North

Sports Notebook

Billerica’s Mike Glavine the right fit for Northeastern baseball

Mike Glavine takes helm at Northeastern

Mike Glavine (inset) roamed the turf at Friedman Diamond as the Northeastern University baseball team worked out one afternoon last week. The former Husky great and current assistant was spending quality time at each base while the players fielded routine ground balls.

“Work under the baseball,” he repeated calmly, making sure nobody let one slip into the outfield.

It doesn’t take long to notice that the 40-year-old Billerica native has an affinity for developing players and helping them hone their skills.

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“There’s nothing better than working with a player, doing extra work with a player, working on drills and teaching them, and then watch them actually do it in a game,” said Glavine. “Also, to watch where they start as a freshman, and then see them graduate and watch them improve as a player.”

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For Northeastern University, there was no better fit than Glavine to succeed Neil McPhee, who is retiring following the 2014 season after a 29-year run with the Huskies.

Glavine, a first baseman who established himself as one of the program’s best hitters from 1992 to 1995 under McPhee, was introduced Monday as NU’s next head coach — the 11th in program history.

“He came here as a 6-foot-5 tall, lefthanded gangly guy and went out just a tall, 6-foot-5, ripped power-hitting first baseman,” said McPhee. “Just the absolute epitome of an athlete you want in a program.

“I’m absolutely thrilled the head coaching position is going to be passed on to an alumnus here.”

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After a 10-year professional career, culminating with a callup to the Mets in Sept. 2003 — joining his brother Tommy in New York — Glavine returned to Northeastern in 2007 to work alongside his mentor, McPhee.

“There’s not a lot of Division 1 college baseball schools in the area,” Glavine said. “And to be the next head coach of one of them, it’s a great feeling. It’s a big sense of pride, and I hope that comes out when I talk to people about the university.

“I love this game, and I’m passionate about it and it should be fun. I want to create an atmosphere that’s fun and that will create practice times and weight room times that are energetic, that are enthusiastic, and that will have self-motivated players.”

His tenure at Northeastern will be his first as a head coach, but what Glavine lacks in experience, he compensates for with his knowledge of the game.

Since he joined the Northeastern staff, he has worked with former assistants Pat Mason, now head coach at Virginia Tech, and Jamie Pinzino, head coach at William & Mary.

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While Glavine was a player at NU, one of the assistants was Pete Hughes, now at Oklahoma after stints at Boston College and Virginia Tech.

“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of great coaches,” Glavine said.

“I’ve learned a lot from them. I can say I learned a ton also from my parents, and that helped me deal with players today and how I treat them.

“You learn a ton just by being on the field. I was blessed to stick around and be a career minor leaguer. I ended up playing for a lot of different managers, and got to see a lot of different styles. I got to soak all that baseball in and learn a lot while I was playing.”

Under the tutelage of McPhee, Glavine has familiarized himself with the day-to-day operations of running a Division 1 program.

While on the field, Glavine has been able to develop his own approach.

“My style will not be one of screaming and yelling, and trying to get the most out of players that way,” Glavine said. “It’s trying to get them to be self motivated.”

Glavine’s relaxed approach was what prompted St. John’s Prep graduate Dustin Hunt to commit to Northeastern.

North Reading’s product Mike Driscoll, who played at St. John’s Prep with Hunt, echoed his teammate’s sentiment.

“When I came here and visited, Glav showed me around and it was really comfortable talking to him, there was no stress about it,” Driscoll said. “I’ve only heard good things about him as a coach.”

Last season, the Huskies (31-26) advanced to the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, eclipsing 30 wins for just the fourth time in program history.

“We’re trying to go a couple of steps further,” Glavine said.

“What we’ve seen out of this group already this year — the freshmen are extremely talented and dedicated and want to win, and the guys that are returning are the ones who built this core. They’ve been able to accomplish some things last year, but they’re still hungry.”

Stellar players

 Freshman forward Nicole Chaet of Tewksbury scored three goals, leading the Franklin Pierce women’s soccer team to a pair of wins last week and earned Rookie of the Week honors in the Northeast-10. She tallied her first career goal in a 4-2 win against Merrimack, and she scored again in the 87th minute for a two-goal performance . . .

Salem State senior Stephanie Morrison (Beverly) earned Little East Defensive Player of the Week honors after anchoring the Vikings defense in a pair of shutout victories . . .

In last week’s wins over Sage and SUNY Canton, Union senior forward Dean Constant of Tewksbury scored a pair of game-winning goals to earn Liberty League Player of the Week honors. She finished the week with six points.

Anthony Gulizia can be reached at gulizia.ant@gmail.com.