By Mike Zhe firstname.lastname@example.org June 21, 2019
For the second time in five years, Fernandes has stepped down as coach of the Marshwood High School baseball team, citing increased demands of his high-end landscaping business, Fernandes and Sons.
“The flux of the labor force has changed drastically,” he said. “In the last two years I’ve lost four people for various reasons. It’s just so hard to give it your all to the kids knowing that (work) is wearing on you.”
Fernandes coached the Hawks from 2007-14, making the playoffs seven times and reaching two Class A regional finals. He resigned at that point, due to work demands, but rejoined the program when the job became open again in 2016.
In 12 years total, he guided Marshwod to a 129-80 record and 10 playoff berths. This spring, the Hawks went 12-6 overall, losing in the Class A South semifinals to top-seeded South Portland.
“Eric and I played against each other in high school; we’ve known each other 30 years,” said Marshwood athletic director Rich Buzzell. “There’s not a guy who cares about his kids more than Eric. He’s a tough-love coach. He really tries to get the most out of them.”
Buzzell said he feels the job is an attractive one, with the program on an upswing and three standout juniors — University of Maine commits Connor Caverly and Quinn McDaniel, and top pitcher Marshall Smaracko — set to anchor next year’s team as seniors.
Fernandes said that two of his assistants — Rich Luciano, who teaches at the high school and coaches the Staples Crossing American Legion team in the summer; and Eric Wells, the director of playing/coaching development at Seacoast United — would be strong candidates to succeed him.
“I clearly would support either one of them,” said Fernandes. “My wish is they’d try to make it work for the two of them next year.”
Buzzell said the process to name a successor will start when a search committee of five to seven people is put together later this summer.
“He does have a great staff,” said Buzzell. “I’ve heard that two of the people are interested but we haven’t officially opened it.”
During this latest stint, Fernandes helped develop future college players like Holden Jackman, Nate Curtis and Jack Cahill.
Fernandes, who noted he’s also looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Gail, feels the program is on the right track after dipping a bit following his first departure. The low point was a 3-13 season in 2017.
“I’d never had a season where we didn’t have a winning record,” he said, “but these last two years I watched a group of young men change the dynamic of what we’re all about.
“There were a lot of special moments.”
The only question now is who will be the next person coaching them.
“The business is the most important thing for his family. I understand that,” said Buzzell. “But I am gonna miss the guy.”