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Legendary player, coach Dick Powers remembered for contributions to Manchester athletics

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 22. 2018 9:25PM


Trinity High School of Manchester director of athletics Chip Polak did not know Dick Powers when Powers was a three-sport athlete at Bishop Bradley or a football player at Boston College.

Polak met Powers when he became Trinity’s AD in 2013. Over the last several years, Powers, who was an assistant to the AD at Trinity, and Polak shared an office and talked extensively about sports.

Powers died in his sleep Monday night or Tuesday morning at the age of 72. Powers’ nephew, Tim, who is the headmaster at Pinkerton Academy of Derry, said his uncle had experienced a variety of health issues the past few years.

“The things he said and the way he looked at sports, you could tell he was someone who had been a very good athlete himself and knew the games,” Polak said. “More than that, he was great with kids. He had his own way.

“Dick was Dick ... He had his own way and he wasn’t going to change for anybody.”

Tim Powers said his uncle had an outgoing nature and a love for Manchester sports.

Dick Powers played football, basketball and baseball at Bishop Bradley (now Trinity). He was a member of Bradley’s 1961 state champion baseball and football teams and 1963 undefeated state champion boys’ basketball team.

While he received offers to play football at the University of New Hampshire, Colgate and Syracuse, Powers chose to play at Boston College. The former Eagles offensive tackle told the New Hampshire Union Leader in 2017 that he couldn’t remember why he chose BC other than maybe because it was close to home.

“I had a good career there, never played on a losing team and had an outside shot of playing in bowl game,” Powers said last year.

Danny Sullivan played baseball with Powers for Sweeney Post and the two attended Boston College together. Sullivan said Powers started for the Eagles as a sophomore and received letters from pro football teams that season saying they were looking at him. Powers suffered a knee injury his junior year that forced him to miss most of the season but returned his senior year, Sullivan said.

“Overall, he was a hell of a competitor,” Sullivan said. “He wanted to win and he wanted to be as good as he could be.”

After concluding his collegiate career, Powers had opportunities to try out for NFL teams but elected to return to New Hampshire. He became Bishop Bradley’s baseball and football coach in 1968, marking the beginning of a long coaching career.

Powers led Bradley to a state baseball state championship in 1969, the same year his football team finished runner-up to Manchester Memorial. Powers was also Trinity’s coach in the 1971 “Snow Bowl” football game in which Memorial beat the Pioneers for the state championship at Gill Stadium.

Powers’ coaching career expanded outside his alma mater. He took over as the head football coach at Manchester West in 1972, inheriting a program that had lost 55 straight games. By 1975, the Blue Knights had become a state title contender. They finished 8-2 that season after beating Trinity in the Turkey Bowl game.

Powers hung up his coaching whistle in 1976 but eventually returned to the sidelines as Trinity’s football coach in the mid-2000s. Dick Powers’ Trinity team scrimmaged against Tim Powers’ Pelham squad in 2005 or 2006, said Tim, who counts that scrimmage as one of his favorite memories with his uncle.

“We had a chance to chat afterward and I remember him saying I was doing a nice job with the group I was working with at the time,” Tim Powers said. “Even though he’s family, that’s not something he’s just going to say.”

For his coaching accomplishments, Dick Powers received the Walter Smith Award in 2017 at the New Hampshire Union Leader’s annual The Leaders: A Celebration of New Hampshire Sports Champions event. He also spent time as an official.

Even though his assistant AD position at Trinity was part-time, Powers was always around, Polak said. The two often attended Trinity games together and Powers handled tickets at basketball and hockey games. Polak also said Powers was the school’s “super sub” when it was in need of a substitute teacher.

Polak came to Trinity after 28 years as Southern New Hampshire University’s director of athletics. When Polak first started at Trinity, he said Powers helped him learn about the Manchester high school sports scene.

“I was just in a college environment and he knew everything about high school sports in Manchester,” Polak said. “We hit it off immediately. We spent a lot of time together ... We’d talk sports every morning and tell jokes. He really made my intro to Trinity seamless.”

Tim Powers remembers always talking about sports with his uncle while growing up. When he got to Pinkerton, Tim Powers often met people who had coached with or against Dick.

While Dick Powers spent most of his life involved in sports in some fashion, coaching was always part of him, his nephew said.

“It’s always been a big part of him and part of his life and something he excelled at,” Tim Powers said.

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