action:article | category:SPORTS | adString:SPORTS | zoneID:40

Home » Sports

June 06. 2014 9:02PM

Familiar face at Meet of Champs

GOFFSTOWN — Regulars at the NHIAA Outdoor Track and Field Meet of Champions will see a familiar face around the starting line at Londonderry High School this afternoon. Al Halpern, the man who will be firing the starting the pistol today, worked his first outdoor state meet 40 years ago, and he hasn’t missed one since.

A semi-retired resident of Goffstown, Halpern, 65, will be back at the school where he was a full-time teacher and coach from 1974-2001. During that time, his teams won 25 NHIAA championships, the first in 1976 and the last during his final season of coaching.

“It was a nice way to go out,” he said of that final title.

As he does on the track by serving as an official, Halpern remains active in the classroom by working as a substitute teacher. Events such as today’s meet are especially enjoyable.

“I just love the sport, and I like working with the kids,” Halpern said.

He said he remembers not only the names of all the athletes he’s coached but also the years they ran for him. Runners he’s coached — as well as plenty he coached against — stop to greet him at meets. Some introduce him to their own children who are now running track.

“It’s just neat to see the next generation of those kids coming through,” he said.

One of his fondest coaching memories is of a 1990 class L track meet held at Londonderry High. Halpern’s team trailed until the final event, the 400-meter relay, in which the Londonderry anchor came from behind to win the race and give the Lancers the title by a half-point. People in the stands jumped out of their seats, and officials used a video to verify the finish because the entire meet hinged on the outcome of that race, Halpern recalled.

“It’s the only athletic photo I have on display in my home,” he said.

In his role as starter, Halpern is focused on making sure every runner gets a fair start and keeping the meet moving. But he still takes time to alleviate jitters at the starting line with a comment or a joke.

“Everything I’m doing is to make my job and their performance better,” he said.

Skills obtained in the sport benefit runners far beyond the track, Halpern said.

“In track, to be good as an athlete you’ve got to motivate yourself,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to succeed.”

Halpern said he plans to continue officiating as long as he’s physically able, adding that he looks forward to the meets with as much enthusiasm as the athletes.

“I get the best seat in the house,” he said.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Sudanese runner with NH ties hoping to crowdfund way to 2016 Olympics

Former Wildcat van Riemsdyk undergoes successful surgery

Monadnock Speedway driver captures first Granite State NASCAR title

CASEY DeSMITH

Star goaltender DeSmith no longer on NH roster after assault charge

UNH squad practices without helmets, shoulder pads to reduce risk of head trauma

24 Hours Of LeMons: This Time We Went Fast, Briefly

NHRA president Tom Compton candid on series and its challenges

World's tallest pro basketball player is from Strafford, NH

NH-based hockey helmet maker Bauer to drop concussion protection claims

NH native's statistics help Padres win

UNH receives NFL funding for brain injury research

Olympic skier Krass helps Hanover High clinch soccer championship

'100: Head/Heart/Feet' film follows NH man in grueling world of ultra-running

Athletic director says no one injured in disturbance after Keene High football game

Fishers Cats extend agreement with Toronto Blue Jays through 2018

24 Hours of LeMons New England: The winners!

Kings use emergency-roster exemption before facing Penguins

NH man beat out 75,000 competitors to win $1M in fantasy football contest

Video: Exact moment NH man wins a million dollars on DraftKings

That 70s Line continues to work magic as L.A. Kings win sixth straight

N.H. Motor Speedway to become home of North East Motor Sports Museum

Keene pumpkin riot probe turns to technology inspired by Boston Marathon bombing

Riverside Speedway in Groveton on auction block Nov. 1

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!