By John Shimer
The waiting game is over. With the passing of the 10-day period needed to interview all candidates, Shawn Bleau was named the new Newburyport varsity boys soccer coach.
After former coach Dave Greenblott left the Clippers for Austin Prep two weeks ago for family reasons, the program made the logical choice in turning to his longtime right-hand man Bleau, who had been the assistant varsity coach over the last seven years.
"Quite honestly, we've been fortunate to have Shawn," said Athletic Director John Daileanes of the selection. "He's been like another varsity coach as long as he's been on Dave's staff. I always considered him a second coach. He was Dave's right-hand man for several years. He does all the behind-the-scenes stuff. He played the game at the college level."
Although Daileanes said the timing was difficult so close to the new season, Greenblott completely endorsed Bleau, who is also currently a teacher at Newburyport High, for the position. However, Daileanes said Bleau, who is also actively involved in the Newburyport Youth Soccer Association as well as several other organizations relating to soccer, will have to scale back some of those other commitments in order to handle all the duties that come with the position of being head coach.
"He had all these plans to work with the youth soccer group in the fall because Dave was going to be the head coach. He'll have to scale back on that," Daileanes said. "There are more demands on time at the high school level.
"He's actively involved in the youth league, though, and that's another positive thing," Daileanes continued. "That will help the long-term involvement at the high school level. He's already offered a coaching clinic for youth coaches. That will be great to run youth practices with the same fundamentals that will be consistent at the high school level. We were very fortunate that Shawn was there; otherwise, we'd be really, really in a bind."
As a former player and captain at UMass Amherst, Bleau has an impressive resume, having been an assistant coach his post-grad year for UMass. He's also helped start the varsity soccer program at Lynn Tech, been the assistant varsity coach at Lynn English and finally served under Greenblott at Newburyport.
He has also worked extensively in the Newburyport youth system and holds the training program director position for under-10 leagues as well as working with a tots program for 4- and 5-year-olds.
And after training with coaches from Everton Football Club of the English Premier League for the last three summers as a part of the New England Soccer School staff, Bleau recently started his own camp and clinic called East Coast Soccer Clinics, which recently formed its first team — a U-10 boys team that will participate in a Labor Day weekend tournament.
Now as the head coach for the Clippers, Bleau wants to continue the tradition he started with Greenblott to help mold boys to men through life lessons on the field, while at the same time being competitive in the Cape Ann League. In that same tradition, Bleau also has plans to expand the influence of the varsity team into the youth systems in Newburyport.
"The goal is to get the youth kids tied in with the high school kids," said Bleau, whose idea is very similar to the one that has worked for the girls program under Robb Gonnam. "A lot of kids in high school volunteer and my (varsity players) have been volunteering for the last year and a half. We'd also like to get the youth kids to come to our games and play at halftime, perhaps at the night games, to get them interested in our high school program."
Another goal is to get the alumni more actively involved with the program, who have three alumni as assistant coaches. With an alumni game over the summer generating interest and building contacts, Bleau hopes to send out e-mails throughout the season keeping the alumni apprised of updates and perhaps involved with the ALS Cup game in the middle of the season. Other potential ideas include a golf tournament in the offseason, but nothing has been planned in the short time since he has taken over.
"I'd like to get the alumni a little tighter because we've had a lot of good kids come through here in the last seven years," Bleau said. "We have three alumni coaching with us right now. I'd like to keep an organization going for the high school kids to see and be interested in when they leave and for the alumni, too."