Jacen Hudson, left, of Hudson Post 48, objects to Nolan Flynn of Sweeny Post #2 being called safe at third base in the 7th inning of their game on Sunday afternoon at Holman Stadium in Nashua. Sweeny went on to win the game 4-3. Bruce Preston / Union Leader
AFTER a long and frustrating senior year at Manchester High Central, Nolan Flynn this summer at long last got back to doing what he loves to do: play ball.
That senior year followed three years as a student-athlete at Manchester West, which approved Flynn’s transfer for the purpose of academics but denied him eligibility in athletics, preventing him from playing basketball and baseball for the Little Green.
Flynn returned to the diamond this summer, playing American Legion ball for Sweeney Post of Manchester. He discussed his year at Central during the Legion state tournament at Holman Stadium late last month. He also spoke well of his former teammates and coaches, particularly basketball coach Dan Bryson, at West.
“First of all, I have nothing against the kids and coaches I played with for three years at West,” Flynn said. “Danny Bryson is a great coach, a great person who gave me an opportunity to play. All the West guys I played with were great.
“My decision to leave West was because of academics. There were many classes my senior year that were going to have over 30 kids, and when I heard that wasn’t the case at Central, I decided to transfer there. I also wanted to go to Central because I live just five blocks from the school, and many of my friends I grew up with were all there. I wanted to graduate with them, and I did, which made me happy.”
What didn’t make Flynn happy was being forced to watch the Central basketball and baseball teams from the sidelines.
He said he and his family tried to explain to the West administration that he wasn’t leaving for athletic reasons.
“My grade-point average at Central was 3.12 for my senior season,” Flynn said. “I left West for academic reasons, not just because Central had a great basketball team.”
When Flynn got to Central, he said, basketball coach Dave “Doc” Wheeler and the entire team welcomed him with open arms.
“Even though I couldn’t play, I was still able to practice with the team, and I didn’t miss one practice the whole year,” Flynn said. “Still, it was hard on me and my family, particularly my dad, to watch Central play from the stands. It just tore me apart.”
Yet the basketball players and coaches always treated Flynn as a member of their team, he said.
“I’ll never forget the day I had a math test to make up after school, and the whole team waited for me just to be in the team picture,” he said. “After we won the Division I state title, the team gave me one of the championship medals the NHIAA hands out to all the winning members on the team. Words can’t describe what all of that meant to me. I love those guys for what they did for me.”
Late in the regular season, Wheeler asked Flynn to address the team before a key game against Nashua North.
“Very emotional,” Wheeler said of the atmosphere in the locker room during Flynn’s speech. “So emotional that everyone in the locker room was in tears. Here’s a kid who couldn’t play a game for us all season telling us not to take anything for granted. He told the team to stay focused until we achieved our goal of winning the state title.
“Nolan is just a great kid — a great person and a champion. He will always be remembered as a player on the 2014 Division I championship team at Central.”
Flynn will attend Plymouth State University this fall.
MANCHESTER Memorial High will host its annual men’s alumni soccer game, featuring the school’s current players against former players, on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 1 p.m. All alumni players are asked to wear a white shirt. For more information, call Memorial coach Chris Florek at 315-8106.
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.