By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City High School stayed within the school system in selecting its new Director of Athletics – but he has some strong ties to rival Mainland.
Geoff Haines, a resident of Northfield who has served as the principal at the Intermediate School for the last eight years, has been named to succeed Vince Leavey, who resigned after two years to take a similar position at Camden Tech in Sicklerville, which is just minutes away from his home.
Haines, who will officially take over the sports programs at OCHS in the middle of July, has a strong sports background. His father was a college professor (Haines was born on the campus of Ohio State University) and he later played high school sports as a student in Massachusetts. He played Division III baseball in college and eventually became a minor league umpire. After five years, he left minor league baseball (“it was tough on the family”, he says) but frequently umpired college games, occasionally with Larry White, the current Executive Director of the NJSIAA.
Locally, Haines coached middle school basketball in Egg Harbor Township and is currently coaching the Northfield Little League team that might end up competing with Ocean City in the District 16 Tournament. “It’s ironic,” Haines said. “My youngest son plays on the Northfield team and the students from the Intermediate School make up most of the Ocean City team. So, I have loyalties on both teams.” Before Sunday night’s final Little League pool games, the OCYAA and Northfield teams were the only undefeated Little League teams in District 16.
Haines has two sons and his daughter, Kelly, who will be a junior at Mainland Regional High School in September, was part of the school’s state championship basketball team.
Haines was a football official in the area for 25 years and, among other memorable games, was wearing a striped shirt in the classic 1996 game when Ocean City edged Mainland, 6-5, in near-hurricane winds in Linwood. Both teams went on to win South Jersey championships and the Raiders were 11-0 and ranked No. 8 in the East by USA Today.
Haines plans to be cautious, at first, in his new position.
“I know the athletic secretary (Helen Laverty) has been there a long time,” he said, “so I plan to use her experience to keep things going on the path they have been going. The Ocean City teams have been very successful so you don’t want to screw anything up. I do know one of my goals is to get the community as involved as possible with the athletic programs.”
From 1968 until 2015, a period of 47 years, OCHS had three athletics directors – Dixie Howell, Paul LeFever and Dr. Chris Lentz. Haines becomes the fourth AD in the last six years.