Throughout the calendar year, the Town Crier launched a “Legendary Coach Series” which was put on hold during the summer months. We are taking it up again this week, with a few more profiles to follow in each city.
Below is the story of former TMHS and Shawsheen Tech volleyball coach Chet Flynn. He follows a list of other coaches who have appeared in this series including in the two cities, Wilmington and Tewksbury, Mark and Al Donovan, Bill Ritchie and Bill Gordon, then in Wilmington, Evelyn Wells Carter, Mike Pimental, Georgia Dadoly, Alice McCarthy, Jim McCune, Joe Gilligan, Paul Lyman, Dick Scanlon and Frank Kelley; In Tewksbury, Tony Romano, Bob McCabe, Dennis McGadden, Ron Drouin, Leo DiRocco and Steve Levine.
This story about Chet Flynn aired during the November 16, 2016 edition of The Town Crier.
When time ran out on Shawsheen Tech Volleyball team’s season last Wednesday with a 3-0 loss to the undefeated No.1 seed Notre Dame in the Division 3 North semifinals, he also missed one of Shawsheen’s great coaching careers in history, as it marked the last game of Lady Rams coach Chet Flynn’s 36-year career, 28 of which went to Shawsheen Tech.
Flynn had been too focused all season on preparing his squad for each game to spend much time thinking about the end of his career, but when Notre Dame won the final game he was able to reflect on his final season, and in particular his last game.
“To be honest, once the tournament starts you always know any game can be the last, but I hadn’t really thought about it,” Flynn said. “At the end when I was talking to the team about how well they played, it made me very proud that in my last game they played so well and responded so well to the challenge of playing Our -Lady.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better ending or a better group of kids in my last season. They’ve always been a mind-blowing squad known for playing great defense and I was very proud of the way they played in their last game.
While the full impact of his retirement has yet to really hit Flynn, who is also retiring as Dean of Students at Shawsheen on December 31, he knows that next season, when he will no longer be patrolling the sidelines. , he will miss being part of his team.
“I think next year I’m going to really miss it,” Flynn said. “I think August will hit me because it’s something that I really look forward to every year. It’s the start of the whole school year for me, and it’s been a very enjoyable experience for me. It was a lot of fun.
While Flynn will certainly miss his role as coach of the Lady Rams, Shawsheen’s athletic director Al Costabile knows the team will be missed even more.
“Chet has really been a model of consistency throughout his career. You always knew he would be ready once the season was over and that he would have his squad very well prepared, ”said Costabile. “He was just a model of consistency and sensitivity and he will be truly missed. I really enjoyed working with him.
Flynn actually started his coaching career at Tewksbury High in 1980, before moving to Shawsheen in 1988, beginning a career which, with very few exceptions, saw record-breaking and tournament play. State, including the ACC Championships in 1996 and 2007.
While it is unclear exactly how many wins Flynn has over his great career, his teams are at 84-37 since 2011, a small snippet of some of the great teams he has overseen.
“We never really kept any records back then, so I’m not really sure what the actual numbers are,” Flynn said. “I know we’ve had bad years, but we’ve had a lot more good years than bad.
Self-deprecating Flynn added with a laugh, “I know I probably have over 300 wins, but I’m also sure there must be over 200 losses, so I’ve experienced a lot of both.”
Flynn probably significantly underestimates the number of wins in his career, but one thing has always been certain for his team. Win or lose, big teams or mediocre teams, they have always been one of the most competitive teams in the region. There was no easy game when playing against a team coached by Chet Flynn, and that was due in large part to the preparation Flynn put into each game.
“Chet was a great teacher of fundamentals and paid attention to detail,” said Costabile. “Its teams have always been fundamentally strong and stable. Chet was a very competent coach and his team were always well prepared. You never had to worry about anything with his teams.
A year in which Flynn’s side had many wins was in 1996, when the Lady Rams went 18-2, won the CAC title for the first time and qualified. for the state semi-finals.
“It was a very special team,” said Flynn. “Not only because it was the first time we won the league, but because it was such a special group of kids. I still run into them every now and then, whether it’s at the supermarket or if they come back to Shawsheen for a game, and it’s always nice to see them.
This team also produced one of the most memorable off-field moments of Fynn’s career, one that still makes him laugh today.
“Back then there was a tradition that if you won the league title you would go TP (toilet paper) to the coach,” Flynn said. “Well, we had just bought a new house in Chelmsford, and the girls didn’t know exactly where I lived. This was back when there was no GPS or anything, so the girls asked the police where the house was. The police took them there and then a cruiser comes back a few minutes later and sees what they are doing and comes to my door and asks me “Is this all right for you?” “”
This prank was one that trainer Chet Flynn loved. Dean of Students Chet Flynn may have had to take action of course. In his role as Dean of Students, which he has held since 2002, he is of course responsible for much of the discipline at Shawsheen Tech, but his role is much more than that, of course, and Costabile says that many of the same qualities that made Flynn a great trainer, also made him a great dean.
“He’s a great communicator, and that’s what made him successful as dean,” said Costabile. “It’s the same as when he’s a coach, except he doesn’t just communicate with his players, but with everyone at school, and he does a great job.”
The dual role of head coach and dean of the students obviously involves a considerable time commitment and requires a very understanding partner and family at home, and Flynn was very fortunate to have this in his wife Paula as well as in his 19 years. old son Patrick.
Patrick is autistic and suffers from autoimmune deficiencies that can cause seizures, requiring multiple medical appointments, which Flynn cannot attend, especially during volleyball season. Thanks to Patrick’s personality and Paula’s willingness to do everything for her family, Flynn was able to stay focused on her work and coaching.
“Patrick is just the most outgoing and wonderful kid. He has such a great personality,” said Flynn. “Last week he had three dates and Paula had to step in and handle it like she does. always during the season, and not even during the season, because as the dean of the students I cannot take much free time.
“It can be a lot to deal with for one person, but Paula has always done it over the years. I couldn’t have done all of this without her.