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As athletic director at his alma mater, Jon Pollard has always had a bat, ball, and glove no more than an arm’s length away, even if he played a behind-the-scenes role with the Austin Prep baseball program.

The past two seasons, he directed the junior varsity team. He has been heavily involved with USA Baseball since 2011.

Now Pollard will be on the top step of the dugout at AP.

With highly regarded coach Steve Busby stepping down in August after nine seasons, and Pollard recently accepting a new role as assistant headmaster for enrollment and athletics at the school (with assistant AD Patrick Driscoll being promoted), the 1997 grad will now take charge of the baseball program.

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“I have the utmost respect for what Coach Busby accomplished; the bar has been set high,” said Pollard, who met with the 60 players in the program Wednesday afternoon.

“But when the opportunity presented itself, I was ready to take over, and try to elevate the program to a higher level.”

No small task. In 2018, the Logan Bravo/Peter Burns-led Cougars won the Division 3 state title, and the 2019 squad was 20-2.

“I am very excited; this is a long time coming,” said Pollard. “The athletic program is in a good place. I’ve been behind the scenes for the past 10 years, and now my attention is on baseball.”

A two-year starter at Prep, Pollard went on to a four-year playing career at Salem State and was a two-time all-MASCAC selection as a pitcher/first baseman. At the national level, he has served as a coach/pitching coach for the 14U program, guided the developmental program twice, and led the women’s national team three times, including Team USA’s run to the gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Back in Reading, Austin Prep will break ground next month on a $3 million turf baseball facility.

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“The hope is that it will be ready to go for next spring,” said Pollard.

He’s ready to go now.

From left, Austin Prep AD Keith Driscoll, baseball coach Jon Pollard, and Dr. James Hickey, Head of School.
From left, Austin Prep AD Keith Driscoll, baseball coach Jon Pollard, and Dr. James Hickey, Head of School. Austin Prep Athletics

Bay State influx on US Lacrosse

The first U-15 and U-17 boys’ and girls’ national lacrosse teams were announced this week, and 13 players from Massachusetts made the cut.

Selected by US Lacrosse following August’s national combine for the National Development Program, the athletes were chosen from a field of nearly 300 players at the US Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md. Those participants were chosen from a field of over 1,300 participants in 21 regional trials for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse players.

The goal of the program is to provide high-level training for the nation’s top young players, who may eventually compete in World Lacrosse competitions. There is added incentive to create a pipeline for the US Lacrosse national teams with the International Olympic Committee considering adding the sport for the 2028 Summer Games.

Concord-Carlisle senior Fallon Vaughn headlines the selections, joining Rivers School midfielders Annabelle and Mallory Hasselbeck and Norwell goalie Isabel Pithie on the girls’ U-17 team. Franklin midfielder Kaitlyn Carney and St. George’s defender Isabel Lahah (North Attleborough) were selected to the girls’ U-15 team.

On the boys’ side, Rivers goalie Ryan Skripps, Roxbury Latin attack Bobby O’Grady, and Manchester-Essex long-stick midfielder Patrick Guinee made the cut for the U-17 team. Natick goalie James Carr, Andover long-stick midfielder Charlie Higgins, New Hampton goalie Jimmy McCool (West Roxbury), and Belmont Hill midfielder Julian Targete were selected to the U-15 team.

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The four teams will see their first game action against Canada during the Fall Classic at US Lacrosse the weekend of Oct. 18-20.

North Reading Hall

The North Reading Hall of Fame Committee will hold its next induction ceremony Oct. 26 at Four Points Function Hall in Wakefield. The inductees are: Brian Mawn (Class of 1994), Jim Keck (’95), Scott Ellis (’83), Tim Courossi (’78), Kirsten Morrison (’11), Kevin Distaso (’06), Ali Friberg (’09), John Creilson (’58), Dan Nunn (’07, community service), John Friberg (parent, community service) and the 2007 MIAA Division 3 state championship girls’ volleyball team. To purchase tickets or for information, contact athletic director David Johnson at 978-664-7800 ext. 5290 or email djohnson@nrpsk12.org.

Notables

Gus Adams, formerly at Falmouth Academy, is the new varsity girls’ basketball coach at St. John Paul II in Hyannis. He succeeds Patrick Van Cott, who will continue to be a member of the coaching staff. “Coach Adams is a highly skilled and accomplished coach who we are excited to bring to JPII,” said John Paul AD Rich Fazzi. “When he coached at Falmouth Academy, we saw his dedication and class when leading the Mariners to nine straight winning seasons and four C&I League titles . . . Methuen is seeking a varsity girls’ basketball coach after the resignation of Dave Giribaldi. Contact AD Matt Curran at mwcurran@methuen.k12.ma.us.

Globe correspondent Nate Weitzer contributed to this report.