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Sheedy Will Not Return as Girls Soccer Coach

Reading Memorial High School girls soccer coach Mike Sheedy has resigned from his post, and will not return this fall.

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. 

, 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.

RMHS student January 13, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The difference is, if you don't attend this sports camp, it doesn't matter how hard you work during practice, or how high your skill level is, you won't get to play in the games. On top of that, the camps aren't even that good, so instead of getting better, it just feels like we're paying money to the coach in exchange for playing time. If we want to attend a more rigerous program, we'll effectively be benched for trying to get better. What part of that makes sense?
Danielle January 13, 2012 at 05:55 PM
RMHS student, why not get proactive, approach the coach and say that you don't feel confident the suggested camps are going to help you become better and that you are considering going to a different one? and you have captains for a reason, tell them and maybe you can all rally behind the better camp and go together as a team.
RMHS student January 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I can't reply to your comment, Danielle, but the short answer is because life doesn't work that way. If i approach the coach and tell him that I don't think the "suggested" camp is as good for me, he's not going to put my skills over his or his friends monetary gain. And it's not like the entire team is going to get behind me either. Some people want the best possible experience for their development, others want to be liked by the coach so they'll play more. If I went to the captains and started that fight, I'd never get on the field for the rest of my career. It doesn't matter how fast you run or how many goals you score on that team. One of the best players on the team sat on the bench the whole season, never even played a whole half, and she was still one of the top three scorers on the team. That's not good coaching, and that shows me that it's better to keep my head down and not make waves.
mpk January 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
RMHS and Kat were on spot on! As an RMHS alumni and parent, going to an elective summer camp is completely different than a coach inferring to player they must attend the coach's private directed camp or the need to play the sport during the off season. I am not talking about summer baseball: For example Summer Rockets baseball is comprised of every varsity Reading Rocket baseball player: which limits the opportunity to other summer activities, the need to work and or spending time with family. Okay I think the bottom line is Dr. Doherty and administration need to refocus the RMHS mission of high school sports, expectations of coach's and players. Lets face it, is success going to be measured after graduating high school based on how much time a player played in a particular sport. Again dismissing a coach or teacher is for the benefit of the majority and requires substantiated data. This circumstance hopefully will widen the eyes of all RMHS coaches.
Mom2Kids January 13, 2012 at 06:57 PM
As a working professional I am pretty sure you don't have 11 years worth of great evaluations and suddenly and unexpectedly get let go. That said I have no inside information!! As a community we need to decide what we want, a lobby full of trophys that were obtained by our towns great athletes at the expense of others sitting on the sidelines...or can we accept "maybe" being in the middle of the pack but giving every kid who wants a chance to play? Unfortunatley intramural play is long gone so for kids with the passion and love but maybe not the high skill there is no where to go. But if I were paying a sport user fee and my kid sat on the bench for a season I would probably be pretty upset too. I would almost rather they not get picked than to not play....
John January 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM
It's has always been about winning the coveted Boston Globe's Dalton Trophy, nothing more, nothing less.
Danielle January 13, 2012 at 08:10 PM
well it's too bad your entire team won't support you -- if they aren't willing to listen to you, those are problems that go beyond a coach. maybe you guys should work on team building at some point too, that might help your play on the field. also, it shouldn't matter how fast you run or how many goals you score - those two things don't make someone a good player. they help, yes, but i've played with plenty of players who were neither fast nor goal scorers that were still incredibly talented. did you ever try talking to him about any of this stuff yourself? and don't try to tell me he wouldn't listen or that you'd get benched. i know personally, from experience, that he would. he was my coach, too, and i have an incredibly hard time believing the stuff your saying. there's a big difference between sitting down and talking and making waves.
john B January 13, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Its soccer doesn't everyone get a trophy - com'on sound like a group of whiner's. Only the best play that's what happens in a varsity sport. My question is did he do something inappropriate or is this a rail road job
john B January 13, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Whats has happened in RMHS athletics is typical to gone on throughout the USA its about a $$$. You have head coaches and unpaid assnt coaches who run sport related business - AAU basketball, retail store, personal training, camps and basketball clinics which is worth a great deal of money. You all to blame. You feed this with your own insecurities through your check book and these people are more than willing to cash in - can't blame them they found a great business. Sports is a means to an end. In team sports it never your decision for it to end - its either an injury or you are just not good enough and you can't control that. So enjoy it while you can.
