LYNN– Brad Tilley has coached the Lynn Tech swimming and diving team for the past 43 seasons.
But it’s not wins and losses that keeps Tilley at the helm of Tech’s program. Instead of dwelling on records and statistics, Tilley chooses to focus on academics and grooming young adults.
He said this year’s team embodied the values that keep him going strong at Tech.
“I thought it was one of the greatest seasons we ever had and we only had one win,” Tilley said. “Truthfully, the kids are unbelievable. The kids at Lynn Tech aren’t the kids at Lynn Tech of old. They’re truly ladies and gentlemen, and that’s why I keep going.
“This team as a whole, even though we only won one meet, is probably one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” Tilley said. “They’re a great group of student-athletes who work really hard.”
Tech celebrated the 2018-2019 season during its annual team banquet at the Tiger’s Den. Among the achievements highlighted was the MIAA’s Academic Team Excellence Award, which Tech earned for the seventh consecutive season. Tilley said academics are a key priority in his program and one he doesn’t take lightly.
“It’s a lot of work,” Tilley said. “We put out a progress report every Thursday. They have to bring it back every Friday signed by every teacher. If they’re deficient, they don’t come to practice Monday. They go back to the teacher. It’s a system that’s proven to be successful.
“We stress academics hugely,” Tilley said. “It’s hugely important for us. That’s why kids are in school, to be academically successful. That’s what we strive for. We use athletics to kind of stress that. They don’t practice if they don’t keep their end of the bargain, and it works.”
Although Tech didn’t win as many meets at it hoped it would, the Tigers showed no lack of progress in the pool during the season. Tilley and the Tigers welcome inexperienced swimmers to their program with open arms each year. That’s where his assistant coaches step up to the plate.
“I’ve only had one kids swim year-round in my 43 years at Lynn Tech,” Tilley said. “Most of our kids can’t swim one lap when they join us. I have great assistant coaches, led by John Hogan, Karen Hogan, who volunteers, Rich Bucko, past swimmer for Lynn Tech and diving coach Don Mckennie. Don was my captain at Lynn Tech and a state all-star.
“Rich Bucko takes those new kids that can’t swim and that’s his whole charge,” Tilley said. “He takes those kids who aren’t swimmers and he’s very into it. Then they move to Karen and then to John, who’s my competition coach. He takes them from there and into the competition phase of it.”
Tilley believes the Tigers are in good shape moving forward. The team graduates just one senior from this year’s roster, breaststroker Jin Purdy. Next season’s captains, named at the banquet, are Savannah Joyce, Liam Donovan, Nathan Whitcomb, Dustin Bloom and Sheily Garcia.
“We’re going to open some eyes next year,” Tilley said. “We’re losing our best breaststroker, Jin Purdy. Other than that, we’re all back and we’re all ready to go.”
Award winners at the banquet included Mario Rivera, Blue and White Award; Sheily Garcia, Peter A. Sawin “Unsung Hero” Award; Dustin Bloom, Michael and Michelle Conlon Citywide Award; Jeremiah Arzola, John Cahill Citywide Award; Dustin Bloom and Liam Donovan; co-MVP’s. Also earning awards were Savannah Joyce, Victoria Hong, Luis Hernandez, Kyle Linquist, Oliver Brooks, Jacob Lejeune, Nathan Whitcomb, Jin Purdy, Jeff Bucko, Bianca Perez and Alex Reddy.
“I’m really proud of our team and our coaches this year,” Tilley said. “I’m also thankful for our booster’s club. They did a tremendous job this year.”