In 1953, Stan Bondelevitch arrived in the small Massachusetts town of Swampscott to become the high school football coach. The Sculpins, as they were known, had managed to win just one game over the preceding two and a half seasons, finishing 1–21 during that period. In his first season as the new coach, Stan’s team recorded a winning record, came within a touchdown of claiming the conference title, and produced a shocking upset victory over a squad that had not lost in 31 straight games.
Over the ensuing 20 years, Swampscott’s football team, re-named the Big Blue, posted eight undefeated, untied seasons; won numerous conference and Eastern Massachusetts championships, including the state’s first high school Division II Super Bowl game; and enjoyed three separate lengthy winning streaks. A number of Big Blue players were named high school All-Americans. Three teammates on the 1967 Swampscott squad—Bill Adams, Dick Jauron, and Tom Toner—all ultimately played multiple seasons in the NFL. Coach Bondelevitch’s announced retirement in 1976 prompted a local newspaper to write that it was the conclusion of “the greatest coaching era in the history of New England schoolboy football.”
A master motivator and psychologist, Bondelevitch challenged his players to excel, while employing a unique blend of humor and positive reinforcement to galvanize them and an entire community. Coaches, teachers, students, parents, and Boosters joined together to form that community and create a remarkable environment—one of interest in and support for the efforts of a group of local teenagers playing as a team.
Robert Jauron, who played at Swampscott on Bondelevitch-coached teams in the mid-’60s, undertook to write this story about Stan’s Big Blue football program. Big Blue Days is based on extensive archival research, interviews of more than 50 individuals, and the author’s own experiences. It tells the tale of Swampscott High School football from 1953 through 1973, painting a portrait of the legendary, colorful head coach, relating the personal stories of a number of other coaches and players, detailing the program’s amazing success, and explaining why Jauron and many others recall those days in Swampscott as special times in a special place.
About the Author
Robert Jauron is the son of one outstanding football coach and the brother of another. A graduate of Swampscott High School, Brown University, and Suffolk University Law School, Bob practiced law for 37 years before retiring in 2014. He and his wife, Sally, reside in Manchester, New Hampshire, but frequently return to Swampscott, Massachusetts, now home to their daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and other close relatives. Big Blue Days is his first book.