By Jim Sullivan
---- — BYFIELD — After going 2-18 last winter, the Triton girls basketball team could use some help to turn things around. A man with some experience in such matters recently answered the call.
“Running an organization is running an organization,” said Triton’s new coach, Charlie Noonan. “And I’ve learned so much from coaching kids that I apply it to business and vice versa.”
The president of a Billerica direct marketing company, Boston Color Graphics, Noonan, 60, moved to Newburyport last year.
“I had sent a couple of letters out to a number of (athletic directors),” said Noonan. “And I sent one to (Triton athletic director) Donna Andersen, and she was kind enough to respond and bring me in for an interview. Coincidentally, we played an AAU game at Triton, having never been to Byfield before. And a month later, I was interviewing there.”
Anderson liked what she saw in Noonan and had good reason to. The Rhode Island native brings 15 years of coaching experience to the table.
Noonan played the role of women’s head coach at Anna Maria College for two years. He then moved on to become the girls head coach at Ayer High School for five seasons, leading the program to its first Mid-Wachusett title in 2007. He was named The Lowell Sun’s coach of the year in the process.
Noonan then moved on to the Bromfield School, where he led the Trojan men’s team to the state tournament final four, becoming the Mass Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2008. Currently he coaches the Mass Lady Sun Devils AAU team.
“They were looking for someone to reorganize the entire program,” Noonan said of Triton. “I bought (Boston Color Graphics) a year out of bankruptcy. We reorganized it, we reorganized Ayer, we reorganized Anna Maria College. So I’ve done this a couple of times. It’s staff most importantly, the coaching staff. It’s getting along with the parents. All of this stuff doesn’t change a whole lot between (college) and high school.”
Taking over from longtime coach Karen Christian, the defense-minded Noonan knew the first thing he wanted to see when he met with his players recently.
“You have to find kids that want to play,” said Noonan. “And I think that’s my first challenge. I found a lot of girls that want to play at Triton. So I’m finding kids already. We had our first meeting and I brought in the ice cream and they loved it. We started developing the program right there.”
Noonan then named freshman coach Jen Scott as his junior varsity coach and is currently searching for her replacement at the freshman level.
“I’m trying to go at a reasonable pace,” said Noonan. “But I think with the record that they have had, we can improve it if we have some dedicated players, and we do.”
Showing some of that dedication are the 18 girls who played in the Northern Essex Community College Summer League.
“They’re into it,” Noonan said of the summer league. “Most of them have been in the summer league, which is at 9 o’clock at night at Northern Essex sometimes. And you see Pentucket, you see Notre Dame, you see Governor’s over there, Newburyport, Whittier. So they’ve all been in this league.”
Next year’s Vikings will look to feature a mix of young and old talent; and while Noonan is looking forward to working with his upperclassman, he has also discovered the value of his younger potential players.
“We do have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that can play,” said Noonan. “I’ve talked with them and their parents, and they are very enthusiastic about things. They are pretty talented.”
With almost three months to go before the first official practices, Noonan is raring to go.
“I’m sincerely looking forward to this challenge,” he said of the upcoming season. “This is high school basketball, so let’s play. There is no question that our goal is to become a .500 team. Then get a shot at making a playoff run. Let’s just get over the .500 mark. That certainly is a tangible goal.”
Meet the coach
Name: Charlie Noonan
Title: Triton girls basketball coach
Background: Anna Maria College head coach, Ayer High head coach