Roadshow pays tribute to star-studded group at Night of Legends VIII

Roadshow pays tribute to star-studded group at Night of Legends VIII

Among the attendees who will be honored at next week’s The Roadshow Night of Legends VIII, and are shown with Roadshow member David Walsh, third from left, are, from left, Roger Pierce, Debbie (D’Agostino) Beauchamp, Laurie D’Ambra, David Tosti, and Gary Stott. The Night of Legends VIII will take place on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. at The Dugout on Cray Street. (Breeze photo by Eric Benevides)
Girls’ hoop pioneers, 1969 CHS football team highlight honorees to be recognized Nov. 22

CUMBERLAND – Over the past decade, The Roadshow Night of Legends has paid tribute to several worthy honorees, but never has The Roadshow put together a large, formidable group as the cast it plans to recognize next week.

Three Cumberland natives who were pioneers of girls’ basketball in Rhode Island, two former Lincoln High basketball standouts, an outstanding swimming and tennis coach, and an undefeated high school football team celebrating the 50th anniversary of its undefeated Class B championship season will be among the honorees at The Roadshow Night of Legends VIII on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. at The Dugout on Cray Street.

The Night of Legends is organized annually by the Boys & Girls Club of Northern R.I. and the Roadshow, a loyal group of Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln alumni. All the proceeds from the event will not only go toward supporting the youth programs at the Boys & Girls Club, but also help defray the costs for the 46th annual Roadshow Holiday Classic that will take place after Christmas.

The longest running high school boys’ basketball tournament in the state, the Roadshow Holiday Classic will welcome back defending champion Woonsocket, Cumberland, Lincoln, and Tolman. The Novans ended Cumberland’s bid to capture its fourth straight tourney title in last December’s title game at the Clippers’ Wellness Center by posting a 72-50 victory.

Speaking of basketball, the Players of the Year at this year’s event are former girls’ hoop stars Laurie D’Ambra, who graduated from Cumberland High in 1975, and Martha (Lynch) Landry, and Debbie (D’Agostino) Beauchamp, who graduated in 1983 after receiving First-Team All-State honors.

D’Ambra was a three-sport athlete at CHS who played on the school’s first girls’ basketball team and also shined at volleyball and track and field, but when she continued her athletic career at Springfield College, she ended up enjoying an exceptional softball career that saw her help Springfield reach the NCAA World Series in 1977.

Landry and Beauchamp, meanwhile, played for the boys’ hoop teams at their respective middle schools before starring for their high schools, Landry at Cumberland and Beauchamp at Bay View Academy. Landry was a 1,000-point scorer who went on to briefly play college basketball, and Beauchamp played four seasons at Merrimack College.

The Coach of the Year is Carl LaBranche, who boasts an impressive resume that has seen him enjoy success as a tennis and a swim coach at several levels. An aquatic director and swim coach at the Boys & Girls Club in the 1970s, LaBranche, who went to Tolman High and Central Connecticut State University, is currently serving his third different stint as the youth coach of Sher-Le-Mon’s Narragansett Swim League’s team.

As a high school coach, LaBranche was the swim coach of Lincoln High’s inaugural season in 1974, and he was the head coach of the LHS boys’ tennis team that won the state title in 1987 by defeating Bishop Hendricken in the finals, 4-3.

LaBranche also spent nearly two decades as the Providence College men’s and women’s head tennis coach, and in 2003, he was named P.C.’s assistant athletic director for facilities and game day management. A member of the R.I. Aquatic Hall of Fame, LaBranche also spent several seasons as an NCAA men’s basketball referee.

The Roadshow Rival of the Year comes from East Providence in Mario Pereira, who was a three-time First-Team All-State soccer player for the Townies, as well as a First-Team and Second-Team All-State basketball player in the mid-1970s.

“Mario is somebody that we competed against since middle school,” reported Roadshow member David Walsh. “We just respected him as a tremendous athlete, and his achievements have been phenomenal.”

Pereira went on to become a two-time All-New England forward at URI and a professional player before turning his full attention to the coaching ranks. He’s currently the head boys’ coach at La Salle Academy, and on Sunday afternoon, the Rams won their 11th state title under his watch by netting a 3-0 victory over Tolman.

The Legend of the Year is one of the greatest basketball players in Lincoln High history, James Dickinson, who was a 1989 graduate and a First-Team All-State player for the Lions before going on to spend the next four years playing for Seton Hall University.

Dickinson later became a high school basketball coach at Barrington High, and in the 2000-01 season, he became the R.I. Coach of the Year after guiding the Eagles to a 21-0 record and the Class B title. Dickinson is currently the head golf coach at Cumberland High.

The Paul Bohac Teammate Award, which according to Walsh, “goes to someone that the Roadshow thinks is a great friend and teammate,” is Gary Stott, who graduated from Lincoln High in 1971 after earning All-Valley honors as a basketball player and baseball pitcher.

Stott went on to help out at the Boys & Girls Club for several years and serve on its Board of Directors, and “any event that goes on from the club or organization, Gary’s there,” added Walsh.

The Team of the Year is the 1969 Cumberland High football team, which in its ninth season of existence, captured the Class B championship with an 8-0-1 mark. Cumberland started its football program in 1961 when the high school moved to Mendon Road, and the Clippers produced four winning seasons over the next eight years before finally winning the first of the program’s three championships.

“They weren’t the biggest team and they weren’t the fastest team, but they couldn’t be beat,” added Walsh. “And the team had an unbelievable coaching staff. Head coach Pete Dalpe ran a tremendous program that was successfull, and his top assistant was Dennis O’Brien, who went on to become an offensive line coach at Brown in the mid-to-late ’70s and have a great career at St. Ray’s.”

The Clippers clinched their championship on Thanksgiving morning at Barry Field by playing also-unbeaten Woonsocket for all the marbles. That contest ended in a hard-fought 0-0 tie, but because the Novans’ record was 7-0-2 and the Clippers had one more win and one fewer tie, Cumberland was awarded the title.

Among the players on that team were quarterback Dave Zyons, who went on to become the captain of the URI football and baseball teams; middle linebacker Dave Toste, offensive lineman Roger Pierce, center Jim Mousseau, defensive end George Mathieu, fullback Dan Webster, and Charlie Gifford.

Tickets for the event are $30 each and available at the Boys & Girls Club on 1 James McKee Way, online by visiting or the Roadshow Publications’ Facebook page, and at The Dugout on the night of the event. A buffet dinner will be served, and tables for honorees will be reserved for family and friends attending.