HS notebook: Lebanon’s Johnstone bound for an adventure overseas

  • Longtime Lebanon High boys soccer coach Rob Johnstone, shown in 2019, is taking a four-month sabbatical from his Windsor High teaching job to join his wife, Andrea, in Dubai. Valley News file photograph

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 9/10/2021 11:07:28 PM
Modified: 9/10/2021 11:07:38 PM

LEBANON — Rob Johnstone hasn’t done a lot of traveling outside of the country, but that’s about to change in a big way.

The longtime Lebanon High boys soccer coach and Windsor High teacher is taking a four-month sabbatical from his job to join his wife, Andrea, in Dubai this winter. Andrea Johnstone accepted a two-year assignment as a college counselor at the American School of Dubai last spring, and her husband plans to spend at least part of it with her.

To do so, he’ll have to give up coaching Lebanon’s girls tennis program, a vacancy for which the school has been advertising for several weeks. Rob Johnstone will be back in plenty of time to resume soccer coaching at LHS.

“My passport needed to be renewed; I was told it would be six to eight weeks, but now it can be 16-18 weeks,” Johnstone said recently. “The other part is with the COVID situation constantly changing, not that we would get stuck with airline tickets, but (I don’t have them) yet.”

Andrea Johnstone has worked in counseling at Hanover High for 23 years, the last several as director of guidance, her husband reported. Connections there alerted her to the possibility of a short-term change of scenery in Dubai; she accepted and left on Aug. 6 to begin work.

“She’s a big traveler; she’s been to Colombia, spent time there in South Africa, spent time in Spain,” Rob Johnstone said. “She’d been looking at those more traditional places, and a couple of colleagues at Hanover spoke to her, said they did two years at this school in Dubai and had an incredible experience.”

The school’s student body is “85% to 90% ex-pats” and English-speaking, he said, and the vast majority hold American passports. In addition to reuniting with his wife, Johnstone said he’d like to do some tutoring in English, which he teaches at Windsor High, and coach soccer either with the school team or a local club.

“Soccer season there is in the spring, when the weather is more mild,” he said. “Right now, Andrea says when she goes for a walk, she’s waiting until the temperature drops to 104. Between January and May, it’s more like 70-75, what we’re having around here.”

Johnstone called his usual form of long-distance travel a drive to Claremont for a Raider match. He did once visit Ecuador for a former Middlebury College classmate’s wedding, but that’s the extent of it.

He’s looking forward to the adventure, assuming COVID-19 issues don’t get in the way.

“She’ll be there for the school year until June, then home for the summer; in August she’ll go back, then who knows?” Johnstone said. “It’ll be an amazing experience.”

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Lovely award: The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has bestowed New Hampshire high school boys track coach of the year honors upon Newport High’s P.J. Lovely.

The director of the Newport Recreation Department and the Tigers’ coach the past six years, Lovely has gradually grown the Newport program into a regular contender at the NHIAA Division III level. The Tigers won their first state championship since 1958 (as Towle High) last May, with Marius Edwards (discus), Jagger Lovely (300-meter hurdles), Ryder Lovely (200 dash) and the 4x100 relay team of Chase Hamilton, Eric Wilkinson and the Lovely brothers posting event victories. The girls were in the mix, too, placing third as a team.

It’s the second time in the past year that an Upper Valley high school coach has received a state honor from the USTFCCCA. Hanover’s Eric Picconi and Dorcas DenHartog were recognized as New Hampshire cross country coaches of the year after last season.

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Help wanted: In addition to the girls tennis vacancy, Lebanon High is also seeking a new softball coach. Ray Petterson won’t be returning after five seasons at the helm.

Petterson took over a struggling program in 2017 and endured a 44-game losing streak before finally breaking through last spring. According to Octopus Athletics’ reckoning, Petterson was 7-55 over five seasons, one of which (2020) wasn’t played due to the pandemic. Lebanon remains in the market for a junior varsity girls basketball coach as well.

Woodstock High is in search of a new girls varsity basketball coach. Steve Landon guided the Wasps as an interim fill-in the past two winters, but he’s moving back to the Woodstock boys, for whom he’d been initially hired in 2019. The Woodstock girls were 0-5 in last winter’s pandemic-shortened schedule.

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

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