Hock Moves Volleyball, Rejects Out-Of-Season Coaching

Oliver Ames volleyball Jordan Bennett
Oliver Ames junior Jordan Bennett tips a ball over a double block in the fourth set of the match against Barnstable in the 2019 D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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The Hockomock League officially announced the move of girls volleyball to the Fall 2 season in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. The announcement follows Thursday’s meeting with league athletic directors and principals.

Volleyball joins football, competitive cheerleading, and unified basketball in the Fall 2 season, which is slated to start on February 22. Boys and girls soccer, field hockey, golf, and cross country are scheduled to start on September 18 at the earliest, with some schools pushing the start date until September 21 due to Rosh Hashanah. The MIAA announced its guidelines and modification for those sports on Friday, which can be found at here.

“The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums,” the statement said. At least five Hockomock schools – Canton, Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield, and Taunton – are set to start the school year fully remote.

The statement included a total of five key bullet points, including a vote against out-of-season coaching. The MIAA Board of Directors voted on August 19 to “allow out of season coaching from September 18th, 2020 through July 3rd, 2021, as approved by the member school principal.” The Hock voted unanimously to “continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1. Rule 40, titled “Out-of-Season Coach-Athlete Contact Limitations” partially reads that “between seasons a coach may conduct a meeting(s) with team candidates only to elect captains, collect equipment, issue equipment, to provide for physical examinations, to conduct legitimate fund-raising events, or to offer wellness workshops or activities.” You can view the entire MIAA Handbook at here.

The statement also notes this includes the fall sports (football, volleyball, competitive cheer, unified basketball) that were moved to the wedge season, noting “There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.” Multiple sources have indicated that most leagues in the region will be making the same decisions regarding out of season coaching.

The Hockomock League also announced a new spectator policy in accordance with the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. There will be a limit of 50 spectators while face covers and six feet social distancing are required. Only spectators associated with the host school will be allowed into the facility and the league says spectators are “strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive.”

Below is the complete statement from the Hockomock League:

 

Fall 2020 Sports are now moving forward to implementation. Several Hockomock League School Committees approved this week a return to the slate of Fall I sports put forth by MIAA. The MIAA Sports Committees completed their task of providing modifications to their sports to abide under the restrictive DESE and EEA guidelines issued on August 13. The MIAA Board of Directors approved and published these modifications on August 28.

The Hockomock Principals, following the recommendations of their respective Athletic Directors, made some important decisions regarding the sports offerings and procedures for the upcoming season. Their goal, as always, is to keep the League united and consistent in its competitive offerings. Here are the motions as approved by the Principals:

1. Start Date – The MIAA start date for Fall athletics is Friday, September 18th. This is the first day of the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The League Principals voted to leave the start date up to the individual school. Therefore, some schools will begin practices on September 18 and others on Monday, September 21.

2. Sport Offerings – Guidelines from DESE/EEA/MIAA allowed schools to play Golf, Field Hockey, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer and Volleyball. As other conferences have done, including Central MA, all of District 3, and the Tri-Valley League, the Hock Schools agreed it would be best to move Volleyball to the new Fall 2 “wedge season” which will start on February 22. The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums.

3. Out-of-Season Coaching – The MIAA approved Out-of-Season Coaching from September 18th to July 3rd. This in fact would allow any and all athletic programs to run practices all year. In order to minimize the amount of student extracurricular activity and limit student cohort interactions, the Principals voted for the League to continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1.

4. Football, Volleyball, Unified Basketball and Competitive Cheer Practice – These sports have been moved to officially practice and compete in the Fall 2 season that begins on February 22. In similar fashion to the motion above on out-of-season-coaching, the Principals approved the motion to govern these four sports under the MIAA Handbook guidelines. There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.

5. Spectators
In an effort to organize the safest athletics experience possible for our student-athletes, the Hockomock League will be following the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In the most recent guidance, issued on August 13th, the following details are specific to spectators regarding “Outdoor Capacity Limits”:

No more than 50 people excluding players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers in the aggregate in, on, or surrounding any surface / playing area or start/finish lines at any one time, provided that there is adequate space for all players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers and spectators to maintain at least six feet of social distancing.

Spectators must wear facial coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times.

In order to enforce this STATE-MANDATED restricted attendance, the Hockomock League will only be allowing spectators associated with the host school into their facility. All spectators are strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive. The method by which each host school chooses to admit, or not admit, fans will be decided at the individual District level.

