PHIL ESTES was born in Iowa, but many consider him a New Hampshire guy.
Estes grew up in Laconia, played football at Laconia High School and then moved on to the University of New Hampshire, first as a player and then as an assistant coach. He even spent two years as an assistant football coach at Concord High School.
He was a two-way lineman at Laconia, played offensive line at UNH and was the offensive line coach for the Wildcats before working three seasons as the program’s offensive coordinator.
“Outstanding player and leader,” recalled Jim Fitzgerald, Laconia’s head coach when Estes played for the Sachems. “He had other opportunities, but he went on to play at UNH. I think he probably became interested in coaching while he was there.”
His coaching path eventually led Estes to Brown University, where he was an assistant coach for four seasons before being promoted to head coach in 1998. His tenure as Brown’s head coach ended last Monday, when he announced his resignation.
Estes was no average Bear.
He guided Brown to three Ivy League titles (1999, 2005 and 2008) and posted a 115-94 overall record during his 21-year tenure as head coach. That includes a 76-71 record in Ivy League games. His Brown teams finished with a record of .500 or better in 15 of his 21 seasons.
“The vast majority of this team’s greatest accomplishments have been a direct result of his superb coaching and recruiting skills,” Brown director of athletics Jack Hayes said in a statement. “We are tremendously thankful for his leadership and dedication.”
Things took a turn for the worse in the last two seasons, however, when Brown went 3-17 overall and lost 15 straight Ivy League games.
During good times and bad, Estes always kept an eye on football here in the Granite State. At least that’s how it appeared.
Many years ago, when reached by phone in the Brown football office, Estes ended a conversation by asking, “How did Laconia do against Plymouth?”
After he was given the bad news, Estes replied, “Yeah, Laconia has always had a hard time beating Chuck.”
Chuck, of course, is former Plymouth head coach Chuck Lenahan.
“He hasn’t forgotten his roots,” Laconia head coach and director of athletics Craig Kozens said. “He’s a friend to a lot of people here. Whenever something happens in town he shows up. He’s been good to me.”
Fitzgerald said Estes used to have his Brown team practice at Laconia High School every other year, the day before it would play at Dartmouth.
“He was part of a group that helped out when we did the field renovation here (Laconia High School),” Fitzgerald said. “He lent his name to that project.
“We’re proud here not only of his time at Laconia, but his career after that. He’s a Laconia guy and I do think it’s important to mention that he never forgot where he came from.”
It’s time for our annual plea to reduce the number of players who are recognized as NHIAA all-state selections in their respective sport. Any semblance of a true all-state team disappeared many years ago when these teams began to be separated by division. Now, in some sports, we take it a step further by choosing teams in each conference within a division.
Take Division I football for example. Division I has four five-team conferences, and each conference will have a First Team, a Second Team and Honorable Mention selections. Although we’re in an age where we hand out as many trophies as possible, having so many postseason “all-stars” cheapens the honor. Does every conference really need to recognize two or three quarterbacks?
Put some meaning back into these “All-State” teams. Make some tough choices and limit them to one player at each position, regardless of the sport.
A final reminder that the “Jeff Francoeur Huddle” will be held Thursday night (5:30) at Sweeney Post in Manchester. All NHIAA coaches and officials are invited to attend. The head coaches for this year’s four championship teams will be recognized. An award will be given to this year’s most improved team as well. Visit the following web site to register: www.joeyukicafootballfoundation.org.
The UNH men’s hockey team’s 4-1 triumph over Miami on Saturday night gave the Wildcats their first three point-weekend since last February, when they tied Northeastern (1-1) and beat UMass (3-1) on Feb. 2-3. UNH, which tied Miami 3-3 on Friday night, entered Saturday’s contest with two victories in its last 32 games.
Attention NHIAA baseball coaches: The Baseball Coaches Association of New Hampshire is offering a clinic Jan. 27 at Pembroke Academy. The event will include a silent auction. The BCANH is also accepting nominations for its first Hall of Fame ceremony.