A question and answer with South Shore Vo-Tech athletic director Joe Marani.
A lot has changed over the last two decades in athletics at South Shore Vo-Tech and Joe Marani has overseen it all.
The department has outgrown some of its facilities and has resorted to University Sports Complex and Hanover High for practices and events, where Viking student-athletes have returned to coach.
The Express chatted with Marani, who is entering his 20th season as the athletic director at SSVT, which educates students from Whitman and Hanson, along with Abington, Cohasset, Hanover, Norwell, Rockland and Scituate.
Marani touched on numerous topics, such as what he appreciates most about his role, key dates in athletics this year and his expectations for 2018-19.
Q: How have you seen your position as an AD change?
A: “It’s changed in that the number of sports we’re offering has continued to grow. In that respect, we’re getting a lot more athletes at the school and in various sports. I think the biggest change is the fact about social media and communication, you have to be on top of it.”
Q: What’s your favorite part about being an AD?
A: “Game day. Game day. It just brings back playing which every athlete loves. As an athletic director you don’t have to worry about practice and the coaches handle that completely. You have much more involvement on game day so it’s kind of fun.”
Q: What keeps you going, what makes you want to continue to be an AD?
A: “I just love working with kids. Teaching and coaching has been what I’ve done and I just love it. The kids at The Voke in particular and our parents are unbelievable compared to the horror stories I hear at the regular comprehensive schools.
“Every job has good and bad, but the parental involvement has been 99 percent outstanding at our place. We don’t get a ton of support, in terms of attendance, but in terms of issues or priorities and things, we get 99 percent backing and it’s been great.”
Q: For those who don’t know, what goes into the role of an AD?
A: “The hardest part is the lining up and the keeping of good coaches and coaching staffs. The role of having a team versus the role of helping a coach develop a program is significant. It isn’t like an athletic club, where the main focus is just athletics. It’s a high school and high school athletics is so different and there are so many other factors involved, like a guy may not be the best coach in the world but he’s good in other aspects of it, the kids really like him and he communicates about their grades.
“Those are the things I don’t think people know. I mean, I think about coaches and then I start thinking about who would be good to assist them and how do we get that person on this staff and how do I get him in the school. That and the number of meetings is enormous.”
Q: When you look back on last year, what moment(s) stick out?
A: “We had an opportunity in boys’ basketball for a reciprocal support situation. In other words, in the first round of the tournament, the boys drew Upper Cape, who we had split with during the year. I got there a little late, probably in the middle of the first period, and I stood in the corner, all the voke gyms tend to be a little small, and the gym was completely packed.
“By halftime is when I went to go sit where my team was and as I walked across the court, I looked to my right and the entire girls’ basketball program — not just the varsity team — but there were 35 girls there and unbeknown to me, a couple of the coaches had signed out vans and took the teams down. I thought that was fabulous, right?
“So, two days later the girls’ team was playing Blue Hills in the voke tournament and this time I get there at the start of the game and when I walk in, who’s across from me? Not only was the boys’ team there, but the parents of the boys who were at that game and saw the girls come, showed up for the girls’ game. It was absolutely tremendous. Our girls lost that game, they were a 16 seed playing a No. 1 seed, and we lost by four points. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. Those two teams really, really supported each other.”
Q: Have there been any improvements in athletics for this upcoming year?
A: “Both locker rooms got brand new floors put in over the summer so the existing locker rooms — although small — are in absolutely great shape.”
Q: Are there any teams at SSVT that you have your eye on to make a deep postseason run or perhaps surprise some people?
A: “We’re excited about our golf team. We had a difficult year, in terms of wins and losses, but I was very pleased with the teaching the coach did and for the first time in golf, we have everyone back and we have a couple of freshmen who have a lot of experience so we’re kind of looking forward to that.
“Our numbers are great, as a matter of fact, the numbers were so big for our athletes’ assembly, we had to use Hanover High’s auditorium. We just couldn’t fit in our cafeteria as we usually do.
“The one I’m really excited to watch this year is the upcoming girls’ basketball team. They have been through some difficult times. I coached for a while and we had a streak under me for four years where we didn’t win a game. And, the first two years of my assistant didn’t win, we were just getting no athletes. He has turned the program around, not last year but the year before, and then last year they had their best year so I think they’re going to be a very, very big surprise this coming year to people.
“Football – with a five-team league and all of the teams are vocational teams — it’s always anyone’s league. I’m not predicting that we’re going to be No. 1, I just have a feeling they’re going to have a good year, as well. That one’s underway, the numbers are good, so we’ll see what happens.”
Q: Are there any dates that fans of SSVT athletics should mark down on their calendars for any reason?
A: “Our Blue Hills game (Oct. 19) is always huge and our Upper Cape game (Sept. 22) is huge for football. Those are going to be two big dates.”
Q: What are you hoping to see as the year gets underway?
A: “I think just the general nature of competition and how our kids handle that and go out and do it. I term them events because they’re games, but I think that opportunity for kids to learn in that environment is so tremendous and our kids seem to do well in it. I’m hoping to see that continue.”