Stevens excited about AD role at Nashoba Tech – Lowell Sun
WESTFORD — For the past 11 years, Stacia (Stacy) Stevens has been a familiar face at Nashoba Valley Technical School.
A Spanish teacher, she has also been the girls varsity soccer coach for the past 11 years, has been either the shot clock operator or the official scorer for the boys and girls basketball games, has been the site manager at the boys hockey games and an assistant coach of the girls lacrosse program last year.
On Feb. 23, just a short time after it was announced that athletic director Bob Callahan had to take an immediate leave of absence after a serious health issue, school officials knocked on Stevens’ door to see if she’d be interested in lending a hand to keep athletics afloat. She obliged and was given the title of AD, which is a one-year position, meaning she’ll have to reapply every year.
Four weeks into the job, all while keeping her Spanish teaching position, the transition has been challenging. However, between strong support from a host of other teachers, coaches and administrators and learning on the fly, she’s enjoying the double-duty role, which will become triple-duty in the fall with her coaching duties.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Stevens. “I teach fulltime so I’ve got six classes a day, 12 sections in total so it’s a lot, but it’s good. I’m glad that I’m starting in the spring, getting all of the rust out early.”
“I’m getting a lot of support from (Dean of Students and a former athletic director) James Creed, who has just been phenomenal with the amount of support that he has given me, along with our principal Jeremy Slotnick, and his secretary MaryPat (Beatty), and (Executive Assistant to the Superintendent) Joanna Carpentier. They’ve all been so terrific. I couldn’t do this without them. Our facilities guys, too; they work so hard.”
Stevens grew up in Mansfield, graduating from its high school in 1998. From there, she went to Juniata College in Huntingtdon, Pennsylvania. She enrolled in a double major and earned her degree in Spanish Secondary Education, before adding a Master’s Degree in the same field at Framingham State. She also studied abroad one year in Mexico.
More recently, she earned a second Master’s Degree in the Educational and Management Program.
Stevens is now in her 20th year of teaching and 11th at Nashoba Tech. Immediately upon arriving at the school, she was an assistant soccer coach before taking over the reigns the following year.
“Coaching soccer has been fun,” said Stevens. “I think it’s really a great way to teach young ladies about how to work together, teach them about leadership, teach them about commitment and confidence, and really be able to advocate for themselves on and off the field. We teach them how to be kind, and we do a lot of that. We spend a lot of time working on how to treat people from the other team
“We also spend time building up the skill level and it’s fun to see,” she added. “It’s a no-cut program here so you get to see girls who wouldn’t even make the team at other schools, or they started late, or people just didn’t work with them. Sometimes you see towns who get a girl and they’ll say ‘she’s not that great so we’ll put her on the JV team’ and they don’t spend any time with her. Here, we just keep working with all of the (student-athletes). We build up that skill-set. They may have come to me with no experience, but by the time they graduate, they’re much better.”
Last year, the Vikings had their best season to date, finishing 11-6-1, before falling to Frontier Regional in the first round of the Div. 5 tournament. The 11-win campaign came after winning just one game the season before.
“This was a huge season for us,” she said. “We went from 1-6 to 11-6-1 and it was the best season that we’ve ever had. I knew that we were going to be good, but I didn’t expect that. We got a really good crop of freshmen and I think having had that COVID spring season and them immediately having another season in the fall, really helped. The girls were in better shape, they were much more cohesive and we got a pretty decent size of freshmen this year, plus our seniors were really good and very committed. We had five seniors who were with us for all four years. When they were freshmen I think we won maybe five games.”
For this upcoming fall, the plan is for Stevens to coach, but she wants to add a sub-varsity program, and then work with a coach who could be her eventual replacement, adding that current varsity assistant Don Phillips has been excellent in his role. Creating a JV girls soccer program is the start of what she hopes to be many additions to athletics at Nashoba Tech.
“We’re really hoping to increase the participation numbers, especially in the girls sports,” said Stevens. “We have lower numbers there. The school has about 720 kids. We have (five) JV teams (and two freshmen teams) for our boys sports, but just (three) JV teams for our girls sports, simply because of the participation numbers.”
Besides adding sub-varsity programs to the 20 combined varsity programs, Stevens said she has some other immediate plans.
“We have an athletic trainer who has a college degree in sports nutrition and sports exercise, so we really want to use her to work with the kids on how they can improve their performance and just overall better life, better health, better fitness, diet, exercise and proper nutrition and stuff like that,” she said.
Until some of her plans actually come to fruition, Stevens said she will continue to look for guidance as she gets acclimated to this position. She said that recently she saw Callahan, “who is home and doing well” and they’ve exchanged a few texts but added, “I try not to bother him as I really just want him to get better.”
“I know that (the upcoming) fall (season will be) incredibly busy, plus it’s the start of the new school year, so I’m glad that I’m learning how to do everything now. That way I can make adjustments. One athletic director said to me ‘you definitely jumped on a moving train’ and that’s hard because that train won’t stop until June,” said Stevens. “It’s been tougher because things have already been rolling, you missed things that already had happened, like meetings and emails from three months ago. Overall now in my fourth week, things are getting a bit easier.”
“I just want to thank all of our coaches and all of the other athletic directors who have been so wonderful to deal with,” she added. “They’ve all been so helpful and so flexible.”