By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — The Amesbury boys basketball team will have a Newburyport man on the end of its bench this season.
Tom Comeau, a 1982 graduate of Newburyport High, will serve as the Amesbury head coach following 11-year head coach Thom Connors’ retirement from coaching last week. Comeau was perfectly content heading into his eighth season as the junior varsity coach on Connors’ staff when he received word last Wednesday that Connors, who also coached football, was retiring from coaching effective immediately following the Thanksgiving game against Newburyport.
“I’ve known about this since maybe the day before Thanksgiving,” Comeau said. “(Thom) had told me he was thinking about it, but he hadn’t made any real decision about it. I didn’t think he was going to retire. He enjoys coaching way too much, but I guess he’d had enough.”
Comeau comes from a big basketball family in Newburyport. He was one of six siblings to play basketball at Newburyport High, and he calls the Clippers’ victory over Amesbury in the 1981-82 season his career highlight. He played for longtime Newburyport High basketball coach Neil Reardon when he was a junior varsity player, and for former state-champion coach Kevin Lucy as a varsity player.
“I played under some really good coaches over there,” Comeau said.
As an adult, he moved to Childs Avenue in Amesbury with his wife, Cheryl, and three daughters — Breanna, Whitney and Andrea. Comeau owns a construction company in Amesbury.
Historically, the Amesbury boys basketball program has not been one of the stronger athletic programs in the school. Prior to last year’s state-tournament appearance, the Indians had never posted a record of .500 or better under Connors. Comeau will work to bolster the youth leagues in Amesbury in hopes of seeing the future rewards at the high school level.
“I think the main reason we’ve struggled is the talent,” Comeau said. “Generally, good talent makes good coaches. It’s talent. We try to develop kids at the younger age and bring them up that way. Hopefully we can build on what happened last year.”
Comeau is looking to build a team that will be known for aggressive, physical play.
“I’ll try and reflect the type of play I enjoy,” Comeau said. “I’ll probably change a few things. Every coach would like to put his own fingerprints on the thing. I have things I would like to do.”