CONWAY — With preseason practice for fall sports teams at Kennett High School just five weeks away, there is mounting concern about a lack of coaches. The Conway School Board learned Monday night there are currently five coaching vacancies, including the varsity head coaching position for volleyball.
“I think we need to be concerned by the lack of coaches,” said board member Randy Davison, who sits on the co-curricular committee. “We need people willing to step up.”
The board voted 7-0 to accept the slate of coaches brought forward on Monday for both the high school and Kennett Middle School but there are vacancies that need to be filled.
The Eagles are in need of both a varsity volleyball coach and a junior varsity coach.
Diana Germain, who led the program for the past four years, retired last November. The JV coach, Keith Hutchins, who stepped up last fall when there was a need, also retired.
There were 35 girls out for the program last year and just five were seniors.
Kennett also needs a junior varsity field hockey coach. Jordan Lemerise-Jacobs, who served in that role for the previous three years, elected not to coach full-time this fall but instead will be a volunteer to help with the program.
KHS is seeking a freshman football coach. Larry Meader, who held the post for the past two years, opted not to return this fall.
There is a vacancy also for a freshman girls soccer coach. The post was vacant last year, with varsity coach Jamie Killeen overseeing the squad with help from school board member Michelle Capozzoli, who volunteered to help with the program.
“Is it normal to have this many (coaching) vacancies this late in the process?” asked Joe Lentini, board chairman.
“As always, there is a struggle,” Capozzoli said. “It is a huge commitment time-wise between practices and games. I think volleyball and girls soccer are the main ones we have trouble filling. This big crisis is volleyball, where we have two positions (needing to be filled).”
The Eagles are not alone in their quest to find volleyball coaches. The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association on the Notebook page of its website lists nine schools (Newfound Memorial School, Portsmouth, Bishop Guertin, Moultonborough Academy, Mascenic Regional, Hillsboor-Deering, Milford, Prospect Mountain and Concord High School) in need of either a varsity or JV coach or both.
Peter Ames, who retired last month after more than 40 years coaching at Kennett High School, said when he started as a coach it was solely teachers who did those jobs. Ames, who taught social studies at Kennett Middle School from 1978-2011, said most of today’s coaches are no longer school teachers.
“It’s one of the things that I think is not a good thing,” Ames said to not having more teachers who coach. “Nothing against people who aren’t teachers but I think being in school, being able to be available throughout the school day to just be able to see kids in a different light. You see them in the classroom and they see you in the classroom. I think that’s an important thing that’s missing now. Even for me, (when) I retired from teaching, I (didn’t) know the kids as well as I did. I used to know them from seventh-grade right through high school. I wish more teachers would be involved in the coaching.”
Ames, after whom the school board named the Kennett High gymnasium last month, admits he’s not sure why more more teachers aren’t coaching.
“I think a lot of people now, it’s their families, he said and explained his wife Joan and their daughter Brit made sports a family event. “We made it all kind of a family thing. We weren’t going on a trip, but we were going to a game. Brit was going to games before she could walk and kind of kept going up through her graduation.”
Hired for this fall are Vaughn Beckwith, varsity football head coach, $4,178; Nick Graziano, JV football, $3,350; Todd Giles, assistant varsity football, $3,400; Dan Fallon, assistant varsity football, $3,520; Jamie Killeen, varsity girls soccer head coach, $3,451; Dave Hart, varsity boys soccer head coach, $3,520; Matt Milliken, JV boys soccer, $2,750; Bernie Livingston, varsity boys and girls cross-country running head coach, $3,455; Eileen Livingston, assistant cross-country coach for girls and boys, $2,023; Cassandra Daly, varsity field coach head coach, $3,520; Ed Bradley, golf head coach, $2,833; Chris Darling, mountain biking, $2,459.
The board also approved the following volunteers to help with teams for the fall sports season: Tim Livingston, cross-country; Tom Hanks, boys soccer; Capozzoli and David Caputo, girls soccer; Abigale Donaldson, field hockey; Brian Mills and Andy Pepin, football; Alec Frankel and Martha Leich, mountain biking; and Steve Piotrow, golf.
At the middle school, there is a need for a field hockey coach and a boys soccer coach.
“It’s a time commitment issue there, too,” Capozzoli said.
“We may have a soccer candidate from our recent hiring at the middle school,” said Superintendent Kevin Richard.
Current positions filled are: Scott Stearns, head football coach, $2,411; Jody Rogers, assistant football coach, $1,983; Michael Thompson, girls soccer coach, $1,954; Elizabeth Kluchnick, one of two field hockey coaches, $1,954; Tim Livingston, cross-country, $2,023; Kim Livingston, cross-country, $2,023.
Adam Lanzilotti was approved as a football volunteer.
Fall sports preseason meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Peter Ames Gymnasium.