EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 23, 2014

Fletcher Carter remembered for his goodness, caring

Handicap? What handicap?

Talk to Fletcher Carter about his bad hip or hobbled knee, and he’d pass it off with a smile. Then he’d go off to a handball court and beat your brains out.

Just when you thought the ping pong table would catch up to him, wham! He’d slam the ball down your throat.

As a fitness director, Fletch was to the Haverhill YMCA what Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed were to American lore — larger than life. His name was synonymous with everything good about society.

If you had a dollar for every life he touched at the Y during the 1960s, 1970s and beyond, you could have taken out a lifetime membership and still had money to spare. Nothing was ever a problem for Fletch.

I saw him reach into his pocket when a kid needed some help with a membership. Another time, he sat a teenager down in his office and talked to him about the evils of bullying.

“It’s not doing you or the other kid any good to poke fun,” he warned the child. “Someday the shoe could be on the other foot.”

So he appointed the child an “assistant counselor’’ and gave him some responsibility in the gym. The “bully” mended his ways, went on to play basketball at Haverhill High and never forgot the encouragement he received from Carter.

Fletcher came along during the Dick Stearns era at the Y, when the Rudy’s Tigers group was growling inside the walls. There were no strangers here — only friends waiting to meet. One day Fletch came up to me with a proposal.

“Some other YMCAs want to challenge us in ping pong,” he said. “You think we can get a few guys together and give them a match?”

Fletch set up a couple of tables and Monday became ping pong night. On came guys like Ron Prue, Stu Hopkins, myself and a ringer named Don Veltsos, who happened to be a New England champion. Fletch was our coach, except when we needed a spare player. He owned a backhand slam that would make you gasp.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Local Sports Videos
Sports Videos
SNC Minute: Taney loses to Nevada, Phils win Taney watch party at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 3 & Out: What to watch for in Eagles' 3rd preseason game Taney still alive despite 'off day' from Mo'ne Davis 'Strange strike zone' a factor in Taney's loss Will Alex Henery be the Eagles' kicker on opening day? The Buzzer: Tattoos, John Wall and Babe Ruth Steelers Running Backs Arrested, Browns Roll with Hoyer Carl Edwards to Drive No. 19 For Joe Gibbs in 2015 Darrell Wallace, Jr steps on Block T and pays for it Larry’s Notebook: Where Does the Aggression Go? Just Call Him Johnny Clipboard - @TheBuzzeronFOX Meyer confident despite losing Miller for the year Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Mo'ne's Mom: She's Up There With LeBron, Kobe - @TheBuzzeronFOX Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Manziel mature enough to start? Ditka Blames 'Politically Correct Idiots' For Redskins Controversy - @TheBuzzeronFOx Redskins show solidarity with Ferguson protesters Is Taney a team of destiny?
Boston Sports
The Buzzer: Tattoos, John Wall and Babe Ruth Steelers Running Backs Arrested, Browns Roll with Hoyer Carl Edwards to Drive No. 19 For Joe Gibbs in 2015 Darrell Wallace, Jr steps on Block T and pays for it Larry’s Notebook: Where Does the Aggression Go? Just Call Him Johnny Clipboard - @TheBuzzeronFOX Meyer confident despite losing Miller for the year Brian Westbrook: I wouldn’t hand the Browns over to Johnny Football’ Farrell 1-on-1: Biggest lessons learned from 2014 Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Manziel mature enough to start? Ditka Blames 'Politically Correct Idiots' For Redskins Controversy - @TheBuzzeronFOx Redskins show solidarity with Ferguson protesters Farrell: Bradley, Jr. sent to ‘maintain adjustments’ Farrell: ‘A ‘neighborhood play’ is not a reviewable play’ Bogaerts: ‘I knew he was safe if they replayed it’ Fans Excited For Patriots Preseason Kickoff Curran: Brady, Mallett & Garoppolo expected to play tomorrow Pedro Martinez on Lester: “I would like to see him come back’ Greeting from Foxboro: What to look for in Patriots-Eagle preseason game