Pilgrim senior Susie Cavanagh was presented with the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society’s Ferny Flaman Unsung Hero Award in a ceremony last Friday night at Providence College’s Schneider Arena. Cavanagh, who played on the Pilgrim boys’ hockey team for three years, became the first girl to receive the unsung hero honor.
“It’s not often that a female is chosen to play in the boys’ varsity division,” said Reds Heritage Society President Buster Clegg. “Susan Cavanagh not only earned a spot on the Pilgrim High team, she has also distinguished herself and proved that she is a gifted athlete. It is with a great deal of pleasure we present her this honor.”
The Ferny Flaman Award is given to a Rhode Island schoolboy and schoolgirl hockey player in honor of the former Reds coach whose stellar play as a defenseman during his career with the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs earned him induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society’s main mission is to restore and preserve the 51-year history of the former American Hockey League franchise. The non-profit organization presents three Unsung Hero Awards each year. The other two awards are named for former Reds, Bruins and Rangers forward and great Chuck Scherza and AHL Hall of Fame goalie Gil Mayer.
“We’re excited to present our second group of Unsung Hero Awards,” said Rick Scherza, son of Chuck Scherza and a member of the Society’s board of directors. “We, the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society want to preserve those great memories of yesteryear and to also promote the game of hockey at the high school level.”
Rick Scherza also pointed out that “our award recipients are not necessarily All-Staters or super stars, but more importantly, this is a different approach to honor a silent MVP.”
A nominee must also have demonstrated acts of sportsmanship, leadership and community involvement, academic performance, talent and ability, and challenges coping with personal obstacle and hardships.
In Cavanagh’s case, she is an All-State field hockey player and All-State golfer who recently completed her third year as a regular on the Pilgrim High boys’ hockey varsity. As a center on the second line, she also serves on the power play and is a top penalty killer.
“She is a very good skater,” said her uncle Joe Cavanagh, the former Harvard star. “She knows how to play and that has helped her while playing in the boys’ division. She’s also a very good golfer. She hits the ball off the tee better than I do.”
Ferny Flaman was on hand to present Susie Cavanagh with the award. He also participated in a small, off-the-ice ceremony along with her parents – Richard and Melinda Cavanagh, Joe Cavanagh, Scherza, RIIL Executive Director Tom Mezzanotte, South Kingstown High School Director of Athletics Terry Lynch and Ross Brooks, former Boston Bruins goaltender who is now the executive director at Schneider Arena.
“She epitomizes the type of student-athlete we’re interested in,” Scherza concluded about Cavanagh. “We want to honor those kids who plug it out every day and contribute to their team because they love the game of hockey.”