A hale and hearty farewell for Windsor’s Ladue, Swinyer

  • Windsor assistant boys basketball coach Don Swinyer, left, talks with referee Jim Shortle while head coach Harry Ladue speaks with Bellows Falls coach Evan Chadwick before the start of their game on Thursday Feb., 17, 2022, in Windsor, Vt. Ladue and Swinyer are retiring after 39 years of coaching together. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor boys basketball coach Harry Ladue watches the JV game on Thursday Feb., 17, 2022 in Windsor, Vt. Ladue is retiring after 39 years of coaching the team. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor boys basketball head coach Harry Ladue, center, talks strategy with the team during their game with Bellows Falls on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Windsor, Vt. Surrounding Ladue are coaches, from left, Brodie Ladue, Robert Slocum, Larry Dougher, Don Swinyer and Jacob Meagher. Ladue and Swinyer are retiring after 39 years of coaching together. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • After their home game, Windsor boys basketball head coach Harry Ladue receives a hug from Annette Farnsworth on Thursday, Feb., 17, 2022, in Windsor, Vt. Farnsworth's husband played on the high school team with Ladue and he later coached her son. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor head coach Harry Ladue talks to his players as the team waits to bring the ball inbounds at a Jan. 12, 1988, game. (Valley News - Stephanie Wolff) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news file — Stephanie Wolff

  • Windsor boys basketball coach Harry Ladue watches his team practice at the Windsor Recreation Center in Windsor, Vt., on January 13, 2016. Ladue, who also played high school basketball in Windsor, has been head coach for 33 years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen)

    Copyright © Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/18/2022 10:00:17 PM
Modified: 2/19/2022 9:56:47 PM

WINDSOR — What do you give to the coaches who have won five state championships, been to 14 final fours and accumulated 473 wins over nearly four decades?

When those men are as humble as Harry Ladue and Don Swinyer, you just give them metal basketball-shaped trophies and invite the community to join in celebrating them.

Ladue, the varsity head coach, and Swinyer, his top assistant and former junior varsity coach, have run the Windsor High boys basketball program since 1983. Both are retiring at the end of this season and were honored before the Yellowjackets’ home game Thursday night against Bellows Falls. It was Windsor’s first game this year without attendance restrictions.

The athletic department also showed the retiring coaches a lengthy slideshow, complete with photos and newspaper clippings of their state championships and written remarks from program alumni.

“We got people back in the gym, and it’s exciting again,” Ladue said. “It was loud in here. That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

Ladue graduated from Windsor in 1971, and Swinyer, nicknamed “Bird,” was in the class of 1977. After graduating from college, Ladue returned home and immediately starting helping out the junior high and freshman teams and jumped at the chance to take the varsity job when it opened up.

His teams were known for their lightning-fast offense — the 1990 state champions averaged 88 points per game in the playoffs. The 1995 team was arguably Ladue’s finest, going 24-0 en route to a state title while averaging a whopping 91.4 points per game, cracking 100 seven times with a high of 126.

Things have changed since then — the Yellowjackets were held to 36 in Thursday’s 34-point loss to a very good Bellows Falls team. But former athletic director Bob Hingston, who introduced Ladue and Swinyer at the ceremony, made sure everyone in the gym that now bears Ladue’s name knew about the force Windsor once was.

“They were never embarrassed,” Hingston said. “The kids always played hard; they weren’t outfoxed very many times. Harry used to be the best customer of the stores — he bought every newspaper in Vermont because he wanted to know what every team was doing back in the day.”

Steve Landon, who spent a combined 13 years at Hartford between the girls and boys teams and now coaches the varsity boys at Woodstock, is perhaps the biggest name on the Ladue-Swinyer coaching tree. Landon graduated from Windsor in 1988, and Cody Tancreti, now an assistant for the Hartford boys team, graduated in 2009.

Larry Dougher, the Yellowjackets’ JV coach since 2010, was a member of the class of 2000. Dougher’s coaching career began across the river, as the JV coach at Stevens, before replacing Swinyer at his alma mater so that Swinyer could focus on his role as an assistant with the varsity squad.

“Both Harry and Bird have meant so much to me,” Dougher said. “When I stopped playing, Harry was very good about mentoring me and getting me into coaching and helping me get the job at Stevens. Since I’ve been here, he’s been a great boss to work for.”

Along with Hingston, athletic director Jim Taft and assistant athletic director Bryan Woodbury, Dougher was responsible for planning Thursday’s ceremony, which was meant to be a surprise to Ladue and Swinyer.

Ladue also spent 25 years as the town of Windsor’s recreation director before stepping down from that role in 2018. He was selected to the VPA Hall of Fame in 2016, but he said he was most grateful to have Swinyer, his best friend and hunting buddy, by his side for his entire tenure with the Yellowjackets.

“He’s basically another head coach sitting next to me,” Ladue said. “He knows as much about this as I do. It could have been the other way around (with him as head coach). We were hired the same day.

“We have a great relationship, and we think along the same lines. He’s been a great partner.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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