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
How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam SNC Minute: Phils lose; Lee set to return Eagles less than a week away from training camp Could Cliff Lee's health affect trade value? McCarthy and Stairs break down the Phillies' loss 105-year-old woman throws first pitch McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Can the Panthers replace Steve Smith? Will Bengals sign Dalton to long-term deal? Offseason Report: Biggest Question Marks in the AFC West Ole Miss facing increased expectations Derek Jeter Respect Ad Delivers Larry’s Notebook: Is Jimmie Johnson Behind the Curve?
Boston Sports
How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam Curran: Did the Patriots make a mistake by drafting Garoppolo? McAdam: Yankees pitching troubles bad news for Sox negotiations with Lester Curran: Will Pats struggle to find an identity on offense this season? Perry: Lester impressive again in Sox 6-0 win over the Royals 105-year-old woman throws first pitch McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Can the Panthers replace Steve Smith? Will Bengals sign Dalton to long-term deal? Offseason Report: Biggest Question Marks in the AFC West Ole Miss facing increased expectations Players to watch when training camp opens Bruins 1st round pick David Pastrnak signs entry level contract