WHEN HE RESIGNED as Concord High School’s varsity boys basketball coach following the 2018-19 season, Dave Chase thought he was done with coaching basketball.
Chase, 58, was not enjoying coaching the sport as much as he once did, and he still had his duties as the varsity baseball and varsity golf coach at Hopkinton High School to keep him busy. Then he learned that Pinkerton Academy needed an assistant coach for its boys basketball program, and he figured being the No. 2 coach on staff might rekindle his enthusiasm.
He was right.
“I had decided to step away,” Chase said. “I was happy with just golf and baseball. Then I heard Pinkerton was looking for an assistant coach and I thought, ‘Maybe it would be fun to go somewhere else and be an assistant.’ When I applied for it, it turned out it was a JV job and assist the varsity coach.
“They hired me. I did the JV season (last year) and I kind of fell in love with coaching (basketball) again. It was more about teaching the kids how to play. I was playing them all, so nobody was getting upset because they were all getting playing time. It was fun. I caught the bug again and was looking forward to going to practice every day.”
Chase, a Contoocook resident who teaches phys ed at Hopkinton High School, said he had no vision of taking over as the varsity coach at Pinkerton until former Pinkerton coach Pete Rosinski decided to retire after last season, when the Astros finished 2-18 overall (1-17 in Division I). Rosinski had a 188-206 record in 19 seasons at Pinkerton and guided the Astros to the 2010 Class L state championship.
After Rosinski made his decision, Pinkerton Athletic Director Brian O’Reilly approached Chase to see if he had any interest in the varsity position.
“I was having so much fun I said, ‘Yeah, I guess I do,’” Chase recalled. “So I applied and I was lucky enough to get the job.”
Pinkerton is getting a coach with a wealth of experience in multiple sports. His teams have won eight state championships: girls basketball (1991, 2000, 2001), baseball (1989, 2000, 2012, 2017) and golf (2018).
Chase won 109 games in six seasons as the girls basketball coach at Hopkinton, and then steered the Hopkinton boys basketball team to 193 wins in 13 seasons. His teams showed steady improvement while he was at Concord, which went 13-60 from 2013 to 2016 under former coach John Finnegan. The Crimson Tide finished 4-14 in Chase’s first season, 6-12 the following year and 11-7 in his final season.
O’Reilly said Chase was an easy hire.
“We got to watch him in action (last year),” O’Reilly said. “We got to watch the way he coached and the success of the (JV) team, but that’s secondary to the way he treated his athletes, his knowledge of the game and such. When Peter decided to retire — and that was Peter’s decision, I want to make that clear — we had the guy right there. There was no reason that we didn’t want David. He brings everything to our program that we want. Someone with experience, knowledge, coaches the way we want, teacher … different school system, but nonetheless a teacher. He just checked off all the boxes.”
Chase, who is also the president of the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches’ Organization, said he will continue to coach and teach at Hopkinton. He made it clear that his coaching style at Pinkerton will depend on what kind of talent he has. He’s not going to force a predetermined system on his players.
“If we have guys who can run and gun, I think that’s the best way to play basketball, but if you don’t have guys who can play that way, you may have to control things a little bit more,” he said. “With our guys down at Pinkerton this year we’re big. We have 6-7, 6-6, 6-5 guys. We certainly will be one of the bigger teams around and if we can control the boards and if we can run that’s something we’ll do. Once we get through tryouts we’ll have to analyze what kind of team we have. At Concord, I tried to play pressure man-to-man because we had so many small kids who could move.”
Tryouts at Pinkerton begin Monday. The Astros are scheduled to play a regional schedule this season that includes games against Alvirne, Salem, Bishop Guertin, Windham, Timberlane, Londonderry and Nashua South.
Although he lives 39 miles from Pinkerton, Chase said the travel won’t be an issue for him. A bigger obstacle, perhaps, will be keeping the best players in Derry. Pinkerton’s talent has been thinned in recent years by players who opted to play prep school basketball.
“I’m feeling like I’m 25 and starting over and having a good opportunity,” he said. “It worked out well for me last year. I’m really anxious to get going this year. The kids are hungry, too. They want to be successful. That’s all we’re talking about is success.”