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As a person and coach, No-One deserves this more

Maureen Noone, Cambridge College Alumna
Maureen Noone was inducted into the Andover High School Athletic Hall of Fame as not only one of the school's most prolific coaches in athletics history, but among one of the-all-time greats in state history.

Coach Maureen Noone among the best

Twenty-one years after leaving Wilmington High School with two league titles as a head field hockey coach and two state championship titles as an assistant coach in softball, Maureen Noone was inducted into the Andover High School Athletic Hall of Fame as not only one of the school's most prolific coaches in athletics history, but among one of the-all-time greats in state history.

On Friday night, Noone was inducted along with a handful of other well-deserved athletes, coaches and teams. Among the rest of the inductees included the back-to-back state championship teams she guided in 2010 and 11 (while she won a third in 2017) as well as former standout player Stephanie Casper, who after playing for Noone, had an outstanding career at Northeastern University.

In three years at WHS, Noone had a record of 32-13-9, won two league titles and made three state tournament appearances. She resigned in May of 1998 to take the same position at Andover. All she's done there is compile an incredible overall record of 326-53-55, which includes the three state championship titles, 14 Merrimack Valley Conference titles and count them eleven losses in the last six years combined (just six in the regular season). "This (Hall of Fame induction) caught me totally by surprised," said Noone, who has been a longtime special education teacher in the Wilmington Public School system. "(When I found out) I was just thrilled to also hear that our 2010 and 2011 teams and Steph Casper were being inducted - I never expected to be inducted as a coach.

"The past few months leading up to Friday night allowed me to reflect at how lucky I was when Jim Tildsley encouraged me to apply for the opening at AHS, (former) Athletic Director Jim Hurley hired me, along with my friend MaryAnn Gillis (my longtime assistant coach) from Wilmington."

STARTING OUT

Noone grew up in Stoneham and was an outstaying athlete, which included excelling in softball. During her junior year of 1980, she helped the Spartans finish 17-1, win the Middlesex League title and become the program's first team to ever qualify for the state tournament. Despite missing 13 games that year due to a broken collarbone she suffered during a collision at home plate, Noone still batted .362 and was voted as a league all-star. That 1980 team was inducted into the Stoneham High School Hall of Fame in 2010.

Noone, who also excelled in a various number of other sports between volleyball and basketball, graduated from SHS in 1981 and enrolled at Fitchburg State College and later earned a Masters at Cambridge College. It was during her freshman year where she ended up having surgery on her ailing shoulder, which ended her playing days but started her coaching days.

"My high school softball coach Dick Burnham asked me to come back and help him and that's how it all started," she said.

Noone went back and helped Stoneham and in addition she became the Jr. High Field Hockey Coach. Then in 1989 she came to Wilmington and served as the JV coach in several different sports, volleyball, basketball, softball and then two years of field hockey. She was the JV coach of the softball team that won back-to-back state titles in 1993 and '94. Those same two years she was the JV Field Hockey coach under Hall of Fame coach Jan Urquhart, who had the varsity job for three years compiling a 19-85 record and made three state tournament appearances. That stint for Urquhart came after serving 22 years as an assistant for Jan Cassidy-Wood, who had a remarkable 223-38-52 record with 16 state tournament appearances and 10 league titles during her Hall of Fame career.

Noone was named the fifth WHS coach in program history (four have since followed) before the 1995 season. She was behind the bench for those three state tournament seasons, including coaching now WHS Hall of Famers Leanne Harris, Catherine Townsend and Julie Gillis, while Patrice Mendoza, the team's goalie at the time, is enshrined into the UMass-Lowell Hall of Fame.

Noone's three years at Wilmington with her 21 at Andover, gives her a combined record of 358-66-64, including 16 league titles coming in 24 years.

On the suggestion of Tildsley - the former WHS Girls' Basketball coach who left the winter before to also take the same position at Andover High which included winning three state championship titles of his own - Noone applied for the position at Andover in the spring of 1998.

"When I first knew about (the position), I didn't go in wholeheartedly," Noone said to this reporter at the time of the announcement back in '98. "After the first meeting, I became very impressed with (Hurley), with the (entire AHS Athletic) program, with the new and neat ideas, and the facilities. They have a brand new field house so you can play in case it rains or whatever. We have our own practice field and our field to play on for games - everything is right there, every sport, every level plays right there. It's really something. Plus they have three levels of play including a freshman team."

The decision wasn't made overnight. Noone really contemplated knowing she had nothing but respect and love for the players at WHS, who still is still friendly with today, including former WHS coach Jodi (McKenzie) Campbell.

