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Going To Bat For Meehan

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
By Cailin Riley   Apr 24, 2012 10:04 AM
Apr 25, 2012 10:55 AM

In the nine years I have been working at The Southampton Press, I’ve dealt with a lot of coaches, and seen a lot come and go.

But Pete Meehan has always been one of my favorites.

Meehan has been a fixture in the East End coaching community for two decades—he’s currently in his 20th season at the helm of the Hampton Bays varsity baseball program and just wrapped up his 17th season as the boys varsity basketball coach at the school.

Covering Meehan’s teams has always been a pleasure—he’s had good teams, average teams and mediocre teams, he’s had big wins and blowout losses, but regardless of his team’s talent or record, he’s always been gracious, forthcoming with information and easy to talk to. In addition to talking X’s and O’s, we’ve also had plenty of candid, off-the-record conversations, and I’ve come to admire Meehan and his coaching philosophy.

I’ve also been present at dozens of Meehan’s games. Like all coaches, he can get emotional at times, but I’ve never witnessed any behavior I would describe as out of hand or inappropriate. There are plenty of local coaches I’ve witnessed push the envelope in far more aggressive ways, in terms of the language they use, the tone of their voice and the atmosphere they create, than Pete Meehan.

Which is why I was quite honestly shocked last week when we received two letters to the editor at The Press complaining about Meehan’s coaching style, alleging that he curses at his players and treats them badly. If someone had told me that a local coach was coming under fire from parents for his behavior, Meehan would have been my last guess. I honestly cannot think of a single instance when I witnessed Meehan using a derogatory tone or foul language with any players on his team.

I have not attended every single game Meehan has coached, so it’s possible I missed something. But the tone of the emailed letters we received last week painted the picture of an angry tyrant who belittles and threatens his players at every turn. That’s something I would have noticed.

That’s not the Pete Meehan I know.

I would describe Meehan as a hard-working teacher and coach who is dedicated to his student-athletes and who takes his job seriously. He isn’t afraid to be honest—he’ll tell me when his basketball team turns the ball over 20-plus times, or when his baseball team walks 10 batters. But in our conversations, he never singles out an individual as the reason for his team’s failures.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that Meehan has come under fire this season. Because I’ve seen this narrative play out before, plenty of times. I’ve watched parent-fueled campaigns against coaches go down on both sides of the canal, and, in some instances, the coaches have lost their jobs. In most cases, it’s been unclear to me why these parents were so adamant in their desire to dismiss the coach, and the reasons they have given often seem very subjective.

Hampton Bays Superintendant Lars Clemensen said earlier this week that district examined the issue with Meehan, spoke with parents and “considers the matter closed,” meaning Meehan isn’t going anywhere, at least for now.

I don’t begrudge parents the right to question people who play a big role in the lives of their children, from teachers to coaches to caregivers. Those people should be held accountable, and held to a high standard. But I think, all too often, parents judge coaches through the biased views they just can’t seem to help bringing into play when it comes to their children’s athletic pursuits. Simply put, sports seem to ignite passions and emotions in us that we normally don’t put on display, and, unfortunately, it can bring out an ugly side.

I know there will be people who disagree with me, who say I don’t see the whole picture, who may think I don’t “get it” because I don’t have a child on the team.

But I think I’ve gotten to know Meehan well enough, have been around him and his teams long enough, and have been doing this job long enough to say this, with confidence: Pete Meehan is one of the good guys.

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As the former Sports Editor at The Press, I couldn't agree more. I recently returned to The Press to do freelance work and I covered Pete's basketball team's playoff loss to Babylon in February. And while I hadn’t spoken to him in more than four years, he was the same friendly, professional Pete Meehan I always knew. He spoke with me moments after the game was over, which might not seem like a lot but I've had plenty coaches refuse to speak to me under such circumstances because they were ...more
By smurf2309 (1), Bayport on Apr 25, 12 8:49 AM
The article has been changed to reflect that Lars Clemensen is the superintendent of schools at Hampton Bays.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (89), Westhampton Beach on Apr 25, 12 11:13 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By outofhere (3), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 12:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
He has everyone fooled! He has no loyality to his players especially the boys that have played in his summer, spring and fall leagues. He told the boys Yes, I have my favorites, and they will play. Thisyear he has 9th, and 10th Graders playing over Seniors and Juniors. Thoses players aren't any better then the Boys that are sitting the BENCH!!!! We are not even making Playoffs this year. Yes he Screams and Curses at them. He even called the Coach Of Southampton a F..... Idiot in front of our boys. ...more
By dragonfly3 (2), hampton bays on Apr 26, 12 9:12 AM
For the Record my son does play ever game!
By dragonfly3 (2), hampton bays on Apr 26, 12 9:28 AM
There has to be something that you aren't seeing on a day to day basis that calls for a younger player playing more than an older player with the same exact ability.

