HAVERHILL — He comes with the celebrity you might expect of a former New England Patriots player.
But Garin Veris, who was named the new athletics director for Haverhill High School yesterday, said his career in the National Football League does not define him as a person.
"What I do away from that persona is what counts," said Veris of Atkinson, N.H. "The NFL is past history and my message to kids now is how I got there and what it took to get there."
That message is rooted in his experiences playing high-school and college sports, playing in the NFL, and the knowledge he gained being coached and working with coaches at every level, including Olympic coaches, he said.
"Although I may not know every rule about field hockey or lacrosse, I know how coaches coach," he said. "I want to know a coach's philosophy of dealing with kids, and if they have the ability to maximize the talent we have."
Veris, 46, replaces retiring Athletics Director Peter Shanahan of Haverhill, who oversaw the program for nearly 10 years. Veris, a former Patriots defensive end, was on the first Patriots team that went to a Super Bowl, in January 1986, but lost.
School Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan said an interview committee that included two high-school students, Haverhill High Principal Bernie Nangle and others recommended Veris over finalists Bill Kaste, a longtime Haverhill High School physical education teacher and boys and girls volleyball coach, and Guy Prescott, athletics director for Georgetown schools.
"All of the candidates were extremely capable people and I could have worked with any one of them," Buchanan said. "But Veris had the broader background with experience in fundraising, his connections with outside resources, and because he is a multi-sport person."
Veris has a three-year contract and will be paid $85,000 to $90,000 a year, Buchanan said.