Head coach Peter Molloy, far right, and assistant coach Fran Cusick, far left

The 2018 TMHS Girls Cross-Country team was led by head coach Peter Molloy (far right) and assistant coach Fran Cusick, who pose with then captains Devyn Veits (left) and Grace Higgins. Just this past week, Cusick was named the new head coach as Molloy has resigned, but will remain with the indoor and outdoor track programs.     (file photo).

TEWKSBURY – Citing several different reasons, veteran coach Peter Molloy elected to resign recently as the Tewksbury Memorial High School Girls' Cross-Country Coach. On Tuesday, the school's Athletic Director Ron Drouin announced that Molloy's assistant, Fran Cusick, who is also the girls outdoor track coach, has been named the new girls cross-country coach.

Molloy took over as the TMHS Boys and Girls Cross-Country Coach in the Fall of 2004 replacing Hall of Famer Bob MacDougall. Molloy came to Tewksbury from Lowell, where he played soccer and ran track before returning to start up his coaching career.

Molloy served as the head coach of the TMHS Girls' Cross-Country program for each of the past 15 years. During his tenure, he finished with an overall record of 77-73, led the team to the Eastern Mass Division 3 Championship title in 2017, Division 4 runners-up finishes in 2015 and '16, as well as a second place finish at the Division 2 All-State Meet in 2016.

In addition, the teams finished with three MVC Division 2 Championship titles, won two MVC League Championship titles, made four appearances at the All-State Meet, had two individuals, Laura Patriarca (Division 2 in 2010) and Emily Sessa (Division 4 in 2016) capture individual titles, while Molloy was named the MVC Coach of the Year three times and the Lowell Sun Coach of the Year twice.

Besides coaching the girls, Molloy served as the head coach of the TMHS Boys Cross-Country team from 2004 to 2011 and then in 2012 he shared the duties with current coach Peter Fortunato, who then took over the program on his own in 2013. In his nine years with the boys program, Molloy finished with a 30-52 record, which included winning the Eastern Mass Division 3 Championship Title in 2012, while in total, he led the Redmen to three All-State appearances, two MVC Division 2 League Championship titles, while being named the MVC Coach of the Year three times and the Lowell Sun Coach of the Year twice.

In his 24 combined seasons, Molloy had a combined record of 107-125, won two Eastern Mass Championship titles, five MVC League titles, two MVC Championship Meet titles, made seven appearances to the All-State Meet, had two Eastern Mass individual champions and was named a MVC/Lowell Sun Coach of the Year ten times.

"Peter has obviously done a great job for us," said Drouin. "He is still going to be with us for the track seasons. Peter's effort as a coach has always exceptional for us here at Tewksbury. Whenever you lose a coach of his caliber, it's very tough and certainly Fran will have big shoes to fill."

In the 15 years, Molloy worked under three athletic directors, while he had seven different assistant coaches. He wanted to publicly thank each of the ten who helped him along the way.

"I first off want to say thank you to (the Athletic Directors) Bob Aylward, Brian Hickey and Ron Drouin," said Molloy. "I’m not sure how many people realize how lucky TMHS is to have had these three men lead the athletic department over the last twenty-plus years. (The school's) athletic success over the past 15-to-20 years starts with them.

"I’d also like to thank the coaches for whom I was so fortunate to coach with: Carol Navetta, Bob Doolan, Peter Fortunato, Erik Taber, Fred Doyle, Fran Cusick and John Byrnes. Each of these wonderful coaches shaped and molded the program to where it is today. A 'great job' fist pound, high five or hug from one of these coaches was always the most enjoyable part of the job."

Besides those ten, he said one other person certainly needs to be praised for everything she has done for him.

“My wife Amy deserves the majority of my gratitude,” he said. “I’ve coached the entirety of our relationship — coming up on twenty years. I’m not nearly intelligent enough to finds the words to express my love and gratitude for her support. I’m infinitely lucky to have her by my side.”

Molloy was then asked why he decided to resign.

"Resigning now just made sense,” he said. “Back (before the winter track season of) 2017, Ron Drouin asked me to become the boys track team's head coach in addition to the girls track team. Doing so meant I had to take on the boys sprinters as they had no coach and I had no boys to coach. With me floating over to the boys sprinters, I had to stop coaching the distance girls in the winter and then in the spring. Fran Cusick and I had always manned the indoor and outdoor girls distance crew together with me floating to hurdles and high jump a few days a week. However for the last two years, Fran has manned that group on his own, which is really just an extension of cross-country.

“It just seems disingenuous for me to come back as the head coach of a group of girls for whom I really don’t have a working relationship with, especially when Fran does have that relationship.”

Before the 2012 fall season, Molloy was part of a similar scenario. He approached then AD Brian Hickey with the idea of having separate coaches for the cross-country teams.

