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Flaherty removed from assistant position at Squan

February 6, 2012

The following story ran in the Feb 2 print edition of The Coast Star ‘Sports section’

MANASQUAN — Tom Flaherty, a volunteer assistant coach for the Manasquan girls varsity basketball program, was removed from his position on the team last Thursday by athletic director Ron Kornegay. Mr. Flaherty said he was informed by Warrior head coach Felix Romero of the decision and not by Mr. Kornegay, who did not wish to comment on the matter when contacted, calling it an “administrative decision.”

The removal of Mr. Flaherty, the father of sophomore guard Katelynn Flaherty, came as a surprise to most, with the Warriors currently in the middle of an undefeated season. The Warriors are also perceived to be part of a handful of teams that could vie for the overall New Jersey state championship.

Mr. Flaherty says he has still not been given a reason by Mr. Kornegay as to why he was removed and feels the work he has done along with Romero and assistant coach Tracy Sullivan over the past two- and one-half seasons has led to a strong turnaround for the Warriors girls program.

“You can see how well the process has gone,” said Flaherty on Monday night. “I just think we have done a good job getting the [program] where it is today.”

Mr. Flaherty feels Mr. Kornegay’s decision not to speak leaves the former coach open to all types of negative speculation.

 “I think it tarnishes your reputation,” said Flaherty of his removal and Mr. Kornegay’s refusal to speak about it.

The decision to remove Mr. Flaherty has also seemed to have an effect on the Lady Warriors. Last Thursday, on the same day Mr. Flaherty was let go, the team’s starting five ceremoniously went over to hug their former coach in the stands prior to a game against Monsignor Donovan at Manasquan High School.

Senior captain Michaela Mabrey voiced her displeasure with the removal of Mr. Flaherty following Manasquan’s win over Archbishop Molloy on Sunday during the New York-New Jersey Challenge held at Holmdel High School.

“Without him it has been really hard on all of us,” said Mabrey.

Despite his feeling that the removal was without just cause, Mr. Flaherty said his main concern is for the kids on the team, who he feels, have had a monkey wrench thrown into a, so far, flawless season.

“I appreciate that the girls have tried to still make me a part of it,” said Flaherty. “But, I want them to know that it is about them and their team and they have to get back to just trying to win.”

Mr. Flaherty is currently a physical education and health teacher at Perth Amboy Vocational and Technical School, a position he has held for 27 years.

After playing Division I basketball for the Seton Hall Pirates from 1972-1976, Mr. Flaherty began his basketball coaching career.

In 1978, Mr. Flaherty became the head boys basketball coach at Metuchen High School, where he did a seven-year stint before moving on to become the head coach at Perth Amboy Vo-Tech, where he ran the program for eight years.

In 1993, he was named New Jersey Coach of the Year by the Star-Ledger for leading Perth Amboy Vo-Tech boys basketball team to a state title.

The following is Mr. Flaherty’s statement, verbatim, in regard to his removal from the program:

“I am sad to confirm that I have been released from my position as a volunteer assistant coach with Manasquan girls basketball. I received the information from our head coach, Felix Romero. He had received a call from Athletic Director Ron Kornegay.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Felix. He is young, bright and hard working. He is devoted to these girls and to being the best coach and mentor he can be. He is a good man, terrific coach and a dear friend.

I deeply appreciate the time I had with our wonderful group of kids. Thanks to the girls from this year’s squad as well to each of the graduates of 2010 and 2011 who worked so very hard to revitalize the program and make Squan basketball something very special. Not only do I cherish the opportunity to have been an instructor and coach to my daughter, Katelynn, but also, to all the exceptionally dedicated girls in our program. By their extraordinary work ethic, they have made “Manasquan Basketball” a highly respected name in town, in the regional basketball community and among America’s college coaches.

I wish I could continue to volunteer my efforts for the girls. However, now it’s time to join all of you who cheer on our dedicated student athletes. They have set some exceptionally lofty goals. Yet, I cannot believe any group of kids to have worked with greater sweat, passion, or purpose. If effort is to be rewarded, our Manasquan girls will reach their dreams. As a parent, friend and mentor, I’ll be cheering for Coach Romero and our wonderful team! They know that I believe in them!

Go ‘Squan!”

follow me on twitter  https://twitter.com/#!/SamCostantino

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