home or in their personal life, I’ve been able to bringing out the best in these type of kids.”Bossi not only taught his teams how to win, he taught them the values needed to succeed in life. For that, his wrestlers will forever be grateful.
“I know I’m a better person after having him for a coach,” said this year’s Red Raider senior co-captain Paul McNeil, a two-time Division 1 state champ. “He teaches you how to believe in yourself and go after your goals. “I loved having him for a coach. He’s a great guy. I know he’s getting older, but I’m a little surprised that he isn’t coming back because of the quality of the team that’s returning.” Bossi’s last hurrah was a memorable one. Lowell won the MVC crown this season, had four state champs Casey Boyle (112-pounds), McNeil (119), Brian Sheehan (130) and Pat Sheehan (171) and finished fourth in the team standings at the New England championships.”George Bossi built the program, he made it what it is,” said O’Keefe. “He’ll always be a part of the Lowell High wrestling program. He’s a true legend. “I’ve been his assistant for four years and I still call him Coach when I talk to him. I never call him George. That’s the respect I have for him. I still look up to him. All the guys I know who wrestled for him feel the same way.”
Bossi also commands the respect of his peers. “When I was starting out, Lowell was the program to beat and it’s still the team to beat,” said long-time Billerica coach Vin Viglione. “George has been around forever. His record is remarkable. You hear the name George Bossi and you think of Lowell High wrestling.” Bossi, a Milton native, attended the University of Vermont and Springfield College as an undergrad. Then he went to University of Illinois for graduate school, where he served as an assistant on the football and wrestling teams.He was in charge of the Illini’s freshmen scout team in football, which was quarterbacked by a future reverend named Jesse Jackson. Bossi also did a lot of recruiting and helped Illinois land a linebacker named Dick Butkus.
Despite his many accomplishments, Bossi’s ego is hard to find.”I’ve never been into self-promotion,” said Bossi. “The satisfaction I get out of coaching is taking raw kids and making state champs out of them through hard-work, practice and discipline.” Bossi plans on being at every Red Raider wrestling match next winter. “My roots are here in Lowell,” said Bossi. “If I’m not on the side of the mat (as an assistant), I’ll be up in the stands yelling at the ref.”
Well we all know how that turned out!!!!
THE WORK ETHIC CHAMPION COACH BOSSI MAKES BELIEVERS OF HIS LOWELL WRESTLERS
The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) April 15, 1990 Nancy L. Marrapese, Globe Staff
His numbers as a wrestling coach are phenomenal — a record of 418-67-5, 44 individual state champions, 10 state championship teams and 19 New England champions in 26 seasons at Lowell High School.
But beyond the statistics, the victories and the titles is an inspiring man named George Bossi. He was born in Brockton, grew up in Milton and lives in Chelmsford. But the city that has felt his impact the most is Lowell.
His job there was supposed to be an interim position. Bossi had been at Winnicunnet High in Hampton, N.H., starting a wrestling program there in 1960. After four years and three northern New England championships, he decided to start applying for college positions, thinking he’d like to coach at that level.
“It was supposed to be temporary,” said Bossi. “But I found a home.”
To this day, Bossi says it was the best decision he’s ever made. He has a reputation of being tough but fair, a genuine teacher. To many he’s a hero and to some a savior.
After 26 seasons, he says he’s often a parent. “I’m more of a nurturer now,” said Bossi. “A lot of kids come from single-parent homes. Wrestling attracts the urban-type kid, not street kids but kids from poor socioeconomic families and they face a lot of pressure.”
“I think he’s what you’d call a real hero,” said Frank Elliott, who wrestled for Bossi from 1964 to ’67. “He demanded and expected you to do your very best, there was no room for excuses. He made you feel you could beat all odds if you were willing to put in the work. The thing that was most important was he wouldn’t let you fail and you didn’t.”
What attracted Bossi to wrestling and he thinks what attracts athletes to the sport is the one-on-one competition, the idea that it’s the wrestler and his opponent and no one else.
“I think they crave the individuality of wrestling,” said Bossi. “It’s a real confidence builder.”
Bossi made his mark immediately when he began at Lowell. In his first year, his team finished 4-7 but it produced two state champions, a pair of athletes he convinced to wrestle named Rick Comtois and Ray Campbell. They went on to beat the returning state champions from Brookline.
One of Bossi’s favorite stories is about 1978, the year of the blizzard. Offices, schools and whole cities were shut down by the snow, and Lowell closed its high school for two weeks. But Bossi’s wrestling program didn’t stop. In fact, it didn’t even slow down. Bossi went around in his four-wheel drive vehicle, picked up all his kids and took them to and from practice, not missing a single session. The team went on to become state champions.
His team won its first state crown in 1968. The school won three consecutive titles from 1973-75 and compiled a 46-match win streak during that time. In 1975, the year before Greater Lowell opened, Bossi’s squad won the New England championship before losing more than 1,000 students from its enrollment.
His program produced five state champions in 12 weight classes in 1980, and in 1987, the team won everything. It was unbeaten and untied. That year, in addition to winning the New England title, Bossi’s team had four state champions and four New England finalists, two of whom won New England individual crowns.
The numbers speak loudly about the success of Bossi’s program, but he sees it as so much more than victories.
“I get tremendous satisfaction taking a raw athlete and teaching him the system,” said Bossi. “Wrestling is a contest of situations, watching the kids go on and maybe two seasons later become state champion.”
Bossi doesn’t mind acknowledging that he’s a good coach. “Yes, I think I am,” he said when the question was put to him. “But it’s a lot of hard work. I still enjoy it, though. I think motivational skills are important. Kids have got to be told what to do. It’s a matter of giving them a goal and having them strive for it.”
The work is its own reward, Bossi says, but on April 27, he will get another reward — an evening in his honor. No, he’s not retiring. Bossi is 54 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. But former wrestlers, many of whom have sons who benefited from Bossi’s tutelage, friends and fans as well as current wrestlers will get together to pay tribute to him at the Windsor Mills Restaurant on Route 110 in Dracut. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained by calling Michael Kuenzler or Jay McQuaide.
It’s an occasion that makes Bossi just a tad nervous.
“I’m a little apprehensive,” he said. “The kids are now men and I haven’t seen them for years. I know they’re going to roast me.”
In addition to coaching, Bossi has served as the director of physical education for the Lowell public schools for the past 10 years. “I’ve had a lot of great experiences,” said Bossi. “The kids I coach keep in touch, especially the younger ones a year or two out of high school who come back to ask for advice.”
Elliott is one of many former wrestlers who remembers Bossi well and who still covets the lessons his former coach taught him.
“I remember wrestling a guy in the state tournament and losing,” said Elliott, who’s now Lowell’s director for substance-abuse prevention. “I was totally exhausted and I lost by one point. The guy was tremendously strong. I remember feeling awful because I was thinking I’ve let the coach down. It was such an empty feeling. But he put his arm around me and said, you did the best you could.”
Elliott finished fourth in the state tournament that year, 1967, and when the wrestler who beat him was unable to attend the New England tournament, Elliott went as an alternate. “I remember Bossi told me you can be the New England heavyweight champion,” said Elliott. “The kid I wrestled was undefeated, but he still told me I could win.”
With Bossi’s coaching, Elliott prepared very carefully and specifically for his opponent and ended up pinning him.
“To this day I remember a lesson he taught me,” said Elliott. “He taught me and so many others that there’s only one way to do things, work, work and work. He said that if you want to be better than somebody, if they put in four hours you have to put in six, if they put in eight, you have to put in 10. That has stayed with me all of my life.”