The baseball program at High School North began with a plan. Now after more than a decade of carrying out his vision, the first and only coach the team has had is ready to move on.
Bob Boyce has announced he is resigning as head coach of the team after having accomplished his goal of building the program into a consistently successful team. Boyce, a calculus teacher at the school, will remain in his teaching position, as well as his position as head coach for the school’s girls’ basketball team.
Boyce said he made the decision after thinking about the rigors of teaching calculus and serving as head coach of back-to-back sports teams. “I wanted to focus on one,” he said. “I think baseball is in a position where it can do without me. I want to let somebody else have a turn. I’d like to build the basketball program up a little more to where it’s consistently excellent.”
With the boys’ baseball team, it did not take long to achieve that consistency, even though it began with young players. Boyce began his teaching in upstate New York in 1984, but came to WW-P in 1989. He coached varsity baseball in New York and carried that experience to WW-P, where he served as the coach of the high school’s freshman baseball team until the district opened a second high school, North.
There, he moved to become head coach, beginning with a roster in the first year that contained no seniors, two juniors, and a lot of sophomores and freshmen.
“We took our lumps in the first year,” he said. “The highlight of the first year is when we beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame.”
The second year, however, with just two seniors, the team won 17 games. “We took off from there.”
Over the years, the baseball facilities have changed at North. The varsity team began playing on the field where the junior varsity team currently plays since the newer field had not been developed. “Over the course of 10 years, we built that top field into a proper varsity field.”
Surprisingly for a new program, the team did not suffer or struggle tremendously in the beginning. “I had some really good players,” he said. “It’s pretty much a thing where success breeds success. It’s been a pretty successful program, especially since we started from nothing 10 or 11 years ago.”
The highlight of Boyce’s tenure came last year, when the team took home the Central Jersey title. The joy would later be overshadowed when the team lost one of its key players, David Bachner, who died after graduating. Bachner’s death sent shockwaves through the community, and events in his memory were what brought Boyce back for one more year.
“When David Bachner died, I knew I had to do at least one more year — just to make sure things were done right,” he said.
Boyce had over a decade of success in “doing things right.” Boyce said he was guided by the plan he had from the beginning of the program. “It’s very helpful to have a 5 to 10-year plan of what you want to accomplish with the program,” he said. “We didn’t have a varsity field. That was part of the 10-year vision. I’d like a big scoreboard like they have at South, but it’s a good field.”
His advice to the next coach is to develop a similar plan, one that includes the coach’s philosophy toward baseball and how it will be instilled in the players. “Executing that plan is the essence of coaching,” he said. “Baseball is a patient game. We have good players at North. You have to mold them the way you want them to play the game.”
Now Boyce will continue with a focus on his plan for the girls’ basketball team. “I know where I want that to be and what I want that program to look like when I’m done.”