Friday, September 24, 2021

Windham JV girls’ soccer coach retires after 31 years

Former Windham JV girls' soccer coach Jeff Fish, left, stands 
with Windham varsity girls' soccer coach Deb Lebel and
current WHS girls' JV soccer coach Lisa Anderson during a
ceremony on Sept. 16 presenting Fish with a plaque honoring
his 31 years of coaching service to the Windham community.
By Matt Pascarella

Windham junior varsity girls’ coach Jeff Fish has coached several sports for over three decades in Windham. Everything from softball to soccer to track to basketball, Fish has literally done it all.

Most recently he has been the JV girls’ soccer coach and has been coaching soccer for over 20 years.

Fish was honored on Sept. 16 at Windham High School for his many years of dedication to Windham.

“Coach Fish is one of the best coaches I’ve had,” said senior and varsity player Tiana Salazar.

Salazar was coached by Fish for two years and said he was super supportive and pushed the team to be their best. He made sure they learned something in a fun way. Plus, they loved the no-bake cookies he made for every away game – for both teams.

“He really pushed on us teamwork; teamwork was a big part of his coaching,” said senior and varsity player Phea Tray. “He made sure each of his players got the opportunity to stand out and be noticed.”

For Fish, sports were a big part of his life. In high school, he played soccer, basketball and track.

Fish said he loves sports because when you’re playing or coaching you don’t think about anything else, you just think about what’s going on in the field.

He wanted to become a coach because when his daughters were little and playing in recreation leagues, no one wanted to coach, so Fish stepped up and coached his daughters.

Just some of the sports Fish has coached include Pee-Wee softball and Farm League up through Senior League softball, soccer with 5-year-olds up to the U-19 level, and sixth-grade track.

Fish coached JV basketball for 16 years. He’s coached JV softball, JV girls’ soccer and varsity girls’ soccer.

He loved coaching JV soccer the best. He said with JV soccer everybody got a chance to play, which doesn’t always happen at the varsity level.

Gorham, Scarborough and Windham had a nice JV rivalry going and those games were enjoyed by Coach Fish a lot.

In 2015, his JV team did not allow a single goal to be scored by their competitors in scheduled school games. From 2012-2019, he and his JV teams were undefeated in scheduled school games.

Fish credits these strong and skilled athletes to Windham Youth Soccer who prepares athletes very well to play at the high school level.

Coaching so many years for Windham had a great impact on him. “It made me rethink things,” said Fish. “Kids would get upset and I’d pull them aside and say this is just a game, enjoy it – have fun – it’s nothing to get mad at. [If] you make a mistake, no big deal.”

His goal for the athletes every season, no matter the sport, was to see improvement in his teams.

“He had great perspective,” said Windham varsity coach Deb Lebel. “I do feel like he really pushed this JV group and [Salazar and Tray] are very quiet individuals, but he made them better people and leaders. They’ve done a great job.”

Lebel referred to Fish as a coaching legend and always knew she could count on him during soccer season. Athletes talk about how much fun they had with Coach Fish. He kept it competitive while making it a lot of fun. Lebel said he demanded a lot from athletes in practices and she sees that carried over to the varsity level.

Now that Fish is no longer coaching, and is retired, he has more time to spend with his granddaughter as well as do outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.

Fish said it was a joy to coach for all those years. He would like to thank Windham High School for letting him coach. He also wanted to thank the parents and athletes for all the years at Windham High School. He said he was so lucky to have such great kids.

Windham would like to thank you, Coach Fish for all the hard work you put in and know that you will not be forgotten. <

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