Trinity High of Manchester athletics director Chip Polak didn’t have to look far to find the school’s next boys’ basketball coach.
Matt Lemieux, who served five seasons as an assistant coach under Dave Keefe, was named head coach Tuesday.
“I’m very honored and thankful for the opportunity,” said the 27-year-old Lemieux. “The first phone call I made after I got the job was to my parents, who were part of the first graduating class at Trinity. The school has a long and strong basketball tradition, a winning tradition. I can’t wait for the next season to start.”
Polak said there were 15 applicants for the job, but he recognized the loyality and good standing Lemieux had with the players, coach Keefe and the school administration.
“Continuity is a big thing with me,” said Polak. “Matt knows the kids, knows the school and learned a lot about the game from David, who was a great coach for us over the past nine seasons.
“We also have a city kid, who played for Manchester Central and knows a lot about the basketball culture in our city. To me he’s the best person right now for the job to lead our basketball program.”
Polak understands Lemieux is following in the footsteps of Keefe, who posted a phenomenal 150-30 career record and led Trinity to five state championship games in nine seasons. Keefe won two state titles and three runner-up crowns.
“It would be unfair to Matt to expect him to do what Dave did the last nine years, which was amazing,” said Polak. “Matt is stepping into the program having lost all five starters from last year. We know he’s going to work hard to build his team and we know it’s going to take time.”
Lemieux said 6-foot-7 center Wenyin Gabriel is planning to attend prep school next season.
“We do have Luke Testa and Connor Walsh back, two very good players,” said Lemieux. “From there I’ll begin to build the pieces around them. I have no expectations for next season other than to say we’re going to go out with the intention of winning every game we play. One thing that won’t change is our kids will play and compete hard in every game.”
Lemieux established himself as a solid point guard for Manchester Central (2002-05) under head coach Dave “Doc” Wheeler. After high school, Lemieux was a good fit for Colby-Sawyer College under head coach Bill Foti.
“I played under two great coaches, two people who endorsed me for the Trinity job,” said Lemieux. “I also went from a big high school to a small college atmosphere at Colby-Sawyer. I loved Colby-Sawyer and it reminds me a lot of the small close-knit family atmosphere we have here at Trinity.
“At Trinity, the whole student body comes to our home games, even the teachers and administrators. As an opposing player and now a coach, I can tell you there’s no better atmosphere for a big game in front of a 700 fans who pack the gym.”
Lemieux is a fourth grade special education case manager at the McDonough School, where Keefe is employed as a guidance counselor. “I learned a lot from David, who was very high on practice and preparing for our next opponent,” said Lemieux. “Our players always looked up to him. His record speaks for itself.”Lemieux said knowing he has the support of Keefe, Polak and the Trinity administration, it makes his transition into his new job a little easier. “I want to thank Chip and Principal (Denis) Mailloux for giving me this opportunity. I will work my hardest to keep Trinity among the best basketball programs in the state.”