David Willis firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — LAWRENCE — Andover volleyball coach George Sullivan wasn’t about to commit to any future plans just moments after his team’s season ended.
But the veteran head man admitted that last night may have been his final game on the Golden Warriors’ bench.
“I thinking I’ll probably retire,” said the 71-year-old Sullivan. “Probably. It’s a tough time to be asking about it, right after a loss. But I am leaning towards (retiring).”
After 22 years and more than 400 victories, it very well may well have been the end of an era at Andover High as the Golden Warriors fell to Newton North 25-19, 25-22, 25-20 last night, in what could have been Sullivan’s last game as coach.
“I always make fun of my wife about having trouble making decisions,” said Sullivan. “I’ve been retiring for about eight years now. My athletic director (Don Doucette) said not to make the decision after this game.”
But, following the loss, his players had a feeling what their coach’s decision may be.
“I think he just might (retire),” said senior Sarah Weimer. “He’s been talking about it for a few years. But he has really bonded with out senior class, so I could see him leaving after this season.”
If Sullivan is to retire, it would end a tenure that started when he took over the girls program in 1991.
“I’m not the first girls volleyball coach, I’m just the loudmouth,” joked the always comical Sullivan. “It’s a very tough decision because I love working with the kids and I love the sport.”
In his 22 years as Golden Warriors girls coach, he has compiled a record of 419-157. In 21 years as boys volleyball coach, Sullivan had a 285-144 record before retiring before the 2010 season. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Girls Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009.
“He is great at what he does,” said senior Molly Cronin. “He is a tough coach, but you start to understand he is successful for a reason. Sometimes he is your grandpa, and other times you want to say, ‘Oh my god coach!’ But he is very good. I thought that if we won the (Division 1) state title he would go out on top.”
While the Golden Warriors finish two wins short of a title this fall, just as they did two seasons ago, Sullivan said this team has been a very special one.
“This is probably the top group I have ever had,” he said. “This wasn’t a year with a lot of superstars. (Division 1 co-MVP) Liz Wait didn’t start until last season (as a junior). But this team worked so hard and accomplished so much, I am very proud of them.”
If he does call it a career, Sullivan’s likely successor would be assistant Jane Bergin, who has drawn rave reviews from the players.
“The team would be in great hands with coach Bergin,” said Cronin. “But I just don’t know if coach will (retire).”
Following the game, Sullivan — his ever-present smile intact despite the loss — was greeted with a hug from his wife.
“You get him back now,” joked a fan to the couple.
No decision has been made just yet if Sullivan’s time at home will be permanent, of if the tug of one more season will bring him back. But the long-time volleyball, girls basketball and assistant football coach isn’t about to rush.
“It’s a tough choice,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”
David Willis is an Eagle-Tribue sportswriter/videographer. To see his video profiles, visit eagletribune.com/sports or rallynorth.net.