The Salem News
---- — GIRLS HOCKEY
Beverly High athletic director James Coffey wasn’t sure how fortunate he’d be to hire a new girls hockey coach before the season began. It turned out that the Panthers basically hit the lottery.
Brian Seabury took over the team and led it to new heights this winter. Beverly set a school record for victories in a single season (17) and won a state tournament game for just the second time in program history. Beverly began the season on an 18-game unbeaten streak, won the GEMIHL’s Northeast Division and finished up 17-3-2.
The 42-year-old Seabury, who coached boys hockey for 14 years before coaching at Bishop Fenwick for a season then moving to Beverly, brought an up-tempo, north-south style that meshed perfectly with Beverly’s talented roster.
“The team was so competitive and strives to be great each day,” said Seabury, who was assisted by his dad Bill, who won 400 games as Stoneham High baseball coach. “The team had great chemistry and a love for the game.”
Under Seabury’s tutelage, several players set BHS scoring marks this season. Senior Livvy Konaxis broke the school’s all-time scoring record and junior Nicole Woods set a single-season points mark. Beverly’s players routinely said that playing for Seabury helped them learn new things about hockey and that it was some of the most fun they’d ever had playing the game.
Gino Faia knew the history as well as anyone involved with Swampscott High hockey: 44 long years — dating back to February 1969 — was the playoff drought his hockey team his hockey team was up against.
The Big Blue didn’t just put an end to that streak; they smashed it to smithereens. And in the process, they went on an unprecedented postseason run to culminate in the greatest season in Swampscott hockey history.
Faia’s club won four postseason games, the last three of which it trailed before storming back to win in the third period or overtime. They vanquished arch rival (and long-time playoff nemesis) Marblehead thanks to a third period hat trick from Corey Carmody; beat Bedford in the Division 3 North final on Nunzio Morretti’s game-winning goal with 6.2 seconds left to play; and stunned Medway, 4-3, in overtime of the state semifinals when freshman Noah Maercklein scored in the extra session.
A loss in their first-ever state championship game appearance, 4-1 to Westfield at the TD Garden, couldn’t put a damper on what Faia termed “a team that played for each other and believed in each other. They were a tight knit group that never quit”, finishing the year with a school record 19 wins.
A former Swampscott High hockey player who now owns a construction company in town, Faia and his wife Julie have three children: daughters Giana and Kara, and son Derek. He thanks his long-time assistant, Mike DeLisio, goalie coach J.J. Doherty, the Swampscott parents, school administration and town for their constant support of the program.
John Norris led the Danvers boys to a 7-0 record this winter, with several team members going on to excel at the big end-of-the-year meets.
Having coached for 31 years, Norris has been the Falcons’ indoor coach for the past 10 seasons. He had a lot of fun this year because of motivated athletes, strong senior leadership and good sportsmanship.
“We had a great bunch of seniors who set the example of working hard,” said Norris. “They were very good mentors for our younger kids. Talent like John Thomas, Joe Manson and Drew Piazza doesn’t come along often.
“We knew at the beginning of the year we had a possible state-level team and wanted to keep our eye on the prize and achieve it.”
Norris, a teacher at Danvers High, praised assistant coaches Ann Rose Willis and Ryan Yurchik, volunteers Randy Bird and Geoff Calderone and girls coach Sharyn Longo for doing a wonderful job. He and his wife Janet have three children: Michael, Brenda and Christina.
Over his 23 years as indoor track coac,h Dave Jellerson has built a perennial powerhouse in Beverly. The girls posted a 7-0 record and won the Northeastern Conference again this winter.
Jellerson has an incredible 178-11 career record indoors with 13 Northeastern Conference titles. He has also been very successful as cross country and spring track coach for the Panthers, and is a member of the Beverly Hall of Fame committee.
“We were a blue collar team that came together,” said Jellerson. “The girls worked as a team, and their versatility allowed us to move people around to fill in holes in different events.
“I really didn’t think we would be as strong as we turned out to be when the season started. Marblehead, Peabody, and Swampscott all had very good teams in our conference; we faced real tough competition. Having people like Kristen O’Connor and Caitlin Harty step it up certainly helped us. Kristen averaged 11 ½ points per meet.
“This group showed what you can do if you work hard every day. They made my job easier.”
Since Lauryn Ginsburg took over the gymnastics program four years ago, the Panthers have gone a combined 31-5 in regular season meets. A former BHS gymnast herself, Ginsburg guided Beverly to another undefeated season and Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League title.
“I didn’t necessarily have any sort of expectations when I took over four seasons ago other than for the girls to always put forth 110 percent as well as to have fun,” noted the 27-year-old Ginsburg. “I started my first season 4-5, but the last three seasons going 9-0, 9-0 and 8-0 has been amazing. We have a lot of depth that has led to our success.”
For the past 13 years, Ginsburg has coached at the Beverly YMCA and was the captain of the Panther squad as a senior in 2004. After graduating from Springfield College, she began her career as a physical therapist at Bay State Physical Therapy.
