After 11 years patrolling the touchline as girls soccer coach at Reading Memorial High School, Mike Sheedy will not return next fall.
Sheedy offered his resignation about a week before Christmas, but did not do so entirely of his own volition, he said.
“The pen was practically put in my hand, if you will,” said Sheedy during a telephone interview. “I would have loved to come back in the fall and work with the girls towards getting back to the tournament.”
According to Sheedy, who has been a teacher at Stoneham Middle School for over 30 years, the move came about when it was brought to his attention that the administrators responsible for hiring and firing would not renew his contract, and, furthermore, would override the recommendation of Athletic Director Phil Vaccaro that it be renewed, should such a recommendation be made.
Sheedy, who spent a total of 15 years involved with the girls soccer program at RMHS, decided to tender his resignation as a “compromise,” to avoid an unpleasant battle with school administrators.
Vaccaro confirmed the coach would not return in the fall but did not elaborate. RMHS Principal Elinor Freedman declined to talk about the matter, saying she could not comment on personnel issues.
Sheedy remains proud of his track record as a head coach, but unsure what the future may hold in that regard.
“I’m proud of the record I leave behind,” he said. “I plan to keep going with coaching, but I don’t know that I’ll ever coach high school again.”
Sheedy, who remains an administrator with Reading United Soccer Club (RUSC), spoke of his relationship with Vaccaro, a Mass. Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame inductee, and pointed to his “11 excellent evaluations” from the RMHS athletic director.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have Phil—a hall of fame soccer coach—looking over my shoulder for the past 11 years,” he said. “I respect Phil, he’s treated me like a professional from the beginning ... I am not averse to any criticism that may have come from his way, but I got no criticism from Phil and that’s good enough for me.”
The now former Lady Rockets coach is also Club Director of the Red Thunder Soccer Club.
Although the past few seasons have been tough ones for the Lady Rockets, Sheedy led the team to eight straight tournament appearances during his first eight years as head coach, and leaves Reading High with the best winning percentage of any girls soccer coach in school history. He has taken the Lady Rockets as far as the Division 1 North Sectional final.
“I don’t know what more they wanted,” he said. “This isn't an easy place to not win. No other coach in the league had as many sleepless nights as I did.
“This past year, with a scorer, we were a tournament team,” he added. “If we were able to win this year, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
The Lady Rockets finished a winless 0-10-5 last fall.
Sheedy wanted to make it clear that his resignation was not an indication of any improprieties on his part, but, as he put it, a result of decisions made by those outside of soccer.
“I think it was the people outside soccer who wanted to change the coach,” he said. “I’ll confess to my weakness: I don’t play seniors if their level of play isn’t as high as someone else.”
He indicated that, in his opinion, issues such as playing time may have contributed to the end of his tenure.
“I’d like to say that I’m leaving with a good feeling,” said Sheedy. “I’m hurt to leave and I’m hurt by the conditions of my leaving ... I just think some people think there is a magic wand out there. (Reading’s) better players need to play against better players and not enough of them do ... If our kids don’t play, they aren’t going to get better.”
Sheedy indicated that he plans to continue in his role with RUSC, and may consider a return to coaching at the club level.