By Joyce Erekson
When the star quarterback of the high school football team graduates and his successor is named, the “big shoes to fill” comment is pretty much a given.
That’s the position John Kasian’s replacement, Rich Avery, found himself in this week when he started his job as the new facilities manager of Manning Field and Fraser Field. Kasian, who retired from his Economic Development/Youth Services job in the Community Development Department, has pretty much been the face of Manning Field since it opened 10 years ago.
Avery’s first official day on the job was Monday, but he spent the last month or so shadowing Kasian to learn the ropes. Avery grew up in Lynn and is a familiar face in the city’s youth sports community. He coaches in Lynn Youth Hockey and in Pine Hill Little League, where is wife, Jill, serves as league president. Prior to taking over for Kasian, he worked at Verizon for 20 years.
“I was looking for a change after we were on strike (at Verizon) a couple of times,” Avery said. “This seemed like a good fit. I made the big leap.”
In addition overseeing Manning Field and Fraser Field, he will assume Kasian’s role with the city’s summer jobs program, which is something Avery said he looks forward to doing. Avery knows he has some big shoes to fill.
“He (Kasian) is meticulous about everything and he expects everyone who works with him to do the same, which is great,” Avery said. “I’m the same way. I like to be be organized. I’d like to keep that the same as he did.”
Avery said one of the things he admires about how Kasian ran things is that he’s clear about how the facilities should look before, during and after an event. He said the Department of Public Works guys who work there do a great job making it happen.
“With him (Kasian) any little thing that happens, whether it’s a broken light or a clogged toilet, he’s on it that day … I don’t know anyone who works harder than that guy. He constantly takes care of this place like it’s his own house,” Avery said.
For his part, Kasian has faith in his replacement.
“Rich is an extremely hard working guy who jumped into the role with great energy,” Kasian said. “He will do a fine job.”
Avery will be responsible for scheduling at both Manning Field and Fraser Field, being around for events, making sure there’s enough stock in the concession stand and ensuring the smooth flow of receipts from concessions and tickets back to the city coffers.
Avery jumped right into the fire this fall with a youth football jamboree and a high school football doubleheader on the schedule his first week shadowing Kasian. The fall is the busiest time, with English, Classical, Tech and St. Mary’s using the field for football and KIPP Academy joining the four schools for boys and girls soccer. The Pop Warner and Youth Football programs also use the field and when high school tournament time rolls around, Manning is a hotbed of activity in both football and soccer. It’s also home to the North Shore Generals football team, high school lacrosse, outdoor track and a host of special events like elementary school track meets.
In the spring, Fraser Field is used by all the city’s high schools and Fisher College, which also plays fall baseball there. This summer, in addition to being the home of the Navigators, Fraser Field was used by Greater Lynn Babe Ruth to host the New England Regionals.
“This place is a jewel,” Avery said. “If you go to the top (of the Manning Field building) and look at both fields, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place.”
Avery and his wife, Jill, have two young sons, Richie and Jayson.