Monday, December 9, 2013

Riddle earns coach of the year as team earns sportsmanship banner - By Jim Beers

The Windham Eagle (TWE): What does the honor of Coach of the Year mean to your school? 

Jeff Riddle: This year our boy’s team earned an important blue banner that now hangs in our main gym. It's not a first place championship banner, we work towards that every year, but is the coveted Sportsmanship Award Banner. This honor was so appreciated by all of us at Windham High School and particularly by Rich Drummond, our athletic director, and myself, as it represents years of work in designing, living, and sustaining a culture that is Windham cross country. Simply put, sportsmanship banners and cross country "coach of the year" awards help our school and the program as it gives public validity to our sport, a team sport that is often misunderstood by those that don't partake. A sport that requires athletes to learn and implement discipline in their lives. A sport that strengthens the heart and takes heart to do, a sport that teaches composure when under stress. And, a sport that unites its members in powerful ways.

TWE: What does this award mean to you? 

Riddle: As I reflect on the positive change around the reputation of running sports in the halls of Windham High School, and the increased participation, from when I started working at WHS in 1999 to today, I am excited to have been a part of the team of coaches that helped that process, as participation in our lifelong sport literally changes lives.

TWE: What are your thoughts in regards to receiving the coach of the year award?

Riddle: One may look at this honor as being given to an individual, I look at it as a recognition for the entire program, from the efforts and time given by coaches and cross country athletes at the Raymond and Windham middle schools to the coaches and student athletes, both past and present, here at Windham High School. It is the collective that responds to the way the program is to be run that then manifests itself in the form of awards, like our recently earned boy’s XC sportsmanship award, and our sustained regular and post season results. It happens because of dedicated student athletes that respond to the program, like Mackenzie Joy, Lauren Linevitch, Nate Skvorak, Julia Rand, Ben Breton, Sam Greenlaw, Steven Lailer, Jeremy Bennett, Joelle Bockus, McKenzie Pepin, John Bland, Reese Preston, Ali Wintle, Pat Laliberte, Sam Frost, and then the rest of the 53 on our roster. So when I look at the plaque that represents the award, I think of all of the kids that ran/run cross country for Windham and then in my mind I also thank the coaching staff and all of those that support XC.

: Any final thoughts?

Riddle: As I work to steer the ship that is Windham cross country I am humbled to receive this recognition from my peers, peers who have watched the program grow and sustain stellar individual and team results. Results that can't be overlooked, like having my full boys and girls teams earn a starting box to compete at the State championships, now for many years in a row. Sometimes we lose sight of just how amazing these results are because we didn't come in first place, but when I think back to my first six to eight years of coaching cross country I was excited when I was able to help a single or a few athletes earn the right to compete at the State championships. Now, it is expected that we represent Windham as full gender teams, an expectation that requires coaching to attain, coaching with all the details in mind, a coaching challenge that I cherish.

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