Julia January 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I played on the RMHS girls' soccer team for four years with Sheedy as head coach. I graduated last year, so I can't speak to the specific situation. However, I can speak from my own experiences on the team. The goal of every high school Varsity team is to win. There's a reason that JV doesn't have a tournament but Varsity does, there's a reason most towns cut players. Sheedy makes it clear from the very start of every season that he won't cut anyone, but he won't play everyone equally. He wants to win, and when we had several spectacular players that's who he played and that's what happened. However, he wants the girls who love soccer to be there regardless of talent. Sheedy was very good at putting girls on the JV/Varsity line on JV so that they could get playing time and improve. How much you played on Varsity had a lot to do with natural talent AND hard work. You got out what you put in: the coaches at both JV and Varsity level offered off-season opportunities and often those who took those options improved. If you come to practice, you improve, and you play. On both the JV and Varsity level I have seen great players sit on the bench for unexcused absences from practice, temper, and other entirely appropriate reasons. I myself, from lack of talent as opposed to lack of hard work, often sat on the bench. However, I understood that. I know these problems plague other towns, and are simply a product of having a Varsity league.
Danielle January 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
well said, julia. i was in high school his first 4 years as head varsity coach, and his mantra wasn't any different then. you make a good point -- no one is being forced to play during the off season, but you can't expect to get any better if you put no effort into it, no matter what the sport is. sure, plenty of people are naturally talented and gifted and don't need to do anything to be great players. but those people are lucky. julia, i'm sure you VERY were well respected for showing up every day to practice, and from what it sounds like from your post above, with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic even though you didn't see much playing time.
Rick Santos January 14, 2012 at 01:20 AM
It's only a game.
Jason Fields January 14, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Danielle beautifully put. Unfortunately the values that have made you a success in your life are shared less and less in todays pampered kids and instilled less by the entitled parents. Unfortunately a minority of misguided parents were able to snooker the lame Principal. I am sure that Coach Sheedy's methods were no different then many HOF coaches at RMHS that are revered and honored. What a shame and a poor example of todays society.
Cindy January 14, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I have known Mike personally and as my daughter's soccer coach for many years. I can't believe what is being said here. He was a great coach and role model for the girls. The actual students who are posting here, like Danielle, are the ones we should listen to, not the whiney parents who think their child should never be told "no". Things have gotten way out of hand, with parents helicoptering every aspect of their high schooler and college student's life. Let the kids play, stay out of, it IS only a game.
Jim January 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Cindy, I agree 100%, I hope these people realize what they had here with this coach, and who thinks bringing in a new coach is going to change things, you're always going to have that parent that thinks their child should be playing more than all the others and it will only be a matter of time when we arguing this point all over again. I think it was a wrong move.
Pete Coumounduros January 14, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Let me add a broader perspective to this issue. Its not all about winning – its about character, setting a positive example, and being a role model. I have known Mike Sheedy for over 30 years - both as a student (he was my middle school student council advisor) and as a volunteer with Reading United Soccer Club. In both situations, Mike has always demonstrated a high regard for doing things for the greater good and providing an opportunity to pursue one’s interest. In middle school, he guided and influenced me on volunteering, giving back, finding a passion, and doing something of interest with enthusiasm. As a new volunteer to RUSC almost 9 years ago, I came to Mike to start a program for 4 years olds to just get out and play soccer. Mike was not only encouraging and supportive of the idea, but helped myself and others fulfill our interest to have parents and kids playing soccer. In this case, Mike helped us fine field space and allowed us to build and run that program. The result is the Micro Soccer Program giving 400 kids per season (ages 4-8) the opportunity to get out, play, and learn from an early age the life skills being part of a team.
Pete Coumounduros January 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
*** CONTINUED FROM ABOVE POSTING ** As most people may or may not know, Mike (as president of RUSC) spends a tremendous amount of time volunteering year round giving kids the opportunity to play soccer from a young age, and parents the opportunity to be part of the coaching experience (and part of their kids’ lives). In this age of electronics, this is an opportunity that Mike has fostered to allow kids & parents the chance to interact while developing not only soccer skills, but life skills. Think about this too – how many of your friends (both kids & parents) do you have as a result of being part of the soccer program? Its that opportunity that has had a hand in that. While I never had Mike as a coach, he has made a positive impact on my life from any early age. Isn’t that what we want from a coach? Thanks Mike!
MIKE SHEEDY January 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM
