December 15. 2012 11:56PM

Vin Sylvia: Celebrating the best in New Hampshire sports



Click here to purchase full-page reprints of the All-State team pages.

If you haven't seen it already, you'll want to check out the special section located elsewhere in these pages. In it, you'll find profiles of 80 of the state's best high school athletes, including the New Hampshire Union Leader's seven fall athletes of the year, and seven of its top coaches.

And come February, you'll have a chance to meet at least some of those athletes and coaches of the year in person, at the Union Leader's annual sports banquet, The Leaders: A Celebration of New Hampshire Sports Champions.

That's where we'll honor all of our 2012 Union Leader All-State high school athletes and coaches of the year, our 12 BASC/Apple Therapy Athletes of the Month, and some of the state's all-time best coaches and officials from various levels of athletics. The banquet culminates with the announcement of the Red Rolfe Male and Female Athletes of the Year, selected by the Union Leader Board of Judges from the group comprising the Athletes of the Month.

An annual highlight of the banquet, formerly known as the Parade of Champions, is the presentation of the Carl Lundholm Memorial Award, given to an outstanding volunteer in youth athletics. This year's winner is Tom Walton of Hopkinton, whose work as a coach and race director for years has benefited Granite State athletes of all ages.

Walton's nomination for the award came from his boss at NHTI in Concord, Paul Hogan, the community college's director of athletics. Recently granted a coaching stipend, Walton founded the men's and women's cross country programs as a volunteer in 2006, a year after he co-founded the Capital Area Race Series with Perry Seagroves. Before that, he was a physical education and health instructor in the Concord school district from 1971-2004.

In his letter to the Board of Judges nominating Walton, Hogan wrote, "Coach Walton is a very special and giving person to people and causes of every age. His compassion for young people is absolutely remarkable. For Tom Walton, 'no' is not in the vocabulary that he chooses to use on a daily basis. He has been helping educate, coach and mentor many an athlete and 'cause' for years."

The contributions of another longtime mentor to young people, the late Dan Duval, will be recognized with the posthumous presentation of a Union Leader Special Recognition Award. A multiple-sport star during his days at Trinity High School in Manchester,

Duval never fully realized his athletic potential, his playing career - and, for a time, his life - derailed by alcohol and drug abuse. But Duval made up for his shortcomings as an athlete by becoming an extraordinary person, overcoming his demons and dedicating his life to helping young people through his work as a public speaker, coach and advisor before he died of a heart attack in May.

Duval was a frequent attendee at Union Leader sports banquets over the years, initially as an honoree, later as a coach, friend and/or mentor to an athlete, coach or volunteer receiving an award. He would have loved the upcoming presentation of The Leaders, celebrating the achievements of New Hampshire's sports community with his huge circle of friends, applauding young athletes who almost certainly heard him speak in their schools at some point during the past few years of his too-short life.

The Leaders: A Celebration of New Hampshire Sports Champions is set for the afternoon of Sunday, February 10, at the Radisson-Manchester. Tickets are available through the Union Leader's Community Relations office.

Hope to see you there.

Vin Sylvia is Deputy Managing Editor-Sports, Photos and Features of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is

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2012 Award Winners
Athlete of the Month
January: Drew Ledwith, Keene, swimming
February: Zach Bridson, Sandown, wresling
March: Curtis Arsenault, Berlin, basketball
April: Peter Williamson, Hanover, golf
May: Morgan Andrews, Milford, soccer
June: Hillary Holmes, Exeter, track and field
July: Lauren Thibodeau, Hampstead, golf
August: Sarah Groff, Hanover, triathlon
September: Victoria Arlen, Exeter, swimming
October: Chelso Barrett, Keene, golf
November: TBA Dec. 18
December: TBD

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Carl Lundholm Memorial (for dedication to youth in athletics)
Tom Walton, Hopkinton

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John R. Clark Officials
Roland Bourque, New Hampton
Fran Maineri, New Hampton
Rick Forge, Moultonborough
Harry Irwin, Somersworth
Mike Gould, Nashua

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Walter A. Smith Coaches
Charlie Beach, Keene
Deb Beach, Keene
Al Halpern, Goffstown
Tony Johnson, formerly of Manchester
Stan Lyford, North Hampton

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NHIAA Athletes and Coaches of the Year
Boys' basketball
Player: Dimitri Floras, Merrimack
Coach: David Wheeler, Manchester Central

Girls' basketball
Player: Jane White, Souhegan
Coach: John Fagula, Londonderrry

Boys' ice hockey
Player: Zach Sanford, Pinkerton
Coach: Mark Putney, Manchester Memorial

Girls' ice hockey
Player: Maddie Dewhirst, Hanover
Coach: Stacy Boudrias, Concord

Boys' indoor track and field
Athlete: Jonathan Vinnenberg, Bow
Coach: Ian French, Pinkerton

Girls' indoor track and field
Athlete: Hillary Holmes, Exeter
Coach: Emily Blahnik, Bedford

Boys' swimming and diving
Athlete: David Pfeifer, Bishop Guertin
Coach: Karla Black, Bishop Guertin

Girls' swimming and diving
Athlete: Emily Wadlinger, Lebanon
Coach: Karla Black, Bishop Guertin

Athlete: Zach Bridson, Timberlane
Coach: Barry Chooljian, Timberlane

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Player: Graham McIntire, Concord
Coach: Marc Schoff, St. Thomas Aquinas

Boys' lacrosse
Player: Bob Fahey, Bishop Guertin
Coach: Brian O'Reilly, Pinkerton

Girls' lacrosse
Player: Jane Symmes, Concord
Coach: Beth Rogers, Merrimack

Player: Taylor Carbone, Alvirne
Coach: Dennis Bruce, Winnacunnet

Boys' tennis
Player: Mark Hosang, Bedford
Coach: Shawna Morley, Bedford

Girls' tennis
Player: Julia Keenan, St. Thomas Aquinas
Coach: Debbie Lloyd, Bishop Guertin

Boys' outdoor track and field
Athlete: Romario Bailey, Stevens
Coach: Walter Roberts, Pinkerton

Girls' outdoor track and field
Athlete: Betsy Garnick, Bishop Guertin
Coach: Jarod Mills, White Mountains

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Boys' cross country
Athlete: Jeremy Brassard, Coe-Brown
Coach: Jeff Wilson, Souhegan

Girls' cross country
Athlete: Elizabeth Conway, Manch. Central
Coach: Tim Cox, Coe-Brown

Field hockey
Player: Lindsey Nerbonne, Bow
Coach: Amanda Ward, Windham

Player: Tyler Grant, Exeter
Coach: Chuck Lenahan, Plymouth

Boys' soccer
Player: Erik Martel, Bedford
Coach: Mike Hachey, Windham

Girls' soccer
Player: Morgan Andrews, Milford
Coach: Michelle Winning, Bedford

Player: Molly Wotton, Dover
Coach: John Roemer, Salem

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Special Recognition (for commitment to youth)
Dan Duval*, Manchester
*-Presented posthumously