Joe McConnell, longtime sports editor, joins Marblehead News

Joe McConnell
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I started covering the Marblehead sports scene for the Marblehead Reporter back in 2000. Alex Kulevich
was the Marblehead High School athletic director at that time, and some 22 years later I’m now covering
his granddaughter, Georgia, as she continues to progress on the national amateur tennis circuit.

There was a brief time that I left Marblehead to cover sports in another Community Newspaper Company
towns. But I returned in 2008, just in time to witness a sports renaissance at the high school. It all
started with Bobby Jackson’s boys’ hockey team that secured the program’s first-ever Division 3 state
title in 2011, where another Kulevich – Alex’s grandson Jake – played a prominent role during that run as
its captain.

Jake was a freshman when I started reporting on that team. Two years later, they took on Winthrop at
Fenway Park as a part of the Winter Classic, two weeks after the Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers
on New Year’s Day 2010. The makeshift rink then remained intact at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark to
give high school teams like the Magicians an opportunity to play there.

While all this was going on, the football team was brought back to life by Jim Rudloff, who came back
home to take over the program after serving as a Beverly assistant coach. He was on coach Dan Bauer’s
staff. Bauer ironically followed Rudloff to Marblehead, where he continues in the role of the town’s high
school principal.

Rudloff’s hiring paid immediate dividends in 2009, when he led those Magicians to the program’s first-
ever Super Bowl berth at Gillette Stadium. What followed was consecutive winning seasons and playoff
appearances. His 2016 squad also made it to Gillette Stadium. Both games resulted in losses, but Rudloff
finally got that proverbial monkey off his back last December after his Magicians beat North Attleboro in
a thriller at Gillette again, 35-28.

But there was never a doubt that Rudloff is a winner. During the COVID season in 2020, he eclipsed 100
wins as a Marblehead varsity coach in just 12 seasons, a remarkable achievement to say the least.
But I was not exclusively covering the high school teams. Marblehead has its youth leagues that prepare
the athletes quite well over the years for high school. They have reached out to me to get their stories
and photos publicized via email, just like the dedicated booster members on the high school level.

Obviously, my email has changed, but I welcome your continued input here at the Marblehead News.
My email to send submissions is now sports@marbleheadnews.org. Let’s continue the fun of covering all Marblehead sports together as a team to give this generation’s
Marblehead athletes a forum to showcase their triumphs once again on the new Marblehead News
website.

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