PEABODY — After 17 seasons coaching the softball team at Bishop Fenwick, Paul Lyman has decided to retire. The longtime Crusaders coach made the decision official via an announcement released by the Fenwick Athletics Department Thursday morning.
Lyman took over the softball program at Fenwick in 2002 and remained as head coach until 2018. Prior to coaching the Crusaders, Lyman spent 13 seasons as head coach at Wilmington High. During his coaching career, Lyman has recorded over 350 victories. He also spent 24 seasons as an assistant football coach at Fenwick.
Fenwick Athletic Director Dave Woods spoke highly of Lyman’s tenure at Fenwick.
“We’ve been so lucky to have Paul here at Fenwick for as long as we did, on both the football and softball fields,” Woods said. “Paul’s not only one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with, but he’s one of the best human beings you would ever meet. He’s 100 percent the type of coach you would want your own kids to play for.”
After a couple down seasons at Fenwick, Lyman said he felt the time was right to hand the program to a new coach.
“Nothing really prompted it,” Lyman said. “The last couple years, we’ve struggled a little bit. I just said to myself ‘maybe the program needs a new voice, fresh blood or something.’ I just said it was time to go. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody. I have no regrets. I just wanted to give Dave and the school plenty of time to search for the next coach so I decided to do it now.”
A longtime Salem resident who grew up in Wilmington, Lyman said he’ll miss the camaraderie that comes with coaching softball when the spring season rolls around. He recently stepped down from coaching football, which he did for 40 years.
“I’m sure I’m going to miss that when the spring rolls around I won’t be out there with the kids doing it,” Lyman said. “We had some great players and students, some of them became friends over the years as they became adults. I’m going to miss the camaraderie with the kids.”
As for what he’ll do with his spare time, Lyman currently doesn’t have any plans to continue coaching. He has interest in umpiring softball as an avenue for staying close to the game and is looking forward to spending time with his family.
“I’m not looking to necessarily coach anywhere else,” Lyman said. “If the opportunity comes up and I think it’s worth while I may consider it. I’m sure I’ll go to a bunch of ball games, maybe work around my house. I always said I might get into umpiring after I stopped coaching so I may get into that and that’ll keep my hand in the game a little bit.
“I have a bunch of grandchildren running around all the time so I’ll have plenty to do,” Lyman said.
Despite the recent down seasons, Fenwick returns a solid core of experienced players next spring. Many of them were inexperienced underclassmen during the 2018 season, but with a year of varsity softball on their resumes, Fenwick’s core looks to be in a good position to compete in 2019.
“Overall, there’s a lot of kids coming back that played last year,” Lyman said. “We have one of our pitchers coming back, we have a four-year starter at catcher coming back and a lot of other returners. I think they’ll be very competitive. I hope whoever takes it over will be more successful than we’ve been in recent years.”
Woods, who coaches the school’s football team, credited Lyman as a mentor. He said he wishes Lyman the best in his future endeavors.
“I can’t thank him enough for being a mentor to me when I was a young coach, and for helping me through my first few years as an AD, when I had no idea what I was doing,” Woods said. “I’m happy for him that he will be able to relax and spend more time with his family, no one deserves that more than Paul. At the same time I’m sad and disappointed that he will no longer be our coach. If I could get him to change his mind I would, but he’ll always be Coach Lyman to me and to many many more.”