Wainwright: New NHS Girls Soccer Coach No Stranger To Success

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

Dave Wainwright’s background as a player and a coach no doubt will be major plusses when he begins his tenure as Natick High’s girls soccer coach.
The 47-year-old Wainwright, who was hired in May, replaces James Blackwell, who stepped down to devote more time at the club soccer level. Blackwell’s last year on the job ended with the Redhawks posting an 18-0 regular season record before bowing to King Philip Regional in the Sectional semifinals.
Wainwright is no stranger to tournaments whether they’re Sectional or State playoffs. As a player at Needham High, he was a center midfielder and forward on the Rockets’ 1989 squad that not only won the Bay State Conference’s Carey Division title but competed against Natick in the Sectional quarterfinals where they bow to the Redhawks on penalty kicks.
As a soccer and lacrosse coach, the Needham native has guided Needham High’s boys lacrosse team to a State title in 2003 and a State runner-up finish in 2012. In 2011, Wainwright led the Dover-Sherborn girls soccer team to the State crown in 2011 and to an Eastern Mass. championship in 2010. Still the boys varsity lacrosse coach at Needham, he’s been to tourney play for the last 15 years.
He’s also coach both sports at lower levels. Wainwright was jayvee boys lacrosse coach at Needham for five years and he also coached the Rockets’ freshman boys soccer team for five seasons. Before taking the Dover-Sherborn post, he coached Charles River United, a girls club soccer team, and also was a girls varsity assistant for three years at Needham.
“Coaching girls soccer at Natick is a new challenge,’’ Wainwright said. “It’s a bigger school and it’s also a terrific fit. There’s high expectations for a program that can compete at any level. The foundation is strong and the feeder system is outstanding. And, I look forward to working with Athletic Director Tim Collins. I’ve known him from the years I’ve coached at Needham. I have lots of respect for the entire athletic program at Natick.’’
Soon after his appointment, Wainwright met the Redhawks’ captains, all the other players and their parents. The meeting went well and all impressions were positive.
“I was excited to meet the players and they wanted to see who I am and what I had to say,’’ Wainwright noted. “They seemed excited and comfortable. I met with the captains — Alex Campana and Hayley Murphy. They’re tremendous players, technically sound and very passionate about the sport. They’re very experienced starters.’’
Although Natick has an established program, Wainwright knows they’ll be some rebuilding because nine starters were lost to graduation. He’s acutely aware that his players will need to adapt to his style and be on the same page in terms of goals and objectives.
“I like to employ and up-tempo style,’’ he said. “But, possession of the ball is very important. Playing smart is a must and being able to adjust from a high-powered offense to a deliberate attack depends on our talent. Our goals are to improve daily, be prepared, to compete for the league title and to focus on the post-season when the time arrives.’’
Wainwright hasn’t seen very many of the BSC teams because he’s been Dover-Sherborn’s head coach for the last 10 years. But, as far as difficult opponents for Natick, he’s sure that traditionally-strong teams like Needham, Wellesley, Brookline and Weymouth will pose challenges for the Redhawks. “In the Bay State Conference, it’s a matter of being ready for everyone,’’ he emphasized.
When compiling a roster, Wainwright is fully cognizant of what mix he prefers. He knows what ingredients he wants and experience tells him what attributes provide a team with long-lasting success. “The attributes I like are players who are well-conditioned, have a high soccer IQ, are skilled and technically sound and passionate about the sport,’’ he said. “And, I want our players to develop a key mindset — earn everything, expect nothing.’’
At Needham High during his playing days, Wainwright wasn’t an all-star but he was a solid starter who was competitive and fulfilled whatever roles his coaches assigned. He played soccer, lacrosse and baseball before heading to Dean Junior College where he played soccer and lacrosse while majoring in law enforecement. He moved on to Westfield State University and played two years of lacrosse and soccer while majoring in criminal justice.
“While I was at Westfield, I started for two years in goal because two starters got hurt,’’ he recalled. “Our teams weren’t very successful but playing goal gave me a lot of perspective on soccer. It was a plus in helping me coach later.
Wainwright, who is the father of three, earned his masters degree from Ohio University in sports science and recreation. He’s worked at the Pollard Middle School in Needham, teaching physical education for the last 20 years.
Dave Wainwright’s knowledge and experience as a soccer coach should make his transition to the Natick girls varsity squad easy. And, the Redhawks should experience success — like there’s been at Needham in lacrosse and at Dover-Sherborn in soccer.