Oak Bluffs police chief Peter Williamson’s role in the Niantic Park development could have been a story by itself. An enlightened police official who served in the 1970s, Chief Williamson was a man ahead of his time.

Daniel McCarthy was the director of parks and recreation for Oak Bluffs. He was born and raised in Springfield, where Dr. Nasmith first introduced basketball. Dan was an all-star basketball and football star at Cathedral High School before attending Boston University on an athletic scholarship playing basketball and football for the Terriers.

Chief Williamson and Mr. McCarthy provided the collaborative effort to make basketball at Niantic Park a reality. Chief Williamson understood that a structured environment provided Oak Bluffs youth a better opportunity than hanging downtown. Mr. McCarthy had the knowledge and experience in the beneficial effects that recreation and sports will provide. Mr. McCarthy, a master teacher of high school mathematics, also possessed an aptitude of discipline that all his students respected.

Chief Williamson wanted to influence boys and girls away from the temptations of Circuit avenue. Mr. McCarthy would provide that influence by offering a basketball sanctuary. These two men were the catalysts for the summer league at Niantic Park. Mr. McCarthy and Chief Williamson successfully advocated the Oak Bluffs park commissioners to support their cause.

Credit goes to park commissioners Buddy DeBettencourt, Denny Alley and Arthur King. They immediately got on board with the idea. The commissioners were able to convince the town to fund the construction of the infrastructure needed to make basketball at Niantic Park a reality.

Summer basketball at the park came to fruition because of a collaborative effort. Several Oak Bluffs and Island families helped in the construction of the basketball court. Jimmy Gibson comes to mind, a man that volunteered his electrical services.

Our Island community is indebted to those that worked diligently to make this program dream come true. Acknowledgment, praise and gratitude are a start. I apologize for not mentioning all the families; they have earned proper credit for their participation.

Mr. McCarthy made wise choices when hiring coaches to run the summer program. Coach Jay Schofield, John Downs and Michael McCarthy were the right men for the job. Coach Schofield remained with the program over the years. As a varsity basketball coach, he had a vested interest in player basketball fundamentals, character growth, team concept and rapport.

In 1969-1970, Coach Schofield replaced the legendary Coach Sancy Pachico as head varsity basketball coach at the regional high school. (The school gymnasium later was named for Sancy Pachico). Dan hired Coach Schofield and supported him through good times and challenging times. Coach Schofield implemented his continuity of fundamental basketball, Vineyard/Scho style, that proved to be consistently successful over the years. Coach Schofield’s success in the Oak Bluffs summer basketball program and as varsity boys basketball coach is Hall of Fame status.

Russell MacDonald

Oak Bluffs