Robbie Ferrante might not be done coaching softball, but the 60-year-old from Portland said he felt it was the right time to resign after five seasons as the McAuley High coach.
“It had just gotten to be more commitment and it wasn’t the right fit at the time,” said Ferrante, who led Portland to a state title 10 years ago.
McAuley bounced back from a 2-14 record in 2013 to finish 8-8 in the regular season this spring, ninth in the Western Class A Heal point standings.
“When I came in the program was down and I set my goal that when I left the program would be better than when I came in, and I think I did that,” Ferrante said.
As important as getting back to the playoffs, in Ferrante’s opinion, was that McAuley had four freshmen starters in its 2-0 preliminary-round loss at Noble.
“The program is a lot better off than it was and it just felt like the right time to step back,” Ferrante said, adding, “I still think I have some coaching left in me but we’ll see.”
“This year the kids really did come on,” said McAuley Athletic Director Joe Kilmartin. “He had a good year but I don’t think it was a happy-all-the-time year, either.”
Both men said after the season they discussed the future of the program. One thing Ferrante said he was having difficulty with was an increased expectation of summer and offseason workouts.
He noted that in addition to increasing the demands on him as a coach, such programs would be difficult to run because McAuley pulls student-athletes from a wide area.
“(Kilmartin) and I have known each other for a long time,” Ferrante said. “We sat down, I sat down with my family, and Joe and I sat down again and just decided it was time to go in a different direction.”
Ferrante has coached softball at Portland area high schools for 33 of the past 35 years, 24 as a head coach.
This year he recorded his 200th win, finishing with 201, Kilmartin said.
Ferrante was in his second stint as the McAuley varsity coach. He had guided the Lions from 1979-90.
In 1992 he became the assistant coach at Portland High, then took over as the Bulldogs’ head coach for seven years, leading a state championship team in 2004.
“In 2008, I thought that was it and then I made the mistake of going to a couple of games in 2009,” Ferrante said with a laugh. “Not long after that I was on the computer and saw the McAuley opening and put my name in.”
McAuley won 11 and 10 games in his first two regular seasons at the helm, including a trip to the regional semifinal in 2011. A small roster size in 2012 contributed to a reversal of fortunes that bottomed out with a 2-14 record in 2013.
“We were looking forward to big things that year and then both our pitchers went down,” Ferrante said.
McAuley is also looking for a varsity and assistant field hockey coach to replace a two-year head coach, Elyse Tourangeau, Kilmartin said.
At Bonny Eagle, Sue Rondeau said she resigned as the Scots’ softball coach after being told she wouldn’t be rehired as the varsity girls’ basketball coach. Rondeau led the Scots’ softball team to a No. 5 seed and the Western Class A semifinals.