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Stevens High girls soccer coach steps down after 8 seasons

  • Tom Belaire has stepped down as Stevens High girls soccer coach.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2020 8:48:57 PM
Modified: 3/24/2020 8:48:54 PM

There will be a new face on the sidelines when the Stevens High girls soccer team takes to the pitch this fall.

After eight seasons at the helm of the program, Tom Belaire stepped down from the position last month due to a mix of reasons.

Both his daughters, who played for him, are now out of high school, and Belaire’s job with the Claremont Fire Department also has taken up more time since he was promoted to deputy chief.

“It was a wicked difficult decision,” he said over the phone earlier this week. “One of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I definitely took my time to put a lot of thought into it.”

Belaire started to sit down and give the idea of leaving the program some serious thought at the end of the season. The Cardinals finished last season with a 14-3-1 mark, reaching the NHIAA Division III semifinals.

Over the course of his eight seasons, he guided Stevens to the NHIAA tournament in all eight, reaching the finals in 2018, the program’s first championship game visit in nearly two decades. He ends his stint in Claremont with a 80-49-11 overall record.

“He was he was one of the most reliable coaches that we’ve had,” Stevens athletic director Doug Beaupre said. “I certainly understand that someone will have some big shoes to fill. That’s for sure. He’s been a joy to work with. And I really hate to see him go. But, yeah, I get it. He’s had a nice run at Stevens.”

One of the biggest things Belaire will miss about coaching the Cardinals will be the day-to-day aspect of the job.

A graduate of Stevens, he played soccer for a season at Franklin Pierce and always loved to coach. He helped with the youth program before he took the Stevens job in 2012. The simplicity of a practice was something he looked forward to after a day of work.

“I’ve been involved in it for so long,” Belaire said. “Obviously, I’m still gonna go watch it. Honestly, I’m probably going to spend some time and try to catch more college games. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to do over the years.”

Participation has always been something Belaire has had to keep his eye on at Stevens. Some years the Cardinals have to pull up a few eighth graders to field a junior varsity team; other years they don’t.

This year they had enough players, but it is something that needs to be watched, he said.

Due to the COVID-19, Beaupre said that the coaching search is stuck in limbo. With restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more people, he hasn’t been able to assemble a committee to hire a new bench boss.

“It’s a strange situation going on right now,” Beaupre said. “We don’t want to wait too long because, you know, players put in a lot of work during the summers, and they want to know who their coach is.

“It’s not really fair to for the candidates either. Right? To have to wait, and there might be other jobs available as well. We’re not even supposed to be in the school building for the next few weeks, so I need to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Not winning a state title will be Belaire’s biggest regret, but he said receiving the New Hampshire small-school coach of the year recognition this past fall validates everything he tried to do at Stevens.

“Definitely something that made it harder to step away, to be honest with you,” he said. “But on the other hand, you know, we made it there. So it’s something to be proud of.”

Valley News

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