Sitting here wondering, how many of you enjoy the leftovers of Thanksgiving as much as you enjoy the meal itself? The chances are the overwhelming majority of you get really bummed when those leftovers are gone. They are a special treat.
We have plenty of sports nuggets left on our plate here at the paper. Today, we will pass some of them along, as well as a few new ones, which have found their way into the pile.
Fall Mountain girls’ soccer came so close to back-to-back titles. No wonder they had five players recognized for their stellar play this fall. Madi Parrot stood above them all, making the New Hampshire Division III All-Star team, but Allie Stoddart, Zoe Utton, Aly Monty, and Zoey Luopa were also given notice.
A couple of weeks back when tracing the coaching history of Bellows Falls football, I listed Larry Hadley, Brian Flynn, Tom Lovett, Gerry Curcuru, Bis Bisbee, and Bob Lockerby as coaches in the last 70 years or so. I asked two questions at that time. Was Flynn in command one or two years and how long did Hadley coach? I mentioned he was coach for eons, but how long are eons?
Reader Ann Hadley, Larry’s cherished daughter, responded, “My dad coached from 1947 until 1961. Fourteen years.”
As little kid, I didn’t know enough to understand age back then, but I do remember Hadley coming down with Dot Jones to teach physical education classes at Central Elementary School. When I learned Hadley died during that time, my feeling all these years was that he must have been older and had been coach for eons. Ann let me know the beloved coach was only 40 when he passed.
Larry Hadley’s teams competed against mostly Division I opponents back in those days, and I spoke to a senior on Hadley’s final team, Tim Nelson, now living in Florida, who remembered, “Each year, we seemed to win one more than the year before. I remember how happy coach was that season when we beat Brattleboro and Andy Natowich. He was really proud of us that day.”
He continued, “Everyone was excited about the next season. I wouldn’t be there, but I thought there was a lot of talent returning and they would be really good.” Obviously Hadley had built that foundation and now wouldn’t be around to enjoy their success.
Unfortunately, neither did the talented returning class. Flynn took over as coach and ran a pre-season camp for the ages. This edition of Terrier football was going to be in great shape to reap the benefits of their talent. Unfortunately, as the tale goes, they worked so hard in that camp, they were either injured or burnt out before the first game kicked off.
As a result, the stories of Flynn’s legacy as coach in Bellows Falls for that one year are not something to write home about. I remember watching that edition of the Terriers play and heard about why they weren’t better than they were, but I can’t judge the job Flynn did. His triple sessions in that pre-season are still talked about today among the Bellows Falls football fanatics. Was Flynn a better coach than anyone realizes and somehow got carried away in preparing his team or did he just end up at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the wrong time or some other combination of rights and wrongs? What I do know is, it didn’t work.
Jumping back to Nelson, he remembered Hadley as a coach very fondly and can drift back to that senior season, offering, “We knew that he wasn’t right, but as kids we weren’t told what was wrong. I remember shortly before he died, I went up to see him at the Veteran Hospital in White River. He said ‘I’m going to get better and I will be back to get you ready for track,’ but I thought that might not happen. He didn’t look good. He died shortly after. When I’m home, I still go and visit his grave.”
Nelson certainly was not alone in remembering the effect the young coach had on them. The naming of Hadley Field shortly following his death tells you all you need to know.
Two coaches who have been in the wings waiting for their opportunity to coach at the varsity level are Todd Wells and Justin Cassarino. One winter ago, they were the Bellows Falls Girls Junior Varsity and Fall Mountain Boys Junior Varsity coaches respectively. Wells played at BFUHS and has been the JV coach through both the Justin Aube and Joe Goodhue days. Wells was passed over when Goodhue was hired, likely due to Goodhue’s previous coaching experiences, but he has been given the reins now. Josh Ferenc moved from the middle school to the JV position.
Wells’ team “looked competitive much of the time versus Keene” in a scrimmage. However, Wells told me, “We need to rebound better to be what we could be. We are a little behind where I would like to be because there isn’t enough time to get everything done before games begin.” The Terriers open Saturday, Dec. 9 at West Rutland at 2:30 p.m.
Cassarino spent about three years learning in the JV position and was hired by Fall Mountain when Jason Bardis stepped aside. I was unable to reach him, but Athletic Director Gordon Danserau said, “They did okay in their scrimmages. They beat Sunapee and played well and then went 2-2 in the jamboree, where they only lost to Hopkinton by 2. They open at Conant Thursday night and you know Conant is always good.”
Danserau also sent along the information to me that the Fall Mountain football team was awarded the New Hampshire Football Officials Sportsmanship Award for Division III.