“We’re practicing inside the high school and Lafayette School,” said DiBiaso. “I don’t think we’ll be playing any preseason or regular season games for awhile. It will be at least two weeks, if not more.”
The Everett High track and tennis teams are always conducting their practices indoors, “making the best of a tough situation,” according to DiBiaso.
“I think everyone is in the same boat,” he said. “The seasons are supposed to start in early April but I’m pretty sure that everything is going to get pushed back.”
In Chelsea, the story is the same as in Everett.
Chelsea baseball Coach Alan Beausoleil conducted tryouts for his team on Monday inside the Chelsea High School (CHS) gym. Using rubber balls, Beausoleil and his coaches ran prospective team members through ground ball practice, throwing drills and some rudimentary batting practice.
It’s all improvised, he said, noting that normally he would at least be able to go to the high school’s turf football field. The ball fields in Chelsea are much worse than other fields, as the City had to use the baseball and softball fields as “snow farms” to store plowed snow from the area’s school grounds. At some spots on the softball field, nine-foot tall piles still stood on the pitcher’s mound last Friday.
“Our field has great drainage and in most winters we are outside that first week of the season,” he said. “Obviously that is not going to happen this year as there are still mounds of snow on the baseball and softball fields. We are hoping for a warm stretch in the near future that would allow us to get out there sooner, rather than later. In preparation we have already moved back our first game and our new start date is April 9. The good thing is that, unless you have a turf field that has been plowed, then we are all in the same boat.”
Chelsea softball coach Ted Freeley said he hopes that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) moves the season back officially.
“Mystic Valley is the only school we play that I know has a turf field, so they might be in a little better shape than most, but the rest of us are in the same boat,” he said on Monday while leading his team through a series of indoor throwing drills. “We might have to move back the start of our season anyway or else we’ll end up playing five games a week. I’ve never seen anything like this, not this bad. I remember two to three years ago we had a lot of snow like this, but it had come over the whole winter, so it melted gradually. I don’t know when this will be gone.”
Fortunately for Chelsea, a few years ago the schools invested in an indoor batting cage. Both Chelsea coaches said that will be the savior for their teams this year.
“We will be holding practices indoors for the foreseeable future and fortunately about three years ago Chelsea High School purchased an indoor batting cage that will definitely help us out in the long run,” said Beausoleil.
Being creative like that seems to be the mantra, such as in Revere where that district’s high-quality turf soccer/lacrosse field is working overtime for the spring sports season.
“Right now the turf field behind our high school is ready to go,” said Shaun Hart, Revere High School (RHS) AD. “That’s huge for us and so far we’re not behind. Unless you get a mild winter, we expect to be inside the first week. We’ll build time into the turf field – splitting it with our boys and girls lacrosse teams – so baseball and softball can get in time outside. They’ll be able to work with the lights on and use the length of the turf field. Kids can get out there and stretch out their arms and get in throwing shape.”
Getting time in the batting cage in Revere – which does not have it’s own indoor cage – is about connections, he said. With the scramble by teams to get batting practice in, many indoor cages are booked solid.
“It is hard to find time, but when you’ve been around long enough, you know who to call,” he said with a laugh.
He said that, like the other programs, scrimmages in Revere have already been cancelled – worrying coaches like Revere softball coach Joe Ciccarello, whose team is coming off of a long postseason run last year and has high expectations for this year.
Hart said his coaches – and all baseball and softball coaches – worry most about their pitchers. Unlike basketball or other sports, it isn’t possible to make up games en masse – such as booking four games a week. That, Hart said, has to do with pitching.
Softball pitchers, and especially baseball pitchers, can’t be expected to pitch multiple times in a week without getting hurt. That, he said, is the best case for calling on the MIAA to move the season back in light of the extraordinary snow circumstances.
“We’re going to continue to move on,” Hart said. “I’m hoping the MIAA pushes the season back a week for everyone. That would take the pressure off. If they could take game one and move it back to game 21, that would help. Bottom line is it’s the right thing to do. We can’t play four games in a week. There’s no team where they have a pitcher with four starts in one week in them…A kid who could save the game for you can’t be available to come in. You’re going to end up having your left fielder pitching, making good teams into average teams.”
Tony Ferullo named
“Coach of the Year”
By Cary Shuman
Revere resident Tony Ferullo has built an outstanding boys basketball program at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (Malden) in the past decade.
He has led the Eagles to eight consecutive winning seasons and appearances in the MIAA State Tournament and two Commonwealth Athletic Conference (CAC) championships.
This year’s MVRCS team was 15-5, co-champion of the CAC with Minuteman Tech. The Eagles defeated Division 2 Chelsea High for the first time in school history.
The CAC coaches selected Ferullo as the conference’s 2014-15 coach of the year.
“I’m honored that my colleagues selected me for this award,” said Ferullo.
It’s been a quite a run for Ferullo, the former Revere High boys basketball coach who founded the Mystic Valley program a dozen years ago. The team competed in the Massachusetts Charter School League for one year, played an independent schedule for one year, and then joined the Commonwealth Athletic Conference.
Ferullo has won more than 130 games at Mystic Valley and close to 200 in his coaching career. He coached for one season at Newman Prep and had a successful five-year tenure at Revere High (1996-2001) where he guided the Patriots to four state tournament berths in his last four seasons. Revere defeated powerful Cambridge Rindge and Latin in the regular season and Dracut in the MIAA Tournament during the Ferullo Era. He was named the Boston Globe Coach of the Year in 1999.
“This my 19th year coaching high school and for one year I was the assistant varsity coach at Melrose,” said Ferullo.
Ferullo is proud of his success at Mystic Valley, which does not admit transfer students after the fifth grade. Students attend school 200 days a year and the school day is from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Ferullo, who is news director at Suffolk University, also serves as director of the Fun-Damentals Basketball Camp that annually draws a large contingent of Revere youths to its one-week session.
Waiting for the game to begin
Syracuse freshman and 2014 RHS grad Ben Digiulio (second from right) pictured here with Hall of Fame Syracuse Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim (center) and three of his dorm mates outside the carrier dome before the Duke game.