Monday, May 29th, 2017

USM honors longtime baseball coach by renaming stadium

Courtesy of USM Athletics

Posted on May 04, 2017 in Sports
By USM Free Press

Erin Brown, Sports Editor

“It’s kind of weird. But it’s humbling, especially when you’re still coaching,” Ed Flaherty said about receiving the honor of his career this past weekend when USM renamed the baseball stadium “Ed Flaherty field.” Flaherty has spent 32 seasons and counting as head coach of Huskies’ baseball.  Throughout those three plus decades, Flaherty’s list of achievements with the team is second to none.

To start, Flaherty has tallied 22 NCAA tournament appearances, eight NCAA regional titles and two NCAA Division III National Championships in 1991 and 1997. Both years he won the National Championship, Flaherty was named NCAA DIII National Coach of the Year. In the Little East Conference (LEC), he has won five tournament titles, eleven shared or outright season titles and has been voted LEC Coach of the Year eight times in the past twenty years.

To continue to write about his championships, titles, honors, and other awards in detail would fill this entire newspaper. Along with his extraordinary list of accomplishments, he holds the utmost respect of his players past and present. Current players can’t say enough great things about Flaherty. They look up to him for his passion, his leadership, his ability to stay humble and so much more.

Sophomore catcher Kip Richard (Kennebunk, ME/ Kennebunk) told the Free Press, “he has a true passion and respect for the game, and it’s fun playing for a person who loves the game as much as he does.”

Flaherty truly does have an absolute passion for this game. After playing at the Division I level at the University of Maine until an injury halted his plans for major league ball, he decided to put his love of the game into coaching. Coach Flaherty came to USM in 1985 and hasn’t left, and really has not thought about leaving. “To have a job that you really love doing, because I love baseball and I really love the University of Southern Maine, it’s almost like you haven’t worked,” Flaherty said. “I’d like to do this for quite a while.”

For leadership, Senior Matt Bender speaks highly of the respect he has for his coach after spending four years on his team. Bender believes the leadership of Flaherty is unmistakably the reason for the team’s success. “When he talks, guys listen,” Bender says. “Every time he puts a lineup up, it’s for a reason. He knows best.”

Bender was unwavering on the fact that there was no better honor for his coach, and the pride he feels from playing under Flaherty’s direction really shows. Bender told the Free Press, “when I take the field everyday it’s an honor to put on that USM uniform, because you know you’re playing under the helm of a legend.”

Coach Flaherty believes his leadership to the boys in his program is an important part of their lives, even outside of baseball. He speaks about the ages of his players, 18 to 22, and how he feels he can really communicate with their age group very successfully. “It has nothing to do with winning, it has to do with the fact that I enjoy the kids. I think they know and I think it means something to them as a leader or teacher. The kids have to know that you care and I do. I really do,” Flaherty said about the most rewarding part of his job, being a leader to these boys 150 days of the year.

Junior catcher Cam Hauze says about the leadership he sees from his coach on a regular basis, “he shows us how to be respectful on and off the baseball field and he has really shown me what it takes to be successful in the real world.” Hauze also adds, “being a player that doesn’t play all the time, he has taught me that every player matters and it takes everyone on the roster for the team to be successful.”

As for staying humble, Coach Flaherty pretty much wrote the book. Flaherty talks about the field dedication as being a tremendous honor and says, “for me the word has always been team,” Flaherty adds, “I put a thing on Facebook and said it really should be named ‘Southern Maine baseball team field’ because it’s everybody. Without every piece of that, this thing certainly doesn’t happen.”

Flaherty talks about the importance of his assistant coaches throughout the years that ultimately led him to his success. “for me, to think back at 32 year of people who have been in the program, particularly my assistants,” he says. “Vinny and Eddie have been with me for 20 years. They’re probably the most important thing I’ve got.”

Flaherty hopes to continue to honor the team after the stadium dedication. He says this current season looks interesting. “We have so many young, talented players. As the season’s progressed, some of these guys have blossomed. We’ve got ourselves in a position to do really well.”