More than likely, they don't have the same abilities. The younger player is probably a better all around TEAM player. No one is exactly the same on the baseball field and Coach Meehan is an expert at reading the ability levels of his TEAM more so than anyone else that is involved with the program. The younger players are ...more
By McGann (2), Wilmington on Apr 26, 12 1:22 PM
2 members liked this comment
no, he doesnt....
By beenthere1414 (3), hampton bays on Apr 26, 12 8:14 PM
That last comments are laughable.......The problem with society today is mommy and daddy always making excuses for their kids...The behavior of the kids involved here is the real issue... but as usual lets blame the coach...When your a varsity baseball player what grade you are in doesn't dictate playing time, your ability does ....These kids are constantly told how great they are and never held accountable for their actions.....This coach has had a positive effect on countless student athletes ...more
By Truth...Hurts (3), smithtown on Apr 26, 12 9:47 AM
Great point Truth Hurts. This is precisely the reason there are more mediocre programs in every sport on the east end. The few, consistently successful programs out here have coaches who don't take any crap from kids or parents.
By YEAROUNDER (79), East Hampton on Apr 26, 12 10:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
I think the problem is times have changed - Individual success has become more important than Team sucess, in the mind of some parents and therefore some players. Coach Meehan has always taught 'team over self' - one of the most important messages you can teach a young player/student/citizen. However, if you're not a team player than you're not going to like that message, and will create excuses to make that coach the scapgoat for your troubles..nothing new to sports. Unfortunately from these letters ...more
By Oldman1 (1), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 12:23 PM
You've missed the point, it's not parents saying they want equal playing time for their mediocre athletes, over more talented younger athletes. He plays mediocre younger players over mediocre senior players, that's the point. He doesn't cultivate a team atmosphere, he singles out a few "stars" which are really just kids with natural ability, none that he he has honed and focuses on them the whole season. Also, when HB is either losing or winning by let's say 10 runs, he Never puts in those kids ...more
By outofhere (3), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 12:53 PM
I do not wish to remain anonymous like some other folks commenting. My name is Bryan McGann, Class of 2001 and played under Coach Meehan from 1998-2001. I agree with Truth...Hurts. The comments above are completely laughable and actually somewhat delusional.

