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The Merrimack Valley Sports Final Thursday Thoughts Part II

By Dave Haley, 03/23/18, 11:15AM EDT


Matty F Doyle is a all-glue guy member (photo by Matt Parker)

 I think it’s time we had a talk………..

 The 10th season of basketball coverage on NHsportspage was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.

 There was a tone of anger I hadn’t seen in previous years. Teams didn’t feel like they were getting enough coverage, players weren’t being ‘respected’ and parents wanted more coverage for the kids, we needed to provide more statistics and coaches were shown a level of disrespect I frankly had not seen in the previous nine seasons.

 How did we get here?

 How did we get to where I’m sitting with coaches after games and they are getting vulgar texts from a mother because her son didn’t play enough?

 When did it become ok to yell at your son’s coach from the crowd like a lunatic…gyrating with every perceived missed call and yelling so everyone within four sections can hear you talk about how your son is not ‘ being used correctly.’

 I’m 46 years old….is this what my generation has become? Because I’m embarrassed by it.

 I write this as someone who speaks to more coaches than anyone in New Hampshire. Someone who spends hundreds and hundreds of hours on the phone or in person with these coaches. Long enough to get a very good sense of the kind of people I am dealing with.

 Let me share with you what I have observed.

 There are great coaches, very good coaches, good coaches and even mediocre coaches. I’ve rarely come across a bad one.

 These are people who genuinely care about the kids they coach.  When I do our semifinal scouting reports for both basketball and football I ask coaches to break down the semifinal teams using blind quotes and I’m always amazed by how accurate the analysis is and how much information they can give me about each team and its players.

 None of them are in it for the money,,, none, because they annually spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets for the kids they are coaching, whether it is a meal, gear or additional instruction. Knowing they are not ever getting paid back.

 So I’m asking you; when did it become acceptable to treat these people like this?

 I could go on for hours about stories I have seen and heard; a mother screaming at the athletic director after the game because her son didn’t play enough, a father slamming his fist into the bleachers because his son wasn’t being used correctly, an email or Facebook message screaming about why their kid is being ruined by the coach…I’ve seen coaches read these messages after games and in an instant look like the air was just taken out of them.…..I could go on and on.

 Let me stop to say a lot of the parents I speak to at games and correspond with over email are terrific people and they are conversations & correspondence that I look forward to and really enjoy.

 These are parents and even grandparents enjoying a really special time in their son’s, daughter’s or grandchild’s life and appreciative of the joy watching them gives them.

 But the other side is growing larger and so after 10 years…and watching 2018 be the worst I had ever seen parent behavior, I couldn’t sit back and stay silent any longer.

 I’ll share one story with you from three years ago..

 A father, whose son played at a Division II school, went on & on about how his son’s coach was awful and was ruining his son as a player. The son, in fact, had a very good relationship with the coach and the coach, well he happened to be one of the best in the state..but that’s not going to come into play in this story.

 The father had come to me at halftime of the game to tell me how terrible the coach was and that he didn’t know what he was doing.

 After the father could plainly see we had very different opinions on the matter he turned to a work associate who recognized him at the game and wanted to say hello. While they were talking the father continued bashing his son’s coach and then said these exact words, “ Yeah my son loved basketball as soon as he grew in 5th grade…I never played the game myself, I was a baseball and football player but he loved it so I bought him a basketball hoop  for the driveway.”

 So the father never played organized basketball in his life,,, but knows more than the coach who has been in the game for over 15 years.

 Again, how did we get here?

 More and more often I see parents no longer sitting together as a group but sitting individually. Keeping track of their son’s statistics and how many shots they get compared to other people’s son. The concepts of teamwork, commitment, sacrifice, and selflessness seem to be given less & less importance. It’s me over we.

 I can tell you that in the hundreds and hundreds of games I’ve covered over 10 seasons I have never once left a game and said ‘ Man, why didn’t the coach use that player more?’

 Not once.

 You see there are things going on in the game not even you or I can see. We don’t notice when a coach changes defenses and four kids follow while one kid forgets or didn’t listen and an easy basket is given up because of it. We don’t see the missed assignments or maybe the lack of effort in practices or an attitude on the bench that could affect the rest of the team.

 How could we? That’s not our job, it’s their job.

 Let them do their job.

 You see in football, soccer and baseball there are between 9 to 11 players out on the field at a time. In soccer, you sub in three or four kids, meaning 14 will see meaningful minutes. In baseball, it’s easy to slide a player into right field or an infield spot so maybe 14 or 15 players see the field when pitching changes are taking place. In football, you could see 30 plus players on the field.

