This spring, the St. John’s Prep rugby team, which includes two likely returnees from Marblehead, will be taking direction from a new head coach after the Prep appointed Tom Clark to take over the school’s varsity program.
A native of the Youngstown, Ohio area, the 52-year-old will lead a program that won back-to-back state titles in 2010 and 2011. Clark served as the Eagles’ assistant head coach last spring and has been a varsity assistant at the Prep since 2012.
“Tom owns a quarter century of experience as a player-coach in the sport, and he’s been a huge component of our coaching staff for the past 11 seasons,” said St. John’s Prep Athletic Director Jameson Pelkey. “An accomplished attorney in his professional life with a rich background of interpersonal skills, he believes strongly in a team sport’s unique ability to empower young people. We’re excited for him to take the helm of a program that’s been a perennial postseason threat for more than a decade.”
In Clark, Marblehead juniors Wells Gillett of Rose Avenue, who recently helped the Prep to a state title in football, and Samuel Tucker of Atlantic Avenue, also a member of the Eagles’ varsity ski team, will see a familiar face this April, but one who is playing a different role.
St. John’s Prep reached the Division 1 semifinals in 2022, finishing with a record of 5-2. The Eagles were also a state semifinalist in 2019 and last reached the state final in 2017 — the first season interscholastic rugby became a MIAA-sanctioned state championship sport.
The Prep’s earlier state titles came under the aegis of the Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization, in conjunction with USA Rugby.
“Anyone who’s coached alongside me can attest to my commitment to helping young people achieve their fullest potential in both rugby and life,” said Clark, of Acton. “I believe it’s extremely important to leave a lasting and meaningful impression on those we serve. Throughout my tenure as a varsity assistant at St. John’s, I’ve always sought to engage and inspire students on and off the field. It’s my deep desire to help student-athletes become the best version of themselves.”
St. John’s Prep rugby owns a combined record of 17-13 over the past five years, including 11-3 since the start of the 2019 season (no games were played during the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic). The 2023 campaign is scheduled to kick off in April.