They are easy to miss, but if you go to enough Newburyport High School home basketball games, for either boys or girls, you will soon figure out that a certain four gentlemen were there every time you went.
The men I am referring to are; Paul Coleman, Pete Carlson, Peter Murray, and Tom O’Brien.
Paul takes care of the ticket sales at the home games while Pete, Peter, and Tom make up the stat crew.
“They’re invaluable to me,” said NHS athletic director John Daileanes in reference to the four of them, when I spoke with him during the recent home NHS/Masco junior varsity game. “They have always been reliable and they know what they’re doing. They also have great personalities.”
Paul Coleman coached football and taught at NHS for many years. He became involved with ticket sales during that time. “I have probably been doing this for 25 years,” he said. “I heard that they needed someone back then so I volunteered.”
His job at the games is probably not one that most folks would enjoy. “I spend the first half with my back to the game,” he explained. “Sometimes I’ll sneak a peek at what’s going on. I usually get to see the second half.” Paul is retired but finds time to substitute teach at NHS.
The other three men are at the scorer’s table with arguably the best view in the house. It is a place, however, where drawing attention is not usually a good thing.
“People who have never done stat work don’t realize that it can be nerve-wracking,” added AD Daileanes. “Like an official, you’re only noticed if something is wrong.”
All three stat men started doing their jobs at the Nock Gym.
“I was a spectator at a lot of the games there when the AD then, Jim Stehlin, asked me to do the scorebook,” recalled Pete Carlson. “For a while I took care of the book home and away. I’ve been part of the stat crew for about twenty years.” His specific jobs now are the possession arrow and the 35-second clock.
Peter Murray is the rookie of the group. “It’s been sixteen years for me,” he said. “I take care of the game clock.”
“You get a different perspective of the kids from where I’m seating at the scorer’s table than you do in the classroom and I like that,” added the fifth-year NHS wellness teacher and girl’s softball coach
The dean of the group is Tom O’Brien. Known to almost everyone in Newburyport as City Councilor Tom O’Brien, his connection to athletics at NHS is a lengthy one. “I sold tickets for 21 years and during the last nine years I’ve been keeping the scorebook,” he told me.
When asked to compare keeping the scorebook with being a city councilor he smiled and said, “This is exciting but nothing is as exciting as the city council. There’s a thrill a minute there. It’s relaxing here.”
There is some financial compensation but the draw for the men is being among friends. “We have a good time together,” was how Peter Murray put it.
(Prepared for The Town Common and should appear in that weekly on January 21st.)