EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 26, 2013

Wish list: artificial fields, add more NH-Mass. battles ...

High School Sports
Dave Dyer

---- — Yes, I know it’s past Christmas, but now is the best time to reveal my latest wish list for local sports.

It might have made more sense to publish it before Christmas, but consider me superstitious. To me, it’s like keeping your wish secret before blowing out the candles on a cake. If you don’t, there’s little chance it’ll come true.

Without further delay, let’s get right to it.

I wish Salem and Pinkerton would install artificial turf on their football fields. It would benefit all of the ball-playing outdoor sports and be a boon to the entire southern New Hampshire area. Sure, it’s expensive but the fields eventually pay for themselves though lower maintenance and rental fees.

I wish the athletic directors and wrestling coaches would put more of a push to bring the New England Tournament back to the Merrimack Valley where it belongs. There is no better wrestling here, it’s centrally located and it’d be a big draw.

A few years ago, Lawrence athletic director Tim Finn made a good case to bring it here and he was almost successful. The ADs of Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover should get together and state their case.

There’s just no sense in holding the tournament in Providence, where it will be this year, much less New Haven.

Here’s a wish that makes sense and would be much simpler to bring about; Why don’t the indoor track teams in southern New Hampshire start running meets against the MVC schools, or even among themselves, at Lawrence, Methuen and Andover? It would involve less travel and, as in other sports, be a good way to compare the top athletes in the Merrimack Valley area.

Here’s another wish that definitely should happen; There should be complete bleachers on both sides of the field for Windham football. It’s a top-flight program and deserves a better facility for its fans.

I wish there would be fewer Saturday night high school hockey games.

The sport probably deserves more coverage, but that won’t happen with 7:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday games that some coaches don’t report the results for until after deadline.

I wish more coaches had the enthusiasm of Pinkerton boys cross country coach Mike Clark as well as Astros’ girls coach Amy Bernard. Both clearly love their sport and love coaching and their positive vibes rub off.

This may be a bit too specific, but I wish there was more cooperation between the Riverside-Bradford Little League and Haverhill Senior Baseball, as well as all intra-city youth organizations. Baseball is losing more players every year and there shouldn’t be hurdles for those who want to continue playing.

Speaking of baseball, I wish Haverhill would bring back its high school tournament, with all of the top local teams in attendance. Trinity Stadium, with its immaculate artificial surface, is a true showcase and I’m sure it’d be a terrific event.

While we’re at it, I wish there were another artificial-turf baseball field in the Merrimack Valley. It would make scheduling so much easier and it’d just be good for the sport. Not to get greedy, but an artificial-turf softball field would be a bonus.

I like the expanded New Hampshire football playoff format, but I wish it would be fine tuned. Much as I like Londonderry, there’s no way it should have made the playoffs while a much stronger Bedford team was left out.

I wish there would be more co-op wrestling teams in New Hampshire, like there are in Mass. There are too many teams with five or fewer wrestlers in the Granite State, making some meets rather ludicrous.

A number of schools are currently wasting a lot of time and gas for meets that take less than an hour.

This may be asking the impossible, but I wish the MIAA would be more flexible in allowing prep schools to compete against public schools.

There could be some terrific competition between Brooks and Phillips Academy and local high schools if only it were permitted.

Shouldn’t we always try to encourage the best, most interesting competition?