Monthly Archives: April 2008

Amesbury AD Elizabeth McAndrews Knows Change

Elizabeth McAndrewsAmesbury Athletic Director Elizabeth McAndrews is no stranger to change. 

In fact, she changed her name. Yes, she used to be Shawn Corkum the outstanding athlete at Triton – CAL Player-of-the-Year in field hockey and basketball during the 1983-84 school year.

“When I got married in 2000 to Patrick McAndrews I decided that since everyone was going to have to learn my new last name I might as well change to my real first name too,” she explained.  “Shawn is my middle name and the name that my family has always called me.  I wanted to switch to something more feminine when I got married.”

The change that Elizabeth is coping with now happens daily at Amesbury High School and involves fluctuating working conditions on one hand and operating a high school athletic program on the other in the midst of four-year construction project. 

Inclement weather forces ten high school teams into one space.  “The only indoor facility available is the middle school gym,” said Elizabeth, “but thankfully Middle School principal Mike Curry has been very helpful.”

The good news is that the athletic facilities should be up and running when the students return in September of this year.

Elizabeth has gone through two years of the construction.  “I knew what I was getting into when I decided to come here from Triton.  We had been through a building project there.”

The Dartmouth graduate was at Triton for nine years including the last four as athletic director.  The athletic director job came with a price.  “The administration said that I couldn’t be athletic director and continue coaching,” said Elizabeth.  “I thought that I could do both but they knew more than I did and they were right.”

She explained that it has been seven years since she coached field hockey or basketball but that there’s plenty of coaching talk at home.  “My husband Patrick is the girl’s basketball coach at Tewksbury so I still get a taste of it.”
Elizabeth wanted it known that having Les Murray in place as principal (his 7th year) at Amesbury High School had a lot to do with her choice to come there.  “Les and I go back a long way.  He was my high school basketball coach for several seasons and was an important positive influence in my life.”

“Two years ago Les alerted me to the athletic director opening at Amesbury and encouraged me to apply.  Obviously, he didn’t promise me anything other than an interview. Because I had played basketball for him, I was well aware of his leadership style.  I knew that he would be hands off but available if I needed his advice.  I also knew that he would challenge me to be as good a leader and person as I could be.”

The next major change for Elizabeth McAndrews will be when all of the athletic facilities at Amesbury High School are operational.  That will be certainly be a change for the better.

( Submitted to The Town Common on April 23rd )

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Tennis Camp Finds Love at Governors’ Academy

Let’s start with the happy endings:

(1) Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp will continue to exist,

(2) The Pentucket school district will have control of its tennis courts in the summer and,

(3) Governors’ Academy will make money renting out its tennis courts during the summer.

Things weren’t so rosy a month ago. “Around the end of March I believed that I wasn’t going to be having a camp,” said Pete Kolifrath, the director of Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp.

For two summers, the 40-year-old tennis pro had used Pentucket’s tennis courts and expected to continue there in 2008.

He submitted his application in September (2007) but didn’t hear back right away. Finally, in late November he got a call from the superintendent’s office explaining that tennis court usage would be discussed at a school committee meeting in January (2008).

The day after the meeting, Kolifrath heard from Pentucket superintendent Paul Livingston.  “He told me that Pentucket was interested in running its own tennis camp on the courts in the summer and asked if I would run it for them.  If not, he wanted the camp hours to be lessened.”  Kolifrath wasn’t interested in either of the options and informed friends of his camp what had happened. 

That led to a letter/email writing campaign in which the superintendent and school committee members heard from about 50 friends of Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp.

The next school committee meeting (February 12th) turned confrontational as thirty friends of the tennis camp were on hand prepared to voice their support for the camp.

“That meeting was disappointing,” said the Merrimac resident.  “They only let a few of us speak and concluded that the decision about the camp was up to Superintendent Livingston.  The superintendent wanted me to pay an extra $12,000 to keep the camp the way we had operated it the previous two summers.”

While Coach Pete began quickly looking around for alternative sites for the camp, letter writers sent their opinions to local papers regarding the camp.  Some supported it while others were glad to see it leaving Pentucket.

Late in March, Coach Pete had one of those days that you never forget. 

First, he was mad after an email from the Pentucket superintendent ended any hope of his tennis camp being at Pentucket. 

Next, he was encouraged after getting an optimistic phone call from Stacey Sartori (mother of a tennis camper) of Amesbury.  “She said that something good would happen because there’s always a silver lining.”

Finally, he was elated when Karen Gold of Governors’ Academy emailed to offer the new courts there for the camp’s use.  “Believe me, I had to read that email twice to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me!”

In a week a deal was in place with Governors’ Academy.  “We’re delighted to be there even though it will cost a little bit more,” said Pete. “It’s a much nicer facility. 

