The Story of a Small-Town Football Dynasty in Swampscott, Massachusetts



Early Praise for Robert Jauron's BIG BLUE DAYS

“This book is terrific. Swampscott, Massachusetts, is a lucky, lucky place. First, it had Coach Stan Bondelevitch come along to create a football tradition that measures up to any high school program’s tradition of success in any part of the United States. Second, Bob Jauron has come along to record the tale with humor, grace and affection in Big Blue Days. The research is great. The writing is even better. You didn’t have to grow up in Swampscott to enjoy this anecdotal ride through the glory days, not at all. But if you did, so much the better.”

—Leigh Montville
Former sports columnist at the Boston Globe, former Sports Illustrated senior writer, and the award-winning author of nine books, including New York Times bestsellers, At the Altar of Speed, Ted Williams, and The Big Bam

Early Praise for Robert Jauron's BIG BLUE DAYS

“Just as there is no high school football tradition remotely as rich and as deep as that of Swampscott’s Big Blue, there is no chronicle of the sparkling gridiron days of a high school football tradition remotely as deep and affectionate as Bob Jauron’s Big Blue Days. It is Friday Night Lights set in a New England coastal town.”

—David Shribman
Swampscott High School Class of 1972, Pulitzer Prize winner and executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Early Praise for Robert Jauron's BIG BLUE DAYS

“Bob Jauron’s comprehensive history of Swampscott High School football (1953–1973) recalls a bygone era in Anytown, USA, when nothing mattered more than the high school football team. Wish I could have played for Stan Bondelevitch.”

—Dan Shaughnessy
Boston Globe sports columnist, New York Times bestselling author: Francona and Senior Year


In 1953, Stan Bondelevitch arrived in the small Massachusetts seaside town of Swampscott to become the high school football coach. The Sculpins, as they were known, had managed to win just one game over the preceding two and a half seasons, finishing 1–21 during that period. In his first season as the new coach, Stan’s team recorded a winning record, came within a touchdown of claiming the conference title, and produced a shocking upset victory over a squad that had not lost in 31 straight games.

Over the ensuing 20 years, Swampscott’s football team, re-named the Big Blue, posted eight undefeated, untied seasons; won numerous conference and Eastern Massachusetts championships, including the state’s first high school Division II Super Bowl game; and enjoyed three separate lengthy winning streaks. A number of Big Blue players were named high school All-Americans. Three teammates on the 1967 Swampscott squad—Bill Adams, Dick Jauron, and Tom Toner—all ultimately played multiple seasons in the NFL. Coach Bondelevitch’s announced retirement in 1976 prompted a local newspaper to write that it was the conclusion of “the greatest coaching era in the history of New England schoolboy football.”

A master motivator and psychologist, Bondelevitch challenged his players to excel, while employing a unique blend of humor and positive reinforcement to galvanize them and an entire community. Coaches, teachers, students, parents, and Boosters joined together to form that community and create a remarkable environment—one of interest in and support for the efforts of a group of local teenagers playing as a team.

Robert Jauron, who played at Swampscott on Bondelevitch-coached teams in the mid-’60s, undertook to write this story about Stan’s Big Blue football program. Big Blue Days is based on extensive archival research, interviews of more than 50 individuals, and the author’s own experiences. It tells the tale of Swampscott High School football from 1953 through 1973, painting a portrait of the legendary, colorful head coach, relating the personal stories of a number of other coaches and players, detailing the program’s amazing success, and explaining why Jauron and many others recall those days in Swampscott as special times in a special place.