The 2020-21 Eagle-Tribune Student-Athlete Award

TIM JEAN/Staff photo. Louis Minicucci Jr., left, presents a $1,000 scholarship to Alex Fleury, of North Andover, who was selected last year as the 2019-20 Eagle-Tribune Student Athlete Award winner. Minicucci is the owner of MINCO Corp., a commercial real estate company headquartered in North Andover. 

We are very lucky in the Merrimack Valley.

We are rich not only with movers and shakers, but movers and shakers who care about our young people.

Because of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our local sports, the annual Eagle-Tribune Student-Athlete Award was in jeopardy.

In 2020, Louis Minicucci Jr. told us about the time he drove by North Andover Middle School on Route 125 and looked over at the empty fields, particularly the old football stadium, where he played before graduating in 1967.

He remembered being sad and wanted to make sure our student-athletes were honored, whether they missed a season or not. His business, MINCO Corp., a successful commercial real estate company, would play a role.

MINCO Corp. and Minicucci are back this year as the sponsor of the 2020-21 Eagle-Tribune Student-Athlete Award.

But they are not only back for the fifth annual award, with a $1,000 scholarship to the eventual winner, chosen by a group of judges. MINCO Corp. will also be donating $250 to the favorite charity or place of community service of each nominee.

"I think it's important that we all give back, including the student-athletes, who are incredibly talented and giving, according to their resumes and references," said Minicucci. "These are tough times. Most of our student-athletes have shown the importance of looking out for those less fortunate." 

At North Andover High, Minicucci played football all four years while also playing two years of basketball and three years of baseball. 

As a football player, he was on the field for every play his senior year, other than the fourth quarter of one blowout. The lessons learned were more than he could've imagined.

"Our quarterback called our plays on offense and I called the plays on defense," said Minicucci. "You had to be prepared and ready to make decisions under pressure. I will never forget that experience and all of my experiences playing sports in high school."

This is not Minicucci's first rodeo when it comes to looking out for local students. He was chairman of the school building committee for the new North Andover High School and surrounding fields. His experience in construction helped create the first-class facility in his hometown.

Beginning on Wednesday, The Eagle-Tribune will highlight each school's nominee and his or her successes in the classroom and on the sports fields and courts.

You'll also find out a few things about these student-athletes that you never would have figured.

Only one student was nominated per school, with an emphasis on students who are considered elite students and among our better athletes. School principals, athletic directors, coaches and teachers participated in the nominating process.

The winner will be announced in the Sunday Eagle-Tribune on June 20.

As you will see, we have some really quality young men and women being developed at our area schools.

Enjoy their stories.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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