Alvirne principal takes over coaching girls soccer team

Staff photo by TOM KING Former Plymouth State standout Adrianna Kippenberger coached the Broncos girls varsity soccer team for about a week before abruptly stepping down.

Alvirne High School principal Steve Beals saw a group of Bronco girls soccer players completely despondent when they were told on Wednesday by their second coach in a week that she, too, was stepping down.

So he stepped in.

The former Bronco soccer player and boys soccer coach (1991-95) is now the Alvirne girls soccer coach for the foreseeable future. His first game is today at 4 p.m.at Nashua High School North.

“I think the role of a principal is to be a problem solver,” Beals said shortly after he ran his first practice on Thursday. “I saw a group of kids who were very emotional. … They deserve much more stability than we had been able to provide them.”

And there’s nothing more stable than having the person in charge of the school be in charge of their team. Beals is no stranger to coaching while working as the school’s principal; he’s stepped in to help out at the JV and varsity level with practices, etc.in the past. And the last two summers he’s been the manager for the Hudson Post 48 Jr. Legion baseball team.

While Beals is coaching the varsity, Alvirne athletic director Karen Bonney is handling the JV team. The Broncos are still looking for both a varsity and JV coach, Beals said, but he’s prepared to coach the entire season if necessary.

“If we find a suitable replacement, fine,” he said. “But I’m not going to leave this group of student athletes.”

That hints he’d probably help in the transition if there is a new coach. But the hiring process for anyone at this point would take time, as there would be the necessary background checks, school board approval, etc. So it’s highly possible Beals will be the coach for the season.

How did things get to this point? The Broncos had hired a varsity coach, recent Plymouth State grad and former Panther soccer player Adrianna Kippenberger, who had also accepted a teaching position at the school. But 10 days ago she resigned both positions, citing difficulties commuting from her home in Wilmington, Mass.

“She made the decision based on traveling a great distance and taking on two new jobs, and I think she felt a little overwhelmed,” Beals said.

The Broncos then elevated junior varsity coach Caroline Bonsaint, who had coached two seasons in the program but was also the school’s varsity indoor/outdoor girls track coach. But Bonsaint was also making a transition from teaching elementary school to now teaching in her first year at the high school, and according to Beals was also feeling a bit overhelmed.

Thus, she gathered the players together in a classroom on Wednesday after school – there was no practice due to the extreme heat – and told them she was stepping away from the program entirely.

“I respected her greatly for (telling the players directly),” Beals said of Bonsaint. “We asked her if she’d stay on as JV coach but she declined. She wanted to get a semester of teaching under her belt.” Beals said he hoped she would coach soccer again at some point and remain as track coach.

While these scenarios took place in just a couple of weeks, the varsity opening was first created last spring when then Broncos head coach Ryan Hanlon and the school parted ways. Beals said Hanlon left after “the normal evaluation the athletic director does with the coaches.”

It’s not as if Beals is taking over a struggling program. Alvirne went 8-5-3 in the regular season and lost just 1-0 to Pinkerton in the first round of the tournament last fall. Bronco senior forward Emily Lizotte is considered one of the top players in the state and is reportedly headed to Franklin Pierce University next fall.

“Are we a little behind? Sure,” Beals said, his voice a little hoarse from running his first practice. “They need to play some games. They need some stability.”

And now the Bronco girls certainly have it.