KP Sports: AD Optimistic About Warriors For 2022-23
Brown Pleased with Previous Year Results
By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
Gary Brown, who’s beginning his sixth year as King Philip Regional’s athletic director this month, was pleased and proud of the results and achievements that student-athletes turned in during the 2021-22 school year.
The Warriors’ list of successes included four Hockomock League championships, two state tourney runners-up, and four teams that earned sportsmanship awards that led to KP tying North Attleboro for the league’s overall sportsmanship trophy.
The Hockomock League champs included softball, girls tennis, girls volleyball and golf. The two teams that fell one victory short of achieving state championship status were football and baseball. And, the four squads that captured sportsmanship honors were girls cross-country, boys and girls spring track and girls tennis.
“We’re very proud of being co-winners of the sportsmanship award,’’ Brown said. “Our overall success at the league and state levels is impressive but it’s still all about learning valuable life lessons. We always strive to compete at a high level in athletic venues but it’s so rewarding to see athletics play a role in turning out positive adults.’’
The 47-year-old Brown indicated that 20 student-athletes will be competing at the collegiate level in the year ahead. And, he singled out Sydney O’Shea and Charlie Grant, KP’s male and female athletes of the year.
O’Shea ran spring track and cross-country and played ice hockey while Grant competed in football and basketball. Sydney is attending Bryant University and Charlie is at New Hampton Prep. “Both Sydney and Charlie are very impressive young adults,’’ Brown said. “They’re true leaders.’’
The role that high school athletic directors play once had some glory and glamour linked to the position but nowadays it’s all about scheduling games and practice times, coordinating transportation, hiring and evaluating coaches, maintaining fields and facilities, monitoring pandemic regulations, communicating with the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), dealing with complaints, and ensuring that referees and umpires are assigned. “We also oversee registrations, physicals and eligibility,’’ Brown said.
Three areas where Brown saw quality results were in enrollment/participation, the hiring of new varsity coaches and the school’s fields and facilities.
“Participation in sports increased by 10 percent over last year,’’ Brown noted. “And, 400 student-athletes competed in each of the three seasons. I was pleased with those numbers. Our objective is to ensure that students enjoy a positive experience no matter what level they’re at and we’ll continue to offer as many sports at whatever levels that students request.’’
Three new varsity coaches were hired — Jeff Miszkiewicz (girls basketball), Matt Barker (boys tennis) and Charlie Weiblen (Alpine skiing). The girls basketball team and the boys tennis squad qualified for the playoffs and both teams split a pair of tourney games. “They did a top-notch job,’’ Brown said. “The girls basketball team defeated Plymouth South then lost to Wachusett. The boys tennis squad downed Chicopee but lost to Westboro. And, Charlie did a nice job with the ski team that competed in the Central Mass. League.’’
KP’s athletic fields and facilities, according to Brown, “are all in good shape and don’t need any upgrades at this time.’’ Brown lauded the school’s grounds crew, saying “they do a fabulous job maintaining first-class facilities.’’
For the 2022-23 year, two coaching vacancies needed to be filled — field hockey and boys ice hockey. Replacing Lisa Cropper in field hockey is Kaitlyn Wilder, who has been coaching in the KP lacrosse program since 2018 with her sister Kourtnie. Wilder played field hockey and lacrosse in college at Plymouth State and graduated in 2017. She graduated from Framingham High School where she played field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey. The new boys ice hockey coach, who will replace Paul Carlow, has yet to be announced.
Brown likes the state of KP sports and he has high hopes for the year ahead.
“We’re in a great situation where our student-athletes are competing at the highest level and they’re still having fun facing intense competition,’’ he emphasized. “My hope for the new school year is to return to pre-pandemic standards for all athletes who represent King Philip. The last two years were challenging but they also were rewarding because our students were able to compete and we were able to offer many of the activities on our sports menu.’’
The attributes that so often enable an athletic director to be successful are patience, being calm under pressure, able to prioritize daily tasks, able to relate to students, coaches and parents, and providing support for athletes and coaches.
“What I like about being an athletic director is the interaction with people,’’ Brown said. “That includes the student-athletes, coaches, administration, parents and teachers. Sure, we get complaints but the vast majority of the people in the three communities we serve are wonderful supporters of our student-athletes.’’