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Mr. Nice Guy

MA junior Duncan Richards is one to be counted on as his senior season fast approaches

MA junior Duncan Richards (right) talks with catcher Ryan Martel on the mound during the Panthers’ game against Inter-Lakes last month in Meredith. File Photo. (click for larger version)
June 20, 2011
MOULTONBORO – Duncan Richards has earned a distinct reputation at Moultonboro Academy. It's a good one too, don't worry. In fact, just about everyone he comes in contact with comes away with the same impression of the junior three-sport athlete.

"He represents all the good things about athletics," said MA baseball coach Todd Clifford of his third baseman. "Duncan is a great teammate, very helpful. Any time I'd try and walk off the field, he'd ask me two or three times, 'Is there anything I can help you with?' He's everything you want: a great student, good teammate, helpful, courteous."

For his part, Richards embraces that role of a responsible high school student/athlete. Being known as a nice guy isn't such a big thing these days.

"It's definitely important to me," Richards said of his role on the team. "I put myself in the coaches' shoes and try and understand what it would be like to keep track of a team of high school kids. Any way that you can help the coach, it's good because some of the stuff coaches have to deal with is pretty unbelievable."

That wise sentiment will hopefully aid in Richards' attempt to gain acceptance to the United State Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. After attending a summer camp there three weeks ago, he knows he's got a lot of work ahead of him in order to make that a reality.

"My dad was in the Navy and my grandfather was in the 10th Mountain Ski Division, so it kind of runs in the family," Richards explained. "I was kind of interested in it, but I didn't know if the military was gonna be my thing. But after going to the camp, I decided it was definitely something I wanted to try and do. It's a long process – you've gotta get a Congressional nomination, apply to the school, do all the paperwork – but it's definitely worth it. I'm looking forward to trying and hopefully getting in."

Clifford expects Richards to put in the effort needed to make that a reality.

"I've got a pretty good feeling he's gonna put in the work to be successful," the skipper said.

As for the more immediate future, Richards and company are still getting over a baseball season that saw the Panthers eliminated in the preliminary round by Portsmouth Christian Academy.

"We definitely had a bunch of games where we came out strong, but then something would lead to us coasting and that's where the trouble started," he admitted. "I felt we did really well hitting the ball this year, it was definitely a strongpoint."

A quiet kid by nature, Richards decided to try and change that tag this spring in the dugout.

"In hockey, I was ruled the silent leader," he said with a laugh. "So I kind of wanted to change that a little bit. So now I'm starting to get a little bit more vocal. During baseball season, I'd say I was just as vocal, if not more vocal, than the kids on the team. We'd all be standing up at the fence, cheering each other on. It's like the 10th man on the field, which is what everyone always aims for."

That increase in chatter hasn't affected Richards' skill as a teammate however, as he continues to enjoy the role of peacekeeper and stabilizing force in the MA lineup.

"I find it pretty easy," Richards said of getting along well with his squad. "I'm one of those people who doesn't like to have any enemies. So anybody I see that's giving each other a hard time, I just try and get them to lay off a little bit… not in a way that's going to make the situation worse for either side. The teammates we have here though, it's not very hard because we're like a family in all the sports we play."

Clifford says he even hears compliments about Richards on the bus to away games.

"Even on the bus rides, the softball coaches talk about what a great kid he is," the coach said. "Those are things you like to hear about as a coach."

Richards has high hopes for next season, as he expects his senior year to be exciting both on and off the field.

"Definitely looking forward to the last year of sports," he admitted. "I heard senior year is the best year of sports because it's the last year you're gonna get to play with all your friends and have fun with them. Junior year was fun, but at the same time, everyone makes a big scene about how hard it is. I didn't think it was too bad, but feeling that I'm past junior year and all the hype, I think senior year is going to be a good year."

AJ Coleman
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