CONWAY — Practice for fall sports teams at Kennett High School begins in three weeks and as of Monday night, every team now has a coach.
At their Monday meeting, the Conway School Board filled five coaching vacancies, including two volleyball spots.
The board unanimously approved (6-0, Michelle Capozzoli was unable to attend) the following hires: Craig Bartolomei, varsity volleyball head coach, a salary of $2,750; Angela Acone, junior varsity volleyball, $1,925; Nicholas Jaques, JV girls soccer, $2,750; Kayleigh LePage, JV field hockey, $2,750; and Nate Arnold, freshman football, $2,340.
Volleyball was a specific area of concern for the board as there is an overall shortage of coaches for the sport statewide.
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, Hillsboro-Deering, Milford, Prospect Mountain and Concord High School) in need of either a varsity or JV coach or both.
Bartolomei is familiar with Kennett volleyball, having been a volunteer coach and a member of the Mt. Washington Valley Volleyball Club (formerly known as the Killian Mountaineers), which plays under the umbrella of the New England Region Volleyball Association and is made up primarily by players from Conway, North Conway, Bartlett, Jackson, Madison, Freedom, Center Conway, Fryeburg, Chatham, Meredith, Wolfeboro, Ossipee, Tamworth, Berlin, Brownfield, Eaton, Effingham and Gorham.
School Superintendent Kevin Richard said Tuesday that Bartolomei, who lives in Glen and is an attorney, brings a wealth of experience to the court.
“He is a director for the Mount Washington Volleyball Club and has coached players from ages 6-18,” he said, adding that Bartolomei played the sport in high school and at the club level. He also has a bachelor of science degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts.
“I’m very glad that the varsity volleyball coach has the background that this person is displaying,” said board member Randy Davison, who also serves on the co-curricular committee, which oversees the high school and middle school athletics. “I’m in hopes that with that background we will have a varsity club that fulfills the requirements in being competitive at the varsity level.”
The Eagles were 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.
“I’m hoping that the program steps up and becomes more of a competitive sport than a social club,” Davison said.
The Eagles, who do not have a middle-school feeder program, dropped down to Division III last fall for a competitive schedule. KHS went 1-15 in 2018.
At the middle school, there is a need for a field hockey coach and a boys' soccer coach.
Joe Lentini, board chairman, wondered why there were so many vacancies this fall and why the district was having difficulty filling positions.
“As always, there is a struggle,” said Capozzoli, who chairs the co-curricular committee and stepped in as a volunteer soccer coach for the girl's program at the high school. “It is a huge commitment time-wise between practices and games.”
Fall sports preseason meetings are tentatively scheduled for Aug. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Peter Ames Gymnasium at KHS.