Coach Meehan is a passionate man and he displays that everyday whether in practice or during games. He is an excellent teacher of the game and he always taught his players to think. People should be sending letters to the editor ...more
By McGann (2), Wilmington on Apr 26, 12 1:05 PM
I couldn't believe this article when I saw it. I myself played for coach Meehan and I have never had such a great coach. This man did anything for his players and was a great teacher. To me these days some parents have nothing better to do then complain about stupid situations. To me in this situation it seems like maybe the parents are the ones that need to grow up. Coach Meehan is a great man and has always ran a great program. Go worry about your kids grades and let the man do his job that he ...more
By Yotut2010 (2), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 1:37 PM
2 members liked this comment
outofhere, until you've walked a thousand miles in the coaches shoes at a PRACTICE, you will NEVER know or understand the reasons why some kids play over others. Bad practice habits, not showing up to practice, grades, are all reasons no one knows about when watching a game. It's not as simple as this kid is as good as this kid thing. It's about what kids do at practice that earns them playing time or not......it's called the REAL WORLD.
By YEAROUNDER (79), East Hampton on Apr 26, 12 1:37 PM
2 members liked this comment
well I am a coach so Ive walked those miles and know well and good how great coaches operate in the REAL WORLD, and definitely dont see it happening here. this is my observation and am completely entitled to make it!
Apr 26, 12 1:46 PM appended by outofhere
forget it
By outofhere (3), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 1:46 PM
Are you at practice ? Are you in the locker room ?Do you condone kids skipping practices to go to hockey games ? Favorites ?? Word is the two athletes who left the team played more innings than anyone..seems like handling failure is the real issue....Typical blame game....
By Truth...Hurts (3), smithtown on Apr 26, 12 2:17 PM
3 members liked this comment
You improve your skills by practice. How do you know the kids he is sitting aren't misbehaving at practice or in the classroom? Maybe they don't give 100 percent and don't deserve a chance to be in the game.
By Yotut2010 (2), Hampton Bays on Apr 26, 12 1:50 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hmmm....having played at one of the largest high schools in the nation and at a Divison I University, I am continually amazed at how parents at HB assess their children as athletes. Here is the truth: MOST schools that are even remotely competitive have a thing known as "try-outs". Kids work up the ranks from Jr High to JV to Varsity( 11th and 12th grade ONLY). If you arent good enough, you get cut..game over. At HB, kids can go from one sport to another...dont "like" baseball? Not having "fun"?...ok ...more
By beenthere1414 (3), hampton bays on Apr 26, 12 7:54 PM
Reading these comments amazes me. People are up in arms because parents complained about a coach. Veiled insults towards the parents involved and their children! Why? Do each of you know exactly what was said and by whom? Many of you vouch for Mr. Meehan, and that's great, so why is it hard to understand that parents also "go to bat" for their children when they feel it's necessary? So many accusations have been made in public here and the Press, when the truth is, even though you may not like or ...more
By bballover (1), hampton bays on Apr 27, 12 9:41 AM
Not, "not good enough", not prepared mentally to handle the expectations. I am one of the Baymen's biggest fans...every sport, for years.... Complaning about a coach is fine; saying " he shouldnt be around children", is slander. No more comments from me...I'm all about HB sports and always will be. Good win yesterday boys and Coach Meehan.
By beenthere1414 (3), hampton bays on Apr 27, 12 10:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
I would like to respond to the letters attacking Hampton Bays Varsity Baseball Coach Pete Meehan. I am a proud parent of a son who played for Coach Meehan for 4 years 1998-2001. I would just like to thank Coach Meehan for all he did for my son. He taught him how to win and lose graciously. I went to almost every game during those 4 years and still many more after my son had graduated. I never experienced anything like was mentioned in the letters printed last week. I find it odd that the 2 ...more
By mrsinput (1), Hampton Bays on Apr 27, 12 12:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Not to be disrespectful but I play on the baseball team my Name is Jack Kearney. We have to much off the field drama and this season has turned into so much more than baseball. But I would just like to say let us get back to baseball I'm tired of hearing all this at practice and everyone asking about it. Just let our team get back to baseball peacefully. Thanks
By jkearney (1), Hampton Bays on Apr 27, 12 7:02 PM
3 members liked this comment
I've been around sports my entire life. Having grown up in Hampton Bays, I have been fortunate to play baseball and basketball for Coach Meehan while also having the opportunity to coach alongside of him. I've had countless other coaches for All Star Teams, AAU Teams, and in college as well, yet no other coach has come close to Pete. He is by far and away, the most influential coach I've ever played for and Hampton Bays is lucky to have him. From daily interactions to players, to game day strategies ...more
By Dr. MES (2), Hampton Bays on Apr 28, 12 9:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
I was on Coach Meehan Basketball and baseball Teams. I'll say he is a nice guy but for a coach, all he cares about was winning. I'm a senior in College and Coach Meehan had nothing to do with the man I'm becoming or will be. Theses other players are picturing him to be a Saint. Well here's my point of view. I sat on that bench and I was an average player. He would put us in the very last minute of the Basketball game- Do you know how that makes a person feel. He would play the Benchkids against ...more
By benchwarmer08 (1), hampton bays on Apr 30, 12 8:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By dragonfly3 (2), hampton bays on May 3, 12 9:10 AM
Lets also have each parent bring a snack to the game for the boys to eat and maybe have the coaches pitch and finally maybe the other team will agree to not keeping score. Oh wait....thats T-ball!
By Truth...Hurts (3), smithtown on May 3, 12 9:46 AM
Maybe dragon fly should be the athletic director. She can hire a coach that doesnt hurt anybodys feelings.When a kid complains that the other teams pitcher threw a curves ball he can sit him down and explain that its not his fault that he struck out it was that mean pitcher on the other team. GIVE Me a BREAK! This is varsity baseball. The best kids should play. Start a intermural team if you want everyone to play.
By fish sticks (29), hampton bays on May 3, 12 12:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
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