A question and answer with South Shore Tech athletic director Joe Marani.
Sports will likely never be the draw for South Shore Tech, but it’s tough to deny that the athletics program is on the rise.
Joe Marani, who is entering his 21st year as the school’s athletic director, is a big reason why.
The Express chatted with Marani about the improvements going into the season, the highs and lows of being an AD and more.
Q: What gets you most excited for a new year of athletics?
A: “The fresh start, the new players, the new coaches, just the overall buzz and attitude of a new group of seniors and leaders makes starting up very exciting.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of the school year and why?
A: “The one word answer is summer, but that’s not true. I love the first month of school because everyone knows it’s a clean slate and the returning athletes get to prove themselves. You can immediately judge what kind of offseason you had. That never seems to get old.”
Q: How do you feel playing a sport benefits students?
A: “The benefits are enormous. It allows students the opportunity to experience life lessons. It gives students the chance to start making decisions on their own and makes them more responsible for themselves. It’s the first time for a lot of kids where they are tested mentally, physically and emotionally, and they grow tremendously because of it. It’s not perfect for every student, and the coaching and leadership needs to be knowledgeable of the real purpose of sports in school. But it’s usually the most remembered part of high school.”
Q: What are the highs and lows of being an AD?
A: “The lows are the meetings, the clerical work, the constant communication issues. But the highs far outweigh the lows. Watching our players perform. Watching them grow up. Seeing the relationship develop between players and coaches. Once you have been involved in sports a part of you never leaves it and its seems like fun forever.”
Q: For those who don’t know, what goes into the role of an AD?
A: “The sheer enormity of it. You have to deal with every aspect and every department in a school. The cooperation and coordination to do anything in sports is enormous. Also being a vocational school we have more time committed to other organizations. The technical side can be daunting. Social media and computer skills are essential. The list goes on and on. We actually have four organizations that we are part of and all requiring us to follow their rules and attend their meetings.”
Q: When you look back on last year, what moment(s) stick out?
A: “No. 1: last year’s girls’ lax MIAA tournament game versus Fontbonne. Our girls played great. I got to see first-hand the great athleticism our female athletes displayed all year. It was an awesome exhibition.
“No. 2: talking to the players and coach of our JV boys lax team. The coach, who was a former varsity coach, told me it was the best team and group of kids he had worked with in some time. They had a great season.
“No. 3: the varsity baseball team beating Tri-County. That team had a great year but needed to beat someone big and Tri-County had only lost two games or so when we went over there and beat them.
“All three of those things stand out to me.”
Q: Have there been any improvements in athletics for this upcoming year?
A: “Quite a few actually. We are renovating the baseball field, which is also our fall practice field for soccer and football. So we have to practice off campus this year. We have a new locker room out near the football field which is nearly complete. Football will use that freeing up space in our boys inside locker room. Our superintendent just announced that we will be installing lights on our football/soccer/lax field sometime later this year. That is probably the most exciting news regarding the facility.
“Other improvements are staff improvements. Our kid and parents are very lucky that we have added Mike Hernon to our faculty and put him on as an assistant AD. That is a huge benefit since he has many years’ experience as the AD at Upper Cape. Also John Barr, a former SST athlete has joined the staff. We have new coaches in football, golf, volleyball and soccer. Whenever that happens there is always a level of excitement that gets added. So things just keep getting better at SST.”
Q: Are there any teams at SST that you have your eye on to make a deep postseason run or perhaps surprise some people?
A: “I think cross country is in a good position. Volleyball has been steady for a while so we always look towards them. Football has been up and down but always plays good football so they will be fun to watch. Golf might be the sleeper in the fall. They came in second place last year so we are hoping for good things from them. But any of our teams could make a run at a championship. Boys’ basketball was not expected to be that good last year and they won the league. That is the type of thing we are shooting for with all our teams now.”
Q: Are there any dates that fans of SST athletics should mark down on their calendars for any reason?
A: “Well, for football, the Upper Cape game and the Old Colony games tend to be our big games. Volleyball versus Norfolk Aggie is always big.”
Q: What are you hoping to see as the year gets underway?
A: “I hope to see improvement in all our teams. It will be great to see what the soccer team will do. The same with football and golf. Overall, it’s just nice to see the numbers of participants growing and our teams competing. I hope to more and more of that.”