PEABODY– When Russ Steeves stepped down from coaching the varsity baseball team at Bishop Fenwick, he knew he’d miss the diamond. Now, Steeves is returning to a Fenwick program that he directed from 2008-2011.
On Wednesday morning, Fenwick Athletic Director Dave Woods announced that Steeves has been tabbed as the school’s new baseball coach. Steeves replaces former Crusaders coach Kevin Canty, who stepped down to take the job at Wakefield.
“It was an easy decision (to step down) but a difficult one,” Steeves, who was raised in Lynn, said. “My son Cole was 10 years old and I told myself that life was too short to miss important events. It was the right move for my son and my family, so I don’t regret it. I always had half an eye on the team and I was still around the program.
“It was ironic,” Steeves added. “I was part of the hiring process for Canty and I knew he was going to do a nice job. I knew he was a young guy so I didn’t think he was going to be leaving. My son isn’t playing baseball, he’s gotten into other endeavors at St. John’s Prep. I reached out to Woods and it was good to talk with him. We just had to make sure it worked for the both of us.”
A former Fenwick baseball player, Steeves graduated from the school in 1985. He played for former Crusaders coach Kevin McCarthy, and coached on his staff as an assistant, before replacing McCarty in 2008. Steeves was a member of the staff that coached the Crusaders to the Division 3 state championship in 2004.
The 2004 Crusaders team was inducted into the school’s hall of fame a few weeks ago.
“I knew I was going to miss it,” Steeves said. “A lot of my former players came up to me and told me about what a special place baseball had in their lives. It made me think ‘why stop now?’ Fenwick has had a huge impact on my life and it’s good to give back.”
Although he’s been away from coaching for the past six years, familiarity with the Fenwick community and baseball program won’t be an issue. Steeves will rely on that familiarity he’s built at Fenwick when the spring season commences.
“I played here for four years and coached a combination of 10 years,” Steeves said. “I know some of my teachers are still there. It’s certainly a place that I’m very familiar with and a place that’s always been very special to me.”
Steeves plans to have a few conversations with Canty in the upcoming weeks to gain insight on the current Fenwick team. Last spring, the Crusaders snuck into the Division 3 North state tournament after a 10-10 regular season but went all the way to the sectional semifinal before falling to Catholic Central League foe Austin Prep.
“I talked to the captains today,” Steeves said. “I have some time set up with Canty to talk about some things. We know we have talent here. I don’t know who can do what yet, but that’ll come quick with some conversations. I’m excited about that.”
Academics, Steeves noted, have always been a major part of his coaching philosophy. That won’t change.
“I’m a firm believer that it starts in the classroom,” Steeves, who resides in Georgetown, said. “The same kids that work hard in the classroom work hard on the field, they mirror each other. I understand that it starts in the classroom.”
“I’m just really glad to be back,” Steeves added. “I really appreciate the chance that (Fenwick principal) Brother Tom (Zoppo) and Dave have given me to come back. Sometimes you don’t get that opportunity.”