“I want to push them in a healthy but challenging way and foster a healthy and inclusive team atmosphere that reverberates positively in the ORHS community at large,” said Tom Wraight, a new Oyster River assistant swim coach.
At Oyster River High School, three individuals have recently been hired to be the new head or assistant coach of an Oyster River winter sports team, after previous coaches have retired or have requested more assistance. The three coaches have background experience that has helped them with their new coaching position. All of them are happy the season has begun, and the athletes are equally excited about the expertise the new coaches are bringing to their teams.
Oyster River’s additions to the athletic program include Peter Harwood, who was hired to fill the position for the head coach of the Oyster River boys’ hockey team, and Wraight and Sandy Gullo, who will be assisting Bill Reeves, the current head coach of the swim team.
All three of these individuals have ample coaching experience, which has prepared them well for their first season as an ORHS coach.
Harwood has been coaching high school hockey for the past nine years. Before becoming the head coach of the Oyster River hockey team, he coached at Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Because he is already connected to the Oyster River community, he was very drawn to applying for the open head coaching position at ORHS.
Harwood knows many students in the district because he is a mathematics teacher at the high school. He noted that coaching at Oyster River rather than Saint Thomas is more ideal because, “I know most of the kids [at Oyster River] and I feel like I am a part of this community. I also live in this district so it is a much more natural fit to coach, teach, and live all in the same community and take pride in that.”
Andy Lathrop, the ORHS Athletic Director, has similar sentiments. “It’s always advantageous to have coaches that are in the building. Whenever you can have a teacher-coach, it always helps. Logistically, it is easier that way, especially with the communication piece.”
Because Harwood has a close connection with the student body, he expressed immediate interest in wanting the season to start so he can assist the student-athletes.
Harwood said that he and his players “have been working with each other since July and we are certainly excited for the season.”
One hockey player, who has high hopes for this season, is William Cilia (‘18). Cilia is thrilled to have a new coach and believes Harwood was a great choice. Cilia mentioned that, “Harwood is knowledgeable and experienced as well as motivated to have a strong season.”
In order to achieve this strength, Harwood set personal goals that he hopes to accomplish over the season.
Harwood stated that one of his main objectives as a new coach is to be able to “get to the end of the season and look back and feel like we got as far as we were capable of getting; that to me defines a successful season.”
Oyster River’s additions to the swim program include Wraight and Gullo, who will be assisting Bill Reeves, the current head coach.
Both individuals have ample coaching experience, which has prepared them well for the current winter season.
Wraight has been the extended practice coach for the Oyster River Otters since he was hired in 2015. Before that, he coached baseball, archery, and various swim teams at the YMCA Camp Belknap, where he still currently works as the Communications and Waterfront Director.
Similar to Wraight, Gullo helped coach the Oyster River Otters for several years. Prior to coaching the Otters, Gullo started to teach swim lessons when she was in eighth grade, and continued to coach throughout high school and college. Later, she taught swim at The Works in Somersworth for many years.
Because both individuals are already connected to the Oyster River community, they were very interested in applying for the open assistant coaching positions at ORHS.
Wraight worked as a paraprofessional at the middle school for a few years and made valuable connections with the students, as well as his co-workers. He recognized a great sense of pride and community in others, which provoked even more motivation to apply for the position. Wraight stated that, “between my experience with the Otters and the two years I worked at ORMS, I know the community and many of the swimmers I will be working with.”
Gullo also has a close connection with the Oyster River student body. She currently has a daughter in eighth grade at the middle school, and often substitutes for Oyster River faculty members, which has allowed her to become familiar with several students. In addition, Gullo has been able to get to know several students through her experience as an Oyster River Otters swim coach. She noted that, “it is neat to see past and present Otters at the high school.”
Because Wraight and Gullo both have close connections with the student body, they expressed immediate interest in wanting the season to start so they can watch the student-athletes grow and improve.
Wraight noted that, “I’m passionate about youth and leadership development, and I think that organized swimming affords a great opportunity to pursue both.”
Gullo mentioned that the start of the season would be the start of her helping all of the swimmers get to be their best.
Analiese Parsons (‘19), an ORHS swimmer, said that both Wraight and Gullo are great additions to the swim coaching staff. She stated that, “many years ago when I was on Otters, I remember Tom Wraight and Sandy Gullo coaching me a couple times and they were both great! Always giving good feedback and good advice for races.” She added, “I think having two extra mindsets or two extra people to ask advice or to advise us will definitely be beneficial.”
Prior to the start of the season, both coaches set personal goals that they hope to achieve during the season. Both Wraight and Gullo mentioned that one of their objectives, as new assistant coaches, is to understand and help each swimmer accomplish their individual goals.
So far this season, all three coaches have been helping with their teams’ success. Currently, the boys’ hockey team has a 3-1 record and the swim team has been placing well at the two meets they have had so far.
The next boys’ hockey game is on Saturday, the 13th of January, at 6:00 PM away against Keene and the next swim meet is on Sunday, the 14th of January, at home at the University of New Hampshire Swasey Pool.
The coaches, as well as the athletes, are hoping to uphold their prevailing record as the season continues and for the seasons that follow.
Written by Abby Schmitt