The track program has been growing in leaps and bounds at North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie. The numbers of the co-operative program had grown to the point that it was necessary separate the two teams and give each its own head coach.
“We’re excited to have so many kids out for track,” said Paul Worth, the athletic director at North Shore Tech. “Rick Gardella used to do both the boys and girls in past years when we didn’t have many girls out. Now we have over 40 girls and 48 boys, so we needed to add another head coach (Annie Bond).”
North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie competes in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference, and the team is coming off a very good year in which it won the league championship and lost only one meet.
Seven years ago, shortly before Gardella started coaching track at North Shore, there were only 15 kids out for the team. He talked another 15 to 20 into coming out his first year, and the program has taken off since then.
“It’s grown every year, and we’ve won three girls’ championships, including the last two years,” Gardella said. “Only two girls graduated from last year’s team, so they should be strong once again. The numbers for our boys are close to 50, too.
“I work more with the throwers and sprinters, and coach Bond was a distance runner, so she’ll take the 1,000, milers and two-milers. We also hired a first-year teacher, Grace Ghitto, as an assistant coach, and she’ll handle middle-distance and high jumpers. We’re fortunate that it works out well.”
Gardella used to coach track at Greater Lawrence Tech (where he still coaches football), a strong program that won 12 championships back in the 1980s and ‘90s.
“We have the ability to win races, but sometimes in the past we got out-pointed because we didn’t have the numbers to cover. Now we have bigger numbers to fill out all the events,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of seniors back who score a lot of points, a very strong junior class, and some up-and-coming sophomores who looked good as freshmen.