Three-sport assistant coach Joel Mignault takes over as the TMHS Girls Basketball Varsity Coach

Former Shawsheen Tech three-sport star athlete and three-sport assistant coach, Joel Mignault takes over as the TMHS Girls Basketball Varsity Coach after spending the last three as the JV coach. (photo by JoeBrownphotos.com).

TEWKSBURY – Back in the 2018-'19 season, Joel Mignault thoroughly enjoyed his first season as the JV Girls Basketball coach at Tewksbury Memorial High School. That team finished with an incredible 16-1 record, and after having reservations about coaching girls for the first time, Mignault made an easy transition into that role.

Just several weeks ago the 31-year-old has been promoted to varsity coach, replacing Mark Bradley, who resigned after 14 years due to his professional life owning his own business and to spend more time with his family. Mignault takes over a team that finished 4-7 during the abbreviated COVID-19 season a year ago, but also a team that is familiar with him, since a handful of players were on that 16-1 club.

“We are lucky to have Joel. He's been a very good assistant coach here for a few years now,” said Athletic Director Ron Drouin. “He is organized, prepared and he has a great temperament with kids and with the girls. He's done an outstanding job as an assistant coach in multiple sports for us over the last few years.

“I'm a big believer in trying to move people forward from within. You have a very well thought of teacher in our building, who is qualified and who has done good things in the program and it's his chance. I got my chance as a JV coach and got another one to move forward (to varsity) and that was twenty-seven years ago. I haven't forgotten that. I had to pay some dues and when the job opened up, I got a chance to move forward. (Now as the Athletic Director) I have moved a bunch of coaches forward from sub-varsity positions and I'm a believer in that. Joel is qualified, he's well thought of and I think we can hit the ground running with him as the new coach.”

Mignault has an impressive sports resume already. He was a three-sport star athlete excelling in football, basketball and baseball at Shawsheen Tech, graduating in 2004. He then went on to play four years as a wide receiver for the football team at Plymouth State. After graduating, he immediately went back to Shawsheen Tech, giving back to the school that gave him his opportunities. Mignault spent five years as the Freshmen Football coach and then another four years with the varsity serving as an assistant and worked with the offensive line, defensive ends and wide receivers. In addition to that, he was the sub-varsity boys basketball and baseball coach at Shawsheen.

He then switched to Tewksbury for the 2017-'18 calendar school year, taking a physical education teaching position, as well as becoming the JV Girls Hoop coach, while this past calendar year, he has served as the JV Baseball coach and as an assistant on the football staff.

“I'm obviously super excited and humbled by the decision that Ronnie Drouin has named me the head coach,” said Mignault. “Being a teacher in the building has been awesome and I've been able to get a chance to know all of these girls on a personal level, see how they are in their classrooms, see how they are with their peers and seeing them in basketball. I've tried my best to follow them in their other sports. We have a lot of girls who are a big part of why I love being here at Tewksbury. I'm just really excited to get this opportunity.”

Mignault will have longtime volunteer coach Mike Hayes by his side, while Drouin also named former All-Scholastic, UMass-Lowell/St. Rose College star Danielle DePierro as the new JV coach.

“I think I have a really good staff with me. Mike Hayes is coming back to help and we were able to get Danielle DePierro to be the JV coach and we still have Jamie Bruno as the Freshmen Coach. I couldn't have come in at a better time since most of these seniors I had during my first year of coaching (at the JV level) – all but Kati (Polimeno) and Christina (Wentworth). The timing of this is really good, I'm excited and just really optimistic about this group,” said Mignault.

This year's team returns nine players with varsity experience, but limited height, which is always the thorn in the side when playing in the gruesome Merrimack Valley Conference.

“This is a group that has a lot of experience, but this is a group talent wise, we're going to be outmatched a lot of the times, but work ethic wise, mental toughness wise, and I'm hoping Basketball-IQ wise, we're going to be able to do a lot of great things,” said Mignault. “I really try to coach to the players that I have, but for me it's all about the kids putting the team first, treating every practice as if it's the most important one, no matter what we are doing. It's really going to be taking it one day at a time, one opponent at a time and do whatever we have to do to win.”

Mignault was asked about his X's and O's, what type of offense and defense will he run and he replied saying it depends on match-ups.

“In the past, I've been lucky enough to work along with Mark (Bradley) and Mike (Hayes) and I think both of them provided so much basketball knowledge. They were able to do a lot of things offensively and were able to teach me those things, but specifically with this group, we're really going to get after it defensively and hoping that we can create some easy offense (off of that),” he said. “We're still going to have to find ways to score buckets because like I said, talent wise it's pretty straight across the board.

“It's going to be game-to-game and week-to-week. We will probably play a combination of it all (zone, man-to-man, full-court press) and maybe we will switch it from game-to-game or within a game, it's just all going to depend on our opponents.”

While this will be Mignault's first head coaching position, he knows that his experience in the three different sports, including being with the varsity football program this fall and coaching on both sides, male and female, will only help him ease into this spot.

“(Coaching) each (sport) is definitely a little unique. With basketball I was a little skeptical (at first coaching) girls because it was something that I didn't have experience in. I knew the game is a little different, but not because I'm the varsity coach now, but I have found a different passion for coaching the girls,” he said. “They are very independent, you can trust them a lot more, they work really hard. The boys do the same, but they just bring some different qualities. People ask me all of the time what's my favorite sport to coach, but they are all unique and they all have different parts. Coaching the girls has brought a different passion and I have been super excited every season.”

For Mignault, his coaching style revolves more around self-confidence, than particular plays.

“(The girls) like to mimic some of the things that I do,” he said with a laugh. “I definitely want to try to bring a lot of emotion, but it's just about instilling the confidence in each of them. Some of the differences between coaching the girls and the guys is that sometimes with the guys you get some who are too confident and you have to bring them back down and with girls sometimes you have to bring them up and always have to try to get them to believe in themselves. I try to do as much of that as I can on the bench whether it's a girl who is struggling or a girl who is rolling, I just try to get them to believe in themselves so they can help us win.

“This year is a good time to come in and I think the girls on this year's team have high expectations for themselves and for the team. I just really want to take it one game at a time. Playing in the MVC especially this year where I think it's more well-rounded than it has been since I started, we have our work cut out for us for sure. We have to take it one game at a time with the new playoff system – we'll be week-to-week with that. We'll try to control our own destiny (and qualify with a .500 record or better), but you don't know where you're going to end up until the end of the season so it'll be one game at a time.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.