"totally non communicative in rys" How absurd ! I sit in on virtually every meeting & am the schedule link to hs field availability As a board, we have joined w/ Mass Youth Soccer's coaching staff to provide clinics for coaches & players I am the field coordinator w/ rec dept & athletic dept to obtain field space & also apply for indoor time w/ RPS facilities director I am the coach education director, who is responsible for working w/ MYS (mass youth soccer) to help distribute info about upcoming clinics & such We distribute a handbook of "lesson plans" for each age group u6,u8,u10,u12 & u14 provided by MYS, that I ,personally , photocopy , so all coaches can have a "hard copy" rather than download from MYS website...all of this time is as a volunteer & photocopying comes from youth registration fees We have recently established a connection w/ NSCAA , the national association, who comes to give "specialty clinics" to coaches. I am responsible for the scheduling of these also...BTW - we're RUSC (Reading United Soccer Club) , not RYS as you noted We have a handful of individuals who volunteer so much of their time similar to mine
Susan P January 14, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Mike you have the support of a far majority of your player and parent alumni. You do not need to defend the effort you have put into the soccer program in this town nor the many years of success at RMHS and appropriate coaching techniques you have provided. Unfortunately this horrendous Principal has empowered the malcontents in town and cut off the legs of fine coaches like yourself. This isnt the first instance this past Fall where she put the selfish interests of a few over whats best for the program. You will be back elsewhere hopefully she will be gone soon.
Kat S January 14, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Why don't all the people who feel this coach was truly wronged do something about it...go to the school committee or something. If the principle is acting out of line and was way off base why are you letting her get away with it, she is paid by US the citizens of Reading. I have no clue about what happened or didn't happen I never even knew the coachs name but it would seem if the school did something this ergregious why are you taking to the blogs to protest go to the source.
mpk January 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Kat S. you are correct- lets put closure on further discussion and those who feel MR. Sheedy was let go with out reason- Verbalize your concerns to Ms. Freedman or to her superior Dr. Doherty. ENOUGH SAID!
Cindy January 14, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Why, when the people who really know Mike, say positive things - it's ENOUGH SAID? Negative always wins out on these blogs.
Dave Miskinis January 16, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Wouldn't it be great to focus this energy on academics?
Kat S January 16, 2012 at 05:26 PM
My only thought is be part of the solution not the problem....so take it to a level that can actually effect change not a blog on a tiny town website. Sometimes less is more....
Kat S January 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Well I can think of a few teachers who ought to be resigning too but that's another story for another day. But yes, what if we all put this much energy into a childs academic success.
Cindy January 16, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Kat, too bad you didn't have these feelings when this blog first started and many were saying negative things about Mike, the principal, and others. I'm not part of the problem - my daughter graduated more than 10 years ago, when parents weren't quite so hovering and over involved with their kids.
highflyer January 17, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Mom2Kids, I sympathize with your meeting in the middle logic and I would recommend if someone is more interested in playing time that they asked to be placed with the junior varsity. You're right about paying a large user fee and sitting on the bench, however, varsity soccer or any sport is supposed to be putting the best foot forward.
highflyer January 17, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I had the fortunate opportunity to be apart of RUSC from U8-U14. I played on fall and spring travel teams as well as the summer soccer program (Go Mexico!) I played on the men's freshman, JV, and Varsity soccer teams. I have attended countless soccer camps through RUSC, and RMHS athletics. I can't say that I have met a more committed individual into our Reading Soccer program other than Mike. We are really losing a special coach, person, and advocate for youth sports in Reading. I just wanted to say thanks to Mike, for all the hard work he put into the RUSC and RMHS athletics during his tenure.
Mike F January 21, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I a big fan of Mike like many others here. I have had no experience with his coaching at the HS age but I have seen him at tryouts and coaching the younger girls in RUSC and Red Thunder. I was very impressed. All the girls looked like they were having a blast. I was also amazed at how Mike managed to keep them all engaged and learning. He seems to be a top notch coach and has a gift with the kids, Mike I view you leaving as a huge loss.
Cheryl Buono January 28, 2012 at 01:32 AM
The "principle" is retiring :)

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