Turners Falls High School Athletic Director Adam Graves stepping down after a decade

Turners Falls athletic director Adam Graves, right, presents the MIAA Division 5 championship trophy to the team’s captains after their victory over Georgetown earlier this month at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls athletic director Adam Graves, right, presents the MIAA Division 5 championship trophy to the team’s captains after their victory over Georgetown earlier this month at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE


Staff Writer

Published: 06-28-2024 5:12 PM

For the first time in a decade, Turners Falls High School will have a new athletic director. 

Turners Falls alum Adam Graves has held the post since 2014, but he decided to step away following the conclusion of the school year earlier this month.

During Graves’ tenure, the Thunder won five state titles — all in softball — and 11 Western Mass. championships. He went out on top, as the Turners softball team won its 11th state championship title earlier this month at UMass. 

In the end though, the long hours that come with the position became too much. 

“It was just getting to be like working two non-stop jobs,” Graves said. “You finish teaching at 2:30 and your second job starts. Your second job also consumed part of the first part of the day. It got to be where it was 24/7, 365 days a year.

“People think you just sit there and watch games,” Graves added. “There’s a thousand more things to it than that. It really got to be the stress and not having a second where someone wasn’t trying to get a hold of you, ask you something, need something or complain about something. It was just getting to be too much.”

While Graves’ tenure as athletic director is over, he will stay on to help until the district fills the position. He will continue in his physical education teaching position at the school and will still be there to support the programs at games while staying active in a community.

“The community is great,” Graves said. “They come out and support our kids not only in athletics but in everything. That’s one thing that’s awesome. Our parents will travel to Ware for a seven o’clock game on a Sunday night. Kids in the community will go as well. Our student section was filled at basketball games even when we were struggling. The kids support each other. The volleyball kids will go watch field hockey and boys soccer. They always supported each other with everything they did.” 

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Graves credited the school’s coaches and those around him for making the job easier, which helped breed success on the fields and courts. 

“There was a ton of winning,” Graves said. “We did some great things. I have the best coaches in the world. They are people who worked with me, not for me. They really are the best. They’re severely underpaid for the time and effort they put in. The athletes have been great. There are lifelong friendships that you have with people you meet at this job. That part has been great.” 

The coaches shared similar sentiments about Graves, noting they will miss getting to work with him. 

“It’s very disappointing he’s leaving,” longtime Turners boys basketball and softball coach Gary Mullins said. “He’s done a terrific job, especially with communication. He gives the coaches what they need in terms of equipment and information. I’m hoping he comes back but he has to do what’s best for him. 

“We’ll miss him,” Mullins added. “He did a great job. He’s well organized, he always had the umps and refs lined up, he attended all the games, he talked to the kids during the course of the day. I’m sure he’ll still be helpful. He’s a good man and a guy I coached when he played basketball. We’ll miss him.” 

Kelly Liimatainen — who has coached the volleyball program at Turners Falls for the last 14 seasons — noted the support Graves gave all the sports teams, no matter their record. 

“I’m going to miss the great support from Adam as the AD,” Liimatainen said. “He worked hard and supported our volleyball team through lots of wins and losses. It’s a huge loss for Turners Falls but he’s a true hero.”

Scott Minckler, who just wrapped up his eighth year coaching the Turners Falls baseball team, said he understood Graves’ decision but leaves big shoes to fill. 

“Adam has been great,” Minckler said. “He has been fantastic with me and the baseball program. I am sad that he is stepping down but I completely understand. The time and commitment away from his wife and family is a lot and has been weighing on him. He has been great for the Turners school community and leaves big shoes to fill. I would have loved for him to stay on because it makes my job easier but I do understand his decision.” 

Being an athletic director goes far beyond coordinating games. 

Graves made it a point to get the school’s athletes involved in the community. From providing food to food banks, raising money for various charities and creating a leadership council for athletes, Graves made sure Turners athletes looked to make a difference and be leaders within the community. 

“We had a lot of success and did some great things,” Graves said. “Every year we did some big fundraiser, whether that be coaches versus cancer, giving food to the Western Mass. Food Bank, giving money to a shelter… We did some events with Joe [Gamache] over at the Tech school. Those are things I’m proud of.” 

“We tried to bring the community together,” Graves continued. “This year our music director had the pep band at basketball games which was awesome. That kind of stuff stands out. We started a leadership council of athletes, we go out and put baskets of food together. It’s a lot of the off court stuff that stands out and those are things I’ll continue to do and help out with.” 

Outside of the state and Western Mass. titles, there were plenty of other milestones Graves said he was proud of during his time. 

“Our girls basketball team winning [their] league for the first time in 20 years, our baseball team winning the league title this year for the first time since 1993, the Super Bowl, football games,” he began. “I’ll miss that stuff. I’ll miss standing there talking to people before games, getting to talk to Stash [Koscinski] and Mr. Bush. I’ll still be at games, it’ll just be in a different capacity.”