Lebanon AD Steps Down
Lebanon — The thing longtime Lebanon High girls lacrosse coach Sara Ecker has enjoyed most about working with athletic director Kelley Carey — Ecker’s third AD in 19 years on the job — is she could always count on getting what she needed, even when she didn’t know she needed it.
Take this week.
Ecker wanted her Raiders to get comfortable with playing on an artificial surface before Monday’s NHIAA Division III semifinal game (again before Thursday’s final), but state rules prevented Lebanon from stepping onto Southern New Hampshire University’s playing surface until a half-hour before game time.
Carey found a solution.
“She called the Manchester West AD and got their turf field for us,” Ecker said yesterday of Carey, who resigned as Lebanon’s AD this week to become assistant principal at Plymouth Elementary School. “We went to our semifinal, practiced on the (West) turf, drove 10 minutes to SNHU and did our warmup. We did the same thing (Thursday) night.
“It’s what she’s always does. She’d go out of her way to make things easier for teams.”
Carey, Lebanon’s AD and director of co-curricular activities since 2007, informed the Lebanon School Board of her imminent departure at its Wednesday night meeting.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with so many wonderful students, coaches, staff, administrators and families here in the Lebanon district,” Carey wrote in an email yesterday. “There are so many good things that go on here and solid people that give back to our kids. I will miss much of it.
“This is just a new path for me, and I am looking forward to learning new things and continuing to grow professionally. Having my family closer is an added and wonderful benefit.”
Chairman Jeff Peavey said the process has already begun to find her successor.
The decision to leave makes sense, he said: With two children at her Plymouth home and a long commute twice a day, Carey has had to sacrifice a lot to work at Lebanon High.
“I really wish her the best,” Peavy said. “I can understand. When you have two younger children and you’re gone as much as she is as AD, you have to think of them at some point.”
Ecker said Carey’s legacy to Lebanon will be the level of her organization. Being a former high school and college athlete, Carey “gets it,” Ecker said. “She understands those little nuances that make a difference for coaches and players to make a season successful.
“She’s one of the most organized human beings I’ve ever met in my life. She’s extremely organized, but she’s also an enthusiastic sports fan. Her knowledge of the games and her knowledge of competitive sports and high school athletics were remarkable, I thought.”
Carey came to Lebanon after spending 14 years in the Bristol, N.H., school district, first as an elementary school teacher and later as Newfound Regional High School’s AD.
She graduated from Con-Val Regional, a longtime Lebanon rival, in 1984, and served as a captain and four-year starter on the Plymouth State College women’s soccer team. The Panthers twice made the NCAA Division III tournament with Carey as a player, reaching the finals in 1986.
Carey also did plenty of coaching before concentrating on administration. She guided the boys soccer teams at Plymouth High as well as Newfound, and also coached track and field programs at Plymouth, Con-Val and Inter-Lakes during her professional career.
Leaving Lebanon means Carey will be much closer to home, not to mention to her husband. Jim Carey is a physical education teacher and the varsity girls basketball coach at Plymouth High, which is walking distance from the elementary school.
“For her, I’m really happy,” Ecker said. “For Lebanon athletics, it’ll be a tough adjustment from someone who was so well-organized and so supportive and in tune with the athletic program here. To make a shift to somebody new, that will take a while.”
Greg Fennell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3226.