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October 16. 2012 9:58PM

Quirk to return to coach Memorial boys

Jack Quirk has come full circle.

Quirk confirmed Tuesday night he will return as the head boys’ basketball coach at Manchester Memorial, pending approval by the Board of School Committee.

Quirk, currently the school’s athletic director who previously served as the boys’ head coach for nine seasons, would replace Mike Fitzpatrick, who recently stepped down to become the boys’ head coach at Bedford High.

Quirk, who relinquished his post as the girls’ head basketball coach at Memorial, was recently approved to the boys’ post by the athletic committee. His nomination still needs to be approved by the full school board.

“I really never planned on this happening until Fitzy took the Bedford job,” said Quirk. “I saw this as an opportunity to get back into coaching the boys’ team. I welcome the challenge and want to thank (Memorial principal) Arthur Adamakos and the administration for giving me this opportunity.

Quirk started his high school coaching career in 1971 as the assistant boys’ basketball coach at Memorial under Peter Poirier. When Memorial won the state title in 1982, Poirier stepped down and Quirk took over the program as the head coach for nine seasons.

He left Memorial for a 10-year coaching stint at Hesser College before returning to the high school to serve as the head coach of the girls’ basketball program nine years ago.

Quirk inherits a program that produced four straight winning seasons. In his first season, Fitzpatrick led the Crusaders to the state final in Durham, where they lost to city rival Trinity.

The next three seasons, Memorial qualified for the quarterfinals. Last season Memorial produced a memorable down-to-the-wire finish in its quarterfinal playoff loss to rival Central.

“I think we’re going to have a talented team this season,” said Quirk. “Talent can win you a lot of games, but to be a championship team, you also need character. There’s no question our goal is to win a state title, but we have to understand going into the season that talent alone isn’t enough to reach the top.”

Quirk said the advantage he has as the school’s athletic director is keeping track of all the players. “Academics is very important and I’ll be able to be on top of things like grade slippage, tardy absences and even behavorial problems if any surface.”

Quirk was a teacher at Memorial for 39 years (1969-2007) and remaining at the school he loves was important to him.

“It’s my home in many ways,” he said. “Even when I coached at Hesser, I taught at Memorial. I just love the school and people in it.”

Quirk said he will not be involved in the committee process of selecting the next head girls basketball coach at Memorial.

“Whoever is the next head coach is going to inherit a very competitive team,” said Quirk, noting veteran players Allie Hartford, Danielle Fletcher and Makenah Grisson are returning from a 14-4 team last season.

“Before I formally applied for the boys’ job, I sat down with the (girls) captains and told them my leaving the girls basketball program had nothing to do with them,” said Quirk. “I told them I just wanted to do something different after nine seasons. I’m proud of what we accomplished with the girls program. We were 48-24 during the last four regular seasons. We also finished in the top four the last two seasons and came within an overtime period of reaching the finals last year. That’s never been done before at Memorial.”

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