The Londonderry High School Class of 1983 produced no less than three coaches who later went on to lead New Hampshire Division I high school sports teams to multiple state championships. And two of the three did so as coaches at rival Pinkerton Academy.
LHS ’83 graduates Kerry Boles and Rob Daziel have coached Pinkerton boys’ soccer and girls’ lacrosse contingents respectively for lengthy spans and led both to multiple state crowns. The other member of their graduating class – Tim Dudley – led the Dover High girls’ softball squad to back-to-back state titles several years ago.
Back when Boles became the head guy for the PA boys’ soccer program during the 1990’s it was of passing interest to folks on both sides of the great rivalry. A former Londonderry Lancer athlete and graduate making the move into both coaching and teaching at the rival school was of some interest to some folks. But since then, well, the Derry school has had quite a few former Lancers step into teaching and high coaching roles and enjoy considerable success.
With the recent addition of former Londonderry High student-athlete and varsity football coach Jon Rich to the Pinkerton varsity football coaching staff and a physical education and health teaching job, there are now six former LHS student-athletes serving as head or assistant coaches at Londonderry’s rival school.
Along with Boles, Daziel, and LHS Class of 1998 grad Rich, there are Pinkerton varsity baseball coach Steve Campo (Class of 2003), varsity softball coach Kristen Abbott (Class of 2005), and most recent grad and assistant volleyball and softball coach Megan Hersey-Evans.
Hersey is a bit more than a handful of years out of LHS and a new history and psychology teacher at the academy. Campo is a middle school teacher in Derry, and Abbott teaches English at PA. Boles is a special education case manager and teacher at PA, while Daziel works in administration for Stonyfield Farm Yogurt in Londonderry outside his coaching duties.
For whatever reason, the cases of folks going from being a student at Pinkerton to Londonderry on their coaching roads is far more scant, with former Londonderry High varsity field hockey coach and longtime physical education and health teacher Ann MacLean – a PA graduate who last coached a varsity sport at LHS in the early 1990’s – being one, and sub-varsity softball coach and English teacher Corrine Murphy being the other.
When asked about the transition and feelings about having gone from being athletic stalwarts in Lancer Nation to major positions at Pinkerton, coaches Daziel, Boles, and Abbott felt that the development and education they received from quality coaches and teachers at LHS were pivotal in getting them ready for their future roles at PA.
Daziel, the first All-American lacrosse selection in Londonderry High history back in the early 1980’s, said, “We had good, invested coaches back then. They were truly invested in the program, and I think you model yourself after the coaches you had.”
Daziel, who played his entire LHS lax career for New Hampshire high school legend Tom Sawyer before moving on to a fine lacrosse career for coach Don Emerson at New England College in Henniker, became the Pinkerton varsity girls’ lacrosse coach in 2012 and has led that program to no less than three state titles in seven years. And he has had at least one of his four daughters playing for him in PA garb in each of those seven seasons.
From the coaching standpoint, Daziel feels that Pinkerton is truly a special place to coach.
“I think Pinkerton is the only school I would have considered coaching at. The school is run a little different, with coaches aloud to coach,” he said.
Boles, who graduated from LHS with Daziel after starring in soccer and baseball – playing on the Lancers’ 1983 Class I title-winning hardball squad – has been coaching boys’ varsity soccer at PA for more than 20 years and won some five state titles. The Astros’ varsity boys’ soccer coach is also the only LHS grad who has been inducted into the Pinkerton Hall of Fame.
“We were prepared incredibly well by Londonderry High, we love teaching and coaching, and we know the amazing rivalry very well,” he said. “It’s by far the best rivalry in New Hampshire and maybe New England. And Pinkerton took a chance on all of us. I believe the Pinkerton brass knows solid coaches and teachers regardless of their secondary education and welcomes them. I have been so happy and grateful at PA for 26 years, but will never forget the foundation of my roots. Trust me though, we take a lot of grief being Lancers. But we love it.”
The head-to-head matches, whether they be normal regular season games or within Mack Plaque, Ball Family, or Beeman Trophy competitions, are always special for the former Lancer athetes and present PA coaches.
Softball coach Abbott, who played her high school softball for longtime LHS mentor Wayne MacDougall, says she and MacDougall have both looked forward to and had anxieties about their LHS/PA varsity softball contests since Abbott became the leader of the Pinkerton softball program four years ago after she’d been the Derry school’s JV coach for the previous five years.
“Wayne and I always say that playing each other is both our best game and or worst game of the season,” she said. “We want to beat each other so badly, but we don’t want to beat each other.”
The LHS grad and Pinkerton softball coach said, “I think honestly what happens is you have people who want to teach and coach at the best schools in the area, and Pinkerton and Londonderry are the best schools in the area. I think Pinkerton is such a great place to work because they look for people who are going to be invested in the school and the programs. It comes down to a question of integrity.”
Former LHS head football coach Rich assumes Pinkerton assistant coaching duties – working largely with defensive linemen and running backs – under longtime PA head man Brian O’Reilly this summer after serving as an assistant grid coach at Salem High School for the last few years.
His removal from the head coaching post at LHS after six years in that position was controversial, and then-Pinkerton athetic director Tim Powers and coach O’Reilly attended one of the final hearings on Rich’s fate at a Londonderry school board meeting as a show of support but elected not to speak.
Now, several years on – respected for his quaities as a coach, teacher, and person – Jon Rich becomes the most recent Londonderry High grad to move into a Pinkerton Academy coaching post. O’Reilly stated to members of the press after his PA boys’ lacrosse team won the Division I state title this past spring that the end of his coaching days are not yet here, but they’re coming. So who, one wonders, might step into O’Reilly’s huge football coaching shoes once he hangs up his whistle? Another ex-Lancer perhaps?