Beverly native and once upon a time Panthers standout Nelson Desilvestre has always had a passion for running.
He thrived during his high school days competing in a variety of sprints as well as the long and triple jump, and he carried those skills with him to the college level at the University of Maine where he continued to perform at an extremely high level in the latter event.
Now 50 years young, Desilvestre continues to compete at the Masters level — but it's his coaching career that has really taken center stage. After spending 18 years as the Beverly High boys track and field coach and the past four as co-lead man for Manchester Essex Regional High, Desilvestre is making the leap to the college ranks as he recently accepted the head coaching position for Northern Essex Community College co-ed track and field.
"I've been coaching high school for over 20 years and over the past several years I really started to wonder if I could coach at a college level," said Desilvestre, who was inducted into the Beverly High School Hall of Fame in 2011. "I had been searching here and there to see if I could find something that might work and when this opportunity came up I thought I would give it a try, step up to the challenge and see if I could do it."
After interviewing for the position and talking to people involved with the program, Desilvestre quickly realized that Northern Essex could be the match made in heaven that he had hoped for. Yes, it was a collegiate level team which was exactly what he was looking for, but the beauty of the position was that he didn't have to leave his current gig at Manchester Essex.
Following a recent two year hiatus, NECC brings back the spring track squad under Desilvestre in 2017. However, the Knights do not have a winter track program, whereas Manchester Essex only has a winter team. That means Desilvestre can continue to lead the Hornets during the winter months while focusing on his new college team come spring.
"The fact that Manchester does not have a spring track team made it seem like a pretty good fit. This way I can just go from one season to another just at a different facility," said Desilvestre. "So it all fit in sort of seamlessly; no conflict of time or anything like that."
Desilvestre's distinguished career as both an athlete and coach brings a wealth of experience that will be a welcome addition to the Knight's newly revived program. His particular expertise in the triple jump is a part of the sport he will give much of his focus to.
What he most looks forward to however, is the elevated assets across the board at the college level compared to that of high school kids. Whether that be the dedication aspect to the game or simply the higher skill set certain athletes possess as they grow with age and experience, Desilvestre is excited to be a part of it.
"I'm going in under the assumption that the kids there will be a little bit more interested and dedicated. Not to say that high school kids aren't, but at the high school level a lot of kids are doing a lot of other things and their attention and time is always split up," said Desilvestre. "But at the college level I assume they are focusing in more on the things they really like and less on other extra curricular activities that can get in the way. So I'm looking forward to see if that's true.
"I'm a little nervous about it all, but I'm really psyched about going up to the college level."