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Do You Coach? Newport High Might Like to Speak With You



Valley News Correspondent
Thursday, April 12, 2018

Newport — Jeff Miller is about to plant a “help wanted” sign in the grass in front of Newport Middle High School.

It’s been harder and harder in recent years for athletic directors to replace coaches who choose to leave, but what’s happening in Newport is beyond the norm. Miller, the Newport athletic director, is in the process of filling the spots of seven head coaches who’ve decided to separate themselves from a position they once sought with some vigor.

Miller remembers when the possibility of coaching a high school varsity sport would result in a flurry of activity and countless hours scouring applications and doing interviews. Not so anymore.

If there is one prized coaching position at Newport High, it’s head football coach. The Tigers do OK in other sports, but there has never been any doubt that Newport prizes football above all else.

Yet Miller is about to start the process of hiring his third football coach in four years. It would seem obvious that there would be a bevy of candidates to coach in a town where football skills are handed down through bloodlines and there is never a shortage of players.

However, that is not the case. When the job opened up after Larry McElreavy stepped down two years ago, Miller received only one legitimate application.

“I got several others, but they were from young guys looking to get started,” Miller said. “That’s not the type of person we’re looking to coach Newport football.”

The only serious application came from Richard Boone, who has been around Newport athletics in a variety of sports and was a candidate four years ago, when McElreavy took over the football program from Larry Carle. Boone was hired and continued the winning tradition by taking both the teams he coached to the playoffs. He seemed young and enthusiastic enough to do it for a long time.

Not so. After two years, Boone has had enough.

Miller said that when Boone was coaching and helping out in other sports as a volunteer, “he didn’t get the blowback like a head coach.” Miller said.

“Parents have strange expectations for their kids, and Newport is no exception. Parental interference comes with the territory.”

Football tops the list of vacancies Miller needs to fill; wrestling, boys and girls soccer, boys basketball and cross country complete it. Miller needed a golf coach until just recently, when he was able to hire Heath Edwards to replace George Campbell after two successful years that included a state championship in 2016.

Miller said Edwards is on the faculty at the Sugar River Regional Technical Center in Newport and an avid golfer.

“Having him on the faculty will help, because golf does not always draw big numbers,” Miller said. “And with him in daily contact with the students should help in that area.”

Newport coaches are paid based on a percentage of what a first-year teacher makes. Former Newport AD Doug Beaupre, who holds the same position at neighboring Stevens High in Claremont, said it was a “strange way” to pay coaches, but he believed most head coaches in Newport are paid between $2,500 and $3,500. He thought that was perhaps on the lower end of the scale in schools throughout the state.

Other coaching changes at Newport could result in a shifting of personnel. Jon Hamel, who this year coached baseball and girls soccer, is cutting back to just baseball.

“That’s his favorite sport, and he has a young child and another on the way,” Miller said.

Ethan Jean was elevated to interim head boys basketball coach from the junior varsity position after the midseason departure of Greg Pickering this winter. Jean will apply to return on a permanent basis and, if rehired, would give up the position of girls soccer coach.

“Soccer is a tough gig here,” said Miller, who hopes the school’s plan to drop to NHIAA Division IV will help the Tigers better succeed.

Richard Boone’s son, Cole, has been coaching the wrestling team, but the Norwich University graduate is headed back to that school for his master’s degree.

Miller said he is really going to miss both Boones.

“Newport is losing two coaches who do things the right way,” Miller said. “They made sure that their athletes kept their grades up, and if one of their kids got in trouble, they were right there to take charge of the matter.”

Miller added that neither coach is leaving a broken program.

“The next guy will not be taking over a team with an empty cupboard,” he said.

Miller doubles as Newport’s cross country coach, and he has a tough time finding time to do that. In addition to his half-time AD duties, Miller also has part-time responsibilities as a teacher.

“That cross country job is always open,” Miller said. “Finding someone to do it is another matter.”