Through long days and nights, Mike Denise put together a stellar 14-year run as the athletic director at Braintree High School.
But the attraction to return home, as the AD at Blackstone Valley Tech in Upton, is all about family — namely his wife, Michele, and their two children, 10 and 8, who are enrolled in the Mendon/Upton school district.
“For family life, it is everything,” said Denise, who will start in his new position Feb. 1.
Blackstone Valley is where he started his career in athletic administration, as athletic director there from 2003-07.
“The opportunity to be closer to home, in the same community as the children, it was a great opportunity,” he said.
And his daily round-trip commute of two-plus hours (at a minimum) will be replaced with a five-minute drive, max.
For the past year and a half, Michele Denise has served dual roles at Blackstone Valley, as director of athletics/student activities and vocational coordinator. But with athletics proceeding this year — albeit with modifications, pauses, and opt-outs amid the pandemic — the AD position requires full-time attention.
“[The administration] knew they had to post the athletic director’s position … to do justice to the vocational coordinator’s position,” said Mike Denise.
Denise pursued the position with the full support of the Braintree administration. He is scheduled to meet with superintendent Frank Hackett and principal Christopher Scully Wednesday to discuss the future.
“I have a plan, I’d like to review it with them; I do not want to leave Braintree in the lurch,” he said. “I want to make sure that the [position] is walk-in ready.”
Denise also is the MIAA’s tournament director for boys’ gymnastics, the District 7 representative and co-chair of the baseball committee, and the conference coordinator for MSSADA, , the state athletic directors’ association.
“The past week, I’ve been reflecting on so many great moments, great people, unbelievable student-athletes,” he said. “I am really proud to be part of something special.”
Aside from changing his colors from Braintree blue to Blackstone Valley purple, and moving from District 7 to District 2 in the MIAA’s map, Denise will be transitioning to another very successful athletic program. BVT does not offer swimming, gymnastics, indoor track, or tennis, and has cooperative agreements in hockey and wrestling, but the Beavers have been a consistent presence in Central Massachusetts and beyond.
Under the guidance of Michele Denise, BVT has captured nine of the past 13 Markham Division 1 awards, presented annually by the Globe for the vocational program with the top overall winning percentage (regular season) in Massachusetts. The Beavers won 70.26 percent of their games in 2019-20.
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.