---- — Softball coach hired
Robert Gillespie has been hired to coach the reborn softball program at Northern Essex Community College, which last had a team 17 years ago.
Gillespie, 51, grew up in Reading, attended Austin Prep and graduated from North Adams State College with a degree in history. Although he would have loved to have gone directly into teaching after college, the economy drove him to the insurance and mortgage business instead.
Eventually, Gillespie got back to teaching and began coaching in New Jersey, for 25 years in baseball, soccer, basketball and mainly softball. He has coached softball for 20 years and was nominated for Coach of the Year honors in 2007 and 2012.
He has since relocated to the area and was anxious to resume his coaching career, just when NECC athletic director Sue MacAvoy began her search for a coach. He will begin recruiting prospective players immediately.
Pena’s coach retiring
Northeastern baseball coach Neil McPhee, who coached Haverhill’s Carlos Pena, is retiring after the 2014 season, which will be his 29th. He will be replaced by current NU assistant Mike Glavine. The former Billerica High and Northeastern standout spent 10 years in professional baseball and is the younger brother of future Hall of Famer Tom.
UMass Lowell ranked No. 1
UMass Lowell was selected as the nation’s No. 1 team in the USA Today preseason poll. Miami University was second, Boston College fourth, Quinnipiac 11th, UNH 13th and Providence 15th. For the first time in recent memory, Boston University wasn’t ranked in the preseason.
Schneider looking sharp
Former Phillips Academy standout Cory Schneider has had a tremendous preseason with the New Jersey Devils. Schneider, who was traded from the Vancouver Canucks, had two shutouts in his first three preseason games and allowed just one goal in 70 shots.
It appears he’ll be taking more playing time than expected from veteran 41-year-old goalie Marty Brodeur.
Coach ‘O’ times two
Around Haverhill High football circles, head coach Tim O’Connor is known as Coach O. At last week’s game at Lawrence, however, as well as at most Hillie games, he is not the only “Coach O” in attendance. Former Haverhill track coach and athletic director John Ottaviani, who is also known as Coach O, was also in attendance as a loyal fan.
At the Bradford Elementary School road races the weekend before last, there were only 17 runners in the 10K race compared to 124 in the 5K, illustrating the fading appeal of the once popular distance. In that 10K, Gary Cuneo of Groveland took first by more than 11 minutes, finishing in 34:33.
On a positive note, there were 76 runners in the 12-and-under 1-mile race.
Out of line
New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who is about to become a free agent, is reportedly not close to agreeing to a new deal. He has turned down a generous offer of seven years at $23 million per year and, according to a person close to him, is seeking a 10-year, $310-million contract.
For someone who will be 31 on Oct. 22, this seems way out of line. There are plenty of cities in this country which don’t have a budget of that amount.