Any adjustments which we are pursuing are being made in order to continue to provide a healthy and safe athletic environment for our student-athletes. We are asking our families and student bodies to respect these Board of Health limitations to spectators at sporting events.

We are grateful for the opportunity for our Fall athletes to return to the playing field. While the seasons are date-modified, the sectional and state tournaments cancelled, and the sports are modified for health and safety, the student athletes will gain competitive experience and learn life lessons in these challenging and difficult times. Our students will greatly benefit and t heir social and emotional health will prosper.

Sincerely,
The Hockomock League ADs

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Mike Redding, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Hockomock League Makes Statement On Fall Sports

Below is the official statement from the Hockomock League regarding the upcoming Fall 2020 season.

August 20, 2020

We have all patiently, yet eagerly, awaited the Massachusetts DESE guidelines pertaining to Interscholastic Athletics for the 2020-21 school year. Late Tuesday we received those guidelines and the MIAA Board of Directors have voted to approve those guidelines. Very importantly, there is still a lot of work to be accomplished before a Fall 2020 sports season is permitted. The earliest date to begin any practices is Friday, September 18.

Each school district was tasked over the last several weeks to develop a detailed DESE-approved plan for the return-to-learning this school year. Rightly so, each district’s School Committee and Superintendent’s office is now focused on implementing that approved learning plan. Some districts have opted for a full-remote start while others have approved a hybrid model. Both come with their own obstacles that each district is aiming to overcome. Both plans will impact how Fall sports may look for that district.

We do know under these DESE-approved guidelines that the high-risk sports, Football and Competitive Cheer, have moved to a “Fall II” season with a start date of February 22, 2021. The low-risk sports, Cross Country and Golf and the moderate-risk sports, Field Hockey, Soccer, and Girls’ volleyball must undergo modifications, some significantly changing the look of the game, to adhere to the EEA/DESE guidelines. Those MIAA-sport committees are working on that goal now. Girls’ volleyball, as an indoor sport, has some very significant hurdles for high school programs to overcome.

Please be patient as our twelve districts individually tackle the DESE parameters and logistics of implementing their return-to-learning models. We hope to know more in the coming week or two what a Fall Sports season will look like. Each district’s School Committee is charged with approving the specific sports programs that will be offered at each of our schools. Once those details are gathered by our League ADs and Principals, schedules can be drawn up and approved for publication.

Please know we all want to see as many student-athletes return to the competitive playing field this Fall. The health and safety of our students is paramount in any and all of these decisions which are forthcoming.

Sincerely,
The Hockomock League ADs

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Mike Redding, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Stoughton’s Ortiz, King Philip’s Roy Honored By PCA

Positive Coaching Alliance

Below is a release from the New England chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance. Stoughton’s Julia Ortiz (cross country, track) and King Philip’s Faith Roy (basketball) were two of five total students from New England selected as Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners.

Nixon, Sofia, Evan, Julia and Faith, selected from across New England as exceptional athletes and people, have endured challenges like no past PCA Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners. From Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, all five experienced a senior spring in lockdown with no sports, no proms, and no graduations. Senior spring is virtual, screen time is a burden, and those memories playing sports with friends are more precious than ever.

We cannot crown their senior spring by honoring them at our annual JEANS + JERSEYS: Positive Impact Celebration, which has been moved to a date TBD in the fall, so we are honoring them here, with the support of Insperity. An image, a quote, and a 1-minute video do not tell their whole stories, but know that all five have developed character, leadership, compassion, and resilience through sports, and that has helped them through life in this COVID-19 era. This group has resilience and more, making us hopeful for the future.

Join us in celebrating our 2020 Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners!

Hockomock League Honors 2020 Scholar Athletes

Below is a release from the Hockomock League regarding the 2020 Scholar-Athletes as well as the event program with student photos.

The Hockomock League Principals and Athletic Directors proudly announce the Class of 2020 Scholar-Athletes. The global, national, and local struggle against COVID-19 continues, but our persistence and resilience grows in that fight. The unique social situation in which we find ourselves pushes us to find new ways to publicly recognize and salute our heroes. The Class of 2020 will have much to remember about this unprecedented year, and we salute all of our athletes who lost this Spring season.

This week the League would have celebrated its 30th Annual Hockomock League Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner. Today, we are proud to celebrate each of the twenty-four athletes that have earned this League’s honor. Each scholar-athlete has been selected by the Administration of their respective schools and represent the top student-athletes in the Hockomock League based on academics, athletic participation, sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship. They have all successfully balanced a demanding academic schedule along with participation in athletics as well as many other extra-curricular activities during their high school career. To be selected for this award represents four years of dedication and commitment, and we are proud of all their accomplishments.

