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Castleberry Fairs

Alumni come together in support of Dutton


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Winnisquam soccer alumni will take to the pitch on Saturday, July 28 to honor current Belmont and former Winnisquam soccer coach Amy Dutton in an event being dubbed the AD Cup. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
July 23, 2012
TILTON – There's no denying the impact Amy Dutton has had on the Winnisquam area. The longtime soccer coach will get to see that firsthand on July 28.

Organizers, led by Winnisquam Regional High School alum and current Inter-Lakes High School boys' soccer coach Steve Welch, have created what they are calling the AD Cup, to be held on July 28 at 1 p.m. at the WRHS soccer field. The event will feature soccer alumni from Winnisquam playing in what will be a fitting tribute to Dutton, the former Winnisquam boys' coach who is battling cancer. She currently coaches the Belmont High School girls' soccer team after a decade leading the Winnisquam program.

"The underlying idea is to bring all her former players back to lift her spirits," began Welch, who played for Dutton and graduated in 2004. "And the players will also be donating proceeds to her as well. She has been an excellent teacher and coach for the district and coached boys' soccer for over 10 years before moving onto Belmont. I have invited over a decades worth of players to come back and play in the match and there will be current and former staff members, students and community members also there to support Amy."

Welch and his fellow Winnisquam alumni certainly haven't forgotten what Dutton meant to them both on and off the field, and the contingent was quick to seek out ways in which they could support her after the diagnosis.

"A few of us guys from the old team got together and said, 'she's been a coach of the program for over 10 years," Welch explained. "We thought Amy's been so well known as a soccer coach and there are a lot of us who have appreciated what she's done for us. Let's hold this event for her. We're going to raise money but the idea isn't to make it a charity game or anything like that. We just want to put a smile on her face."

Welch has known Dutton since she began her coaching career at Winnisquam, and he's enjoyed watching her patrol the fields of the Lakes Region ever since.

"She had such a big impact on our lives growing up," he said. "A lot of people are going to come back that haven't been around as much in several years. I went through all the yearbooks to try and track down as many guys as possible. Players are coming from all over New England – someone who played with me is coming back all the way from Maryland. When it comes to her, I think anyone would do anything they could to help her out. She just wants to do everything for us, we want to return the favor. I've had a lot of coaches over the years, but never any like her."

Welch found that even older alumni who didn't get to experience Dutton as a coach have reached out to show their support, and the communities – Belmont included – have rallied behind her. In just one year of coaching at BHS, Dutton led the Lady Raiders to a Division III quarterfinal appearance, gaining a legion of fans and supporters in the process as her infectious energy and enthusiasm stood out immediately.

"The biggest thing I've picked up from the Belmont girls is they want to be competitive, want to be pushed and be successful," said Welch. "Amy going there is kind of a match made in heaven. It's a really good fit. I think she doesn't want to let off the gas. Her going over there, I know it was difficult after all the years at Winnisquam. But in a coaching sense, I think it was the correct choice."

Welch hopes to organize teams with odd graduation years against even graduation years, though he's quick to point out the ultimate goal for the afternoon on the pitch.

"It's not an alumni game. It's us hosting a game for Amy and just getting a chance to show her how much we care and are there for her," he explained.

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