Hugh O’Flynn: The Doctor On Call for Ipswich High Athletics

IHS team doctor Hugh O'Flynn

IHS team doctor Hugh O'Flynn

By day, Dr. Hugh O’Flynn is an orthopedic surgeon at Coastal Orthopedics in Beverly.  By night, if he’s not at an Ipswich school committee meeting, he’s probably at an Ipswich High School varsity event sitting inconspicuously in the stands.  His preference these days is varsity girls’ basketball since his daughter Hannah is a sophomore starter on that team.

“The first thing I did when I moved back to town (in 1999) was to call up the school and see if I could be the team doctor,” recalled the graduate of Harvard and Columbia Medical School. 

I suspect that the athletic director at the time, Dave Dalton, may have thought of the Julie Andrew’s line, “I must have done something good,” from My Fair Lady, when he heard the offer. 

Former IHS trainer and current Ipswich AD Tom Gallagher put the magnitude of Hugh’s offer this way, “Many schools struggle to have a physician work with them period, and not only do we have one that is there for us any time we need him but he is also an orthopedic doctor.  This allows our athletes to be seen for sports related injuries immediately.  Most people have to wait weeks or months to see an orthopedic.”

“I have seen him evaluate people on the sidelines, in the gym, on the field, in the training room, in the parking lot, and even before or after a school committee meeting,” added Tom.

Sports medicine has been an interest of Hugh’s since his days as an athlete (captain of the 1985 Tigers football team) at IHS.  “I was injured and cared for by orthopedic surgeons,” he said.

He did his residency at an all-orthopedic hospital in New York City and during that time provided medical care for the Giants and the Mets.  He was involved in operations on Lawrence Taylor and Bret Saberhagen.

Hugh takes the volunteer position of team doctor seriously but tries to stay out of the way of the trainers.  “I let them (trainers) take first role if they’re around.  I am just there for backup and clarification.”

However, if the situation presents itself, he’ll step in.  I saw it happen at an IHS boys’ tournament game at St. Mary’s last year.  The Ipswich point guard (Alex Lampropoulos) went down late in a close game with a leg injury.  The trainer got involved and then Hugh stepped in.  “Alex was just having muscle spasms,” he said.  Hugh had Alex do some stretching and quickly massaged his leg. Before long Alex returned to action and helped Ipswich win at the buzzer. 

“We were weak at the guard position,” said Doug Woodworth, the IHS head coach at the time.  “We needed Alex on the floor and Dr. O’Flynn treated him and assured us that Alex could play some more.  We might not have put him back in otherwise.”

Tom Brady’s knee?  “I know nothing special about it,” he said although interested.  “Infections are a disastrous complication.  Anyone can get them at any time.  I’m hopeful that the infection didn’t damage the ligament.”  He conceded that since the Patriots are keeping Matt Cassel around it might indicate that they know more about the seriousness of Brady’s condition than they’re letting on.

AD Gallagher probably summed up the contributions of Dr. Hugh O’Flynn best when he described him as the “unsung hero” of Ipswich High School sports.  “He offers everything and expects nothing in return.”

(To appear in The Town Common on January 28th)

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