Laconia's Bob Ewell retired from coaching after a 40-year career teaching both genders at high schools & colleges
LACONIA — Best known locally for mentoring the defensive 11 of the Laconia High School Sachems for the last 11 years, Bob Ewell's coaching career stretched over four decades, seven schools and colleges, three sports and two genders before he decided to retire and hang up his whistle last year.
"Bob's an exceptional teacher," said Craig Kozens, the athletic director at Laconia High School who has coached with Ewell for the past 20 years, "and that's the difference between good coaches and great coaches."
A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Ewell attended St. Paul's School in Concord, where by his own admission more of his energy was spent on the playing field and skating rink than in the classroom. "I loved sports," he said. He played football, hockey and lacrosse. He recalled traveling to Baltimore, then the hub of lacrosse, to choose his sticks, fashioned by hand of wood, gut and leather by Native Americans, from the voluminous stock at Bacharach Raisin, which equipped players every spring.
Sports was not all Ewell played at St. Paul's. Weeks before graduation, he was expelled. "I spent three weeks at Brookline High School and graduated," he said. "But, my classmates petitioned and 35 years later I got my diploma from St. Paul's."
Ewell played all three sports at Colby College, where he began as a business major, earned his degree in art and became a science teacher and football coach at Lawrence High School in Fairfield, Maine, just five miles from Colby in Waterville.
At that time lacrosse was a club sport at Colby. Ewell joined the coaching staff as a volunteer and in 1974, when lacrosse became a varsity sport, became the head coach as a 23 year old. In two seasons, he compiled a record of 16 wins and 15 losses.
After two years, Ewell left Colby for Kennett High School in Conway, NH, where he coached the football team and taught social studies only to return to Waterville two years later as the head coach of the men's lacrosse team and the women's ice hockey team while assisting with the football program.
"I became a much better coach for coaching women," he said. "With men hockey players you have to swear and yell at them because that's the culture they're raised in," he explained. "But, swearing and yelling at women does not get good results. I mellowed a lot and adjusted my style." Ever since, he said that he has tried to push his players to do their best while remembering "if it's not fun, don't do it."
Kozens said that Ewell told him of giving his women a "win one for the Gipper speech" before a game that brought his players to tears and left him wondering "what do I do now?"
Altogether Ewell coached for more than a decade at his alma mater before leaving in 1985 to head the women's hockey program and assist with the lacrosse program at Princeton University. Ewell's teams at Colby and Princeton post 129 wins, suffered 110 losses and played to 10 ties, a record that placed him among the 20 winningest women's hockey coaches in the country. He said that unlike men's hockey, which he characterized as physical and intimidating, the women's game features skillful skating, sharing the puck and accurate shooting to make for a more attractive sport.
Ewell traces his commitment to community service to his time at Princeton. He said that a woman on the team told him "we're the most privileged kids around and we should be doing something for others," which led him and his players to spend time teaching young girls from Harlem to skate. "Those kids became the best cheering section in college hockey," he declared. "It was the best thing we did for ourselves and the team."
On the lacrosse field he first assisted Jerry Schmidt, a three-time All-American at Johns Hopkins and the only lacrosse player to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and then Bill Tierney, the Hall of Fame coach who led Princeton to six national championships in nine years. From Tierney, Ewell said he developed an understanding and appreciation of the defensive aspect of lacrosse that has informed his approach to all sports since.
"Tierney changed lacrosse from games of 15 to 13 to 9 to 8 and 8 to 7," Ewell said. "Offensive players follow set plays and patterns, but defensive players have to react to what is coming at them," he continued. "It's more challenging to teach and design defenses."
Ewell left Princeton in 1991 to coach football, lacrosse and women's hockey at New Hampton School. "It was hard to leave Princeton," he said, explaining that he and his wife Marg wanted to return to their roots and family in New England. He coached the hockey team to back-to-back New England Championships while on the gridiron he formed the friendship and partnership with Kozens. After Ewell coached football and lacrosse at Plymouth State University for two years then staged more than 100 weddings in three years as the events manager at Mill Falls Marketplace, he joined Kozens on the sideline at Laconia High School.
As defensive coordinator Ewell coached to the adage "if they can't score, they can't win," which became the Sachem's hallmark. Kozens said that "lots of coaches can do the Xs and Os, but only the best can convey it to the kids. Bob can teach why to do the drills, how to run the drills and how to apply the drills," he went on, "on the board, on film and on the field." Ewell, he described as "a true tactician who could adjust on the fly. When game day came ," he said, "I'm worrying about offense."
Ewell said that his proudest moment came in a semi-final playoff game in 2007. Hanover had the ball six inches from the goal line with time running out and needing to score. "Our kids got into the backfield and stopped the play for a loss," he said. "It won the game. It was just a terrific effort."
Ewell's passion for sport proved infectious. His son Nate was the sports editor of the campus paper at Princeton, director of communications for the Washington Capitals and in January became deputy executive director of College Hockey, Inc. After playing hockey at New Hampton School, his daughter Emily coached the girl's team at Tilton School, where her father served as her assistant. "It was one of the most wonderful things I did in my life," he said.
