CHS Athletic Director Frank Geiselman, at right, watches the Cumberland High School hockey team during their championship win at Meehan Auditorium this past winter.
(Photo by Ernest A. Brown)
CUMBERLAND -- Although Frank Geiselman has officially retired from Cumberland High School as the Clippers’ athletic director, he hasn’t fully abandoned ship just yet.
Geiselman is still overseeing the town’s varsity, junior varsity and middle school sports programs while a search for his successor takes place. Once a candidate is found, he will remain on board for a while longer to help make the transition a smooth one.
“Even though I’ve resigned, there are still some things that need to get done before someone is put in place,” Geiselman said.
When you’ve been involved in Clipper athletics for as long as Geiselman has – the Pawtucket native and Tolman High graduate has been a part of the sports scene on the Mendon Road campus since 1971 – making a clean break is easier said than done. But Geiselman, 67, says that he’s at peace with his decision to step aside.
Reached earlier this week at his office at the Sher-Le-Mon Swim Club, Geiselman said that retirement from the AD’s chair is something he had been discussing with his wife Christine over the past year. At the end of the school term, he tendered his letter of resignation.
“Cumberland has been a part of the family. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I thought it was time,” said Geiselman, who prior to becoming athletic director for the Clippers in 2005, enjoyed a 26-year coaching career at the high school where he piloted football, girls’ basketball and girls’ volleyball.
Geiselman kidded that the chances are pretty good that his wife may kick him out of the house shortly after the new school year gets underway. But if not, he is looking forward to traveling more and spending more time with his nine grandchildren.
“When you’re in athletics, especially coaching all those years, you just go from one season to another to another. Then I step into a summer job, so I haven’t had a chance to step back,” Geiselman said. “Some people have said that you’re not going to like (retirement) because you’re one of those guys who needs to be doing something. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. If there are things to do at the house, I can spend more time and not feel rushed. Before, I would find a couple of minutes prior to heading back to the field, the swim club or the gym at night.”
Geiselman’s tenure as athletic director yielded plenty of positive returns. You can point to the number of state championships and standout athletes that Cumberland produced, along with the new track and state-of-the-art synthetic turf at Tucker Field, and the opening of the multi-purpose Wellness Center. Geiselman may also be most remembered as the driving force behind transforming the AD position from a part-time role to a full-time position.
“In my annual report, I would write about upgrading the athletic director’s position to a full-time one, which I asked for in the past three years,” Geiselman said. “The person doing it needs to be there full time. I was part time because that’s what the position entailed, but I don’t do anything part time. I put in as many hours as I could, but you’re limited supposedly by the retirement board.
“In any event, there’s going to be a lot of things that the new person will be able to undertake,” Geiselman continued. “I think the athletic department is in great shape.”
In another example of just how committed Geiselman is to Cumberland athletics, he was part of the search committee to find his replacement. Prospective candidates have already been interviewed with the hope that someone will be in place by the time fall sports officially begin practicing next month. The school committee next meets on Aug. 14.
As far as what the future with regard to athletics may or may not hold, Geiselman admits that he will continue to spend his summers working at Sher-Le-Mon. When asked about the prospect of serving as a game supervisor, he responded that such actions will likely hinge on guidelines put in place by the new Cumberland athletic director.
In the same breath Geiselman stated, “I would be more than happy to do something like that.”
In Pawtucket, the line of succession as far as who would take over as athletic director at Tolman and Shea high schools was drawn with the firm idea of putting in people who are familiar with the culture.
Taking over for John Scanlon at Tolman is Frank Laliberte, the longtime varsity tennis coach and scoreboard operator at basketball games. Replacing Ray McGee at Shea is Kate Corry, who coached tennis and oversaw the school’s physical education department.
“These two people, they’ve done it all as far as coaching and overseeing games in Pawtucket,” Scanlon said.
Last week’s decision by the Woonsocket School Committee to table the discussion relating to the vacant athletic director’s post has apparently yielded a couple of alternative solutions. The plan is so have something more concrete to present to the school committee at the Aug. 13 meeting.
All signs seem to point to keeping the AD position as a part-time job, which was the case when the late George Nasuti oversaw Villa Novan athletics. Carnell Henderson is still wearing the interim label, though keep in mind he’s roughly a month away from resuming his Woonsocket football coaching duties.
Henderson, who is also a vice principal at the high school, is serving as the contact person for the several coaching vacancies that are open for fall sports – two football assistant coaches, one girls’ head soccer coach and one cross country coach.
“I’m trying not to,” said Henderson when asked if he would continue running the athletic department in the event there’s not a definitive person in place prior to the start of school. “I’m still trying to make sure that schedules are committed and the information that needs to be passed on to coaches is being done, but it wouldn’t be fair to the other sports if this were to continue.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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