On the heels of a hot-seat experience that didn’t have a happy ending, Todd Flaherty’s search for a new coaching home began and ended on the Saint Dominic Academy web page.
“The first thing I did was read their 52-page player/parent handbook. There is a lot of great stuff in there,” Flaherty said. “It seemed to be very supportive of coaches and a great foundation for an athletic program.”
Surely the job seeker also found a paragraph or two about St. Dom’s sterling sports tradition, one that boasts championships in hockey, baseball, soccer and more.
He’ll assume an active role in trying to add boys’ basketball to the list.
Flaherty, 48, is the Saints’ new head coach. He follows Ryan Deschenes, who took command at Gray-New Gloucester after leading St. Dom’s to the most successful six-year run in school history.
“Another exciting thing about being there is that (the players) want to excel not only in sports but in the classroom,” Flaherty said. “They go to St. Dom’s for a reason.”
Flaherty makes the move to Class C and the Mountain Valley Conference after 17 years at Morse High School in Bath, including the past five as head coach.
Morse went 27-65 during his tenure, including a stellar 14-4 campaign and Eastern Class A quarterfinals appearance in 2008-09.
But it was a span marked by declining enrollment, prompting a move from Class A to Class B for the 2011-12 season.
After a winless farewell in the Class A division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, the Shipbuilders went 4-14 in their ‘B’ premiere.
Flaherty’s contract was not renewed.
“After five years my job was opened up,“ he said. “I was asked to reapply. I didn’t think that was right, so I was thinking about doing something else and St. Dom’s came up.”
Deschenes had put together a summer schedule prior to his departure.
The new boss has spent those games getting to know his new personnel. To this point he’s had the opportunity to evaluate only the varsity players.
“We have about eight kids,“ Flaherty said. “It’s a pretty young group. There are probably only two or three seniors in there, which is good in building for the future. They’re very coachable.”
Flaherty’s preferences are up-tempo offense and pressure defense.
His first order of business is building the depth that will allow the Saints to play that way.
“Even in Bath I was kind of limited by the kids we had,” Flaherty said. “I like to get 8 to 10 kids who are capable of playing a lot of varsity minutes.”
Also on Flaherty’s agenda are organizing St. Dom’s annual Christmas tournament and setting up a fitness room program when school begins.
St. Dom's was 62-55 during the Deschenes era, one that featured six straight Western Class C tournament appearances. The Saints reached the regional semifinals in 2009. They were 8-11 this past season, losing to Old Orchard Beach in the preliminary round.
Flaherty, a graduate of the University of Maine, is co-owner of AirCon, Inc., a Brunswick company in the heating, venting and air conditioning industry. He lives in Phippsburg.
“It’s within my driving radius,” he said. “I wanted to be within an hour of home, and that’s about what it takes me.”
The new coach admitted that he is “100 percent in the dark” about the teams and coaches of the Mountain Valley Conference. That isn’t a new experience, however, after Morse’s move prior to the 2011-12 season.
“I had to get to know a whole new league,” Flaherty said. “Now going to the MVC is going to be another different experience.”
Flaherty might mean the hairy winter travel as much as the styles of play.
“Finding some of the schools could be interesting for me. Driving to Auburn is the least of my worries,” he quipped.