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Pentucket assistant principal Dan Thornton will be taking over the reigns of the Sachems’ athletic department beginning in the fall.

Fresh on the job and running, Pentucket’s new athletic director Dan Thornton will be a busy man starting this fall, balancing his duties in his new position along with serving as the school’s assistant principal.

Thornton, who has coached in youth sports for 19 years, takes over from the former part-time AD Don DiFelice. After only recently getting into education, Thornton is now headed into his fifth year as an administrator with Pentucket and says the new position is a perfect fit.

“There’s no question that my role as Assistant Principal/AD will be a challenge, but I wouldn’t have accepted the position if I didn’t feel up to it,” said the former Haverhill High student. “I have always viewed the AD as an administrator, so that should be a natural transition.

“I also view the athletic department as a vital member of the Pentucket family and I’m looking to build on the positive synergy that results from the cooperation of all parties involved (school, parents, boosters, community, etc.),” Thornton continued. “We are not looking to re-invent the wheel here, short term the goals are to build upon the excellent pride and tradition the three communities established over 50 years ago.”

A former standout athlete at Haverhill and Brewster Academy in high school, Thornton said some of his fondest memories of that time were focussed around athletics. In his new position Thornton hopes to get kids more involved in athletics, or in his words, “rally the troops.”

“I know its tough for a lot of kids to participate in sports with all the pressures that are out there such as testing, getting accepted to colleges, working jobs, etc.,” Thornton said. “My philosophy is that you are only in high school once. Those four years fly by then are gone forever, so lets make the most of it. We are after all talking about 14- to 18-year-old kids; I understand there are varying circumstances, but they have the rest of their lives to work.”

The phrase “winning...is the only thing” — made famous by Vince Lombardi back in the 1960s — does not comply with what Thornton envisions as high school athletics. Instead many of the basic values such as ethics, commitment, motivation, discipline, leadership and communication are lessons Thornton says to be learned for a lifetime.

“Do I like to lose? Does anyone like to lose? Of course not,” Thornton said. “Playing sports, though, are about building camaraderie as well as the actual competition — working together toward a common goal. Win or lose, shake hands and look your opponent in the eye after a game, say, ‘Great game,’ and mean it. Let’s be realistic, we’re not in the business of producing professional athletes here, we’re looking to produce well-rounded and honorable citizens.”

As for plans to build newer facilities, Thornton said most of those ideas died along with the plans to build a new high school seven years ago. However, one new long-overdue update is finally starting to get some mention.

“Although nothing is concrete, there is a lighting committee being put together to discuss the feasibility of installing lights on the football field,” Thornton said. “Pentucket is one of only a couple high schools in all of the Cape Ann not to have lights, so that would be a nice start.

“Simply put, the Pentucket community deserves better facilities so that we don’t have to move a home basketball game to a neutral location because we don’t have the space in the gym, or other similar situations,” Thornton said bluntly. “However, that being said, the goal remains the same and that is to prepare our students to succeed in life.”

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