At his age, when most football coaches either can’t do it or step down because they can’t communicate with their kids anymore, Paul Lavigne, 71, still marches on. A winner of six NHIAA state football titles, Lavigne has established himself as one of the top grid coaches in Granite State history.
In 1979 at Milford, Lavigne completed a run of four straight Division II football championships. Milford became the first program to do it after the NHIAA instituted a playoff format in 1972.
Thirty years later, Lavigne accepted an offer from Inter-Lakes Regional of Meredith to coach its program and led them to two Division VI state titles (2009, 2011) in three seasons.
“I tell people winning my very first state championship in 1976 at Milford remains a special moment in my life,” said Lavigne. “But it was very gratifying to win those last two state titles at Inter-Lakes later in my life. It showed I can still coach the game and I’m very proud of that accomplishment.”
Lavigne will return to the sidelines again, this time serving as head coach in the third annual CHaD New Hampshire East-West High School All-Star Football Game.
The contest is set for Saturday, June 28 at 1 p.m. at St. Anselm College. Lavigne will coach the West squad along with assistant coaches Travis Cote, Paul Drone, Dante Laurendi, Pat O’Neil, Dave Rozumek, Jim Schubert and Lavigne’s son, Andy.
“I had a lot of fun coaching in this game last year with coach Schubert as head coach,” Lavigne. “Any time I step on the field, I want to win, but the main goal in this game is to help raise money for charity. The game is going to be competitive, but win or lose, everyone after the game is going to be a winner. It’s for a great cause.”
In the first two years alone, over $500,000 has been raised from this game for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
“Coach Schubert is coming back, so the way I look at it, we’ve got two old school coaches back on the field,” laughed Lavigne.
Lavigne still doesn’t think he’s too old to coach another team and, winning those two recent state titles at Inter-Lakes certainly proves he can still get the best effort out of his kids.
“Football is a year-round coaching job,” said Lavigne. “Since leaving Inter-Lakes, I miss coaching the games, but I don’t miss the off-season things a coach has to do. Things like coordinating weightlifting sessions or attending summer passing leagues and things like that. I don’t miss that part. I just like to coach and something like the CHaD game, which will require two weeks of prepping, is perfect for me. Not to mention for my wife (Nancy) too.”
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RUNNERS are encouraged to check out the “The Central Runs” 2-mile Road Race on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. starting on Beech Street and heading north to North Street. Last season, the run raised more than $2,000 for One Fund Boston.
“This year, we hope to double our proceeds to benefit the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the third annual CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game,” said organizer Kelly Fox.
Fox said all player and student fundraising for the CHaD All-Star Game will be matched up to $50,000 through the Positive Tracks initiative. All donations raised for the Central Runs Road Race will be doubled by Positive Tracks to benefit the CHaD All-Star Football Game and young patients fighting cancer.
A minimum donation of $20 is required to enter the race. For more information, contact Fox at email@example.com or call 624-6363.
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TIP OF THE CAP to the Central Crew Club. Two of the club’s six boats qualified for the semifinals during last week’s United States Rowing Northeast District Junior Championships in Lowell, Mass. Two boats qualified for the semifinals in 2,000-meter open-water sprints.Jacob Somerset and Tim Morales in the Youth Double boat, placed third in 7:47.466, and will advance to Sunday’s semifinal round in Lowell. Joining them in the Women’s Youth Varsity Four boat are Jenn Bairam, Molly Clark, Hannah Malone, Liz Lavoie and coxswain Hannah Couture. They placed fourth in 7:53.813.
Recognition goes out to the other four boats. In the Women’s Youth Second Varsity Four boat, Lauren Duffy, Layla Ivansevic, Sara Anderson, Helen Dellas and coxswain Kathryn Ly-Bishop placed fourth at 8:16.863. The Men’s Youth Second Varsity Four, behind Ben Schultze, James Coleman, Alex Legere, Nick Harvey and coxswain Shayla Boulard, placed fourth at 7:20.600.
The Men’s Youth Varsity Four boat led by the quintet of Riley Powers, Pat Mun, Morales, Somerset and coxswain Sara Drewniak, placed fifth at 7:14.881. In the Men’s Youth Varsity Eight boat, Stefan Jelev, Jimmy Hanson, Craig Robichaud, Myles Fohlin, Erik Bienvenue, Jack Farley, Jason Gingras and Riley Powers with coxswain Boulard, placed sixth at 7:04.184.
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THE Northeast Athletic Club in Pembroke will be hosting the third Kyle Warren Memorial Cup game on Saturday, May 31. Pre-game ceremonies will start at 1:30 p.m., followed by kickoff at 1:50 p.m. between the Amoskeag Rugby Club of Manchester and Fort Drum, N.Y.
Proceeds from the game will be forwarded to the Wounded Warrior Project in Staff Sgt. Kyle Warren’s name. Warren was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan of injuries sustained when his military vehicle was attacked by insurgents with an improvised explosive device.
“Kyle played rugby for Amoskeag for four seasons prior to enlisting in the Army,” said Alexander Gatzoulis, Amoskeag RFC spokesman. “The memorial match will commence with 15 Amoskeag ruggers who had the honor of playing beside Kyle when he was a member of our team.”
The game will be preceded by the Amoskeag Youth Rugby match against Kearsarge at noon. Checks made out to the “Wounded Warrior Project” can be sent to the Amoskeag Rugby Football Club, c/o Alexander G. Gatzoulis, 27 Bay Street, Manchester, N.H. 03104. For more information, contact Gatzoulis at 682-5459 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.