11-17 Craig Kozens NHS

Craig Kozens, during his tenure as football coach for New Hampton School. Kozens was recently inducted into the NHS Hall of Fame. (Courtesy photo)

New England Cross Country Championships:

The 84th Annual New England Interscholastic Cross Country Championship was held at Derryfield Park in Manchester Saturday. Alice Riley from Belmont finished 79th with a time of 20:31.7 while Maya Weil-Cooley from Inter-Lakes finished 105th with a time of 20:48.7. This was an excellent showing as there were 261 girls running from all 6 New England states. The top New Hampshire runner was Sophia Reynolds from Merrimack Valley who came in 2nd behind the top runner, Kate Wiser from Pomperaug, Connecticut.

Gilford Field Hockey:

Recently we spoke with Gilford Field Hockey coach Dave Rojacki following the 2018 season. The growth of the 11-5 Eagles continued into the post season and he spoke about his players and their accomplishments. “Sophomore Taryn Fountain was named second team All State for her transition play and passing. Brianna Salanitro's 22 goals ranked her 5th in the state and was named first team All-State along with teammate Randi Byars who continues to be one of the best defenders in New England.” The Golden Eagles' growth has also been recognized in the classroom as nine players have been named NCAA Academic All Americans with a GPA of at least 3.5 or better. “Seniors Nicole Berube and Brianna Salanitro were accompanied by juniors Randi Byars, Laurel Gingrich, Sydni Lehr, Natalie Fraser, Jenna DeLucca, Kolbi Plante and Taylor Hurst.” He also spoke about the younger players coming up. “The program growth was also reflected in the Gilford Middle School program where the future Eagles finished an undefeated regular season with a tournament championship at Winnisquam over Rudlett Junior High.” The future is bright for this program.

New Hampton School Hall of Fame:

“Good people first good players second.” That is the motto that has guided Craig Kozens in his coaching career. For the past 17 years at Laconia every kid has that ingrained into them. It may be hard to believe that Craig had a career in coaching outside of Laconia. This past Saturday, Kozens was inducted into the New Hampton School Athletic Hall of Fame. Craig spent nine years as a teacher and coach at New Hampton School, teaching math and coaching football and baseball. During his tenure at New Hampton his baseball teams collected 100 wins and eight Lakes Region Championships. As head coach of the football team, his teams earned 125 wins and two New England Championships. According to the official press release: “Craig made an immediate impact across campus. However, it was on the football and baseball fields that Craig had his greatest impact. His athletes knew that he was not just a coach but a man who would lead them to a higher step and a higher step he did. His record speaks for itself. Above all, Craig and his athletes adhered to his motto.” In my time with Craig, covering the Sachems, he has always been accessible and generous with his time. He’s been open, honest and passionate. He’s made sure our broadcast team is all set whether at Fitzgerald field or on the road. I think he likes us despite playfully referring to us Moe, Larry and Curly. He also is someone that is ultra-passionate about the game but mostly about his kids. He’s very protective yet very demanding of them. He pushes them on the field and in life. After the first game this past year I reported on the radio and wrote a critical report about the kids’ behavior and performance on the field. He was not happy with me and let me know about it. Good news is he was able to get the kids to turn things around and had a successful season after that. He is an expert in moving boys to men. Teaching life lessons without the kids knowing it. During his induction speech he spoke about his kids. “I remember the successes of our teams but most importantly I remember the unique cast of characters and great times we had together. The relationships formed and conversations had with students and players were some of the best times of my life.” He went on to talk about the coaches he worked with. “My coaches were all passionate about sports and most importantly our athletes. A wise old coach once told me that you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I was surrounded by some really great people.” He’s also one of the most revered and experienced coaches in the state. Talk to anyone in high school athletics. He’s soft-spoken, humble and someone that puts the spotlight on his players and not himself. In true Kozens fashion he closed his speech by addressing the student body with some guidance. “First thing, good things happen to good people so always be a good person. Second, network. Take the time and the risk to meet others and listen. Third, surround yourself with good people and you will succeed. Fourth, find a profession that you love. And finally you have a great opportunity to get a great education. Take full advantage of that.” He’s fully deserving of this honor and the one that will surely come many years down the road when inducted into the LHS Hall. So, how do you describe Coach Kozens? That’s easy. He’s a great person first and a great coach second. Congratulations Craig.

Belmont High School Basketball:

On Wednesday, November 21, at 6 p.m., legends from Belmont High School past will gather to play in the inaugural Red and White Game at Belmont High School. A group of distinguished alumni, such as Trevor Hunt, Christian Harrison, Richy and Pedro Perez, Doug Price and Jonny Leclair, will return to the hardwood to play against the current varsity team. Admission will be $2 for current students and $3 for adults. Proceeds will go to the boys basketball program. It should be a great and exciting night of basketball. Refreshments will be available for sale and a 50-50 raffle at half time will be draw. Question is, will current head coach and Red Raider legend Jim Cilley suit up and show his current team a thing or two?

NE Wolves Hockey:

The Wolves organization was honored with the Volunteer Program Champion Award by the Spirit of New Hampshire Awards. The award event was held at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord on Tuesday night. Tim Kunes and Andrew Trimble accepted the award for exemplary contributions to volunteerism and to the betterment of life in New Hampshire. Trimble was humbled. “We are very appreciative to receive such an honor, and thank the committee for recognizing us. Giving back and paying forward is part of our program's culture here in Laconia. Receiving such an award, and standing with people who are serving in dangerous rescue zones, or with patients in hospice is truly humbling.” In 2017-18 the Wolves dedicated more than 1,000 man hours to projects in the Lakes Region, including Pumpkin Fest, United Way Day of Caring, the Pond Hockey Classic, The Max Toy Drive benefiting Boston Children’s Hospital and much more. Additionally, they held benefit games for the NH Humane Society, Maria Mayne and the 3rd Annual JBT Benefit Game which to date has raised almost $50,000 for The Cure Starts Now Foundation.

Hear Keith Murray’s Local Sports Updates everyday on 101.5 WEEI Sports Radio. Reach Keith by email: Sports@1015WEEI.com

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