NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

June 18, 2013

Banner year for Amesbury

Athletics program headed in right direction

When Glen Gearin accepted the athletic director job at Amesbury High in 2011, the athletics program was in need of an overhaul.

At the time, an Amesbury resident was in the midst of a court case stemming from an attempt to illegally force an Amesbury basketball coach to resign. Other Amesbury residents had started online petitions calling for the ouster of other Amesbury coaches. The boys basketball was 21-111 in the previous seven seasons. The girls basketball team had won a total of five games the previous two seasons. The hockey team was 6-67-6 in the previous four seasons.

Just two school years later, Amesbury is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in the athletic department. Once-proud programs like hockey and baseball have become more competitive since Gearin’s hire, and the girls and boys basketball teams both qualified for the state tournament this season.

Gearin attributes the success this school year to a strong senior class of athletes.

“It’s a great group of seniors,” Gearin said. “They were a group of strong leaders and athletic kids. The younger kids on the team looked up to the seniors. It has to start there, and then the other kids follow. The juniors and sophomores participating at the varsity level made for some well-rounded teams.”

Gearin’s theory that the program’s success was the result of a strong group of seniors holds water when considering many of the same athletes starred on teams during multiple seasons. For instance, many of the Amesbury athletes who led the football team to its first Cape Ann League title since 2008 also played on the basketball team that made its first state-tournament appearance in over a decade, and the baseball team that qualified for the tournament for the first time since Gearin’s hire.

On the girls’ side, many of the top athletes in the senior class played soccer, resulting in the first undefeated regular season (15-0-2) in school history. That capped off a decade of improvement under coach Cathy Berry, who started in 2002. Berry’s teams never won more than five games until 2008. The Indians earned state tournament berths each of the last three years as this year’s group of seniors made significant contributions at the varsity level.

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