 In basketball, the rules call for only 5 players on the floor at a time, and if you are playing a competitive game you might only play 7 players. If you’re a good backup point guard where the starter happens to be one of your best players, you might only play 5 or 6 minutes a night. This is the reality of basketball.

 When the season ends every player has their opportunity to work out during the off-season, go for extra skill work or go to camps or a skills academy that really improve their game. They then have weeks of pick-up ball and two weeks before the season begins to show what they bring to the table to their coaches. That’s their opportunity and they either seize it or they don’t.

 We are a small state, the 42nd largest by population in the country. Justin McIsaac hit it on the head when he said during the tournament that we are really the perfect size for covering high school sports. Big enough where there are specific divisions and regions but small enough where you can track every school, and that’s what we do. It’s why New Hampshire basketball feels like our own community.

 These kids are great to cover, they’ve got 100 times the distractions  I had at their age and a lot of times it seems like their brain is floating 10 miles away but they are smart, funny and they love what they’re doing. They love their teammates and they get it….they’re why we love what we do.

 The coaches are another reason we love what we do. So when I hear about coaches who tell me after the awards banquet, not one parent thanked them or I see the behavior I see from some parents at games, it crushes my love for what we are all about here.

 We love these kids and the people who spend their lives helping them, often long after the player graduates from high school.

  It’s on you to be a part of the best these players & coaches have to offer and if you can’t handle that or have the ability to keep quiet find the darkest corner of the gym and watch from over there.

 Because we’re not doing this for you, we’re doing it for them.


 This and that plus man buns & dinosaurs………..

 We kicked off the Great Bay seacoast tournament Wednesday night as The Lakes Region Crew, NHsportspage & The Fighting McIsaacs won Round 1 games in the double-elimination tournament. Games resume next Wednesday and Friday at the Connie Bean Center in Portsmouth and I highly recommend you coming to watch. We had a very good crowd for night one and to watch kids from Pittsfield & Kearsarge, Bedford & Portsmouth and Dover & Spaulding competing together is pretty fun to watch………..Next Wednesday night at 6 pm: The River Bandits vs Patriot Scaffolding, 7 pm: The Fighting McIsaacs vs Manchester and 8 pm: NHsportspage vs The Lakes Region Crew…just $2 for all three games and the money goes towards paying for the officials and facilities…I can assure you none of it goes to McIsaac’s Connecticut School of Broadcasting student loans..…..After ten seasons I was asked who the best teams were in each division over the last decade…the champions that stood out over the rest….in Division I it would be the 2017 Portsmouth team (Glynn, Graham, Peete, Parham), the 2014 Manchester Central team (The Martin brothers, Brett Hanson, Tyler Kelly, Dawson Dickson) and the 2011 Bishop Guertin team (Sean McClung & Connor Green)………..Division II:  the 2012 Portsmouth team (Kamahl Walker & Billy Lane), 2014 Pembroke team (Pat Welch, Dom Timbas, Jordan Williams), 2011 Milford team (back to back w/ Mike O’Loughlin, Mike Mitchell & Jamison Holder), the 2009 Portsmouth team..who I might take in a one-game playoff over the rest ( John Mulvey, George Tsougranis, Mike Fransoso and Zach Abrams)……….Division III: 2015 Pelham (Keith Brown, Ryan Cloutier and Dylan Silvestri..hands down the best Division III team I’ve ever seen),  Division IV: 2008 Colebrook team (as deep a team as I’ve seen with Ryan Call & Reno Gilbert), 2009 Moultonborough (Kevin Eisenberg & Drew Forsberg) and 2014 Epping (Jimmy Stanley, My Man Colby Wilson and Brett Couture…Division IV was loaded that year)…… does a kid show up as a Dinosaur for Dover’s semifinal upset of Exeter and NOT come to the finals??? Did this kid suffer from heat exhaustion in there? Was it actually a real Dinosaur and it’s DNA is being harvested?? Did the Dinosaur see someone who looked like Chris Pratt and get scared off? What happened to the Dinosaur???!!!.......Game on the line and we need a three-pointer to tie in the final minute I’ll go with Bryton Early of Somersworth…I’d also have confidence in Cody Morissette of Exeter, Jake Sherman of Pembroke or Cody Graham of Portsmouth taking that shot………..The Division IV final feels like a Saturday noon game and not a Friday night event. Scheduling conflicts moved the Newmarket-Pittsfield title game back to noon and I’d like to see it permanently changed back………Your WAY too early favorites for 2019; Division I: Exeter, Spaulding, Salem & Manchester Central……….Division II: Pembroke Academy, Oyster River, Pelham & Lebanon…..Division III: Campbell, Conant, Mascenic Regional & White Mountains……..Division IV:  Littleton, Newmarket, Epping & Derryfield (those four will be in it for the next four years…)……………..Every time a kid is lying directly under the basket being called for a charge I swear at Mike Krzyzewski under my breath………….. The John Zavala All-Glue Guy team (you can’t win without glue guys..) Bob Horgan of Timberlane (Team Captain), Nick Mokas of Bedford, Calvin Hewitt of Portsmouth, Scott VanCoughnett of Hollis-Brookline, Logan Bell of Gilford, Caleb LaClair of Merrimack Valley, Lance Legere of Gorham, Michael Moore of Berlin and Matty Friggin Doyle of Winnacunnet…………Why there was a podcast dedicated to the disappearance of Richard Simmons but not one to the sudden demise of Reggy (from Milford) is deeply troubling………….Arie Breakfield of Spaulding and Joe Morrell of Oyster River…along with Rob Gray of Houston..are leading a man bun revolution…you can love it…you can hate it….but you cannot ignore it……..Our Coaches for a Cause Jamboree teams will be announced this summer but count on some new teams and a few favorites returning….teams like Spaulding, Pembroke Academy, Conant and Oyster River………..The best team interviews (and this was an all-time year for interviews…the kids are past good and getting great at this…..: Oyster River (hands down one of the greatest post-gamers ever), Dover, Berlin, GILFORD!!, Monadnock (the Twitter video directed at us after the Hopkinton upset makes the Huskies one of our favorites for years to come…) and obviously..Social Media Giant Timberlane,…………..the post-game interviews with the entire team are starting become part of what these teams are known by and we couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been said before, on the radio show and even in the close of our Great Football Games special, but we never take for granted the access these players & coaches allow us. I can speak for Jen, Justin, Pete & Jon in saying it is one of our favorite parts of the work we do.


