BRAINTREE — Bill Tarbox was supposed to be one who was crying.
At 9:49 p.m. last night, it was over. His resume — 40 years (22 in North Andover), 422 wins, 206 losses, Hall of Fame nominations and thousands, or maybe even millions, of long-lasting memories — was complete.
Before the season started, he announced this would be his last as coach at North Andover.
Several people around him were crying, including his daughter Jan.
“It’s OK,” said the 63-year-old Tarbox before hugging his daughter. “It was a great run. It really was.”
Tarbox looked around while several of his seniors whom were also struggling with their emotions after last night’s 3-0 loss to Medway High in the Div. 2 state semis.
“I understand. We’re all disappointed,” said Tarbox. “But there is more to life than a soccer game. You guys will realize pretty soon how special this year was. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Tarbox has earned lots of accolades at North Andover High, and it wasn’t just the 300 wins he accumulated there. It was the family atmosphere he always tried to cultivate.
“We tried to win every game for him,” said senior captain, Dennis Graef. “He’s a great guy. He treats everyone with respect.”
Tarbox has no regrets. He will never lose sleep over the fact that he never won a state title.
“It’s hard to make it this far,” said Tarbox. “We got this far in 1999 and lost. There are a lot of great teams. We easily could’ve advance if we got a bounce here and there. But we easily could have lost a few games in the tournament. And we beat Concord-Carlisle, which is a great program ... I’m very happy.”
He should be. North Andover High boys soccer is headed in the right direction.
There is an abnormally large group of juniors on this team. Word has it that the freshmen class, which went undefeated this fall, might be as good of a group as any at the school.
“I am looking forward to seeing the program continue to grow,” said Tarbox.
“A lot of people thought we’d struggle in the MVC. But when you have kids willing to work, like we have here in North Andover, you can accomplish a lot.”
Most of Tarbox’s family was there last night. Besides his daughter, Jan, his son Freddie was there. Freddie is the head coach for the Haverhill High girls program.
His wife, Gail, was there, too. She tries to attend every game. There was another reason she was there last night, beyond her husband’s retirement.
Last night was their 31st anniversary.
“I embarrassed saying that we’re playing a game on our wedding anniversary,” said Tarbox. “But she’s here and always has been my love. I’m every lucky.”
In fact, the Tarbox’s are heading overseas for Thanksgiving to be with their daughter, Jennifer, who is living in Italy.
“We really are looking forward to the trip,” said Tarbox.
As for closing thoughts about his impending retirement, Tarbox wanted to make an addendum to his announcement. His retirement only refers to him as a head coach.
“I am planning on helping my son, Freddie, coach the Haverhill (High) girls,” said Tarbox.
“I’m not ready to get totally away from coaching. In fact, I’m looking forward to helping the girls. I’m also looking forward to watching Freddie have all the pressure as the head coach. It will be fun.”
Thanks for the memories, coach. I don’t think we have to tell you to enjoy retirement. You already are.
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.