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Colby-Sawyer’s Foti taking 29 years of memories to new job in N.C.

  • Colby-Sawyer coach William Foti, right, gets a passing greeting from Saint Joseph coach Jim Calhoun as he is followed by several cameras at the start of their game in New London, N.H., on Jan. 8, 2019. Calhoun, who won three national championships with the University of Connecticut, is in his first year coaching the Division III Blue Jays. Colby-Sawyer won the game, 91-88. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bill Foti Mike Gridley—Photo: Mike Gridley

  • Colby-Sawyer College men's basketball coach Bill Foti in an undated photograph. Foti is leaving his job of 29 years to become athletic director at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. Courtesy Colby-Sawyer College—Michael Seamans

  • Colby-Sawyer College men's basketball coach Bill Foti in an undated photograph. Foti is leaving his job of 29 years at Colby-Sawyer to become athletic director at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. Courtesy Colby-Sawyer College—

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/3/2021 9:42:14 PM
Modified: 6/3/2021 9:42:10 PM

NEW LONDON — The boxes may be packed, but the memories remain.

Cardboard containers surrounded Bill Foti in his tiny Colby-Sawyer College men’s basketball office last week. Some held records that will go to college archives; others will travel with him to his new job as athletic director at North Carolina’s Guilford College.

A few items weren’t ready to be put away, including one poster of his first 20 Charger teams and another bearing autographs from a plethora of basketball alumni.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Foti admitted.

Foti announced last week that he was ending his 29-year coaching tenure to enter full-time administration at Guilford, an NCAA Division III school of about 1,500 students in Greensboro, N.C. The move mirrors one taken last year by his longtime Colby-Sawyer compatriot, George Martin, who closed 26 years with the Chargers’ women’s basketball program to become AD at Dean College in Franklin, Mass.

The two worked as co-ADs at Colby-Sawyer for seven years after Deb McGrath’s retirement in 2013. Losing last winter’s season to the COVID-19 pandemic helped Foti realize it was time for him to try something new.

“Anybody who has seen Bill coach will have an opinion of him on the sidelines, but they don’t get to know Bill the person, and the person and coach are two different things,” Martin said in a Tuesday phone interview. “He’s really a committed, dedicated, hard-working individual. He’s a huge family man; family is extremely important to him. Just his attention to detail is outstanding.”

Foti, 57, leaves Colby-Sawyer having amassed a 486-259 record with five coach-of-the-year honors in various conferences and four NCAA tournament appearances. His win total ranks in the top 25 nationally among active D-III coaches.

That activity will come to an end with the move to Guilford. While he may miss the game planning and scouting, Foti confessed he’ll be glad to leave the stress of the sideline behind.

“It’ll be different, but I’m ready,” Foti said. “I know that because of COVID this year. We did not have a season, and I didn’t miss games. I like practices, I like strategizing, I like breaking down the opponent and figuring out a way to beat an opponent, but the stress of games really hits me hard.

“In the month of February, I would typically lose 15-18 pounds. It’s not from working out. It’s 100% stress. And I’m powerless against it. If you put a game in front of me, I’m going to try to win that game. You put everything — your heart and soul into it — and yet there’s so much out of your control.”

Foti credited his Manchester Central High School coach, Stan Spirou, for directing him toward a coaching career of his own. Spirou went on to New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University) and spent parts of four decades there, of which six included Foti — who graduated from UNH but never played basketball there — as an assistant. Foti joined Colby-Sawyer in 1992, the school’s third year of co-education.

Family is playing a big role in Foti’s move. Both he and his wife, Cathy, were “looking to get out of the cold,” he said. They have a son who lives in North Carolina, a daughter at American University in Washington, D.C. — a five-hour trek from Greensboro as opposed to the nine-hour trip from Manchester — and other relations nearby.

He’s also leaving a family behind, one filled with skilled athletes fond enough of Foti to throw him a surprise roast during his 20th anniversary season. Many of them remain close friends.

Foti visited one of them, Nate Camp, earlier this year once COVID restrictions lifted. He surprised the Lebanon High grad and Kearsarge High boys basketball coach with his Colby-Sawyer recruiting file, “reading old notes about me and how he met with my parents, the recruiting phone calls and visits to campus before I made my decision to attend CSC,” Camp recalled.

“He cares beyond belief for his players and the alumni family he created, which spans over three decades,” Camp wrote in a Wednesday email. “Clearly the best decision in the world. All these years later, I have a true friend and mentor who cares about me. And will for life.”

Guilford offers many of the same sports as Colby-Sawyer but also has football, which Foti said would be a new experience. Martin joked that the two may have to discuss a potential Dean-Guilford gridiron tilt someday.

“All I ever wanted, if I could get a full-time job, a college job, (was) 15 guys, a whistle and a gym, and I’m good,” Foti said, “It’s been a blessing.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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