John Habib's City Sports: Double duty for Trinity’s Polak
When Trinity High of Manchester principal Denis Mailloux hired Chip Polak as athletics director last year, little did he know he was also getting a tennis coach.
When Polak was the assistant athletics director at Southern New Hampshire University (still known as New Hampshire College at the time), he coached tennis for three seasons at the neighboring Derryfield School, from 1981-83.
As coach of the Cougars, he mentored 1981 NHIAA state singles champion Richie Sherman, who won his title by defeating 1980 and ’82 champ Jim Young of Milford. Sherman and teammate Sean Stone also won the NHIAA state doubles title in 1982.
Polak also coached the Derryfield girls’ tennis team in 1983.
This spring, when Polak couldn’t find a coach for the Trinity boys’ tennis team, he named himself coach. Trinity is off to 3-5 start in Division II, with a strong player at No. 1 singles in Brian Madden.
“Brian is a pretty good athlete,” said Polak, noting that Madden’s father, Peter, is an accomplished athlete in his own right, having completed 20 consecutive Boston Marathons.
Since his last stint as tennis coach, competition at the local high school level has changed quite a bit, Polak said.
“The quality of depth today is better,” he said. “The middle to the bottom of the lineup is stronger than when Sherman played in the early ’80s. Sherman and Stone could compete today and still win, but the overall depth is better today.”
In his role as AD, Polak said he’ll be announcing the new boys’ basketball coach sometime next week. Dave Keefe stepped down earlier this year after nine seasons at the helm.
“Next week we’re sitting down with the finalists for interviews,” said Polak. “In all, we had 15 applicants, and I was impressed with each of them. I’m taking this very seriously because Trinity basketball is rich in history.”
Polak said he gets “chills” whenever he watches a basketball game at Trinity’s McHugh Gym, a throwback facility with a capacity of 700.
“I tell people the one word I always describe watching a game at Trinity is ‘Hoosiers’. I just get chills whenever I walk across that gym floor. When you fill that gym to capacity, it’s really a special atmosphere.”
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FOR THE FIRST time since the late 1970s, Manchester Babe Ruth Baseball will not field a 13-year-old league.
“We have a total of 87 kids, which gives us six teams this season,” said Manchester director Gary Ulbin. “All six teams will carry players ages 13, 14 and 15.”
Ulbin said this year’s circuit will be renamed the Tom Woodlock/Ray Lebel League, merging the names of the 15- and 13-year-old leagues.
“We only had 22 13-year-old kids sign up, and that wasn’t enough to sustain the Lebel League by itself,” Ulbin said. “Again, kids today are playing other sports, like soccer and lacrosse. There’s AAU baseball, and together it’s taken its toll on us and other Babe Ruth leagues across the state.”
Ulbin said he has scheduled games against Babe Ruth teams from Bow, Salem and Nashua.
“Those leagues are down in numbers, too,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat, so we decided to help each other by scheduling games against each other. We’re going to have a 20-game schedule for each team. We’ve also established a league rule where every kid must play a minimum of three innings per game. Each kid can’t go two straight games without starting a game.
“Overall, I’m excited about this season especially playing teams from Bow, Salem and Nashua,” Ulbin said.
He believes — or at least hopes — his registration numbers have leveled off.
“I don’t see our registration numbers dropping dramatically for some time,” he said. “I think we’ll maintain between 85 and 90 players a year going forward. I will admit we need to market our league better. We need to go after players more aggressively in the future.”
The league’s season is scheduled to open today with a Gill Stadium tripleheader beginning at 10 a.m.
Three games featuring the league’s six teams will take place on Opening Day today in a tripleheader at Gill Stadium beginning at 10 a.m.
Ulbin said the league will be able to field three all-star teams: the 15-year-old Woodlocks, the 14-year-old Hanagans and 13-year-old Lebels.
From Aug. 2-7, Manchester will host the 15-year-old New England Babe Ruth Regional at Gill Stadium.
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.