EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

December 2, 2012

Hell Week

Toughest week for coaches -- when they cut players -- is over

If you heard a huge sigh of relief a few days ago, you were not hearing things.

It probably came, collectively, from many area basketball and hockey coaches, most of whom are thrilled the first official week of their seasons is over.

While many local fans would expect their favorite coaches to have sleepless nights during the upcoming Christmas tournaments, rivalry games and later, the state tournaments, for most coaches those pressure-packed experiences don’t compare to what they had to endure last week.

Boys and girls had to be informed, most face to face, that they weren’t good enough to play a sport at an area school this winter.

“Cut Week” is tough on kids. Apparently, it is just as tough on coaches.

Really tough.

Nobody knows it better than the elder statesman of area coaches, North Andover High boys basketball coach Mike McVeigh.

“You might have coached their older brothers, or in my case, their uncles,” said Coach McVeigh. “You get to know their families. And then during the week of tryouts, you look in their eyes and say, ‘Boys, we have 14 spots.’ It is the worst week of the season.”

Coach McVeigh has lots and lots of company ... as in almost every coach in the area that coaches a sport with few spots.

Here are a few comments from local coaches:

“When I took over from Chris Gurry 13 years ago, he told me this will be the toughest part of my job,” said Phillips Andover Academy hockey coach Dean Boylan. “Man, he was right. It’s very, very difficult to tell a young person that they’re not going to be part of team.

“You would figure after some years it would get easier ... but it hasn’t.”

“It’s definitely the worst part of the coaching experience,” said Methuen boys basketball coach Matt Curran.

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