Maguire extols pride for his hometown, its people
By Greg Gulas
His travels have taken him to some of the most luxurious places worldwide.
When he gets the opportunity to return to his hometown, however, Paul Maguire always finds a way.
Serving as guest speaker Sunday at the Curbstone Coaches 43rd Hall of Fame Recognition Banquet, the Ursuline graduate and former AFL player told the crowd gathered at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center that he was proud of his hometown, but more proud of the people who hail from the city.
“This is a town that never forgets you,” Maguire said. “They never let you get bigger than you are but they never toss you aside either.
“There’s always someone in your life who gives you a chance and for me that was Tom Carey, my high school football coach. My father worked on the railroad and couldn’t afford to send me to Ursuline High School so Tom helped me get a scholarship,” Maguire said.
“The most important [life] lesson that he taught everyone was that if you didn’t do well in practice or in the classroom, it didn’t matter who you were, you just didn’t play,” Maguire said.
“He didn’t invent the phrase, but could have because it was his way or the highway.”
This year’s 15-member Curbstone class has Rea Buttermore (bowling), Nick Cochran (football), P.J. Fecko (football), Byrd Gampetro (posthumous), Pete Mollica (sports media award), Ron Moschella (basketball/coach), Phil Panno (baseball), Bo Pelini (football), Vince Pellegrini (baseball), Dan Reardon (football), Ken Sigurani (boxing), Melanie Sklepko (track and field/cross country), Myron Stallsmith (contribution to sports), DeCinda Taylor (bowling) and John Vicarel (special award).
With the three national television affiliates and a local newspaper, The Vindicator, from which to watch and read, Maguire lauded the local coverage afforded the athletes.
“The late Chuck Perazich was a real friend,” Maguire said. “He was one of just two sportswriters that I could fully trust; the other being Jim Peters of the Buffalo Courier-Express.
”When I told them something was off the record, they understood that and honored my request,” Maguire said. “You just don’t get that today with some of the writers and reporters.
The top punter of the Buffalo Bills during their heyday in the old American Football League, Maguire noted that he learned his craft while playing for the Fighting Irish and from volunteer coach Nick Johnson.
“It was Nick [Johnson] who taught me the art of kicking,” Maguire said. “He was never a paid coach by UHS but he showed up for practice every single day and I wasn’t allowed to leave until I kicked the ball over the fence and the ball landed on Wick Avenue.
“I was drafted as a wide receiver but ended up on special teams and if I hadn’t learned how to kick from Nick Johnson, then my career might never have taken off,” Maguire said.