HAVERHILL — Melissa Tarpy was part of one of the greatest dynasties in Massachusetts high school sports history.
She played on the 1992 and 1994 Haverhill High Division 1 state championship girls basketball teams.
Kevin Woelfel guided the Brown and Gold to six state titles in 12 years. The Hillies have fallen on hard times, though. Last year’s club went 3-17 and twice was held under 10 points in a game.
Tarpy, yesterday was named the new head coach, taking over for Bob Melillo, who after four years left for the head job at Lynnfield High. She hopes to bring the program back to respectability after nearly a decade of struggles.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said Tarpy, who lives in Haverhill with her two elementary school-aged daughters. “I’m excited to meet the girls and build the program back up again. It’s funny, everybody always talks about the dynasty. Of course that’s important, but they have to believe in themselves and create their own chapter.”
Tarpy was the JV coach the last two years at Greater Lawrence Tech and prior to that coached for a year at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., where she was also sports information director. She also coached last year with the New England Warrior AAU program and was Woelfel’s assistant during the 1998-99 season.
While it may be a tough job, Tarpy, who battled through a series of serious knee injuries during her playing career, has never backed down from a challenge.
“I wouldn’t have applied if I didn’t think I was ready,” said Tarpy, a member of the Endicott College Hall of Fame for her basketball and softball prowess. “It’s always exciting to go back to where you played. It was such a big part of my life. This was a good fit for me.
“It’s all about making it fun for them, getting them excited.”
The key to a resurgence, she says, is with the youth.
“It goes back to the feeder program,” said Tarpy. “That was huge when we were in high school. We started together in third and fourth grade. Some groundwork has been done. I’d like to have the girls on the team go to the middle schools and go to the clinics. It will take a little time but we have some good kids coming up.”
Tarpy, a 1994 graduate, was a captain in basketball, swimming and softball for the Hillies. She was a key role player on basketball teams led by greats like Amy Veilleux, Shawna Murphy, Allison Godfrey, Keri Guertin and Cindy Murphy.
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.