By Gianna Addario
---- — Though the winter sports season is still two months away, questions remain surrounding the Swampscott girls basketball coaching vacancy and who will eventually take over the program after former coach Jack Hughes stepped down in late June.
Hughes, who resigned after 11 seasons of coaching the Big Blue, led his squads to many postseason stints including a Division 3 state championship title in 2009. The 61-year-old had given countless hours of his time over the years, a commitment that will surely be missed within the Swampscott team.
“It was a very, very difficult decision, but I kind of knew even a year ago that this could be my last year,” Hughes said in June of his announcement. “I can’t say exactly why, but I knew it was time.”
With time ticking down in the fall sports season, a decision on a replacement has lingered over the Big Blue selection committee for nearly three months. Though there have been several candidates throughout the process, a clear front runner has yet to emerge.
“There have been about four or five people who have applied for the job,” said senior Ara Talkov in August. “The final decision won’t be made until later in September.”
As the last days of September continue to dwindle down, the search committee — headed by Swampscott Athletic Director Jon Flanagan — is still hard at work interviewing potential coaches to lead the school’s successful program.
“Sorry to say, but there has been little to no progress,” Talkov said earlier this week. “Our athletic director has been very busy and says he plans on having a coach in a couple of weeks.”
Whoever the committee selects will have eight girls returning — including Talkov — with playoff experience. After being defeated by Pentucket in the Div. 3 North final last year, Swampscott finished at 18-4 with a senior heavy squad.
Talkov, a 6-foot power forward, is back as the Big Blue’s leading scorer from last season, averaging 13.7 points per game. Talkov is looking forward to a healthy senior campaign after being plagued by a few injuries over the past three seasons.
It isn’t clear whether or not assistant coach Dr. John “Doc” Beaulieu will return. Beaulieu coached with Hughes for the last six years, including the state title year.