Former Brown University head coach Phil Estes was among those honored by The Joe Yukica Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Tuesday night during the organization’s scholar/athlete banquet at Delta Dental Stadium.
Estes, who played at Laconia High School and the University of New Hampshire before he embarked on a coaching career, was given the Andy Mooradian Award for outstanding contributions to football. UNH head coach Sean McDonnell accepted the award for Estes, who could not attend the banquet because of a death in his family.
“This means the world to me, because everything for me started here in New Hampshire with great coaches, great mentors,” Estes said Monday. “I didn’t know a thing about football when I signed up in junior high. I didn’t even know what position to put down. My brother told me I was a lineman, so I put down guard. But I had an awesome experience in football and that was with (former Laconia High School football coach) Jimmy Fitzgerald and Paul Phelps, who was my mentor as a line coach and was like another father to me. Those two guys mean the world to me and they’re the reason I got into coaching for sure.
“I love the game and I just really feel like with football you have a chance to change people’s lives. I know football changed my life and it created opportunities that influenced my future and who I became. I think any time a coach has the opportunity to teach values and to change people’s lives there’s nothing more rewarding than that. That’s what New Hampshire and football have given to me.“
Estes, a member of the Laconia High School Hall of Fame, was an assistant coach at Concord High School for two years and then coached the offensive line and served as offensive coordinator at UNH from 1984 to 1993. He worked under his former college head coach, Bill Bowes, during his time as an assistant at UNH.
“My whole philosophy of coaching comes from Coach Bowes and I know Sean (McDonnell) does the same,” Estes said. “Coach Bowes taught me everything about organization and trust, and about loyalty and hard work. It isn’t always about talent, it’s about how hard you work. We were always tough, blue-collar teams back then.”
Estes accepted an assistant coaching position at Brown in 1994 and served as Brown’s head coach from 1998 to 2018. His Brown teams were 115-94 and won three Ivy League titles (1999, 2005 and 2008) during his tenure as head coach.
Estes was part of a group called Fitzy’s Super Sachems that helped raise money for the turf field that was installed at Laconia High School. The field is named after Fitzgerald, his former high school coach.
“When Brown played Dartmouth, he used to come here and practice at our facilities,” Laconia football coach Craig Kozens said. “That’s how I got to know him. Whenever he’s been asked to do something for the school or our program he’s always been generous and willing to help out.”
Estes, who lives in Wolfeboro, was an assistant coach for Kingswood Regional last season.
“His level of football IQ is just off the charts,” Kingswood coach Paul Landry said. “He taught all of us — coaches and players. He gives back at all levels and he’s certainly been an asset to football in our community. Football is better in our state because of him. That’s a fact.”
The Yukica Chapter recognized 40 scholar/athletes at the banquet. This year’s recipients were selected based on their athletic and academic achievements, plus their contributions to their community.
This year’s winners:
Max Ackerman (Nashua North), David Araujo (Winnacunnet), Jacob Brady (Salem), Jacob Bunis (Merrimack), Benjamin Cerrato (Exeter), Spencer Clark (Exeter), Jason Compoh (Nashua South), Lucas Cunningham (Nashua North), Joseph D’Ambruoso (Plymouth), EJ Donovan (Londonderry), Marius Edwards (Newport), Ulysses Ellis (Exeter), Jordan Escabi (Manchester West), Luke Geppert (Dover), Richard Gibby (Raymond), Chase Hamilton (Newport), Curtis Harris-Lopez (Nashua North) Jarrett Henault (Goffstown), Jeremy Henault (Goffstown), Jake Herrling (Pelham), Cole Johnston (Plymouth), Zachary Jones (Pelham), Christopher Keefe (Nashua South);
Jagger Lovely (Newport), Camden MacDonald (Winnacunnet), Stephen Mague (Windham), Nick Matthews (Timberlane), Liam Novak (Nashua North) Steven Petz (Merrimack), Noah Poulin (Salem), Trevan Sanborn (Plymouth), Lucas Seaman (Londonderry), Josh Sharron (Newport), Devon Simmons (Timberlane), Chandler Sutton (Spaulding), Jake Trahan (Merrimack), Ben Wagner (Hanover), Spencer Whiting (Nashua North), Garrett Whitney (Exeter) and Jack Wilber (Winnacunnet).
Former Manchester West and Trinity football coach Dick Powers was also recognized at the event. Powers, who died in 2018, was a three-sport athlete at Bishop Bradley High School (now Trinity), and went on to play football at Boston College. He also spent 15 years as Trinity’s assistant athletic director.
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.
Others who were honored during the scholar/athlete banquet:
• Distinguished American Award: Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu.
• James “Red” Hayes Award for community support of athletics: WMUR Channel 9 sports anchors Jason King and Jamie Staton.
• Donald E. York $1,000 Scholarship Award: Timberlane’s Devon Simmons.