Sean Young named new men's basketball coach at Great Bay

03/21/2016 by Mike Zhe

PORTSMOUTH — Whoever was going to be named the new men's basketball coach at Great Bay Community College was going to have a recruiting challenge in front of him, with no on-campus housing to offer prospective players.

Sean Young saw the challenge.

Also the opportunity.

Young, the former Epping High School coach who led that team to a Division IV championship in 2013-14, has been hired as the new coach at Great Bay CC, the school announced Thursday. He takes over a program that will enter its second year in 2016-17.

Without housing, Young said the focus will be on attracting the top available players from the area, who can commute to classes to further their education and help build a foundation of success in the fledgling basketball program.

"I want to come in and own the Seacoast," said Young. "I want to own from Raymond out to Somersworth and into Maine, down to Amesbury (Mass.) and Plaistow."

Great Bay received 247 applications for the stipend job that was advertised last month before settling on Young, whose coaching career included head varsity stints at Epping (three years), Merrimack Valley (one year) and Wilton-Lyndeborough (five years).

He was popular at Epping, a team he led to two Division IV finals. He spoke to his players on Monday, the night of their awards banquet, to inform them of his decision. One of his job references was athletic director Larry Averill.

"They were disappointed," said Young, mentioning current juniors Jackson Rivers and Tommy Blanchard, who will captain next year's team. "I've coached those guys since they were freshmen. They feel that we were going to make a push for another state championship next year."

The Great Bay men completed their inaugural season as a program this winter with a record of 4-19, losing 11 of their final 12 games and finishing ahead of just one team in the 10-team Yankee Small College Conference and failing to qualify for the conference tournament.

Mike Fischer, the college's associate VP of student affairs, said he received applications from all over the country but was seeking someone with high school or college coaching experience, as well as strong local ties.

"This person had to have connections to the Seacoast and has to be able to hit the ground running," said Fischer. "Sean came in and just blew us away in the interview. We interviewed a couple other candidates and, to be honest, it wasn't even close."

Young said he learned of the opening from his friend, former Great Bay coach Dave Sokolnicki, whom he got to know when Sokonicki was the coach at St. Thomas Aquinas. He spoke to Fischer by phone on March 7, the day before Epping's first-round playoff game, and formally interviewed for the job that Friday, one day after his team's season ended with a quarterfinal loss at Portsmouth Christian Academy.

"It didn't feel like an interview, per se, just people talking shop," said Young. "I just felt like everything they were saying were my core values and beliefs."

The biggest point of emphasis in the new job is recruiting. The team this winter was not particularly deep and suffered a lot of one-sided losses.

"The thing I tried to do on a smaller scale when I was at Epping or Wilton was create competition," said Young. "I want guys pushing each other every day in practice."

"For us, our recruiting is going to go right up to the first day of practice," said Fischer.

Great Bay is also in the process of hiring a new women's coach to replace Allyson Britton, who stepped aside to devote more time to her administrative duties. Fischer said a decision on the position could be made this week or next.

Young began coaching high school ball in Pelham, where he was the JV coach for four years. He coached the JVs at Wilton-Lyndeborough for four years before getting promoted to varsity coach, where he led the Warriors to the Division IV finals in 2009.

At Epping, he took over a team that annually looked up to rival Newmarket and the state's northern powers and guided it to a state championship in his first season, overtaking Sunapee in the final, 74-70. The Blue Devils reached the final again in 2015, losing to Wilton.

"The basketball community (in Epping) has been nothing but supportive," Young said. "My phone blew up (Thursday) after the news was Tweeted out. … It was nice to see the amount of support."

Down the road, Young said he would like to be a full-time coach in a college setting. He went back to school two years ago and in April will complete his online bachelor's degree from Grand Canyon University.

"Everything's falling into place," he said.