Athol coach honored with state award

  • David St. