Last week, the 80-year-old Welch trusted his former captain in replacing his left hip — the second surgery O’Flynn has performed on his coach.
“I grew up in Ipswich, and you operate on people you’ve known from high school — friends, coaches and teachers,” said O’Flynn, now an orthopedic surgeon at Beverly Hospital and the team doctor for the high school athletic program. “Being a hometown doctor is an incredible responsibility, but it’s a great blessing.”
O’Flynn, 45, has been in practice for 14 years.
In 2003, he replaced Welch’s knee, which was designed by former Ipswich center Bruce Robie (class of 1978); he has also performed hip-replacement procedures for Welch’s wife and son.
“I knew I had the best physician in the North Shore,” Welch said. “I figured I could put my trust in him.”
“He’s kept our tennis group together,” Welch quipped. “All five of them have had surgery from Hugh.”
Welch coached football for 36 years at Ipswich High before retiring in 2000. His teams won three Super Bowls (Division 3 in 1977, and Division 4B titles in 1991 and 1992).
He still coaches track and field, and in 2010 he coached O’Flynn’s daughter, Hannah , to a 400-meter victory at the MIAA All-State championship and a second-place finish in the discus.
“It was fun coaching Hannah, and I knew I was getting the cream of the crop with an O’Flynn,” Welch said. “I wasn’t surprised at all.”
“It’s tremendous — that kind of relationship doesn’t happen anymore,” O’Flynn added. “He’s had a lifelong impact.”
Joining cancer fight
A number of high school football teams across the state will dedicate games to cancer awareness this month as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer program organized by the American Cancer Society.
Amesbury, Beverly, North Shore Tech, Peabody, and Swampscott will participate locally. Roughly $100,000 was raised a year ago in the state.
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.