BILL LEE sits at his desk at Brewster Academy. Directly above his head is the photo of the championship moment for the Kingswood football team in 1996. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 03, 2013WOLFEBORO — If every picture tells a story, the wall behind Bill Lee's desk in his office at Brewster Academy has a lot of tales to tell.
There's a photo from the first lacrosse team at Kingswood, a program Lee started during his time there. There's a photo of Brewster lacrosse alumni posing with their coach at an event. There's a huge photo of the moment the Kingswood football team won the state championship in 1996. There's even a picture with the Brewster mascot.
As it turns out, 20 years of coaching in a community can result in a lot of stories. And a lot of pictures.
Lee, who has spent the last 20 years toiling on the sidelines of both Kingswood Regional High School and Brewster Academy, will be taking his coaching prowess to southern New England at the end of the summer, as he looks to make his mark at Loomis Chaffee, a boarding school in Windsor, Conn., just outside Hartford.
"It's definitely going to be very different from Wolfeboro," Lee said. "But it's time for a change."
Lee realized it might be time to start looking for something different, so he put a few feelers out there to fellow lacrosse coaches and in March he was contacted about the Loomis Chaffee job.
"I went down and interviewed and it went really well," Lee said.
So, in August, Lee will be taking leave of the community he has called home for two decades.
Lee got his start in the Wolfeboro community at Kingswood, where he coached football from 1994 to 1999 and he will always recall a pair of moments from that time.
The first came in 1994, when the Knights beat Carroll County rival Kennett for the first time in nine years. The second moment is emblazoned on his wall in a photo taken by Dave Wentworth, then of the Granite State News. It shows Allie Skelley emerging from a scrum, football in hand, his arms raised as his teammates rush to him. The recollection is quick for Lee.
The title game that year was against Plymouth and the Knights led 20-14, but the Bobcats were driving. They had the ball inside the 10-yard line and were ready to score when Skelley recovered the fumble on the six-yard line with 30 seconds to go.
Lee also started the lacrosse program at Kingswood in 1997 and coached that for a year, before handing the reigns to his assistant coach, Fred Garnsey, who in turn took over the head coaching job after the first year. The two were still together on the sidelines at Brewster this year.
"It was just a matter of time before lacrosse was started around here," Lee said, noting that the Abenaki youth program had been started just before the high school program.
As a coach, some of Lee's best memories come from the games that were a long time coming.
"The great moments are when you beat a team that has beaten you for a while," Lee said, pointing to Laconia and Plymouth as the big ones in his time at Kingswood.
At Brewster, that team was Holderness.
"They were the team to beat," Lee said. "But I think we're Holderness now."
The Bobcats won the Lakes Region Championship for the first time in 2005 and have been a dominant force in lacrosse in the prep school circles ever since.
Lee also carries fond memories of alumni games, something he looks at as a great opportunity for his teams.
"It's cool when the old meet the new," he said. "It's a great day, they exchange stories, it's always been a big event."
Lee has spent his non-coaching time in the college office at Brewster, helping kids decide their futures. At Kingswood, he was a teacher and prior to his job in the admissions office, he worked in academic support. His job at Loomis Chaffee will be a bit different, but again, it will be helping kids decide their futures.
Lee will be working in the admissions office at Loomis Chaffee.
"It's something new," he said. "I'm excited to learn something new."
He noted that the job would provide him a great chance to get out and meet potential players as well, but will also use some of the skills he gained recruiting lacrosse players to Brewster.
"I'm selling the school," he said. "And I have some of those skills that will make it a smooth transition."
Loomis Chaffee is part of the best prep school league in the country, with all the schools perennial lacrosse powers, making Lee's job a challenge he's ready to take on.
"There's no game off," he said. "It's exciting but it's somewhat pressuring."
Loomis Chaffee's longtime coach who built the program retired after 49 years at the helm and for the last five years, there's been a different coach. The team has struggled a bit the last few years.
"It's a bit easier to be the second guy," Lee said of the succession at Loomis Chaffee.
As for his current team, Lee is sure that the team he has left will be just fine. A new coach hasn't been chosen yet.
"We have a good group of players returning next year," he said. "So it should be a smooth transition for a new coach.
"I feel good not leaving the program with no players," he continued. "The cupboards are filled."
As for the town he is leaving behind, Lee is grateful for everything that has come his way in Wolfeboro.
"I have great memories of this town," he said, noting his two sons and two step-daughters have gone through the schools here.
"It's a great place for kids to grow up," he said. "I really appreciate the people. It's been a great place for my family.
"I'm grateful for where I've been the last 20 years," he added.
Lee will be at Brewster throughout the summer, helping with the summer school program, before departing for Loomis Chaffee in August.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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