The 2017-18 Year in Athletics at KP Featured a Variety of Successes

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

To label Gary Brown’s first year as King Philip athletic director as “dynamic’’ might be understating what transpired during the 2017-18 campaign.
The Warriors’ sports teams captured one state championship and three sectional crowns and eight Hockomock League titles. There also were individual success stories in a variety of sports.
But Brown, who joined the KP faculty after serving as an associate athletic director at Harvard, is acutely aware that winning is exciting but it’s not always the primary yardstick to measure overall success. He knows athletic competition has twists and turns.
“Winning is great,’’ he said. “Look at our fall season. There was a state title in football, three sectional titles (football, girls soccer and field hockey) and four Hockomock League crowns. But there were personal success stories, too. There were boys and girls excelling in roles, sacrificing for their teams, setting a positive tone, building relationships and creating fond memories. Athletics help students learn life lessons.’’
The autumn season, however, was indeed one for the record books. The football team downed Lincoln-Sudbury, 10-7, for its second consecutive Super Bowl victory. Girls soccer and field hockey ended their seasons with appearances in the state semifinals and the girls volleyball squad bowed in the Division 1 Sectional final.
“The fall season certainly created pride and excitement and it gave the three communities a good feel for the athletic department,’’ Brown noted. “It got students engaged and helped to create relationships with students and teachers. Teachers often learn more about their students knowing them as athletes.’’
The winter season didn’t produce as many championships as the fall — only one Hockomock League title (girls swimming). But, there were still some significant highlights.
“The girls ice hockey team won its first tourney game, a 2-1 win over Bishop Fenwick,’’ Brown recalled. “They finished their season with an 11-9-2 record. The Alpine ski team had two competitors qualify for the MIAA championships (Molloy Addison and Meghan Powers). The gymnastics team captured the MIAA Sportsmanship Award and Shawn Conniff won a sectional title in wrestling in the 182-pound class. The sportsmanship award was wonderful recognition of how to compete the right way.’’
Five teams qualified for tourney play in the spring — boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls tennis and softball. The boys and girls net squads and the softball team won Hockomock League crowns. Coach Norm Beauchemin’s softball contingent won three games in the Sectional Tournament but lost in the final to Taunton, 4-2.
Brown said he’s delighted to be at KP and that the transition to his new post last fall went smoothly. “There’s a great support system at KP,’’ he emphasized. “The students are impressive young adults and the coaches do an excellent job molding quality individuals for the community. There was a learning curve but the students, coaches and the administration made it easy. I’m hoping that in my second year we can continue to offer more opportunities in leadership and continue to provide students with a positive experience.’’
As far as facilities go, Brown emphasized how fortunate KP athletes are “to have venues that give our student-athletes a great experience.’’ He cited Joe Zahner, the school’s head groundskeeper, as a terrific asset. “His efforts go above and beyond,’’ Brown said.
Also coming in for high praise were Cheryl Rowe, a technology and media instructor who works as an assistant in the athletic department, and Adam Bennett, the school’s athletic trainer. “Both do an excellent job,’’ Brown noted.
As far as the athletic menu goes and what sports are offered, Brown emphasized that “our goal is to offer broad-based programming to meet the needs of the students. We accomplish this goal by providing a wide range of sports at various levels.’’
The 43-year-old Brown expects to have two new varsity coaches before the new school year rolls around. New coaches are needed in field hockey and boys basketball. Liz Hathaway decided to step down as field hockey coach so she can devote time to watching her daughter play at the University of New Hampshire. After two years of trying to rebuild the boys basketball program, Mark Champagne was not re-hired.
As the summer quickly moves towards the fall, Brown can sense the excitement. There’ll be a new slate and new teams. “We hope our teams in the year ahead will represent King Philip in a positive manner, compete for Hockomock League titles and have fun,’’ he said.
Gary Brown has an excellent perspective on what makes an athletic department tick.