 People to thank………………. First of all, I want to give a very sincere thank you to all of the parents, coaches & players that registered with NHsportspage (and those who soon will…). We love what we do and we can only do it with our readers letting us know they are willing to support all the content we provide with a simple one-time registration. On behalf of Pete, Jennifer, Jon, Justin & Eliot….thank you so much……….Thank you to the coaches who went above & beyond anytime we came out to cover a game; whether it was lining up a sponsor to pay for the trip or encouraging the parents to support the website they read every week…people like Jay Darrah & the entire Darrah family of Pittsfield (the greatest hosts in the world…), Jim Hill (Monadnock), Mike Rathegeber (Inter-Lakes), Jim Cilley (Belmont), Jamie Walker (Woodsville), Jeff Baumann (Timberlane), Nick Fiset (Epping), Dave Morissette, Michelle Meader & Don Picard from Berlin (Berlin was awesome to us all year long), Tom Cadieux of Exeter, The Nelsons from Gilford, Amy Waterhouse from Winnacunnet, Amy Austin from Littleton, Mike Curtis (White Mountains), Kevin Rines from Mascenic …..people still consider us some local ESPN level corporation but in reality we are doing all this after hours and away from our families…these Gold Level Members are people you should be thanking if you read this site every week.

 Our Gold Level/Premium Members & Supporters

 I want to mention that in additional to her work as a videographer and producing our two ‘Greatest Games Specials’ and videos like ‘Championship Saturday’ Jennifer Chick-Ruth worked tirelessly to build our Girls Basketball Coverage…we do not have the support or money to bring on more people so Jen took this all on herself and did an amazing job in trying to give the girls the coverage they deserve. Every person who supports us adds to our coverage and when you register it is for 365 days from the day you come on board.

 Thank you to the work of our amazing team of Jen Chick-Ruth, Pete Tarrier, The Great Jon Kesty, Justin McIsaac and the behind the scenes but indispensable Eliot Bless. Thank you as well to Devin Poslusny and Drew Ingoldsby for coming out of the bullpen and getting us to ’20 games in 21 days’.


 One more column to go as next week we will have our final Top 15 Power Index Poll with a breakdown of each team and how they are looking heading into next season.

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