Boston High School: Mark Sullivan

Secret to Turners Falls' softball success

May, 17, 2012

MONTAGUE, Mass. -- With an enrollment of less than 400, Turners Falls High School is one of the smallest public schools in Massachusetts.

Yet, for its size, Turners Falls, based just a few short miles from the start of the Mohawk Trail in the Berkshires, has forged an incredible legacy. This school continues to add to its already extensive softball resume. The Indians have made 10 state championship appearances, winning five, including last year's triumph over Joseph Case High School in the Division 3 final.

[+] EnlargeTurners Falls softball
Scott Barboza for ESPNBoston.comTurners Falls softball head coach Gary Mullins has guided the Indians to more than 500 victories and five state titles in his 33 seasons.
Only Bishop Fenwick (eight) and Apponequet Regional (six) have laid claim to more titles. Incidentally, both of those schools house larger student enrollments. At Turners Falls, the numbers don't change all that much from year to year in a community of about 8,000.

Despite the low number of students, Turners Falls remains a driving force statewide, year after year. This season, things are no different. The Indians currently sit at 10-1, having clinched another postseason berth and now look to build upon their lasting reputation by trying to add another state crown to their growing trophy case.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to win a state championship", said senior outfielder Jenna Costa, who will attend AIC next year. “After you do it once you want to do it every year.”

The architect behind this juggernaut is Gary Mullins. A quiet, humble man, Mullins is in the midst of his 33rd season with the Indians. He is regarded by his peers and players, both past and present, as one of the best at his trade. Since taking the reins here, Mullins has never had a losing season. Along with the five state titles, Mullins' clubs have also collected 14 district titles. His overall record here is an unprecedented 541-130.

"Gary has brought this program to another level,” said assistant coach Mark Sullivan, who has worked alongside Mullins for the last 19 years. “Winning Western Mass. championships is great, but more importantly, the talk now is what do we need to do to get back to Worcester and win another state championship.”

When you have put up the kind of results Turners Falls has, winning district championships is no longer the standard. This program has earned the right to raise the bar higher.

"At the start of the season the girls are asked to write down their personal goals and their team goals," said Mullins, who is 60. "I also write them a letter at the start of the season and tell them of the program's success and their chance to continue it. I do think that some of the girls aspire to be a state champion but honestly lady luck often determines the last team standing. We do believe we have a chance every year, that it is not just a dream. Right now we are doing OK but we know that in no way are we ready to compete with the top teams in the state. However, that being said, we are working towards that goal."

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