Tigers quickly lose, then gain, a boys’ soccer coach
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury Union High School activities director Sean Farrell said he had a transition plan in place for the school’s boys’ soccer program: Coach Bret Weekes would complete his third year leading the program, while MUHS math teacher Reeves Livesay would assist this year and then take over for Weekes in 2016.
That plan went by the boards when life threw a curveball at Weekes earlier this month: An illness that struck a family member living in Utah prompted a family decision to move back to that state to help provide long-term care and support.
Weekes had long assisted former coach Doc Seubert, including the 2012 team that went 14-2 and earned the No. 1 seed in Division I.
The last two years with Weekes in charge saw less success following the graduation of most 2012 starters and then the defection of key players to a club team, but Farrell said he appreciated Weekes’ efforts.
“Bret was great,” Farrell said. “I appreciate all he did. He did a great job,”
But, he said, Weekes’ professional work made it difficult for him to run the program — hence the transition that all parties had agreed upon.
“I think that it would have been nice for him to have more time to really develop the program his way, but with his professional career and all that, it was difficult for him to put in more time,” Farrell said. “He was committed while he was here, but he really had to work hard to make the time work.”
Farrell also appreciates having Livesay, who played soccer at Bowdoin College before graduating a dozen years ago, ready to step up.
“He has a good background coaching, a lot of it mainly in prep school,” he said. “We were thinking of one year under Bret to get connected to the program, but he has a good background, and Bret felt after they talked he (Livesay) could have easily been the head coach and he (Weekes) could have come back this year as an assistant, but Reeves didn’t want to do that.”
To ease the transition, Farrell persuaded Seubert — who has come out of retirement to serve as a sub for a few weeks this fall at MUHS — to assist Livesay.
Seubert also endorsed Livesay, according to Farrell.
“I talked to Doc this morning, and he’s impressed with his organizational skills,” Farrell said.
Livesay grew up in Brunswick, Maine, home to Bowdoin, and played high school soccer there before choosing to attend his hometown college. There, he met Middlebury residents and fellow Bowdoin students Chandler and Kristi Perine. They introduced him to their sister, Kate, who became Kate Perine Livesay and is now coaching women’s lacrosse at Middlebury College after several successful years in that same position at Trinity College.
The Livesays moved up to the Middlebury area about a year ago, when Reeves Livesay began teaching math at MUHS. He considered coaching then, but with the occurrence of two big life events decided to wait.
“With the move and our youngest daughter just being born, I decided I didn’t want to coach last year,” Livesay said. “And then we talked about coaching this year, and I was on board to assist until the very last minute. And then Bret had to move his family due to family circumstances. So circumstances changed two weeks ago.”
Livesay has plenty of soccer coaching experience. While teaching at the Severance School in Maryland for two years, he coached its JV boys’ team and also led club soccer teams. For the next decade, he taught at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. For two years, he again coached a JV boys’ team, and for the next eight he assisted the school’s varsity girls’ team.
Livesay said he does not have a preferred system of play or formation.
“I’m pretty open. I think it just depends on your players, who you have, what their strengths are, what weaknesses you’re trying to minimize,” he said.
After just a few days into practices with his new team, tactics were not high on his agenda.
“Right now I’m just trying to get to know who’s out here,” Livesay said. “Not being involved last year it’s a little bit of a challenge to quickly get to know people, and then to try to figure out what you want to do as a team.”
Certainly, he would love to see his Tiger teams succeed on the field, but said as an educator he would be just as, if not more, concerned about his athletes’ personal growth and development.
“High school athletics is about competition and the team experience. There’s a lot more than just winning and losing, and I love being involved in that,” he said. “I really like the team focus in high school athletics.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].