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Sachem hockey great Matt Serino is back

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Winthrop High School’s athletic director, a 2005 Saugus High School graduate, resigns to take Saugus AD job

 

By Mark E. Vogler

 

Saugus High School hockey Hall of Famer Matthew Serino – the son of the late Sachems sports legend for whom the Christie Serino Jr. Memorial Stadium is named – has been hired as the Saugus School Department’s new Athletic and Wellness Director. Matthew Serino, who had worked for close to a decade as the athletic director of Winthrop High School, began working for his hometown School Department this week. He replaces Terri Pillsbury, who had been the athletic director since 2018. Her contract was not renewed.

“I am pleased that Matthew Serino is returning to Saugus to serve as our Athletic and Wellness Director,” Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Michael Hashem said in a statement to The Saugus Advocate.

“With his experience in the position and his dedication to the community of Saugus, I am certain that he will help bring our athletic programs to a highly competitive level,” Hashem said.

“As a lifelong resident, an active member of the Saugus community and someone that is dedicated to the youth of Saugus, he should be able to transition to his role and hit the ground running,” the superintendent said.

 

Athletic Director’s job expanded

School Committee Chair Vincent Serino said the School Department “decided to go in a different direction” when it did not renew Pillsbury’s contract this spring. “The athletic director is also now in charge of wellness. It’s a totally different situation. It’s a more complicated situation than it was,” Serino said.

“It’s nothing against Terry. She did a great job. We decided to expand upon the current position. Matt did a phenomenal job at Winthrop. He’s got a proven track record there. We’re hoping that he can move our participation rates up and bring Saugus athletics up to the next level,” Serino said.

Matt starred in hockey while at Saugus High, leading the Sachems to the Division 2 state championship in 2004. He was named to The Boston Globe and Boston Herald All Scholastic teams, and in 2018 he was inducted into the Saugus High Sports Hall of Fame. His wife, Sabrina Cataldo Serino, another standout Saugus High athlete, was also inducted that year. She was recognized for her outstanding athleticism in soccer and indoor and outdoor track.

Matt Serino has worked in the Winthrop Public School system since 2011 as the High School Health Teacher. He has coaching experience as an assistant hockey coach and head lacrosse coach at the high school level. He became athletic director at Winthrop High in 2015.

Winthrop High sports teams have excelled with Serino overseeing the athletic programs. Winthrop teams have won multiple championships and have been highly competitive while playing in the Northeastern Conference. The hockey team was a state Final Four team during the 2023-24 season.

Saugus, which is known as an avid hockey town, was a high school powerhouse during Matt Serino’s playing days and during the years that his father coached hockey here.

School Committee Chair Serino noted that Saugus High has been a co-op hockey team with Peabody in recent years. “We’d like to see Saugus hockey come back to the way it was,” Serino said.

“Matt has a plan. This is a good fit. The timing is good. At the end of the day, it’s a great fit for Saugus and Saugus athletics,” he said.

 

“A genuine good person”

School Committee Member John Hatch has high expectations of Matt Serino’s future in heading up the Saugus High Athletic Department. “I coached Matt in hockey for eight years and watched him grow from a High School athlete to a college student to a professional administrator – and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Hatch said in an interview this week.

“He’s one of the finest Sachems I’ve known. One thing that they can never take away from him – Matt is a genuine good person. That’s what makes him so special,” Hatch said.

“I wasn’t involved in the process that led to his hiring. But I’m happy for the school district and the student athletes. Now they’re going to get the kind of athletic director they deserve. I think everybody wins here,” he said.

School Committee Member Thomas Whittredge predicted great success for the Sachems athletic program with Matt Serino at the helm. “I’m excited to see Mr. Serino coming back home! He has been highly successful in Winthrop and I have no doubts that he will continue to be successful here,” Whittredge told The Saugus Advocate.

“It’s a huge win for the student athletes in Town. The School Department has gotten a huge boost this year with the addition of well-respected educators like Matt Serino, Dr. Scuzzarella and the ongoing work of Greg Bluestein. All three are not just respected educators, but role models as well. We are lucky to have them to complement the quality educators that we have in the district,” he said.

School Committee Member Ryan Fisher echoed the sentiments of his colleagues. “I’m very optimistic. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive!” Fisher said in a statement to the newspaper. “I’ve heard from several parents over the past few months whose athletes were planning to go elsewhere for high school who are now staying in Saugus. And from the chatter, I’m expecting more of the same. I wish him all the best!”

Fisher said he is happy with the promising trajectory of the School Department in recent months. He sees the hiring of Matt Serino as another positive step. “We just had a very successful budget process with a lot of support from the town. We made the case for expanded enrichment programs in all buildings and desperately needed resources and staff, and we got most of what we asked for,” Fisher said.

“Over the next year, it’s now on us to turn that opportunity into accomplishments that will benefit the students and families of Saugus. That’s my priority.”

 

The Serino legacy at Saugus High

Christie Serino, 63, was the Malden Catholic athletic director and hockey coach when he died of cancer in October of 2012. But his legacy continues to live on as an outstanding student athlete in high school and later college, as a teacher and as a distinguished coach at both the high school and collegiate sports level. While at Saugus High, the 1967 graduate starred in football, hockey and baseball. He was Saugus Sachems’ MVP in all three sports in 1967.

“He established such a name for himself with his success that he was inducted into the very first class of SHS Sports Hall of Fame in 1987,” retired Saugus Public Schools educator and coach Rich Salerno wrote in a letter to selectmen several years ago, recommending that the new sports complex at Saugus Middle-High be named in honor of Christie Serino.

After graduating from Saugus High, Serino went on to star at American International College (AIC) and set records there. He also played three sports at AIC and made the college’s Hall of Fame. His best sport was baseball, where he was an All-American.

Serino spent 16 years as an educator in Saugus Public Schools, first as a Middle School English teacher and later as a High School physical education teacher. As the head coach in hockey at Saugus High, Serino’s teams compiled a 100-23-14 record while winning three Northeastern Conference titles and earning Eastern Massachusetts Coach-of-the-Year honors in his final season.

As associate head coach of the University of New Hampshire hockey team (1991-98), his teams qualified for five NCAA tournaments and made the Frozen Four in 1998. He later coached the Merrimack College hockey team for seven years, appearing in the Hockey East Tournament six of those seasons. His coaching career spanned 32 years. He coached the Malden Catholic hockey team for eight seasons until his death.

“This would be a great honor and tribute to a great and extremely popular former Saugus High School student, teacher and coach,” Salerno wrote in his letter to selectmen.

In 2021, selectmen embraced the Town Meeting warrant article requesting that the new school athletic complex be named after the Saugus High athletic and coaching great. Town Meeting members embraced that request, too.

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