“Peter Fortunato and I coached boys cross-country team together that fall,” said Molloy. “Prior to that year, Coach Fortunato manned the boys distance group in the winter and spring while I manned the girls distance crew — this was before Coach Cusick came on board. I felt that Peter really deserved to be the head cross-country coach as he was doing all the work during the rest of the year. Same applies now. This is Fran’s group and as such it’s really Fran’s team. It would be disingenuous of me continue on as the girls cross-country team's coach.”

Over the last few years, the boys and girls indoor and outdoor track teams have gone through a number of coaching changes. In this decade alone, between the four programs, 11 coaches have served with boys indoor and outdoor track having four different coaches. With Scott Vandermolen resigning to take a bigger role at Framingham State College and Fortunato electing to be an assistant coach for indoor and outdoor track instead of head coach, Molloy took on extra duties this past calendar year serving as the head coach of the girls cross-country, the boys and girls indoor track teams and the boys outdoor track team.

“Last year I was the head coach for four of the six cross-country and track teams. Last spring I coached sixty-plus boys and girls. There were just so many moving parts to those two groups. By the end of the spring I was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally, so much so that I was ready to walk away from coaching completely. This summer gave me the space I needed and what I realized was that while I still wanted to coach, something needed to change. Me stepping back this fall is my attempt at creating this change I need to keep doing this.”

As the girls coach, Molloy's teams finished with a .500 record or better nine teams, including the magical 28-2 run from 2016-18. He also had immediate success in 2004 as that team finished 7-3 which was followed by a 6-4 record, while the boys started off 3-6 and 4-5 in the first two years.

“I’m so thankful to that group of cross-country seniors back in 2004 which included Jill Angelo, Lauren Ahern, Jacqui LeBoeuf, Emma Reed, Ashley Sheehan, Kellen Welch, Gregg Brennan, Justin Chin, Joe DeMaio, Chris Deitsch, Jeff Jackman and Mike Reed,” said Molloy. “That group had to finish their high school careers with a brand new and really different, coach. They were so welcoming and coachable and they really made my transition to Tewksbury so very easy.”

Over the years, Molloy coached Erik Taber, who is now the head coach at Dracut High, and Nick Parsons, who has been an assistant track coach for several different programs. He also coached a handful of outstanding runners such as Dave Camoscio, Neil Marino, Brian Amaral, Cory Thomas, Mike Famiglietti, Joe and Anthony Darrigo and on the girls side, Kaitlyn Rose, Sarah Bonomo, Ashley Toland, Nicole Skotz, Patriarca, Carina Berglund, Emily and Rachel Sessa, Lily Robinson, Meghan Ostertag and most recently Makayla Paige, and the majority of those runners went on to have outstanding collegiate careers.

“To all the athletes that put in all the miles and competed so hard for their town, school, and teammates, you’re willingness to train in the summer, compete so very hard in all conditions inspired me,” said Molloy. “However, it was how you treated each other, especially the new kids to the team that made me proud. To watch you all grow and change and improve over the years was truly the gift that kept on giving. You have all thanked me over the years, but it is me who is eternally thankful.

“A big thank you to all the parents of the athletes I’ve coached. Their support of their kids, their kids’ teammates, and coaches are truly the fabric of what makes our program great.”

Through the 15 years, Molloy said there were countless number of memories. He is proud that a middle school program started up, which clearly helped the high school programs. More recently, Tewksbury started the Bob MacDougall Invitational Meet, hosted a number of MVC Championship and State Middle School Meets, which also stand-out, but above all he will remember the kids, the teams and the meets.

“Some of the memories that stick out includes the 2013 girls team that finished in last place in the MVC with a 1-9 record and we qualified for the All-State Meet,” he said, before going on to say, “the 2012 boys and 2017 girls teams that won Eastern Mass titles, the two girls teams that finished as runners-up, the girls team that finished second at the All-State Meet. Then of course I'll always remember all of the bus rides, course previews, Sunday long runs, Yonkers and Regional trips and the pasta dinners.”

Much like Molloy thought the boys program would excel with Fortunato as the head coach, he said the same can be said about the future of the girls cross-country team with Cusick taking over the reigns.

“The program is in good hands. With Fran taking over,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that our most recent success coincided with his arrival. He’s always had a large say in the day-to-day operation of the program. Wins and Losses come and go, but the kids who go out for cross-country will find the program is as healthy as ever.”

Drouin echoed those same thoughts.

“We are lucky to have a guy like Fran Cusick on our staff already and ready to fill Peter's shoes,” said Drouin, “Fran has done a nice job with the track program and we're hoping he can do the same with the cross-country team and hopefully this transition will be fairly painless.”

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