Bunnell Close to Home with New Position in Lunenburg
LUNENBURG -- After a year on the North Shore, Leominster native James Bunnell is returning home -- at least for the time being.
Bunnell, who served as the North Middlesex Regional athletic director until the end of the 2016-17 school year, has been named the interim athletic director at Lunenburg High School for the 2018-19 school year.
Bunnell replaces Peter McAuliff, who retired in the spring.
The 2000 St. Bernard’s graduate is part of a new flock of local ADs for this school year: Bunnell joins Dave Palazzi (Leominster), Faith Merchant (St. Bernard’s), Dan Forte (Gardner), Steve Kendall (Ayer-Shirley), and John L. Smith (Clinton) at the helm of their respective schools’ athletic departments.
After his contract at North Middlesex was not renewed in the spring of 2017, Bunnell spent the last year as the athletic director at Saugus High School. But the Lunenburg job was incredibly appealing to him -- not to mention a short drive from his Leominster home.
He noted the drive time to and from Saugus was two and a half hours round trip compared to that of Leominster to Lunenburg.
“Lunenburg has a very strong tradition of athletics and education,” Bunnell said in an email Wednesday morning. “They boast a brand new middle/high school and a beautiful multi-million dollar athletic complex. From the outside looking in, you can see that the district and town value athletics along with education.
“The opportunity to be an athletic director for the Midland-Wachusett League again was also a weighing factor. The athletic directors and the league have a great understanding of what it means to be a student-athlete; all of the athletic directors were always great to work with. It makes the job that much more enjoyable when you can have great relationships with your colleagues.”
Bunnell told the Sentinel & Enterprise that Lunenburg wasn’t looking for a newbie AD: in addition to his stints at Saugus and NM, Bunnell also served as the AD at the now-defunct Marian High School in Framingham.
He also coached boys’ soccer and was the assistant AD at St. Peter-Marian in Worcester.
His resume also boasts the following: he is a past recipient of Coach/AD Magazine’s 40 Under 40, recognized as one of forty people in the U.S. under the age of 40 to have been most influential and impactful in the field of athletics; the recipient of the 2015 Massachusetts State Athletic Directors Association District E Ted Damko State Award.
In addition, Bunnell is one of nineteen Athletic Directors in Massachusetts to possess the Certified Master Athletic Administrator designation, and one of thirteen Associate Trainers for the Positive Coaching Alliance in New England.
“They recognized the value in what I have to offer the district, community, coaches, and students,” he said.
The Lunenburg job, he said, had fielded about 50 applicants. Bunnell said he had also applied for the AD positions at Westford Academy and York, Maine, only to end up second in those districts.
Bunnell is excited to get to work with the Blue Knights.
“I am appreciative and grateful, for everything that the coaches, administrators, and community of Saugus provided to me,” he said. “I cannot wait to work with the administrative team, coaches, students, and community in Lunenburg. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity that I have been given.”