From left, Lowell High School Athletic Hall-of-Famers Bill Janes (Class of 1987), Michael “Rocky” Rawnsley (Class of 1982), Tammy Therrien (Class of 1982), Michael Casey (Class of 1976) and Courtney (Baldwin) Ligor (Class of 2009) pose during Thursday night’s induction ceremony at Lenzi’s in Dracut. (Sun / Matt Langone)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

DRACUT — Michael “Rocky” Rawnsley was admittedly thrilled to be honored on Thursday night.

He would’ve been even more thrilled if he had been able to avoid delivering a speech.

“This is one of the parties that if it wasn’t about me, I’d probably be having the best time in the building,” joked Rawnsley. “I don’t know if you can see but I’m wearing a diaper under this suit.”

Rawnsley’s charming blend of humility and gratitude perfectly summed up the overall theme of the night at Lenzi’s, where he was one of five new members inducted into the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Joining Rawnsley (Class of 1982) were Michael Casey (Class of 1976), Tammy Therrien (Class of 1982), Bill Janes (Class of 1987) and Courtney Baldwin Ligor (Class of 2009).

The annual ceremony was held for the 34th year and was attended by many fellow Hall of Famers and other accomplished athletes and personalities from Lowell’s tradition-rich sports history.

Ligor, the youngest of the new inductees, was excited to be in the company of Lowell’s best of the best.

“It’s something that I’ll hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life,” said Ligor. “It’s such an honor knowing there’s so many talented athletes that have come out of Lowell High and now I get to be part of that crew.”

For this humble crop of Hall of Famers, giving a speech and talking about themselves was the most difficult part.

“I just am not a guy who likes this attention. I’m not good at it, I don’t deal with it well, I’d like to be the guy behind the scenes,” said Rawnsley. “I’m very proud,  especially with my friends and family that are here. It’s very nice to see all the faces.

“It’s been quite an experience, it really has. The people that are here that have supported me and come out has me, literally, speechless. No pun intended.”

Rawnsley played hockey and soccer at LHS. As a junior, he joined the boys’ soccer program when it started in 1980. He was the team’s starting goalkeeper and led them to the state tournament in 1981. However, it was hockey where he really made his mark. A four-year varsity player and center, he was The Sun’s Player of the Year as a senior and finished with 154 career points, which at the time was best in program history and remains high on the all-time list.

Rawnsley went on to play hockey at the University of Lowell for legendary coach Bill Riley and now works in Chelmsford.

Casey enters the Hall of Fame as the most accomplished boys’ tennis player in Lowell history. He was a three-year captain and a Merrimack Valley Conference Player of the Year.

“I’m proudest of the fact that I’m the first one (Hall of Famer), who was primarily a boys’ tennis player,” said Casey. “I ran cross country and track for one year, but I was really just a tennis player.

“My parents were a great influence on me. My mother took me around and took me to regional tournaments when I was in high school. It means a lot to me to fulfill their faith in me as a kid and a tennis player.”

Casey went on to attend Columbia University, where he walked on to the tennis team. He studied urban planning and received a master’s degree in public policy administration. He moved back to Lowell about six years ago after spending time living in New York, New Jersey and California.

“To me, there’s a lot of soul in Lowell,” said Casey. ‘It has that grit about it that a lot of places in the world should admire. It’s a great place to be from.”

Therrien’s claim to athletic fame was her softball prowess. She was the face of the sport at Lowell High during the program’s formative stages.

A multiple-time winner of the Lowell Sun and Merrimack Valley Conference Player of the Year honors, she completed her four-year varsity career with 45 wins, 399 innings pitched, 352 strikeouts, a 1.53 ERA and seven shutouts. She still ranks high on the school’s all-time lists.

“For me, it’s more a team thing,” said Therrien. “If I didn’t have that team behind me, I wouldn’t be getting this tonight. It’s a great honor, but I feel it’s a team sport.”

Janes had hoped that if his night of induction ever came, his parents would be able to enjoy it with him. Sadly, they have passed on, but Janes was happy to enjoy his accomplishment with his wife and three children.

“It feels fantastic. It was a long time coming,” said Janes.

Janes was a baseball, basketball and football standout at LHS. He was most known for baseball, the sport in which he was a four-year varsity player and one of the top pitchers in program history. He finished his career with a record of 18-7 and 214 strikeouts in 188.2 innings.

On the football field, Janes played one season — as a senior. He won the starting quarterback job and was the team’s placekicker. He led the Red Raiders to a 7-1 record before suffering an ankle injury to end his season early. He threw five touchdown passes and booted nine extra points that season. He was also a three-year varsity basketball player.

Ligor’s athletic success at Lowell was a product of true courage and determination.

In August before her senior year, she required surgery to correct a problem with an irregular heartbeat. She continued her already outstanding career by wearing a heart monitor and being closely monitored by her coaches.

The track star went on to set six school records during indoor track season as a senior middle distance runner. She placed first in 600 at the Division 1 state meet with a school-record time of 1:36.36. She then placed second at the All-State meet en route to being named Lowell Sun Runner of the Year. That same school year, she went unbeaten in MVC competition during the outdooor spring season.

Also a three-year starter and team captain on Lowell’s girls’ soccer team, Ligor ran in college at UMass. She had a decorated college career that included earning All-New England honors, Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and NCAA All-Northeast Regional recognition.

“(Being inducted to the hall of fame) is quite an honor, that’s for sure,” said Ligor, who lives in Tyngsboro and works as a speech and language pathologist. “I never expected it.”