By Matt Williams
---- — Few people understand the amount of work that goes into running a high school athletic program the way other athletic directors do.
That makes the AD’s the perfect people to dole out annual honors for the top folks at their positions statewide. The Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association (MSSADA) selected Ipswich’s Tom Gallagher as their Athletic Director of the Year for District A.
“It’s incredibly humbling,” said Gallagher, who is in his tenth year at AD at Ipswich. “It’s a weird feeling to be recognized for doing your job. Athletic directors as a whole are hard-working people and I always felt like I was doing my job like everybody else. For them to select me is very humbling.”
Conferences around the state select their own AD’s of the year, and those are then pooled by District. District A included the Northeastern Conference, Cape Ann League, Commonwealth, Merrimack Valley Conference and Dual County League, and representatives of those leagues chose Gallagher.
“It’s well deserved,” said Beverly AD James Coffey. “Tom is an unbelievable AD and a great guy. He’s first class all the way and he runs a great program at Ipswich.”
The MSSADA chooses seven district award winners and one statewide AD of the Year, which went to Margaret Conaty at Hingham.
Originally a Beverly native, Gallagher has worked in athletics at Ipswich High since 1991, when he started as an intern. He’s served as AD for nearly a decade, taking the CAL reigns of cheerleading, tennis and indoor track at various points along the way.
“The face of the job has changed a lot and it’s a lot more administrative than it’s ever been, whether that’s doing work with the MIAA or the league. It’s a challenge but it’s a great challenge,” said Gallagher. “I love what I’m doing and I can’t think of a day when I’m not excited to go to work. Not everyone gets to feel that way and I’m grateful.”
Ipswich has had plenty of success both in the CAL and statewide on Gallagher’s watch. A 2005 Division 4 boys basketball state title, a D6 boys cross country Eastern Mass crown and North finals appearances by the girls soccer and basketball teams would rank among the numerous highlights.
“It’s a great community. I might not have anticipated staying back in 1991, but there’s something about this place that people show up and don’t leave,” said Gallagher. “It’s been an honor to lead the great group of coaches that we’ve had here.”