We hope that these student-athletes will put all of their experiences over the past four years to good use and that those experiences will help guide them through the challenges ahead. We congratulate the parents and guardians, too, for your contributions and guidance as you have enabled your child to reach this level of excellence. We are certain that the foundation you have given them will carry them through future endeavors.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 2020 SCHOLAR-ATHLETES:

ATTLEBORO: Jacqueline Lynch-Bartek AND Nicholas McMahon
CANTON: Caroline Tourgee AND Nathan Quan
FOXBORO: Jaime Notarangelo AND Ryan Proulx
FRANKLIN: Sarah Spanek AND Rohan Herur
KING PHILIP: Samantha Robison AND Jack Cannon
MANSFIELD: Eliz Healy AND Peter Oldow
MILFORD: Annie Flanagan AND Maxwell Manor
NORTH ATTLEBORO: Abigail Gallagher AND Owen Harding
OLIVER AMES: Allison Kemp AND Sam Stevens
SHARON: Eliana Boxerman AND Cameron Baker
STOUGHTON: Emma McSweeney AND Joshua McNamara
TAUNTON: Kamryn Li AND Nolan Melo

2019-20_Hockomock_Scholar_Athletes

Hockomock League Makes Statement On Spring Sports

Below is the official statement from the Hockomock League regarding the cancellation of the Spring 2020 MIAA season.

April 24, 2020

To our Hockomock Athletes, Coaches, School Administrators, and Fans,

It is with our deepest regret that we reach out to you today as the inevitable, but official word came to us from the MIAA Board of Directors on the cancellation of the Spring 2020 season:

“In accordance with Governor Charles Baker’s announcement Tuesday that Massachusetts schools will be closed to in person learning for the remainder of the school year, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) regretfully has cancelled all spring
sports and spring tournaments.

Today’s decision by the MIAA Board of Directors was difficult, disappointing, and one that was deferred for several weeks as Association staff, Association members from the Tournament Management Committee (TMC) and the Board worked aggressively to construct optional structures to save the opportunity for our MIAA 80,000 student-athletes to enjoy a spring season.”

The Hockomock League Athletic Directors and Principals had worked continuously from the first closures in mid-March optimistically planning for whatever Spring season might be had for our Spring athletes. Every conscious thought was invested towards our seniors and their final season of high school competition. Three different schedules had been posted and now retracted, with due diligence given to balanced league competition in preparation for the state tournament which then was reduced to sectional championships before their full cancellation. Our hope was for some sort of season to be played, to bring appropriate closure to the 19-20 school and athletics’ year.

We continue to learn invaluable life lessons as we battle together as a society against this unprecedented pandemic. We applaud our athletes who daily persevere through their final academic weeks in remote learning and recognize the many who have taken on part-time, or even full-time, jobs to aid in their families’ financial struggles. And, of course, we sympathize with those families who have lost loved ones to the virus, or who are battling its debilitating symptoms as this letter goes forth. We must always remember the seriousness of why there is no school, no competition, stay-at-home orders, and proper social distancing in all areas. Please stay safe, and stay healthy.

Nonetheless, despite this news of cancellation, your Hockomock Athletic Directors are continuing to work together in creative ways to recognize our league’s scholar-athletes, our captains, our seniors and all of our Spring athletes who have lost this season.

Sincerely, and respectfully,
Your Hockomock Athletic Directors:

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Joe Russo, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Taunton’s Ottavianelli Honored By MSSADA

Taunton High athletic director Mark Ottavianelli was recently honored by the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association (MSSADA), honored with the organization’s annual Distinguished Service Award – Inside the Field of Athletic Administration.

Below is the release from the MSSADA:

Mark Ottavianelli, Director of Athletics at Taunton High School, is the State of Massachusetts nominee for the 2020 National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award – Inside the Field of Athletic Administration. This award is presented to Mark in recognition of his many years of exemplary service and dedication to the thousands of boys and girls involved in interscholastic athletics throughout the state. He will be a candidate for the National NIAAA Distinguished Service Award later this year.

Mark earned his Bachelor of Finance degree in 1987 from Southeastern Massachusetts University and a Masters in Education Leadership from Bridgewater State University. He currently is in his 18th year as the Athletic Director at Taunton High School. Mark has been an Assistant Basketball Coach at Southeastern Massachusetts University, Community College of Rhode Island, Taunton High School and the Head Basketball Coach at Coyle & Cassidy High School and Massasoit Community College.

