NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Basketball fans, players welcome Stratton back to NECC

Darren Stratton’s workload has picked up again, and he would have it no other way. Epic struggles to clear his good name in court and restore his reputation over the past nearly five years have landed Stratton, a Haverhill resident, where he once was and ultimately, where he wants to be.

Stratton was named head coach for the men’s basketball team at Northern Essex Community College, a position he previously held from 1999-2015.

“This is a wonderful homecoming for me and my family,” Stratton told David Dyer of The Eagle-Tribune newspaper. “I’m extremely excited and I think we can get things headed in the right direction.”

Stratton replaces Joseph Tardif, the head coach at NECC over the past three seasons. Tardif replaced Stratton after the latter was indicted on illegal gambling charges. Those charges were later dropped. After losing only two seasons out of 17 and over 200 wins amassed with the Knights in that time, Stratton was replaced.

Since then, the men’s program at NECC has struggled greatly. In the past three seasons, NECC was 19-57, including a 5-20 campaign in the 2019-2020 season.

Coach Stratton has been an assistant under coach Tardif at NECC over the past two seasons. “Coach Stratton is one of the top basketball minds in the region, but that’s not the only reason he fits so well at Northern Essex,” said Rivals Basketball AAU Director Michael Trovato. “He cares about his kids. They are like his family. He fights for them, and he will do anything he can to help them succeed, first and foremost on the court, but also in life.”

The NECC team is only part of the Stratton equation though. He also helps mentor young players and coach them in his Warrior AAU program.
“Coach Stratton is a great guy,” said Boxford, Mass., 8th grader Chris McCarthy. “I wouldn’t want to play AAU for anyone else.”

Finding players who bring excitement and energy to the NECC program is priority number one for Stratton. The recruiting period started in mid-March as athletes finished up their high school careers and some searched for places to go and continue playing while receiving an education. Stratton will assume full time duties as he takes over the program in the fall.

Stratton is a Haverhill High School graduate, who once played at Northern Essex Community College for the late legendary coach, Mike Rowinski. His teams play hard man-to-man defense and are generally fun to watch, running athletically up and down the court.

Related Articles