Mellow fellow: Boucher adjusts approach with Lebanon girls basketball

  • Head coach Chris Boucher explains a play during a varsity girls basketball practice at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. Boucher was named head coach in June after spending last season as the junior varsity coach. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Head coach Chris Boucher yells to his players during a varsity girls basketball practice at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Head coach Chris Boucher, center, huddles up with his players at the end of a varsity girls basketball practice at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H., on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2021 2:32:11 PM
Modified: 12/5/2021 5:17:40 PM

LEBANON — Chris Boucher is adapting.

One week into practice as Lebanon High’s new girls basketball coach, a position he called a dream job, he already realizes the pressure that comes with the position. He wants to do right by his players and his mentors.

But he’s doing it his own way. He’s actively shifting his coaching style to be even more player-friendly and cooperative.

“I come from a lot of yeller coaches, so I want to take that away in this day and age of where the mental health of these kids is huge,” Boucher said. “They get talked to and yelled at all day. I don’t want to be another person doing that. I want to be positive, be cheerful and be motivating. That’s the big thing that I found is being happy to be here.”

That approach has been well-received by his players. They’ve noticed and appreciated Boucher’s focus on boosting their self-esteem at practice.

Raiders center Ella Longacre and guard Catherine Cole — both seniors and team captains — said Boucher’s attitude and communication have been effective so far.

“I think (practice has) gone really well,” Longacre said. “He’s very positive and keeps us in a positive mindset. And if we’re doing a drill for too long or something, he’ll be able to tell that (we need to) switch it up and do something else.”

Boucher is not the only one in the program who’s adapting. This is the third head coach that the Raiders’ upperclassmen have had in their high school careers. Tim Kehoe stepped down from the position in 2020 after 29 years at the helm. His daughter and assistant coach, Emily Kehoe, took over for the 2020-21 season but left the program in April to focus on her family life.

All three coaches are connected — Boucher served as the junior varsity coach last year and was team manager during his high school days, when Tim was head coach. But the constant adjustment in head coaches is tough for the players.

“I think Mr. Kehoe and Emily Kehoe were relatively similar, so I don’t think that was a huge shift with those two years, our sophomore and junior seasons,” Cole said. “But I think this year is definitely going to be a big jump for us, just trying to acclimate to how (Boucher) coaches and what he expects from us.”

Boucher’s season as JV coach has been important as he’s started out this season. He’s coached some of these players before and came in with at least a baseline relationship with most of them. He would often sit on the bench and help Emily Kehoe during varsity games last year after he was done with his JV squad.

He began working on strengthening those relationships during the team’s summer league program. Those practices helped Boucher start to set the tone for the team he wants Lebanon to be.

“We knew him well enough,” Longacre said. “We didn’t really know his coaching style because he would only come to games with us, and he came to a couple of practices, but he would be there just to watch our past coach and see what she was doing. So we didn’t know his coaching style, but we knew him on a personal level.”

Boucher said winning his first game — Lebanon opens at home against Pembroke on Friday — would clear a big hurdle. In the big picture, he simply wants his team to be consistent and finish games strong.

He likes the team he’s working with but knows it won’t have an easy road.

“We have the talent, we have the competitiveness, we have the smarts to be in every game that we play,” Boucher said.. “This year, going out of COVID and pods and stuff like that, this is going to be the toughest season that I think Lebanon’s had a long time. And I think they’re going to be battle-tested in every way.”

But those are only his goals.

Boucher assigned his players to take time and think about their personal and team goals for the season and to write them down. He had them discuss their answers and create a collaborative team objective before the team’s scrimmage against U-32 on Saturday.

This isn’t something he’s done at previous coaching stops leading subvarsity teams. It’s a new activity for him.

Just one more way Boucher is adapting.

“I think it’s a good thing, because it comes back to being the cooperative coach that I want to be,” Boucher said. “I think if everybody buys into it, I think we can go a lot of ways. If I just dictate it, I think a lot of people kind of turn off to it.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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