Queen City pride
John Habib's City Sports: City passion impresses new AD
Manchester's new athletics director, Chris Donovan, keeps a close eye on West's football game against Bedford at West High School in Manchester on Friday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
"I've met many people who have lived in the city all their lives, and they love their high school teams," said Donovan. "I realize I'm an outsider, and I can't do anything to change that fact. Right now I'm just trying to integrate myself into the city, reaching out and talking to people who know the history of sports in Manchester."
"Westport is a community of 25,000 people with one high school and two middle schools," said Donovan. "Now I'm dealing with three high schools, four middle schools and close to 6,000 kids, compared to just 600 in Westport. It's like night and day."
Donovan has reached out to the school principals in the city and met with NHIAA Executive Director Pat Corbin.
"Second to none," he said of Gill, which just celebrated its centennial. "I mean, how many communities have a place to play ball like Gill Stadium? It's a special place, and I got to know something about it when I attended the 100th birthday celebration."
"I coached football, and I made sure I was dedicated and committed to the kids I was coaching," Donovan said. "I expect that from all my coaches. I want commitment, and I want them to get the best out of each kid on the field and in the classroom. I've already been to many games this fall, and I've been impressed with what I've seen from our coaches so far."
Perez is one of 10 USA Football coaches cited by Courtyard by Marriott and USA Football — the national sanctioning body with which the Cobras are affiliated — for inspiring youths in their communities.
"C.J. Perez is known for being more than just a youth football coach," said Gini Gladstone, vice president of Courtyard Brand Marketing. "He's being honored for inspiring greatness in his team of at-risk youth football players who are between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. For some of the kids, C.J. is a teacher, mentor and even a father figure. His commitment to the future of football and his community hasn't gone unnoticed."
"I was an inner-city kid, and football saved my life," he said.
"The league, the kids, our organization and volunteers are totally committed to make the Cobras the best program it can be," he said. "For myself, I don't do this for awards and accolades. I'm just trying to provide kids something which was never provided for me as a kid. To me, this award is for everyone connected to our program, and I plan on sharing it with them."