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John Habib's City Sports: Little interest, no team for once-proud Jutras
A four-time state champion, Jutras had only seven players show up for tryouts this week, and any hope of picking up players cut by neighboring posts — including the two others in the Queen City, Sweeney Post 2 and Manchester Post 79 — went by the board when those teams had just enough players show up to put together a lineup with a few reserves.
Jutras Post had 16 players on its roster last season, Parents said, but six of those players no longer are age-eligible. Others from last year's team simply didn't return.
Those eligible to play for Jutras included residents of the Manchester High West school district and players cut by other teams. The drop in athletics participation at West — attributable mainly to the opening of a town high school in Bedford, which previously sent its secondary students to West — appears to have had an affect on Jutras Post, as well.
"That's all we can do: wait and see," he said. "We've already told the seven players who came to the tryouts that we're willing to sign the papers and release them to other teams. We're not going to deny those seven players of playing baseball just because we don't have enough players to field a team."Paul Lemire, athletics director of Sweeney Post, and Eddie Poisson, coach of Post 79, were saddened to hear the Jutras program will be idle this season.
"I graduated from West, coached football and girls' basketball there for over 20 years," he said. "It's a great school with so much tradition and pride. Making West strong makes the city strong again. Making West strong again means — and I'm not just talking about American Legion baseball — the (city) sports programs across the board become stronger."
TRINITY principal Denis Mailloux said this week that before hiring Chip Polak as the school's new athletics director, he asked about an investigation into alleged financial improprieties at Polak's former place of employment, Southern New Hampshire University, where Polak was athletics director for 27 years.
"Having Chip join our team is a big plus for us," Mailloux continued. "We look forward to the quality of leadership he will bring to the program. We're thrilled not only with his experience but with his standing in the community. We know that the Trinity athletics program is definitely an onward-and-upward matter and that Chip will bring a lot of fine qualities to the position."
THE MANCHESTER school board's Athletics Committee has posted the position of city athletics director as full-time, with a salary range of $69,530.39-$74,862.60. Current AD Dave Gosselin will step down from his part-time job, at an annual salary of $37,000, on June 30.
FOR THE 33rd straight summer, the New Hampshire All-Star Basketball School will be open to boys and girls ages 8-16 at SNHU. Men's basketball coach Stan Spirou and longtime assistant Jay Dufour will lead the instruction, with a staff familiar to followers of the local high school and college basketball scenes.
"We're not going to turn these young kids into great basketball players in a week or two," said Spirou. "Our goal at our school is for each kid to pick up one or two fundamental things and continue to improve upon them over a period of time."
"The biggest weakness I see, which we work on at our school, is the kids' ability to pass the ball," said Spirou. "The first day in camp, the first thing most kids do is go behind the (3-point) arc and fire up shots. Kids today love shooting the 3-point shot, but that's not the first thing we teach."
"Dribbling, passing and sharing the ball are essential to learn at a young age," he said. "If you can master those basics at an early age, your game will improve dramatically. I often have said that the greatest compliment you can give a player is to tell them they make the other players on the floor better. You do that by learning and mastering the basics."
"City Sports" is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.