Ex-Wildcat Joins Stevens Basketball

  • Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School.  (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School.  (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

    Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School.  (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)
  • Shown at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center on July 21, 2014, Matt Baird-Torney has been named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School.  (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker)

Claremont — Matthew Baird-Torney, 26, who played his high school basketball at rival Fall Mountain Regional High School, has been selected as the varsity boys basketball coach at Stevens High School.

Baird-Torney replaces Scott MacNamee, who has taken a teaching position at Con-Val Regional High School in Peterborough.

Aaron House, the Stevens athletic director, said Baird-Torney was one of three candidates that applied for the position. “A fourth showed an interest but never turned in the paperwork,” said House.

House went on to say in an email that a committee — consisting of six persons, four sophomore players, the athletic trainer and himself — handled the review of resumes.

“Committees do not select the coaches,” said House. “They offer their opinion and recommendation to the athletic director. It is ultimately my responsibility.”

Baird-Torney, whose wife, Shawna, is the volleyball coach at Stevens, graduated from Fall Mountain in 2006, where he played basketball for coach Marc Ferenc. “We were unforgettable,” he said with a chuckle.

The new Stevens coach said he has been involved in business ventures since leaving Fall Mountain. He is currently the manager of a downtown Claremont business that retails frozen yogurt.

His past coaching experiences have been limited to lower level teams, and he has also been involved in officiating. “Coaching has had to take a back seat until recently, and now I have more time,” he explained.

Baird-Torney said he has been given full control of choosing his assistants, but admitted he hoped the present assistants would stay with the program.

The last couple of years of Stevens basketball began with high hopes, but the success never materialized. “I saw a couple of games and know they had a lot of skill ,” said Baird-Torney. “There seemed to be a lot talented kids last year, but most of them have graduated, and I understand that there are more players with basketball skills coming along.

“I don’t believe a school of Stevens’ size should ever have to rebuild. Reload, yes, but never rebuild.”

Stevens’ players are currently involved in a summer program run by Dan Ryan, who has been an assistant at Stevens in recent years. Baird-Torney will be watching the kids during the rest of the summer. “It should really be informative,” he said.

As far as his coaching philosophy, Baird-Torney hopes to instill a motion offense.

“They are going to be asked to be an unselfish, cohesive group,” he said. “We may not be the biggest team, but nobody is going to outwork us. Our kids are going to be in shape.”

Baird-Torney went on to say that during the interview process he asked the sophomores what they wanted. “They told me player development,” said the coach.

House liked that Baird-Torney involved the students during the interview process and he feels that his new coach understands what lies ahead.

“He presented a plan for success that went further than winning a state championship banner,” House said. “He was focused on enhancing individual skills of every player and building a team-centered approach to the game — winning being a by-product of doing everything else well.”