Another new twist to the high school coaching world

It’s another highs school sports year, and as usual, nothing is more polarizing than coaching stories.

First up this fall is the Bishop Guertin girls lacrosse vacancy, stunningly created over the summer and filled this past weekend.

Out was highly successful mentor Kerry Gobiel; in is seemingly very qualified Leslie Why. Gobiel had won three state titles in five seasons; Why was the Cardinals’ JV coach but had back-to-back undefeated seasons.

If there was a move to be made, she certainly seems like the perfect fit. And she honestly said she didn’t expect any of this to take place and wasn’t looking for it to take place.

That’s the way it is in the coaching world at all levels; one coach’s loss is another one’s gain. We’ll never get any official explanation as to why Gobiel was not in Guertin’s plans for next spring, but we certainly get plenty of reasons as to why Why is.

Gobiel, we feel is a fantasitc coach. So, we think, were other Guertin coaching casualties of past years, such as Guertin football’s Travis Cote and then Jeff Moore, and boys basketball’s Jim Migneault.

We don’t like to see any of this, but it’s not our school. Same as at Nashua North or South. Gobiel should certainly coach again at the varsity high school level and we hope she does. She understandably wasn’t happy with the decision nor the school’s statement of it, feeling the whole portrayal of the unknown implies she did “something wrong when I did not.”

Look, only the people involved know the full reasons. The first suspected cause usually is parental complaints – playing time, etc. Something usually comes to a head. We’ll just go out on a limb without knowing specifics and guess that the BG administration had their way and Gobiel had hers and thus a split happened. A shame.

And you wonder why anyone would want to be a high school coach these days. First you think you have to win. Gobiel did that. So now what?

Her successor Why feels she has the answer.

“Absolutely, there’s always the pressure to win,” Why said. “But my philosophy is you can’t control outcomes, you can control your daily process. You focus on the culture from a program-wide prospective. … You’re going to have a great outcome if you have a great process.

“It (coaching) is not easy. I haven’t coached at the varsity level at a high school so I’m sure I’m going to get hit with stuff I wasn’t expecting and have to pivot.”

Her solution? Let everyone know what she’s about, how she’s going to do the job. Hey, if that’s not good enough, then the ball’s in the powers that be’s court.

“My philosphy is always get well ahead, get right out in front,” she said. “Get out in front, and stay out in front, in front of administration, parents, players. Be transparent, be vulnerable, be acknowledging of areas where you need support.”

She plans to sit down with other successful coaches at Guertin and brainstrom as to how they built their culture. “How do you win,” she said, “and create harmony in a team? It goes parents, and administration, there’s so much.”

She gets the task at hand. Guertin feels she is a good fit in today’s completely changing and almost impossible coaching world when often a coach isn’t allowed to coach the way they see fit. Or when they do, it costs them their job.

Why revealed BG principal Jason Strniste, who is a huge proponent of athletics, at a ton of events but in his administrative role certainly has his ideas of how teams should be run, shared with her a pamphlet on coaching and teaching by known education guru Dr. Tim Elmore.

“It’s about how to connect, enpower, engage this generation,” Why said. “Instead of telling them they’re wrong, and yellng and screaming, and being critical … You need to be a describer and engage them…

“This is all changing. This is such a socially insecure environment for these kids. Let’s give them an opportunity to build their confidence and succeed.”

And that, as any coach will tell you, is always easier said than done.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.