BILL RAYCRAFT stunned a large portion of the state’s athletic community last Friday when he officially announced his resignation as Windham High School’s director of athletics and varsity football coach.
The issue that led Raycraft to resign? It sounds like he was asked to put more on an already full plate, and just couldn’t do his job(s) the way he wanted to if he took on additional duties.
“It’s a demanding job and I have high expectations for myself,” Raycraft said. “Windham isn’t a place where you can be average. I just couldn’t move forward.”
Raycraft, 50, has been Windham’s AD and varsity football coach since the school opened in 2009, and Windham athletics have been anything but average since then. Windham has won 29 team championships and produced 55 individual state champions under his watch.
Raycraft posted a 68-23 record as Windham’s football coach. He led the Jaguars to the 2014 Division II championship, and to championship-game appearances in 2011 and 2015 as well. Windham went 6-3 last season, its first year at the Division I level.
“I’m there until June 30 so we’ll make sure the kids are ready for whoever the next coach is,” Raycraft said. “I expect them to to get to UNH (site of the Division I championship game) next year and I’ll be there to root them on.”
Raycraft, who lives in Derry, said he is uncertain what’s next for him.
“For the last 20 years I’ve been an AD and a football coach,” he said. “That would be the easy path. Since this all happened, other opportunities have piqued my interest. I’m at that point in my career where I want to do what I want to do. I love to coach, but right now I have no plans. It’s wide open. That part is exciting.”
Raycraft, who is on the NHIAA ice hockey committee, started the football program at John Stark and coached there from 2001 to 2008. He also spent one season as an assistant coach under Jack Gati in Salem.
He was selected to coach New Hampshire in this summer’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl and said he remains 100 percent committed to that job.
“I hope everybody understands I leave Windham with good memories and best wishes for everybody,” he said. “I just felt the demands for the job were more than I could do.”
MaxPreps, a national web site devoted to primarily high school sports, recently published a list of the five most dominant high school athletes in New Hampshire history. In an attempt to stir debate, here are their top five:
Carlton Fisk (Charlestown)
Fisk was a two-sport athlete in high school and earned a basketball scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. He also played American Legion baseball, and was on the Bellows Falls team that won the Vermont state championship in 1964. He was selected in the first round of the 1967 major league draft, was an 11-time MLB All-Star and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jenny Thompson (Dover)
Although she was born in Massachusetts, Thompson grew up in Dover and won a world championship during her senior year at Dover High School as a member of Team USA’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay team. She participated in four Olympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004) and won won eight gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze.
Mike Flanagan (Manchester)
Flanagan played baseball and basketball at Manchester Memorial and helped the Crusaders win back-to-back state championships in both sports in 1970 and 1971. After high school, Flanagan attended the University of Massachusetts and set school records for career ERA (1.19) and career winning percentage (.923, 12-1). Flanagan won a Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles, helped the Orioles win the 1983 World Series and finished his MLB career with 167 wins and 1,491 strikeouts.
Katie King (Salem)
King was 44-0 as a pitcher for the Salem High School softball team. She tossed six perfect games and led the Blue Devils to four straight Division I titles. King played on three Olympic hockey teams and won a gold medal in 1998. She was named USA Hockey’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2006, and is a Hall of Fame inductee in both ice hockey and softball at Brown University. King is currently the women’s hockey coach at Boston College.
George Robert “Birdie” Tebbetts (Nashua)
Tebbetts moved to Nashua shortly after his was born in Burlington, Vt. An All-State quarterback and catcher at Nashua High School, Tebbetts continued his baseball career as an All-American catcher at Providence College. He played for the Tigers, Red Sox and Indians during an MLB career that stretched from 1936 to 1952. He was widely considered the best catcher in the American League during the 1940s. Tebbetts also went on to manage for 13 MLB seasons with the Reds, Braves and Indians.
MaxPreps also considered the following athletes for its top five: Don Macek (Manchester/football); Sherman White (Manchester/football); Matt Bonner (Concord/basketball); Red Rolfe (Penacook/baseball); Greg Landry (Nashua/football).
ICYMI: Dover native and University of New Hampshire graduate Brian Murphy, an NHL linesman, officiated his 2,000th NHL game Saturday, when the Bruins beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 in Boston. Murphy became the eighth on-ice official to work 2,000 NHL games.
Murphy graduated from Dover High School in 1992 and was a goaltender on the school’s hockey team. He officiated high school and Hockey East games before moving on to the NHL in 1988. Murphy has announced his intention to retire next season.
Those looking forward to the start of the NHIAA baseball season may want to circle Saturday, May 11 on their calendar. There will be a Division I tripleheader that day at Holman Stadium. Pinkerton Academy will face Bedford at 1 p.m., Londonderry will play Concord at 4 p.m. and Bishop Guertin is scheduled to face Nashua South at 7 p.m.