October 14, 2022 - Story by Mark Blaudschun, photos by Joshua Ross
Being the guy "following the guy'' is never an easy task--at any level.
Whether it is an athlete which must step in the role of an ALL Pro, All America, All County performers.
For Coaches, it can be more subtle, over a longer period of time.
Which brings us to Eric Gill ,the first year boys' golf coach at Hingham High School.
Gill's task this fall was moving up a notch from coaching the Harbormen Junior Varsity golfers , an opening which developed when Dan Clune retired as the head coach, ending a reign of excellence which spanned the past 25 years in a variety of sports at Hingham, including boys' golf.
Adding to the challenge was a roster which was missing 8 players through graduation.
That was the bad news.
The good news was that Gill, who had been the JV coach at Hingham for the past 5 seasons, had seven "veteran'' players returning to fill the gap of a championship caliber golf team.
All of that become much clearer when Hingham continued its roll through the golf season with a victory over Rockland, upping the Harbormen's record to 15-1, clinching the Patriot League title.
Hingham's success is not a surprise. The Harbormen, along with Duxbury, are part of the Patriot Conference elite, which did nothing to mitigate the satisfaction factor.
"I'm much more a team manager than a coach,'' said Gill, with a laugh. "These guys are such good golfers, anything that I do would probably be detrimental.''
Gill, who is also the Hingham tennis coach and teaches middle school math,, said he got into golf coaching on almost a whim.
"There was an opening to be the JV golf coach,'' said Gill. "I like golf, so I went to the athletic director and applied for the job and got it. It's been great.''
Having someone with Clune's credentials helped, but so did the skill level of the players coming into the program.
What Hingham can do as well as anyone, is match depth with skill. ""We have six to eight guys who can shoot even par, one over, par, or even one under par on any day,'' said Gill of a roster in which he uses as many as 15 players..
Some of that depth showed up in September when Hingham turned in a school record score of 204 against North Quincy (for six players) 204 school record, and course record.
With their first Patriot League title since 2019 secure, the next goal is the state sectionals, which begin on Monday in Easton.
"Top six, with top 4 scorers counting,'' explained Gill, who will have to rotate his roster, almost certainly using his three senior co-captains Bobby Peirce, Victor San Antonio, and Connor Cummings.
He can also dip into a roster which includes Patriot League All Stars in Drew Golden and JD Flynn as well as Patriot League MVP Carson Erick.
The Top 3 teams will advance to the state finals the following week in Haverhill.
All of it will be new for Gill. "My first rodeo,'' he explained, conceding it will be a bit frustrating since state rules prohibit any coaching during the match and his pre-tournament course assignment will limit what he can actually see during the matches.
""I won't know very much until it's over,'' said Gill, "so it's bit a frustrating.
""But I absolutely know, we have a strong team.''