January 4, 2023 – Story by Mark Blaudshun, photo courtesy of Fotique
At this time of the year, Paul Canniff doesn’t expect too much.
It’s not that the Hingham High School wrestling coach has downgraded his aspirations.
Canniff, now in his 22 second season at Hingham and starting his 11th season coaching the varsity wants to be the best–every year.
And at Hingham, which could arguably be called one of the more dynastic forces in Massachusetts high school wrestling, that is not an impossible dream.
In fact, it is a surprise when the Hingham does not end its season with some sort of championship run.
For Cannif, who is almost matter of fact in discussing the Harbormen’s success for the past decade, gets excited when he talks about the “program”–which includes all levels.
“We try to get as many kids involved with the program as possible,” said Canniff this week as he guided his team through a pair of quad meets before getting into the Patriot League schedule in January. “We try to get the numbers up. It’s not easy.”
Each year, Canniff goes on a scouting mission for prospects.
“I talk to freshmen football and soccer teams,” he said. “I go down to the lunch room. I send out e-mails.”
Canniff gives his new prospects challenges between their other sports. “I tell them the goal is to work hard and have fun.”
Canniff, who watched the 22-23 edition of the Harbormen wrestlers open with a sweep of a four team quad meet against Stoughton, Weymouth and BC High, says he is helped by the nature of the kid that he finds when they show up as freshmen.
“We have very tough kids in this town,” he said. “And a great youth wrestling program. That helps a lot. We are very fortunate to get tough kids.”
All programs must regenerate themselves every few years, Hingham is no exception..
“We have a lot of new faces this year because a lot of kids (17) graduated,” he said. “”We start out mastering the basics and it goes on from there.”
What starts out as a a raw product in December often becomes polished jewel by March, when the states begin.
Dominating the Patriot League-10 time champion–is the first step, but then the goals and the achievements start to mesh and blend.
“The idea is to work hard and have fun,” said Canniff. “And I think we do that at Hingham.”