For many coaches, sports are something that are a part of their lives since their youth. Many Keene State College Head Coaches began coaching to stay involved in something that has meant so much to them. However, they also do it to make sure student athletes are well-rounded individuals.
Keene State College Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Mark Theriault said athletics have been a huge part of what he has done during his lifetime. Theriault started ice hockey at the age of three and then picked up lacrosse. According to Theriault, coaching was something that he somewhat knew he wanted to do in high school. By college, he knew that was his calling. Theriault, during his fifth year of college, served as the Head Coach of Western New England’s University’s lacrosse team.
“I was pretty successful athletically. I just knew that this was something that I was really passionate about and really enjoyed. I just felt if I could do something that I loved my entire life and receive a paycheck for it, It would be a phenomenal thing,” Theriault said.
Keene State College Men’s Basketball Interim Head Coach Ryan Cain said, “Basketball has always been of a passion of mine.” Therefore he wanted to stay in the game by coaching. “My background as a player led me to want to stay involved in the game. That transitions into coaching so I picked that up. I graduated from college and once I got into it I knew it was a career I want to pursue,” Cain said.
Cain continued, “I decided to pass up an opportunity to play professionally overseas and start working as an engineer. At that point concurrently started my coaching career.”
Cain, at that point, was working as an engineer at Tata & Howard and an assistant coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Keene State Volleyball Head Coach Bob Weiner said he had always considered coaching.
“I had always kind of had it in my head. I always thought that I would be a high school baseball coach because I played baseball in college and I loved it,” Weiner said. However, Weiner also played volleyball for years. He said, “There was an opportunity and I took it, twenty-eight years later here we are,” Weiner said.
Weiner said he wanted to get into coaching because of his love of sports and his competitive nature. “When you are competitive and can no longer play you have to find an outlet,” Weiner said.
However, one coach at Keene State found coaching by accident. Keene State Softball Head Coach Carrah Fisk Hennessey said the best way to describe her career is “a happy accident.”
Fisk Hennessey came to Keene State as an elementary education major and sociology major.
“I had a teaching job lined up right out of school and the coach at the time Charlie [Beach] actually pointed me in the direction of New England College,” Fisk Hennessey said.
Fisk Hennessey continued, “They had a Head Women’s Soccer and Head Softball Coach opening and I could go there and get my masters basically for free.” Therefore she resigned from her teaching job. “I went up [there] and fell in love with coaching. I did that for nine years,” Fisk Hennessey said.
Each coach spoke of someone that they looked up to in the coaching ranks. Theriault talked about his college lacrosse coach Keith Bugbee at Springfield College. “I remember when I was in college I looked up to him and knew that what he was doing was a pretty cool way to make a living. I worked from part time here all the way to full time. I am in a very similar situation that he is over there,” Theriault said.
Cain said the easiest choice for him would be his college coach Chris Bartley at WPI. “I have immense respect for him as a person and coach. That is a guy that I definitely emulate. I am going to try to carry forward a lot of the same values and principles he has on and off the basketball court,” Cain said.
Fisk Hennessey looks up to a few different coaches.
“My parents not only were they my life coaches. My parents were also my youth sports coaches all the way through. John Perry was my high school basketball coach and he instilled the sense of fun. Which was great and Charlie Beach Keene State, I played for him [too],” Fisk Hennessey said.
Coaches have a number of things that drive them. One major thing is their competitive nature and getting the win. However, there is one other important factor. Coaches also want their student athletes to have the best experience.
“I have definitely evolved as a coach meaning just for wins and loses. I think most importantly for the experience of the kids. We work hard but at the same time we have fun. We do some pretty cool things. We take trips down to Florida. We do more than just lacrosse things. I think that is what my job is,” Theriault said.
The extra activities such as Florida trips, community service activities and team bonding activities help Theriault mold the athletes into well-rounded individuals. “It gives me an opportunity to try to mold these kids and make sure they are good citizens, but at the same time we have fun playing lacrosse,” Theriault said.
Fisk Hennessey said seeing her team get better in a number of ways drives her.
“Seeing teams work together on the field obviously winning games. But making sure we graduate well-rounded student athletes who are responsible and accountable and still love the game when they are done playing at this level,” Fisk Hennessey said.
Cain also echoes the statements from Theriault and Fisk Hennessey.
“I think the driving factor is helping the student athletes on and off the basketball court. Off the court it would be through academics then through hopefully transitioning them into their careers and [getting] jobs. Move on with their lives after school, that is why everyone is here,” Cain said.
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