BEDFORD — Ken Osbon began coaching so he would never have to grow up.
When he accepted the Walter A. Smith Coaches Award at the New Hampshire Union Leader’s “The Leaders: A Celebration of New Hampshire Sports Champions” banquet Sunday at Manchester Country Club, the former Dover High School football coach thanked his players, among others, for allowing him to achieve that goal.
The annual event, which celebrates New Hampshire’s standout coaches, officials and athletes, is sponsored by Apple Therapy Services, Express MED and Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center.
Osbon, a Rollinsford native, was honored alongside the late Socrates “Soc” Bobotas, who founded Laconia’s Little League program; Dana Bourassa, who was Plymouth Regional’s first wrestling coach and later founded the wrestling program at Milford High School; Timberlane of Plaistow baseball coach Jaime Fish; former Manchester cross-country coach Doug Glance; Inter-Lakes of Meredith volleyball coach Randy Mattson; and Manchester’s Mark Telge, who coached tennis for 41 years, football for 40 and basketball for 27.
“To all the players who played for us over the years, today would not exist if you (did not) make it possible for me to never grow up and allow me to live a life in athletics and enjoy your success,” Osbon said. “Thank you for allowing me to be your coach.”
Bourassa knew Walter Smith and praised him for being among those who requested that the NHIAA add wrestling as a varsity sport.
“It was Walter Smith who admitted our sport and sanctioned the first New Hampshire state NHIAA wrestling tournament,” said Bourassa, who is from Amherst. “So thank you very much to Walter for all he did for wrestling. Otherwise, what would I have done for the last 40 years?”
The 2019 Union Leader Athlete of the Month and Athlete of the Year recipients, Ty Abate and Carl Lundholm Memorial Award honorees, John R. Clark Officials Award winners and James W. Desmarais Special Recognition Award recipient were also honored.
Londonderry High School senior quarterback Jake McEachern, who was the November Athlete of the Month, received the Robert “Red” Rolfe Male Athlete of the Year award. June Athlete of the Month Grace Devanny, who ran outdoor track at Concord High School, was named the Jenny Thompson Female Athlete of the Year.
The Athlete of the Month and Athlete of the Year award winners are chosen by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.
McEachern passed for five touchdowns and ran for another five over the Lancers’ final regular-season game and three-game playoff run to the program’s first Division I championship since 1998. The Londonderry resident ran for a game-high 112 yards and two touchdowns to help the Lancers defeat Exeter, 21-10, in the Division I title game Nov. 24.
An All-Division I South First Team selection, McEachern finished the season with a 64.5 completion percentage (69 of 107), threw for 1,412 yards and 23 touchdowns alongside three interceptions and ran for 818 yards and 10 TDs on 109 carries.
“I’d like to start out by saying thank you to my family, my teammates for all the love and support that you’ve given me throughout my whole football career,” McEachern said when he accepted the November Athlete of the Month award. “I’d also like to thank (Londonderry) coach (Jimmy) Lauzon for training me to be the quarterback I never knew I could be.”
Then a senior at Concord High, Devanny set a state record in the 400-meter dash to capture her fourth straight NHIAA Meet of Champions title in the event, defended her 200-meter dash title at the Meet of Champions with a personal-best time and went on to place second in the 400 and seventh in the 200 at the New England Interscholastic Track and Field Championships.
The Concord resident also won both the 200 (for the second straight year) and 400 (for the fourth straight year) at the Division I championships in May. Devanny completed her freshman season with the Division III Wesleyan women’s soccer team last fall, finishing with 10 goals and two assists over 15 games.
The Ty Abate Award, which is named after the former Union Leader sportswriter, is given annually to the golfer age 19 and younger with the lowest qualifying score in stroke play of the New Hampshire Golf Association Amateur Championship. Tuftonboro’s Sam Barton won this year’s Ty Abate Award after shooting a 143 over the opening two rounds of the tournament.
Rochester resident and Wilton native Dorothy “Dot” Callaghan received the 50th Carl Lundholm Memorial Award. Among her many contributions to youth sports in Rochester, Callaghan helped found the Spaulding of Rochester softball team in 1977, served as its first coach for two years and has stayed involved with the program as its scorekeeper over the 28 seasons her daughter, Sheila Colson, has coached the team. Callaghan’s husband, Frank, received the same award in 2008 and Colson was honored with the Walter A. Smith Coaches Award in 2017.
Those honored with the John R. Clark Officials Award were Milton’s Steve Burrows, Nashua’s Ed Daniels, Dover’s Richard Driscoll and Larry Frizzell, Concord’s Gary Mayo and Lynn Spang.
Portsmouth Christian Academy of Dover junior Liza Corso received the James W. Desmarais Special Recognition Award, which is given out at the board of judges’ discretion.
Corso, who is legally blind, runs cross-country and track for Portsmouth Christian and has been an All-State selection five times over her high school career in both sports. Corso could not attend the event as she was competing in the NHIAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championship at Dartmouth College, where she finished second in the 1,500-meter run and helped the Eagles take fourth in the 4-by-400-meter relay. Her dad, Scott, accepted the award on her behalf.
“As I’ve watched Liza develop as an athlete and seen how she’s overcome many of the obstacles and challenges that she’s faced, I think it really comes down to her discipline, her determination and her dedication,” Scott Corso said.