Beverly made it back to sectionals once again and was able to compete at States at the DCU Center in Worcester. “To be coaching and competing on podium equipment at the DCU Center, at a high level meet was an amazing experience,” said Ginsburg.
In his first season as head coach, Jon DeMarco helped the Generals to a 12-7 record and qualify for their first tournament appearance since 2004.
A strong defensive unit, the Generals were the definition of a hard-working team this winter. Hamilton-Wenham even defeated Cape Ann League powerhouse Masconomet on the road.
“The great thing about our team was the fact that every girl understood that they could be a leader in different ways,” said DeMarco, who praised assistant coaches Rich DeMarco and Erin Parker. “We won and lost as a team and never cared who scored the points. We had a number of different high scorers, and in every game the scoring was spread out between the players.”
Though the Generals graduate their leading scorer in Cassandra Fibbe, they only lose two seniors for next year.
DeMarco, 29, is a Revere native who now lives in Saugus with his wife, Amy. He teaches history at Revere High School and has been coaching basketball in some form for 10 years. DeMarco also played football at Merrimack College for four years, starting at wide receiver.
When John Walsh was appointed as the new boys basketball coach in Danvers, most people figured it would take him at least three years to rebuild a program that was routinely at the bottom of the Northeastern Conference standings. That speculation proved to be worthless as Walsh did so much more in that time than any local basketball fan could have predicted.
This season, Walsh guided the Falcons to their second consecutive Division 3 state title with a school record 24 wins. Danvers also captured the Northeastern Conference South title and won its first 18 games.
So far through three years at Danvers High, Walsh has gone 58-16 (.784 winning percentage) with a 13-1 postseason record.
Walsh is an excellent game planner, and it would be difficult to find a coach who has his team more prepared to play. This winter, Danvers played seven games without Nick McKenna, the team’s leading scorer, yet Walsh still helped the Falcons cruise through that stretch without a blemish.
The Falcons were untouchable until NEC South MVP Eric Martin was injured in their 19th game. Danvers dropped that game to eventual Division 2 state champion Brighton, then lost to Newton North in the season finale with Martin on the sidelines. Walsh helped his team avoid a carry-over effect in the postseason, then got them back up to speed as they returned to health.
Walsh has now been a two-time Salem News Coach of the Year (2011, 2013) and two-time NEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2013).
In more than 20 years as the Magicians’ swim coach, Sue Guertin has turned the program into an institution in the Northeastern Conference and on the state level.
More importantly, she’s turned it into a family, too.
The Magicians had both the Male and Female Swimmers of the Year in the NEC this winter, with Harrison Rodts and Tyler Phillips taking home the honors. Marblehead enjoyed another undefeated season in co-ed dual meets.
The deep and talented Marblehead girls won the NEC league championship meet, but it was the performance of the boys that was arguably more impressive. With just eight male swimmers, the Magicians wound up in second place at the league meet, a remarkable feat considering the number of events and depth required to amass enough points to place.
Under Guertin’s guidance, Marblehead’s girls went on to place third at the Division 2 state meet.
A four-time Salem News Coach of the Year, Guertin has also been head coach of the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA swim team for more than 30 years. She has coached countless swimmers that have gone on to compete in college, holds several Master’s class top times as a swimmer, and earned a degree in aquatic management from Salem State in 1993.
St. John’s Prep
In the classroom and on the mat, no wrestling team thrived quite like St. John’s Prep did this winter under Manny Costa.
In his 24th season as head coach, Costa’s Eagles set a record for meet victories this winter, going 38-3 overall to put them as the second-ranked team in the entire state in all three divisions. This year’s squad hit the books as hard as it did its opposition, boasting a team grade-point average of 3.97.
There were 50 Prep wrestling alumni on hand the day before Christmas to watch Costa earn his 500th career victory. On Dec. 24, there were 50 SJP alumni on hand to witness Costa record his 500th career victory. He is now 525-131-5 for his career and has had 11 wrestlers win All-States in their weight classes and another 22 win state championships.
This season under Costa, five different St. John’s Prep wrestlers earned their respective 100th career victories (equivalent to a 1,000-point scorer in basketball). Senior captain D.J. Lemieux said Costa’s greatest strength as a coach is making sure each one of his wrestlers are in top condition and always prepared.
“He takes pride in us being one of most conditioned teams in state, and it’s true because when it comes down to it, we last longer than everybody from top to bottom in each weight class,” said Lemieux. “We’re more prepared for live wrestling than most other teams. We don’t have a lot of guys coming in who’ve wrestled before high school; we’re so successful because of his tough practices and the guidance he gives us to help us succeed.”
This year the Eagles wrestled the toughest schedule in the state and defeated 11 of the top 22 teams in Massachusetts. St. John’s Prep shut out eight different opponents as Costa was named the North Division 1 Coach of the Year for the fifth time.