The weight training room at Bishop Brady High School received new life this month and was officially dedicated on Thursday to the memory of former teacher Jeff Kaplan.
About 30 people gathered in the Bishop Brady High School gym on Thursday for a ceremony where the school’s redesigned weight room was dedicated to the memory of Jeff Kaplan, a teacher, coach, and father of eight who attended the in January Consequences of COVID-19 died.
In the weight room, a small room away from the high school gym, the walls are painted the Bishop Brady colors of green, white, and gold and adorned with quotes from famous athletes. Outside the room, a sign with a photo of Kaplan training lacrosse hangs on the wall, next to a framed Cornell University football shirt that reads the number 72, Kaplan’s number when he was in the late 1970s and early 1980s played for the team.
“In fond memories, Mr. Jeffrey Kaplan,” it says on the sign. “Teacher, trainer, colleague, friend, thank God.”
Kaplan’s death in January 2021 left Bishop Brady’s students, athletes, and staff heartbroken as he was loved by many. Over the course of the next few months, students made cards, signed jerseys, made a heart sculpture out of painted stones in the courtyard, used the hashtag #KaplanStrong on their senior shirts, dedicated the 2021 yearbook to him and released a chair for him at graduation.
Director Andrea Isaak Elliot said when the weight room renovation began, the administrators realized that dedicating Kaplan, who had spent hours training student athletes, was the perfect thing.
“It’s a wonderful gesture because we knew how much our father loved the importance of strength, conditioning and coaching,” said Matt Kaplan, Jeff Kaplan’s son, who spoke at the ceremony. “We all miss our father every day. He influenced so many people, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart. “
Kaplan started working at Bishop Brady High School in 2016 after responding to an ad for a part-time science teacher.
“I haven’t interviewed anyone after meeting Jeff,” said Elliot. “Before school started, we added an extra class to his schedule, and before you know it, he was wearing as many hats as the rest of us in a small private school. He fitted in perfectly and we were very blessed to have him as part of our team. “
Over the years at Bishop Brady, Kaplan taught chemistry, science, and algebra, coached the soccer and lacrosse teams, and even drove the minibus for morning transportation, Elliot said.
Sports director Tony Johnson said about 70% of Bishop Brady’s student athletes will use the machines and dumbbells in the Kaplan weight room in their training this year.
At the ceremony, Johnson talked about training alongside Kaplan at Plymouth State University in the 1990s, Kaplan’s first job after moving to New Hampshire.
“He came with incredible passion. He loved the game, he loved the fact that he was dealing with kids, “said Johnson. “And what he did every day was bring that passion into the game.”
Jeff Kaplan’s wife, Mary Kaplan, used the community donations the family received after his death to create a scholarship fund for students who knew him. At the ceremony, Elliot presented the family with a copy of the 2021 yearbook.
“When a student asked Mr. Kaplan to describe himself in one word, he replied ‘dedicated’ and those of us who worked with him would 100% agree,” said Elliot. “Jeff did everything with dedication and passion, a devoted husband, father of eight, and grandfather.”