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'Spirit of Glynn' carries Spellman to D3 state title

WORCESTER, Mass. -– Richie Cleary remembers vividly last spring when his mom told him that his best friend Joey Glynn had collapsed while playing in a summer league basketball game last June, earliest reports believing dehydration to be the cause.

“My first thought was, ‘He’ll be fine. Joe’s always good,’”said Cleary.

After all, the 19-year-old Glynn was a scholarship athlete at Bentley University – a kid who had earned the nickname ‘Superman’ during his playing days at Cardinal Spellman.

Then the phone rang again, and Cleary wishes he could forget that call.

“Hearing my mom yell from the phone, talking to (Joey’s mother) Sue, I knew right away it was bad,” said Cleary. “She told me Joey had passed. I was just -– I’ve never lost anybody, and he was like my best friend and my brother. It’s still like it just happened and I haven’t really accepted it. I don’t think I ever will.”

That sentiment is one echoed throughout their group of friends, throughout the Spellman community and amongst Glynn’s family. The tragedy of losing a 19-year-old who was a friend to anyone but a low post defender he wanted to dunk on is one that will never make sense to all those effected. They’ll never stop missing their fallen friend, classmate, brother and son. And while they’ll never stop missing Glynn, he also won’t slip from their memories.

That became apparent throughout the Cardinal Spellman boys basketball season, a run that ended on Saturday with a Division 3 state championship win at the DCU Center in Worcester.

The team dedicated it’s season to Glynn earlier this year. Later his number 21 was retired by the school. All of Spellman’s players donned warm-up gear with the same number on the back and each player wore a black band on his jersey bearing his initials. Commemorative replica Glynn jerseys were available to the Cardinals’ fan base. The remembrances poured in from seemingly all directions.

“It’s just so heart-warming to see all of these people that care about Joey,” said Dan Barry, another one of Glynn’s closest friends. “It’s pretty incredible to see how many lives he really touched. It’s incredible and it’s the tribute he really deserved, because he was great basketball player and a great football player, but he was a great person first and foremost.”

Throughout the tournament run, Spellman’s faithful fans continued honoring him. In good times and bad, the Cardinal’s fans chanted together ‘All for Joey,’ something that seemed to ignite Spellman’s players – helping them erase an 11 point deficit in the final minutes of the Eastern Mass. Finals.

This same chant broke out near the end of Spellman’s state title win, and those closest to Glynn couldn’t have been happier.

“When Joey was at Spellman, I loved going to all of the games and hearing everyone cheering for him,” said his younger sister, Ashley. “He might not be on the team anymore, but he is still on the team. People are still cheering for him and it just makes me happy that he’s still everybody’s Superman.”