Throughout his professional career, Mark has been actively involved at the local, state and national levels. He has been an active member of the MIAA Game Officials Committee, MIAA Softball Committee, and Tournament Management Committee. He also served as the Hockomock League President from 2015-2016 and was a District Representative on the MSSADA Committee. Mark has hosted numerous MIAA Sectionals and State Semi-Final and Final Championships at the Taunton High School facilities.

Mark as the MSSADA Theodore H. Damko Award Recipient in 2005-2006.

The Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association commends Mark Ottavianelli for his outstanding achievements and invaluable service to high school athletics.

Milford, Oliver Ames Switching Divisions For Fall 2020

Hockomock League
Oliver Ames’ Owen Friel goes up for a layup against Milford’s Dom Schofield. OA and Milford will switch divisions for next school year. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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Two Hockomock League schools will be competing in different divisions starting this upcoming Fall season.

Oliver Ames will return to the Davenport division while Milford will take its place in the Kelley-Rex starting in the Fall 2020 season, Hockomock League president and Franklin athletic director Tom Angelo confirmed.

The shift comes due to a Hockomock League by-law that states the six schools with the largest enrollment will be in the Kelley-Rex, and the six schools with the smallest enrollment will make up the Davenport division.

In the latest Department of Elementary and Secondary Educations (DESE) SIMS enrollment numbers for grades 9 through 11 that were submitted to the state on October 1st of last year, Milford had 976 students, fourth-most in the Hockomock League. Oliver Ames came in with 840 students, which is the seventh most.

Here is the Hockomock League by-law:

League Divisions are based on the total enrollment in grades nine through eleven (9-11) of each Member school.  The Kelly Rex Division will consist of the 6 largest schools by 9-11 enrollment and the Davenport Division consisting of the 6 smallest schools by 9-11 enrollment.  

Divisional realignment will occur every two years. The process used for Divisional realignment will be as follows:
At the December Principal/AD meeting in the year prior to realignment implementation, each school will report their respective Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) SIMS enrollment numbers for grades nine through eleven submitted to the state on October 1st of that year.  Those enrollment numbers will be used solely as the criteria for determining the Divisional realignment.

For historical reference, October 1, 2015 DESE SIMS report numbers were used for the 2016 realignment.  Future realignment will be as follows:

DESE SIMS report
Oct. 1, 2019
Oct. 1, 2021
Oct. 1, 2023
Oct. 1, 2025
Oct. 1, 2027
Re-alignment Implementation Year
Fall 2020 
Fall 2022
Fall 2024
Fall 2026
Fall 2028
  

This is the second time that the Hockomock League has moved schools between divisions, with the first coming in 2016 when Oliver Ames and North Attleboro switched places. At the time, the by-law stated the league would review enrollment numbers every four years for grades 9-12.

The Hockomock League has since altered the by-law and will now align the divisions by enrollment numbers for grades 9-11 every two years.

“Down the road, it doesn’t make sense to include the senior class since the alignment won’t affect that group,” Angelo said of the change. “It’s part of a continuous effort to improve our league.”

Oliver Ames was originally part of the Davenport division for six years before the league realigned due enrollment numbers for the 2016-2017 sesaon. At the time, OA had 19 more students than North Attleboro and made the switch to the Kelley-Rex.

Now the Tigers will rejoin the Davenport division while the Scarlet Hawks, who joined the Hockomock League in 2012 and has been apart of the Davenport since, will head to the Kelley-Rex this upcoming Fall.

Hockomock League Enrollment – November 2019 – Grades 9-11
Taunton – 1536
Attleboro – 1363
Franklin – 1317
Milford – 976
Mansfield – 917
King Philip – 916
Sharon – 882
Oliver Ames – 840
North Attleboro – 802
Stoughton -764
Canton – 731
Foxboro – 580

Hockomock Loses Legend in Sharon’s Davenport

Dudley Davenport
Former Sharon boys basketball coach and athletic director Dudley Davenport, pictured here in a Sharon yearbook from early in his career, passed away suddenly last week at the age of 81. He was recognized for his impact on the Hockomock League with the naming of the Davenport division in his honor. (Photo courtesy of Sharon High)

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In 1961, then Sharon High principal James Dowd brought in a young science teacher and handed him the reigns to the school’s boys basketball program. The new coach, who held the Westport High scoring record of 1,529 points and played at the University of Rhode Island, would spend 23 years on the Sharon bench and amass an impressive record of 328-114, turning the Eagles into a perennial power not only in the Hockomock League but across the state and making Sharon basketball games must-attend events for the whole school.