"Once Mary Ann said that she wanted to go, then that really made me think about it and made it easier for me," said Noone back in the '98 interview. "I will really miss the kids. I had a lot of fun in Wilmington. But I didn't think I could pass this opportunity up. It's time for a change."

During her stay at WHS, between field hockey and serving as the assistant softball coach under another Hall of Famer Paul Lyman and fellow Hall of Fame pitching coach Jake Townsend, Noone was part of two state championship titles and four league titles over a five-year period.

"Leaving the kids in Wilmington was the hardest decision," she said. "I love the girls and have always maintained a great friendship with many of them. I have attended weddings, birthdays and other celebrations with them. I was lucky to have MaryAnn who helped me at Wilmington and then the transition to Andover for the first three years.

"I also had the pleasure of learning from Paul Lyman with softball state championship experiences and understood the commitment to the team. Also, Jan Urquhart helped me so much in field hockey and she continues to come to my games and sends me encouraging messages."

AN INSTANT DYNASTY

When Noone took over at Andover, it was believed at the time that the team had qualified for the state tournament just once in the previous 20 years or so.

"When (Noone) started here, basically all we got for (players) were soccer castoffs, and the very first year, she put us in the playoffs for the time in many years," said assistant coach Dan Casper in a Boston Globe story from September of 2017.

Casper's two daughters both played for Noone - Ellen went to Union and Stephanie, who was also inducted on Friday, went to NU. It wasn't until years after Stephanie graduated when her father became Noone's assistant. Since the first day that Noone took over, Andover has been the cream of the crop in Division 1 North year-after-year, while she has sent numerous and numerous players onto elite college programs.

As a coach, Noone is tough, demanding, extremely fair, organized and she is also extremely calm in all situations. She doesn't get rattled, she doesn't yell, but certainly gets her point across. In addition to all of that, she has a big soft side, which is filled with tremendous care, love, respect for people, while also having a terrific sense of humor.

In that same Globe story, Noone was asked about her "Bill Belichick style" and her answer explains why she has over 350 wins and three state titles.

"If we came out and fooled around in practice and had a great time, that's fine, but that's what they're going to do in a game," she said. "If you don't raise the bar and raise your expectations, you're gonna continue getting kids that really don't want to commit, and I don't think it's fair to the kids that want to."

One of Noone's players from last year, Emma Farnham, was asked by the Globe about Noone's 'tough love' coaching style.

"You know that from the start in this program, it's a full commitment," said Farnham to the Globe. "It's a lot of work but it's so worth it in the end. It's nothing personal, so I think all of us really take it as constructive criticism which makes us work harder, and we get better from it."

Farnham was one of the members of the state championship team from 2017. The Warriors finished 22-0-1, including winning the MVC, Division 1 North, Division 1 Eastern Mass and then the Division 1 state title over Longmeadow. That was the program's third state championship title this decade, joining the 2010 and '11 squads. Noone - who this past year guided the team to the North Sectional Final including a big upset over No. 1 seed Acton-Boxboro has no plans on retiring as coach, but was asked about her favorite memories since joining Andover.

"The obvious ones may be the police escorts from the state championship games," she said. "Others really include the late Sunday practices when it's so quiet and you really get to work with the players and see their unique personalities. I have also enjoyed watching so many players 

succeed at the next level in college, whether it's a club team, or Division 1, 2 or 3. Coaching with so many former players and watching so many of, them get into teaching and coaching is always a top highlight."

With Friday's event, Noone is now inducted into the AHS Hall of Fame as a coach, which adds to being part of the two WHS Softball teams, the two AHS Field Hockey teams, the Stoneham High Softball team, as well as her 2014 induction into the New Agenda Hall of Fame of New England for her contributions to athletics.

She said all of those accolades, as well as the three state titles, 16 league titles, and over 350 wins, are ll because of the large group of people who helped, her along the way starting from Stoneham to Wilmington to Andover and now into the Andover High School Hall of Fame as one of the school's all-time best coaches.

"I want to thank my parents who supported and encouraged me playing all sports, even little league baseball when there were no organized softball teams" said Noone. "I want to thank MaryAnn Gillis, Paul Lyman, Dick Burnham; the athletic directors at Andover High, parents of players, the current coaches (on my staff) Dan Casper, Billy, Beauchesne, Tameka Geasslen, Cat Gross, as well as the past and current players and coaches from WJJS and AHS.

Maureen Noone (third from left) was inducted into the Andover High School Hall of Fame. Joining her on the special night included her current assistant coaches from left, Billy Beauchesne, Dan Casper and Tameka Geaslen.