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Amherst Regional athletic direcctor Rich Ferro pleased with program’s successes

AMHERST

It hasn’t taken long for Rich Ferro to put his own mark on the Amherst Regional athletic department.

Ferro, who was hired as the interim athletic director in October 2011 and then took over the position officially in April, watched as his new coaches in the fall enjoyed strong seasons.

“I’m very pleased with how things have gone,” Ferro said. “We had a great (fall) season.”

First-year coaches in football, boys soccer and field hockey dramatically improved their programs.

“I’ve tried to bring in as many people from the community as possible: teachers, parents, players and so our hiring committees have been anywhere from seven to 10 people,” Ferro said. “We’ve been able to come to an agreement on the coaches we’ve ended up hiring. That gives us a base of support across the whole community.”

Amherst College football coach E.J. Mills was a part of the committee that hired David Thompson to take over the football program.

“We are bringing people in (for the hiring committees) who know specific sports, which helps with the little details in some of the sports I’m not as knowledgeable in,” Ferro said. “I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in every sport we offer.”

In his first year, Thompson led the Hurricanes to a 6-3 record, the team’s first winning season since 2004. They entered Thanksgiving Day with a chance to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999. Despite a victory over rival Northampton, they fell just short of the fourth and final seed in Division 2.

In boys soccer, Michael Rudd took over the program and guided the Hurricanes to their first-ever Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament title. Amherst then won in the state semifinals before finally falling in the state title game.

Kirsti Wiemokly guided the field hockey team, which won just two games the season before, to one win from the tournament, going 6-8-2.

As the winter season begins, one of the school’s most successful sports (girls basketball) recently, has a new coach in Liz Kay.

Former Hurricanes coach Ron Moyer was a part of that committee, and Ferro couldn’t have been happier to hire Kay.

“She was, literally, exactly the person we were looking for,” Ferro said.

DUSEAU HONORED — Smith Academy junior field hockey standout Danielle Duseau was named to the 2012 Harrow Sports / NFHCA High School All-Region Team.

Duseau, a midfielder, had 22 goals and five assists for the Falcons, who went 11-4-4 and finished second in the North Division this season.

She was one of 12 players — and the only one from western Mass. — named to the Massachusetts Region team.

Over the summer, Duseau made the U.S. Women’s Junior National Under-17 team. She’ll attend a training camp in California in January where the team will be finalized before heading on an international tour in the spring.

JEHH BASKETBALL CLASSIC — The third annual Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik Basketball Classic will be held at Northampton High School on Friday, Dec. 28 and Saturday, Dec. 29.

Friday’s games will feature the Pioneer Regional boys team against Turners Falls at 5 p.m., followed by the Northampton girls team squaring off against Northampton at 7.

On Saturday, the Smith Academy boys play Taconic at noon, with the Northampton boys playing Westfield at 2 p.m.

FOR A GOOD CAUSE — The Northampton girls basketball team will be collecting canned goods at every home game this season. The goods will be donated to the Northampton Survival Center.

WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW — The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Winter Sports Preview will run Friday. The preview includes rosters and breakdowns for every team in the area, feature stories and much more.

GAME OF THE WEEK — Holyoke at Northampton, girls basketball, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

The Blue Devils have title hopes this season and here they get an early crack at the defending Western Massachusetts Division 1 champions at home.

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

Kudos to Superintendant Ferro. He's done a very good job after taking over a shaky situation.

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