Canes Coach Steps Down
Fogg Quits Girls Program After 19 Years
White River Junction — The only coach the Hartford High School girls hockey program has ever known has stepped down from the job.
In an email yesterday, Hartford Athletic Director Joe James announced the hiring of Marc Gattie to take over for Nelson Fogg, who gave up his duties after the completion of this past season. Fogg helped found the Hartford varsity girls program in 1993, leading it into the Vermont Principals Association’s league when the state governing body sanctioned the sport in 2001.
A longtime social studies teacher, Fogg became an assistant principal at Hartford last fall, and the responsibilities of the job prevented him from being the coach he felt the program needed, he said last night. Instead, his final season became more about transitioning to Gattie, a three-year volunteer, and his father, longtime assistant Rob Gattie, and moving on, a decision Fogg made official at the team’s postseason banquet in mid-March.
“Nineteen years went by very quickly,” said Fogg, who stayed on last winter to oversee his youngest daughter, Alexandra’s, senior campaign. “There have been incredible opportunities to work with some fine young women and their families.
“For me, it was never about wins and losses; I really don’t believe that should be the priority for high school athletics. If you do the other things well, the wins and losses take care of themselves.”
Hartford struggled on the ice the last two years, going a combined 10-30-1. On the whole, however, Fogg and the Hurricanes enjoyed many solid seasons over their history.
The pre-VPA days were spent igniting a rivalry with neighbor Hanover — and, later, Lebanon — and waiting for the rest of Vermont to catch up. The program produced an NCAA Division I player in Kristina Guarino, who captained the Dartmouth women’s hockey program her final two years, and another in Betsy Ammel, who “helped put UVM on the map,” Fogg noted, graduating as the Catamounts moved from D-III to D-I.
“I happened to be at a place and time where I had athletic directors in Bob Taylor and Brian Trottier and a superintendent in Carl Mock who said they would support women playing ice hockey well before anyone else in the state would,” Fogg added. “We were fortunate enough to travel by yellow bus around and talk with a lot of communities as they were contemplating those steps.”
Fogg’s Hartford teams were perennially at the top of the Vermont D-I standings in the early seasons of sanctioned play. The Hurricanes lost to BFA-St. Albans in the inaugural VPA state title game in overtime, 3-2; the Comets would confound Hartford in four other state semifinals, most recently in 2011.
Marc Gattie takes over at a time when declining participation has left Hartford relying on other sources to field a full roster. The most recent edition of the Canes included five girls from four other Upper Valley high schools, making use of the VPA’s member-to-member participation program.
Two former Hartford standouts, Jessica Nalette and Kylie Ammel, have been active with the Upper Valley Hockey Association’s girls teams, Gattie said. With their help, he’s hopeful of rebuilding the high school program’s talent base.
“We need to increase the pipeline,” Gattie said. “Having the high school girls going to help with youth practices will help inspire interest. It’s also just spreading the word and, with a new facility coming in, that can be a big draw.”
Hartford voters approved a $2.5 million renovation of Wendell Barwood Arena, the Canes’ home rink, in March, part of a $9 million bond targeted for a variety of athletic field and facility projects.
Gattie also offers experience in something the Canes sorely lacked last year: offense. Hartford scored just 30 goals in 20 games. The new coach remains Lebanon High’s boys hockey record-holder for goals, assists and points (177) during a four-year career that included an NHIAA Division II state championship in 2000 and a runner-up plaque in 1999.
Recruited to play lacrosse at Mercyhurst College, Gattie ended up skating four years of club hockey at the Erie, Pa., school, making the American College Hockey Association playoffs.
“I’ve played hockey for as long as I can remember, helped coach a number of years as well as (play) college hockey,” said Gattie, who is also a Woodstock High boys lacrosse assistant coach and a USA Hockey-sanctioned youth referee. “I had a lot of fun helping the girls. Basically, what I’ve wanted to do and what I enjoy is coaching hockey.”
Fogg was happy to let both Gatties do that as he learned how unwieldy juggling his new administration role with his old coaching responsibilities would turn out to be.
“I’m excited for the future of the program,” Fogg said. “Early on in the year, I told Marc and Rob that if I do what I hoped to do — become a historical figure at the end of the year, with their voices more prevalent than mine — and that happened. … I watched these two people work with the team, react to them, laugh with them, have the same experience I’ve had and enjoyed. The program is in great hands.”
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.