The specifics for Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp are at

( Submitted to The Town Common on April 22nd )

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Amesbury’s Business Manager Plays Hockey

Dave Jack is not only the business manager of the Amesbury school district but he also has quite a hockey background.

“I was born in New Brunswick (He has dual citizenship) and have been playing hockey regularly for 50 years,” said the 53-year-old. 

Dave grew up aspiring to get to the NHL.  He reached the Junior B level in Ontario as a teenager playing first for the Trenton Golden Hawks and then the St. Marys Lincolns.  “The Trenton team folded for financial reasons,” recalled Dave.  “A friend (Bob Dailey – later played 9 years in the NHL) helped me get a tryout.  Just 16, I survived a 100-player tryout for one roster spot and joined St. Marys where I played for three years.”

He reached a crossroad during his 3rd season with St. Marys.  “I was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers,” said Dave.  “They were an A team and the next level up.  However, if I went with them I would lose my amateur status and not be able to play college hockey in the US so I didn’t sign with them.”

Instead, he accepted a full scholarship to Rensselaer (NY).  “The chance to continue playing at a high level for four more years was attractive but more important to me was that my education was guaranteed for four years once I agreed to go there.”

He started out majoring in engineering and later switched to financial management.  He played hockey all four years for the Red Hawks never missing a game and captained the team his senior year.

“I wanted to continue playing after college but there were limited options in the US,” said Dave.  “I hired the same agent Wayne Gretzky had and he got me onto a professional team in Asiago, Italy where I played for a year.”

Dave is a defenseman and grew up in awe of a player six years old than him – Bobby Orr.  “He revolutionized the game with his skating ability,” said Dave. 

Dave wouldn’t go into detail but after checking his RPI stats, I discovered that he was no stranger to the penalty box – 223 penalty minutes in 116 games at RPI.  “In those days you could clear people out from in front of the net,” said Dave with a smile.  “It was a way of doing business – you moved people around.  I suspect that many of the forwards I played against probably didn’t enjoy standing in front of the net if I was nearby.”

He told me that the best player he ever played against was the 1980 Winter Olympics hero Mike Eruzione of BU.  “I played four seasons against him.”

Now in the non-contact phase of his hockey life Dave expects to continue with hockey as long as he’s able.  “Most of the guys in the 40+ league I’m part of in Mancester (NH) have backgrounds similar to mine.  The camaraderie is great and we tell plenty of stories.  Our motto is: the older we get, the better we were.”

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Pioneer League: A Hit with Kids and Parents

On Saturday (April 19th), Newburyport’s Pioneer League launches its 50th season.  A ten-member board runs the impressive organization that involves nearly 770 area kids from ages six to fifteen.

“We’ll be ready to go,” said League President Bob Horne.  “The fields were opened to practice on April 8th.”

With numbers second only to the Newburyport school system, this voluntary organization obviously enjoys citywide appeal. 

Ten years ago, there were about 400 players.  What draws kids is the realization that they will see plenty of action (at bat and in the field) if they sign up to play.  The certainty of playing time sits well with most parents too.

“Our goal is to teach kids how to play the game,” said President Horne.  “We want them to learn teamwork and how to get along.  During the regular season the emphasis is not with winning as much as it is on participation and learning the skills of the game.”

Bob Horne’s background would suggest why he’s comfortable with this low-key approach.  “I grew up in Gorham (Maine) which didn’t have much of a little league.  We played what you might call, sandlot ball.  There was only one real field in town. We found other places to play when it was unavailable.  You’d get your friends together and play for hours and have fun.” 

All the participants and all the games make Pioneer Park and its four fields a busy place into August.  The league has worked at being a good neighbor.  “We do our best to clean up and also we’re aware of the traffic issues on that section of Merrimac Street when games are being played,” added Bob.

A revitalization plan is in the works for Pioneer Park. The plan eliminates one of the four fields and adds off-street parking.  “The architectural plans are nearly finished and the cost for this project should be known soon,” said Bob.  “We have a fundraising committee in place.  We are fortunate to have Mike Doyle on our board to head the project. He did a similar one in Springfield ten years ago.”

The project will be done in the off-season.  “In the first phase we’ll take care of drainage issues and build a new clubhouse,” explained Bob.  “In the second phase we’ll relocate the parking and the last part will be adding the fields.” 

Bob Horne works daytime for a distribution arm of International Paper called XPEX.  Over the next 3+ months he’ll have plenty to do in the evenings as well.  He became involved in the Pioneer League 13 years ago when his son Will began playing.  Now Will is a senior umpire.

“Running this league is a 12-month job for the ten-member board,” said Bob. “We have worked well together and I hope that we’ll stay together for a while.”

“To see kids enjoying themselves and being part of respected organization in town is very rewarding.”

For more details on the league, check out their website at

(Submitted to The Town Common on April 10, 2008)







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