HARWICH ─ When Paul “Spanky” Demanche attends Monomoy football games this fall it will be as a fan cheering on his son and not as head coach of the program. On June 22 Demanche signed his official contract to serve as athletic director of Plymouth North High School, ending his tenure in Harwich and beginning a new adventure.
Demanche said he first became aware of the job when it was originally posted roughly a year ago. Though he applied at the time, the job went to another candidate, who lasted a year in the position. When it came open again, Demanche seized the chance to once again apply.
“I thought it was a tremendous opportunity for me and for my family in the long run,” he said.
Demanche was up front about his motivation for accepting another job, rather than remaining at Monomoy at least through his son Riley's senior year, which starts this fall.
“One of the things that the district really needs to take a hard look at is their salary structure for the coaching staff,” Demanche said. “Every coach for every sport is on the same pay scale, regardless of the sport they coach.”
Demanche added that since the current system has been in place well before he originally came to Harwich as the Harwich High School AD and football coach, it is outdated and in need of review. “The variables that come with each sport are so different,” he said. “Most schools incorporate that. I was probably the lowest paid head coach in football in the state of Massachusetts. [Coaches] all make the same amount of money regardless of experience. Quite honestly there are coaches in the area interested in being a coach but they'll probably make more as an assistant in another district than as head coach at Monomoy.”
Demanche said that with one child heading to college soon and another following, the financial benefits proved a powerful pull when it came to the Plymouth North job, as did the opportunities it will allow.
“I think they've got great facilities and from who I've met so far, great people and great kids,” Demanche said. “I just want to cultivate that. I think they need some stability. I'll be their fourth AD in three years [and] I'm excited about the challenge. I like that opportunity.”
Prior to Monomoy, Demanche coached locally at Barnstable High School, St. John Paul II High, and also at Bishop Stang in Dartmouth. He looks at the Plymouth North program as another chance to put together the key pieces that make a successful high school athletic program run.
“One of the things I found out when I came to Harwich and Monomoy, I really love the AD position,” he said. “I like to call it a jigsaw puzzle. I enjoy putting the puzzle together. Instead of a 500 piece puzzle at Monomoy, this is like a 1,500 piece puzzle.”
Something he's looking to continue in his new venue are his Captain's Councils, which help keep team captains focused, and his Athletic Leadership Council. Through the latter, players are identified by coaches as having the potential for strong leadership. The council aims to instill positive leadership qualities among those players and therefore create an atmosphere of good student leaders.
“If the model of leadership from previous group wasn't good, you develop a cycle of bad leaders,” he said. “The council instructs kids on what good leadership looks like so that when your opportunity comes to be a leader, you can handle that and still play.”
While he acknowledged the decision to leave the current Monomoy team in new hands was difficult, he believes it is resilient and will rise to the challenges of change.
“Change does one or two things – it fractures you or pulls you together,” he said, adding that when former head coach Ross Jatkola left after the 2015 season, the team pulled together. “I would anticipate that they will do that again. Kids are kids. There are good kids wherever you go, and kids that struggle wherever you go, behaviorally and academically. I don't think kids are all that different from place to place. Everybody wants to say 'we have the best kids' but there are great kids all over. It's a matter of providing them with the opportunities academically and athletically to allow them to be successful.”
The real difficulty came in knowing if he accepted the Plymouth North job it would mean not coaching Riley during his senior season, as well as the players in Riley's circle of friends that have become like family.
“Without that piece it was a no-brainer,” said Demanche. “The hesitation was him and particularly his classmates because I've grown up with them. They've become part of our family as well. Telling them was hard, but they were very good. They're resilient.”
Being the new AD at Plymouth North, which has just over 1,000 students, will not keep Demanche from attending Riley's home games.
“One of the things that I brought up in the interview was that I wanted the opportunity to see this senior class and my son play football,” he said. “I'm pleased about that piece, and I still will see a lot of Plymouth North games.”
Meanwhile, Demanche describes moving on as “bittersweet.”
“It's a great opportunity for me, but it's tough leaving,” he said. “I hope that when all is said and done, nobody can say I mucked it up.”