WHEN event founder Nick Vailas approached Jim Schubert about coaching in today's second annual CHaD East-West All-Star High School Football Game, the former Manchester High Central mentor immediately accepted the offer.
"When I found out it would take a total of 10 days to prepare the team leading up to game day, I said, 'That's beautiful. Let's do it," recounted Schubert, head coach for the West squad that will meet the Bob Camirand-coached East team at 1 p.m. today at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium. "Once I got Paul Lavigne aboard to coach the defense, it took me one day to get seven coaches."
Lavigne's long coaching resume includes stints as a college assistant at St. Anselm and Plymouth State, as well as many high school head coaching assignments, including one at Manchester West and, most recently, at Inter-Lakes High in Meredith, where he led the Lakers to Division IV championships in 2009 and 2011.
But, unlike Lavigne, Schubert said he's never felt the pull to get back into coaching full-time since he stepped down at Central after the 2005 season.
"I've got seven grandchildren to look after, and that would cut into my vacation time," said Schubert with a laugh. "No thank you, especially now when I'm starting to hit the golf ball straight."
At Central, his alma mater, Schubert took over a struggling program and went 9-33 in his first five seasons. But he rewarded the faith of then-city athletics director Butch Joseph (who tore up Schubert's resignation letter after the 1993 season) by ultimately leading the Little Green to six Division I titles.
"I have a lot to be grateful for," said Schubert who said rummaging for his old Central playbook brought back fond memories of such former Little Green stars as Sloan Russett, Dave Philistin, and Ryan Day and Tim Day.
"I'm reviewing the plays we ran at the time and remembering how certain kids executed each of the plays," said Schubert. "I coached some special athletes on some special championships teams. Those memories are still with me."
The team he'll be coaching today has some quality players from city high schools, too. They include four from Trinity (Colin Bouchard, Ryan Carrier, Romeo Masuku, Russ Pallas), three from Central (Zach Hileman, Geoff Nye, Troy Pelletier), two from Memorial (Pierre Noel, Jared Ombati) and one from West (Zach Ziemba).
"Pelletier is a lot bigger than I thought," said Schubert. "He's a solid split end who runs good routes. Ziemba is a good, hard-nosed defensive back, and Carrier is a true fullback, a load for any defense to handle. Same with Hileman at center, and I'm impressed with Noel, who has great speed. When the ball is in the air, it's his to keep."
Schubert said the 60-minute game (as opposed to a 48-minute high school game) will give him time to play everyone on his roster.
"That's my goal, to have everyone play in the game," he said.
NOEL and Bouchard are among five Manchester players who will be heading north this fall to play for Norwich University head coach Mark Murnyack in Northfield, Vt. Noel will be joined by Memorial teammates Donovan Murby and Nathan Steele, while Bouchard will be reunited with Trinity teammate Justin Johnson.
According to Murnyack, ll are candidates for immediate playing time at the Division III school, which competes in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.
"Noel is talented at wide receiver and kick returner, and we expect him to compete for (a spot on) the travel squad," said Murnyack. "Murby will join the inside linebacker corps, which includes five seniors. Bouchard and Steele will compete for back-up spots on the offensive line, where we have four starters back. Johnson will compete for the kickoff and place-kicking duties."
Murnyack also spoke highly of two Manchester products who've already suited up for Norwich: Central grads Addison Nye, an outside linebacker, and Mike Cavanaugh, a running back.
"Addison is expected to start this season after starting two games for us at the position as a sophomore last year," the coach said. "He has also been really good on special teams up to this point. We expect him to continue to improve and be an all-conference-type performer."
Of Cavanaugh, Murnyack said, "He's the only returning senior at the tailback spot. We've been in the top 10 in the country three consecutive years in rushing. Mike carried the ball 35 times last season with four touchdowns."
WHEN George Smith served as an alderman for Ward 10, one of the many things he accomplished was pushing through the renovation of the Raco Theodore Swimming Pool, located on Head Street, off Varney on the city's West Side.
In 2007, he was able to secure a $1 million bond to renovate the pool.
"It's an Olympic-sized pool, one of only a few in New England," Smith said when the pool re-opened in 2007. "The biggest thing for me is that the kids in our area are utilizing it. After years of seeing Raco deteriorate, this is now a first-class pool."
Smith died on Tuesday at age 77, but his good work has given future generations of swimmers a top-rated facility.
Raco Theodore will be the site of the annual Manchester LCM Team Specialty Meet next weekend, July 5-7. The meet is sanctioned by New England Swimming, hosting nearly 200 top swimmers from the state and region.
All who participate should pause a moment in memory — and appreciation — of George Smith.
"City Sports" is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff sports reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.