Off the field and rink Ewell worked closely with students, as a college admissions counselor at New Hampton School and a career counselor at LHS, and currently works with the three dozen high school students enrolled in the Youth Leadership Program of the Lakes Region Rotary Clubs . "I really enjoy working with kids," he said.
This year will be the first for many not to find Ewell stalking along the sidelines or standing behind the boards. He said that he and his wife have a home in Mexico where they intend to spend part of the year. And when football season opens? "I'll be around," he remarked, "probably up in the booth."
Last Updated on Saturday, 05 April 2014 12:18
GILFORD — Foot traffic outside the gymnasium at the end of the high school school day is hectic at best, but the one place students seem to ignore is the Dasani water vending machine.
Instead, and thanks to the fund-raising efforts of the Varsity Club, students make beelines for the water-bottle filling machine that since its installation of few months ago has filled 1,592 — and counting — bottles of water.
The GHS Varsity Club has a rich tradition of raising money for sports-related equipment. In the past, the club raised money and funded the public announcement system and bought the scoring table for the gymnasium, purchases some padded chairs, some playground equipment and some items in the weight room.
Most notably, the Varsity Club buys the uniform for the Golden Eagle school mascot, who attends most sporting events.
This year, the four seniors who run the Varsity Club decided to raise money for a water-bottle station — a $1,500 item that is working its way into prepared school administration budgets but one that administrators won't have to worry about at Gilford High School.
The club raised the money at the Homecoming Dance, the Winter Carnival, and selling hotdogs at the December Craft Fair.
Club President Kelsey Buckley and Vice-President Mikaela Mattice said yesterday that they had seen them in other schools and in airports and thought it would be a great way for students to save money on water and to slow down the purchase of plastic bottles which are rapidly becoming an environmental concern.
"I'm surprised at how popular it's become," said Mattice, noting that students will walk half-way around school just to fill their water bottles.
The water bottle cooler is located where the former "old-style" water fountain was and the plumbing was already in place, meaning all the students had to do was pay for the machine and the installation.
Both girls noted that nobody ever used the old water fountain but the water bottle filling station is one of the busiest spots in school now.
CAPTION: Varsity Club President Kelsey Buckley and Vice-President Mikaela Mattice fill their water bottles at the water-bottle cooler paid for through this year's fund-raising efforts. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)
Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 12:57
LACONIA —Partnering with Got Lunch! Laconia, Irwin Marine has donated a 2014 Sea-Doo Spark 3up (3 seater) personal watercraft to be used a summer raffle prize to benefit the pioneering non-profit organization. The Sea-Doo features a new, innovative breaking system and the prize includes a singe trailer.
Got Lunch! Laconia is the program that proves summer meal makings to the families of children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches at school during the school year. The program served 570 Laconia children in 2013 and expects to help feed more than 600 this summer. More than 200 volunteers were involved in the effort.
"Irwin Marine's generous donation of this exciting, state of the art Sea-Doo will certainly provide great fun for the lucky Got Lunch!, Laconia Sea-Doo raffle winner," said Rev. Paula Gile of the Congregational Church of Laconia, UCC, "but more importantly provide funds that enable us to provide much needed healthy lunches to Laconia's school children during the summer. Thank you Bill Irwin and your team for your commitment to feeding the children of Laconia."
Gile said raffle tickets be priced at $10 each (three for $20) and will go on sale in May and the drawing will be held on August 4.
"Got Lunch! Laconia appreciates Irwin Marine's support and participation in this worthwhile and important community effort," added Gile. "Stay tuned for your opportunity to have fun on the water and support Got Lunch! Laconia by purchasing a raffle ticket for this awesome Sea-Doo!"
Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 12:49
CENTER HARBOR — A single family home is at least temporarily uninhabitable after an early morning fire gutted a bedroom built on to the back of it.
Fire Chief Leon Manville said the department responded to 311 Daniel Webster Highway at 3:09 a.m. and found the addition to the house engulfed in flames.
He said all three adults who were in the home at the time were outside of the building. Manville said one of the adults was woken by a working smoke alarm.
He said first responders called for a first alarm and began an aggressive interior attack, successfully stopping the fire from spreading to the rest of the home.
Manville said he it appears the fire started underneath the bedroom which was an addition built on posts with no foundation. He said there was a wood stove in the bedroom however he doesn't think that was the origin of the fire.
"At this point in time I believe this is an accidental fire," he said.
Manville said the first alarm brought firefighters from Meredith, Moultonborough, Holderness, Ashland, New Hampton, and Laconia. Firefighters from Sandwich covered the Center Harbor station.
He said the Red Cross is assisting the displaced family.
Manville said the smoke detector likely saved the lives of those in the house and encourages all Center Harbor residents who have question about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to call the Center Harbor Fire Department.
CAPTION for CENTER HARBOR DANIEL WEBSTER FIRE in AA:
Firefighters believe the fire that burned at 311 Daniel Webster Highway in Center Harbor yesterday morning started underneath the addition on the rear of the home. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)
Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 12:39
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