Under his guidance, the Eagles won five league titles, made the tournament 19 times, reached 10 semifinals, and the got to the finals four times. He stopped coaching after the 1982-83 season and six years later was inducted into the Mass. Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Hall of Fame. On top of his coaching duties, he also spent nearly 30 years as the school’s athletic director and oversaw numerous changes in Sharon’s sports programs, including the introduction of a football program and the expansion of girls’ sports offerings.

But the legacy of Dudley Davenport extends far beyond the basketball court and even beyond the town of Sharon. His legacy encompasses the entire Hockomock League, which he promoted for five decades, and the countless people that he impacted in his roles as coach, teacher, athletic director, camp counselor, and league executive secretary. Even more than his accomplishments in sports, what most people mention is his sense of humor, his larger than life persona, and the encouragement he exuded.

On May 15, Davenport passed away unexpectedly in his Westport, Mass. home at the age of 81. It is a loss not only for Sharon but for the whole Hockomock community.

“Dud was a Hockomock League giant in just about every way,” said Canton athletic director Danny Erickson, who knew Davenport from his days as a player, as well as coach and AD. “You can’t meet Dudley and not be impressed with the magnitude of the person and personality that he is. He makes everybody feel valued and he makes everybody feel good.”

Joel Peckham came to Sharon a couple years after Davenport, who had already established himself as the varsity basketball coach. Peckham took over the baseball program from Davenport (who joked at Peckham’s final home game in 2015 that the job had been stolen from him) and also joined the basketball staff as coach of the freshman team. “I was the wise young guy who showed up who they had to put in my place,” Peckham said this week about Davenport and fellow assistant coach Basil Cronin (who passed away last summer). “He was a tremendous figure, in some ways a father figure for me. It’s an incredible loss.”

Former Mansfield High boys basketball coach Stu Hershman played for Davenport during those heady days when Sharon was a consistent presence in the annual Tech Tournament and made several trips to the Boston Garden, including a state final appearance in 1972. His family also ran the Sharon Country Day Camp where Davenport spent summers as the athletic director.

“He wasn’t just a coach,” said Hershman. “He was a teacher and a friend and he really cared about you. You felt it. After the basketball games, it was like a big family and he would invite everybody back to the house, parents, everybody, and it was just a nice atmosphere.”

The Hornets qualified for the tournament under Hershman in the days when teams needed to win 70 percent of their games to get in and Davenport attended the first playoff game that Hershman coached. “When I got into coaching, I wanted to be just like him,” Hershman said. He added with a laugh, “It didn’t turn out that way with the record.”

“He was king and he had so much success,” Peckham said. What he recalled most was all the fun moments that the coaches had getting together after every game at Davenport’s house, win or lose. “Always with good cheer, even in some of the worst losses, where we would lose big games, we would laugh and have a good time,” he explained.

Davenport is pictured at an award ceremony later in his career as athletic director. (Courtesy of Sharon High)

Former Sharon field hockey and girls lacrosse coach Peg Arguimbau has been connected with the Davenport family for decades. Her father was James Dowd, who hired Davenport at Sharon High. She had Davenport as a science teacher as a freshman, was a babysitter for the Davenport’s children, was a counselor with Davenport at the Sharon Country Day Camp, and he even convinced her to begin officiating basketball and field hockey, something that she continued for more than 20 years. Their relationship was closer to family.

“He just had an upbeat positive outlook,” Arguimbau said. “He had a great basketball record and people respected that but I think they also respected just how he treated people.” When asked what he was like as an athletic director, she replied, “As a coach, you need someone to support you when you hit the bumps in the road, whether it be athletes or parents or other coaches or whatever, and you could always go to him. His door was always open.”

She explained that Davenport would do things like grow his hair out until the team qualified for the tournament and would walk the halls with a “shaggy buzzcut.” It was the little things that endeared him to the school community. “It was a good time to be involved and he was the head of it,” she said. “I was just fortunate to be able to know him on so many different levels.”

Oliver Ames principal Wes Paul first met Davenport while playing in the Championship Basketball School, which Davenport was a counselor at during the summers. When Paul got into administration at OA, Davenport was the league’s executive secretary and Paul leaned on him for historical perspective and guidance when making decisions that would impact the league. “The Hockomock League was great not because of us,” he said. “It was on the backs of Dudley’s generation and before. He’s been in this room, he needs to be heard, and he needs to weigh in on this.”

