Dave Chisholm learned from a legend, long time coach Pat Veilleux, who headed up the Danvers High boys and then stepped in to take over the helm for the girls for many years.
When Veilleux announced his retirement he heartily endorsed his assistant to replace him. Chisholm is highly qualified and has been involved with Falcons girls’ basketball beginning with the youth program, then stepping up to take over the JV’s before becoming assistant varsity coach.
He is working to bring the program back to the level it once was and encouraging the many outstanding athletes in other sports to take basketball seriously. Seven seniors from last year’s team graduated including his daughter Gabby, who is now a scholarship soccer player at St. Anselm College. When Veilleux stepped down after the Ed Gieras Memorial Game, Chisholm threw his hat into the ring with his mentor’s blessing, and was appointed head coach in late May.
“I know I’ve got some very big shoes to fill,” said Chisholm, whose older daughter Hailey was also a basketball captain for the Falcons, and is now an incoming senior at the University of New England majoring in occupational therapy. “I had the opportunity to see my daughters play together when Gabby was a freshman point guard and Hailey a senior captain.”
Chisholm began as a youth coach and spent 10 years as director of the youth program before becoming the high school junior varsity coach under Veilleux.
“Pat reached out to me and asked if I was interested in coaching with him at the varsity level last year,” said Chisholm. “I really enjoyed the opportunity, and owe it all to him for having faith in me. I think he knew all along it was going to be his last year, and let me take over practices sometimes. He has been so supportive, and told me I was ready to become the head coach.”
Chisholm is optimistic about not only the future, but the coming season. The Falcons are playing in two leagues this summer with the older girls at Plains Park, and incoming freshmen and sophomores at Danvers Indoor Sports.
“We have so many seniors to replace we opened things up, and whenever we’re short of older girls at Plains we invite some of the younger ones to play which is good experience for them. It could be a rebuilding year, but we do have some returning players that will see more time along with the sophomores and juniors coming back and a good freshman class.”
Chisholm said he learned a lot from Veilleux but intends to put in some new wrinkles of his own with the hope of increasing scoring which has been a problem.
“I like to play man to man, and we have the horses in the stable to do that,” he added. “Danvers has struggled to score, but I hope with the man, press, and throwing in zone at times we’ll get chances on the defensive end and create chaos that will lead to some easy baskets. It’s all about having quick feet and wide hands — don’t reach in and foul.”
While Chisholm looks to the future and getting more girls involved in the sport, he’s not discounting seeing progress in the coming year with returning senior starters Ellie Anderson and Kaylee Marsello along with Emma McCullough, juniors Reese Holland, Brea Robinson, and Molly Godfried, helping out.
“I think with the returning players we will surprise teams with our style of play and competitiveness,” he said. “This group of girls is very coachable and will give 100 percent. I know most of the girls already, and will build the program and culture through our varsity players and the youth program. Danvers has so many great athletes in other sports we want them to play basketball, too. I told the girls if you make a commitment and put in the time and effort as you do in your primary sport you’ll become a better basketball player. Don’t be disappointed to make JV’s, just make the same commitment as in soccer, lacrosse, softball, or volleyball.
The staff is in place with Patrick Viemba returning as JV coach while Dave Anderson and former Falcon Taylor Cross, who played for coach Veilleux, helping out at the varsity level.
“I’m excited and grateful to have this opportunity,” said Chisholm. “There’s a good youth program in the town, and we have some talented eighth graders coming along.”