Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Hartnett Resigns at Coe-Brown
The Coe-Brown girls basketball team made the Division II finals just a few weeks ago. They did it with no seniors, so the whole team will be back next year. Their coach however, will not be.
David Hartnett took over an average at best program 3 years ago. He turned the program around, and they averaged 16 wins over the past 3 seasons including a title game appearance this year, when they fell in a heartbreaker to Merrimack Valley. But on Wednesday we informed his team that he was stepping down as head coach.
"I'm a demanding coach, and if I demand 100% of my players then I should be giving 100% myself as coach" Hartnett told the NH Notebook in an exclusive interview. "But things have changed with my personal life and my work life, and I just wasn't building the program up the way I should."
Hartnett lives and works in Hampton, and Coe-Brown is located in Northwood.
"It was a 40-50 minute ride depending on traffic, sometimes even more" Hartnett explained. "That commute starts to wear on you."
Prior to Coe-Brown, Hartnett was largely responsible for the feeder system at Winnacunnet which produced five consecutive Division I (Class L) state championships. Many of those girls played AAU for him with the Exeter Hawks, a team that finished in the top 10 at AAU Nationals in Florida 3 years in a row.
"Due to the driving distance, I was not able to develop the kids at Coe-Brown like I had previously done on the seacoast" lamented Hartnett. "Dan O'Rourke at Hanover is a coach I have a tremendous amount of respect for. And I look at what he does with his feeder program - he's coaching 6th, 7th and 8th grade AAU teams up there. That's what I wanted to do at Coe-Brown. I wanted to build up the feeder program, but could never get it off the ground because of how far away I live."
Hartnett makes it clear that this decision was strictly about logistics, and he has nothing but positive feelings about Coe-Brown.
"The kids, the parents, they have been great" said Hartnett. "With headmaster Dave Smith and Athletic Director Matt Skidds they have a great administration. There's great facilities there and the best pep band in the state."
As much as he enjoyed Coe-Brown and his team, the long distance was too much of a factor.
"In the past we played in a Stonehill College tournament over the summer, where we had dinner with their team and stayed overnight" Hartnett pointed out. My first year we went to a Christmas tournament down at Disney World. I just can't make the time commitment anymore. I don't want to be one of those coaches who just shows up, runs practice, collects a paycheck and goes home."
Hartnett is looking forward to some time off, but isn't ruling out the possibility of a return to coaching down the road.
"I love coaching, I may return" said Hartnett. "But if I do it would be at a school no more than 20 minutes away."
As of right now, there aren't any such openings. St. Thomas is nearby and they replaced their head coach halfway through the season, with Sabrina Payeur being replaced by interim head coach Tim Bradley.
"I don't see them hiring someone new at St. Thomas, Coach Bradley did a nice job" Hartnett noted. "They beat Milford and they almost beat us. It's funny, Portsmouth is another job I would have taken and they hired Dan Parr over there right after I took the Coe-Brown job."
So Hartnett is moving on. But he does leave behind a team at Coe-Brown that is loaded with talent. Jenny Schlim made first team, and Abigail Ahearn made second team all-state. Debbie Peabody, Sarah Curtin and Debbie Peabody are both scrappy defenders and solid shooters, and Haley Ruth was the floor general. The whole starting lineup is only juniors. And 6th man Sydney Fisher is a sophomore who really stepped up later in the season.
"I believed in the kids on this team from the first day they walked through the door" concluded Hartnett. "After we lost to Lebanon this year I challenged them to not be an ordinary team but to be better than that. And it's a credit to them because they turned their season around after that game. They will be the favorite in D-II next year, and I wish those kids nothing but the best of luck."