ANDOVER — After 39 years, including the last 18 at Andover High, coach Jim Tildsley has decided to drop the “coach” from his moniker.
Tildsley, who turns 62 in April, has quietly announced his retirement. He joins former North Andover High boys basketball coach, Mike McVeigh, who at 64 retired after 31 years at the helm.
“I had thought about (leaving) last year, but I really owed it to Devon (Caveney) and Jackie (Alois) to come back this winter,” said Tildsley. “And I’m really glad I came back.
“Those two girls were the heart and soul of the team. All of the girls were great. It was fun to go to practice every day. We got as far as we could possibly get ... But now it’s time to move on.”
Tildsley leaves Andover and the coaching ranks as one of the best of the best.
Before this winter, his Andover teams, led by two-time Gatorade Player of the Year, Nicole Boudreau, won three straight state titles, losing only two games over that span.
Tildsley retires with a record of 378-60 at Andover High, including 8 Div. 1 North sectional titles, seven EMass titles and four state titles.
“I was lucky when I took over. The Muller twins (Charlotte and Sarah) were both sophomores,” said Tildsley. “I’ll never forget the first (Gr.) Lawrence Christmas tourney I coached,” said Tildsley. “We beat Methuen in the finals.
“Then later in the year, we played Haverhill in our gym, when both teams were undefeated. They beat us by 29. Then we went back to their place and lost by 12. It was tough going against Methuen and Haverhill. But I remember thinking we’re going to get better.”
Methodically, Andover began its ascent up the Merrimack Valley Conference ladder, eventually surpassing state championship programs in Haverhill and Methuen.
“Mimi (Hyde) and Kevin (Woelfel) really pushed me,” said Tildsley. “They really both pushed defense. And we weren’t going to compete with them unless we did the same.”