HAVERHILL — Win or lose, Tom O’Brien fed off the energy of his Haverhill High baseball players, from the first day of practice in March to the last out of the state tourney in June.
Taking the interim tag off his title, the Haverhill athletic director will again work the dugout as the Hillies’ varsity baseball coach this spring.
“It’s a combination of things, mainly the kids, the student-athletes,” said O’Brien. “It’s the way they showed up to play every day last year. It was awesome to be around. Like every coach, it’s year to year, but for the time being the interim tag is off.”
O’Brien stepped in out of necessity last year when Chip Forrest, who was hired only months before, was let go right before the season.
The A.D. took over and turned a team that went 1-19 in 2011 into an 11-10 state tourney qualifier.
“Ask me this the second week of March last year, and I never could have imagined this,” said O’Brien. “It seems to have worked out great so far. We turned the corner last year, and got going in the right direction but there’s still plenty of work to do. We’ve just scratched the surface.”
Starting shortstop Nick Comei said, “It’s great for the program. I wasn’t too worried. I knew if it wasn’t him, he’d pick someone good. But bringing himself back, it’s a great thing for the program. There was positive reaction from the guys coming back. He’s a player’s manager, who works well with the kids.”