Gearing up for Glory: Turco Seeks 700th Career Win as Barnstable Volleyball Girls Ready for Season

HYANNIS – It may be difficult to picture, but there was a time years ago when there were no tryouts for girls’ volleyball at Barnstable High School.

But after 16 state championship titles in 27 seasons at the helm, Barnstable High School head volleyball coach Tom Turco has fostered such a fiercely competitive environment one would not be far from the mark to see his program as something akin to a machine.

Tom Turco has 10 of his 14 players returning from last year's South Sectional championship team... could a 17th state title be in the making? Photo courtesy of BHS Volleyball

Tom Turco has 10 of his 14 players returning from last year’s South Sectional championship team… could a 17th state title be in the making?
Photo courtesy of BHS Volleyball

A Big Red Machine, one might say.

On Wednesday, September 9, just one week into the 2015-2016 school year, Turco’s girls will be facing Central Catholic High School and will seek to give their storied coach his 700th career victory (boys’ and girls’ volleyball combined). His career volleyball record at BHS is 699-112, but as far as just girls’ volleyball goes, he is 589-58.

Should Barnstable defeat Central Catholic, the milestone will put Turco firmly alone at the apex of not only all Barnstable High School coaches and in all sports – male and female – but he will have solidified his mark on the top tier of the all-time greatest coaches in Massachusetts, again, in all high school sports. When the Barnstable High girls’ team faces Newton North at home on Friday, October 9, if all goes well for the first 11 games this season, he will have won his 600th girls’ volleyball game (boys’ record is 110-58).

For the Billerica High School Hall of Famer and one day a lock for the Barnstable High School Athletic Hall of Fame, however, making sure his athletes fully assimilate the lessons of their collective mission is far more critical than a pot-metal trophy for a glass-encased shelf.

“In every contest, there comes a moment that defines winning from losing,” former NBA coach Pat Riley wrote in his book The Winner Within. “The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intensive and so intuitive that it only could be called one from the heart.”

Riley’s philosophy is one that the Red Raider volleyball teams have studied inside and out since Turco first introduced the book years ago as required reading for his pupils. It is a cumulative lesson plan that has produced over $3 million in athletic scholarships for his athletes over the past quarter century-plus and it is a message his players have no doubt heeded to its very core.

Prior to each season, Turco sends his volleyball teams off to a classroom, by themselves, with copies of Riley’s The Winner Within. They each carry a yellow highlighter with them, sheets of lined paper and pencils.

“I ask each of them to give me a paragraph synopsizing the important points of each chapter,” Turco said. “It’s important they go into that room and outline their goals for the season, not my goals. Nothing can be more painful than a coach wanting to win more than his players do. It’s the players who want to win for themselves that is important.”

Just as the Cotuit Kettleers have been crowned Cape Cod Baseball League champions a league-record 16 times, the Barnstable High School girls volleyball team has hoisted the crowning glory of high school hardware by that same number: The MIAA Division 1 State Championship trophy.

Last fall, Barnstable won its 20th South Sectional championship title only to watch its state title bid fall

Turco has only ever had one losing season: his first in 1988 when the Red Raiders finished at 5-11.

Prior to and since that season, no other Massachusetts high school coach in any sport has won as many state championships as Turco has in girls’ volleyball. Coaches who have registered 700 or more wins in this state include North Reading High School baseball coach Frank Carey, Leominster High School baseball coach Emile Johnson, Belmont Hill ice hockey coach Ken Martin and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) basketball coach Bob Foley.

Turco has twice been named the National High School Volleyball Coach of the Year and four times been names the Boston Globe Division 1 Coach of the Year. In addition to Billerica High’s Hall of Fame, Turco is also enshrined in the Massachusetts Girls Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Turco has 10 of his former Red Raider players already enshrined in the nine-year-old Barnstable High School Athletic Hall of Fame and in his career he has had eight (8) Barnstable Red Raiders named Gatorade Massachusetts High School Volleyball Player of the Year.

Safe money is there will be some modicum of success once again for Turco’s Red & White come November. Turco has 10 varsity student-athletes returning from last season’s roster of 14 players.

— Story and photos by Sean Walsh, sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is seanwalsh@ccb-media.com. Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

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