When the league made the decision to expand in 2011, adding Attleboro first and then Taunton and Milford the following year, the athletic directors and principals decided to honor Davenport’s impact on the league by naming the small-school division in his honor. “It was absolutely a slam dunk,” said Paul. “It was like, that’s not even enough, but it’s a great start to pay tribute to his legacy.”

Former Franklin athletic director Brad Sidwell was one of the leading proponents for the naming of the Davenport division, crediting Davenport for explaining the league’s traditions to the young ADs. “He was always just very positive,” Sidwell said. ”He was just a great guy who got it. He really enjoyed the camaraderie between the ADs and the schools and the communities.”

A banner that hangs in the Sharon High gym honoring Davenport’s hall of fame coaching career and tenure as AD. (Courtesy of Sharon High)

Erickson also praised Davenport for setting him straight when he came into the league wanting to make instant changes. “He was not ever opposed to change but he made someone like me, who was really anxious to make some moves, really take a breath and go about things in a more thoughtful way,” Erickson said. “Looking back on that years later, he was a big part in my own growth on how to implement change in a positive way.”

Even up until a few days before he passed, Dudley Davenport was sharing messages, commenting, and liking posts on Facebook, remaining in touch with the numerous people who he had come into contact with during his long career. He continued to be a presence, a “giant” that the league would greatly miss.

“He was just a really good example of someone who believes that athletics are very educational and they are great for our kids,” said Sidwell. Paul added, “It’s hard to find the complete package and that’s why he’s a legend. He had the focus on others, not on himself and that’s a really special quality.” Hershman said, “It wasn’t just the coaching. There was something about him that made him special. He’s a great role model. It wasn’t about him, it was always about the kids.”

While talking about Davenport’s legacy, Peckham paused, taking a second to reflect on his time with his friend and said simply, “I miss him.”

Peckham continued, “He was a close friend and a really wonderful supporter. He helped me a lot. He helped me grow up. I came here as a young guy, full of piss and vinegar, and Dud was the one to suggest to me that I could be a little different at times.

“His legacy is one that no one will ever completely live up to. Others may establish their own, but he had it all going for him.”

(Editor’s Note – Donations in Dudley Davenport’s memory can be made to the Davenport Scholarship Fund c/o Sharon Credit Union, 30 Pond St. Sharon, MA 02067.)

Schlierf Selected As New Sharon Athletic Director

Nick Schlierf

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SHARON, Mass. – New Sharon athletic director Dr. Nicholas Schlierf is bringing a bevy of experience from New York to the campus of Sharon High School, officially starting later this month.

He takes over for Bill Martin, who stepped down after taking the same job at Andover High School.

Schlierf, who was announced as the new Eagles’ AD earlier this week in a release from principal Jose Libano, has held numerous athletic positions as well as administrative roles over the past 20 years. Most recently, Schlierf has served as athletic director and assistant principal for nearly a decade at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, New York.

Mercy High School has roughly 700 students while Sharon has just over 1,000 students.

“Nick did a really nice job answering the questions we peppered him with, his references were impeccable, and I’m certain that he’ll be an excellent fit for Sharon and the Hockomock League,” Libano told HockomockSports.com.

Schlierf has family ties to Massachusetts and came across the vacant Sharon job while looking to move to the area. Schlierf was one of three finalists selected from nearly 50 applicants. Twelve candidates were brought in for interviews by a 15-member screening committee comprised of student-athletes, parents, coaches and staff. The three finalists visited Sharon earlier this month for a public interview.

“The whole town, it reminds me a lot of where I grew up (Williamsville, New York),” Schlierf said. “Everyone is so friendly, they are willing to take their shirt off their back for you, people are going out of their way to make me feel at home.”

Prior to his stint at Mercy High School, Schlierf was a varsity soccer coach, assistant principal and then principal at Northstar Christian Academy. He has three kids and was heavily involved in youth sports and travel soccer.

“Sharon is an ideal fit for me,” Schlierf said, noting that Mercy and Sharon have almost all of the same sports, including sailing. “Walking into the school feels like home already. Between my admin background and my love for sports, it’s important to know its not always about the wins and losses. It’s about focusing on the positive experiences, and the role of coaches in that experience.

“I found my niche being an athletic director. It’s been like a breath of fresh air to feel so welcome. I met some of the staff already, and they have been so friendly. I’m looking forward to getting started on what will be a tremendous experience and homecoming for my family.”

Schlierf will complete his move to the area in the near future and will begin full time July 20th.