A Giant Among the Jets: All-Scholastic Tyrone Figueroa Is New Boys Basketball Head Coach

Tyrone Figueroa excelled as an athlete, so much so that his accomplishments would cover an entire page in the East Boston High School record books.

An All-Scholastic running back who starred for two Super Bowl teams, a standout for two city championship basketball and track teams, and a talented swimmer as well, Figueroa stands among the top tier of multi-sport performers who have worn the Blue and Gold.

The 2004 graduate continued his success in college, competing in football and basketball at Framingham State University. He received MASCAC All-Star recognition in football and led the conference in rebounds in basketball, which was no small achievement for the 6-foot guard.

This winter Figueroa, 29, begins another chapter in his illustrious career as he becomes head coach of the legendary Eastie boys basketball program that former coach and school principal Mike Rubin Sr. led to four state titles in the 1980s and 1990s.

Figueroa, an algebra teacher at the high school, is not entirely new to the coaching profession. He has coached softball on Mike Smith’s Eastie staff (“He was my gym teacher from kindergarten to eighth grade,” recalled Figueroa) girls basketball on Jason Harris’ staff, and football on John Parziale’s staff. Last year Figueroa was an assistant on Mike Rubin Jr.’s boys basketball staff.

Thirty players attend preseason practices

Figueroa and assistant coaches Lavell Bruton, Greg Tavares, Kevin Sinatra, and Patrick Aiken have been working with 30 basketball candidates in preparation for the Dec. 16 season opener against CASH (Community Academy of Science and Health). Figueroa knows from his own playing career under Coach Malcolm Smith that the expectations for East Boston basketball are high.

“I’m really excited to have 30 student-athletes, 15 for varsity and 15 for JV,” said Figueroa, who grew up in Orient Heights and attended the Patrick J. Kennedy and Donald McKay Schools. “We’re playing an 18-game schedule against mostly city teams and Hope High School (Rhode Island). We have two returning starters, Ronnie Andujar and Jose Reuben, and twins, Nick Festa and John Festa, two very good athletes who played basketball here two years ago and have returned to our program.”

The Jets scrimmaged Tech Boston Sunday and host Chelsea in a pre-season tilt Wednesday. “We’ve seen a lot of good things in the scrimmages and at the practices,” said Figueroa.

Can Tyrone Figueroa return the EBHS program to city and statewide prominence?

“That’s exactly what I’m hoping for,” said Figueroa, who holds a Master’s degree in Education from UMass/Boston. “I’m very optimistic. We have 30 kids and I wouldn’t trade my team for any other team in the city. I have a lot of faith in them. We’re working as hard as we can every single day and we’re hoping to bring Eastie back to its glory days.”

Reflecting on his own glorious path that has taken him from Eastie student to All-Scholastic athlete to highly regarded mathematics teacher and now a first-year head coach, Figueroa said he’s grateful to the mentors who set a positive foundation for him, notably his former high school football coach, John Souza. “Coach [John] Sousa was a very good mentor who instilled in me all the qualities I have about sports: leadership, accountability, and how to face adversity – he was very good.”

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