Newport’s Couitt strikes the right chord with football, music

  • Newport High freshman Aiden Couitt prepares to play in the Tigers pep band at halftime of an NHIAA Division IV football game against Bishop Brady on Oct. 8, 2022, in Newport, N.H. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Valley News — Tris Wykes

  • Aiden Couitt

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/11/2022 9:26:06 PM
Modified: 11/12/2022 7:44:33 AM

NEWPORT — This town’s football tradition is undeniable. Newport High and its predecessor, Towle High, have combined for 14 state titles since the NHIAA began sanctioning them in 1951.

Another Tigers tradition? Gridiron competitors who also perform in the school band. The latest is freshman Aiden Couitt, a reserve defensive end and special teams member who plays trombone.

Those roles overlapped during Newport’s homecoming festivities on Oct. 8, when Couitt played with the band at halftime while wearing his football uniform. The 14-year-old, also part of his school’s choral program, sang the national anthem before last week’s NHIAA Division IV semifinal victory over Bishop Brady.

“He asked, and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ ” said fourth-year Newport coach John Proper, who played football and tuba for the Tigers before his 1996 graduation. “He did a great job and really represented us well.”

Couitt’s father, Clayton, played at Newport alongside Proper and helped the Tigers win a 1995 state title. He lives in Colorado. Amanda Couitt, Aiden’s mother, a Croydon native and former Mount Holyoke (Mass.) College rugby player, is a local physical therapist.

Their son began playing football in fifth grade, a year before diving into singing and playing an instrument. He’s also a cross country runner, practicing that sport before football workouts begin, and is one of the Tigers’ fastest performers. You don’t find many defensive ends who can cover 5 kilometers in 20 minutes.

Then again, Couitt’s not a particularly big kid. At least not yet. At 6 feet and 153 pounds, his frame and his strapping father’s size make Proper tilt his head when pondering what a few years of natural growth and weight-room work might produce. Couitt’s already starts on special teams and backs up star defensive end Kyle Ashley.

“No hesitation in plugging him in,” Proper said. “We did that for a while last week and (Bishop Brady) started running at him, and he didn’t back down.

“I do sometimes wonder if he’s listening when I talk. He’ll be looking off somewhere. But I’ve come to realize he hears everything that’s said and he’s very intelligent.”

Couitt enjoys not just football’s physical aspect but even the conditioning drills. He relishes any chance to compete.

“I’ve been told I’m very athletic,” Couitt said. “But I’m kind of an awkward dude.”

Couitt is self-deprecating, but it takes courage to mix starkly different activities in high school. How many football players would excel in the arts if they’d only try?

“I’m not afraid to be embarrassed because I feel very open about myself,” said Couitt, who’s one of what Proper estimates are 10-12 students who have played for him and in the band during recent years. “I did feel like I stood out a bit in the band with my football uniform on at homecoming. I felt unique, but it didn’t affect my playing at all.”

Couitt joined his mother and younger brother, Alex, in Rhode Island last winter to see the musical Hamilton and hopes to see another such production soon. This winter he will run indoor track and play basketball, and in the spring he’ll move to outdoor track on the Tigers’ well-kept, rubberized oval.

College studies and, Couitt hopes, the medical field beckon in a few years. For now, he’s focused on helping the second-seeded Tigers (7-1) gain revenge on top-seeded Somersworth (8-0), which beat visiting Newport by 28 points during the regular season.

“Somersworth hasn’t been behind all season, so the pressure’s all on them,” Couitt said. “We’re hoping to get an early lead.”

And add another triumphant chapter to Newport’s proud football history.

Tris Wykes can be reached at

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