DANVERS — It took climbing five flights of stairs at St. John’s Prep’s Xavier Hall to find a room number higher than former baseball coach Pat Yanchus’ 491 career wins.
Room No. 500, a conference room in Xavier Hall, was the setting yesterday morning as St. John’s Prep Principal Keith Crowley and Athletic Director Jim O’Leary announced Eagles assistant coach Dan Letarte would become Yanchus’ successor.
Letarte, a physical education teacher at St. John’s, played for Yanchus when he was a student-athlete at the school in the mid-1980s and served under Yanchus as a coach in the baseball program from 1994-2003 and 2007-2013.
Duplicating Yanchus’ win total is not realistic, said Letarte, but carrying on his winning tradition is the goal for a coaching staff that is virtually the same, outside of the retired Yanchus.
“We’re not going to replace that (career record); Pat did a great job,” said Letarte, who was introduced as coach alongside newly appointed St. John’s Prep water polo coach Connor Fortin.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing the tradition of playing the best teams and doing well, and practicing hard.”
The decision to hire Letarte and Fortin was easy for the St. John’s Prep administration due to the commitment to student-athletes they’ve already demonstrated.
Crowley said the focus of hiring a new coach came down to three things: understanding the mission of the school, the role of education in athletics, and the ability to work with a variety of students. Letarte and Fortin filled each requirement completely.
“They’ve been through the school as students, they’ve played in athletic programs here, they’ve gone on to college and come back to coach,” Crowley said. “We’re very privileged to have them joining our head coaching staff.”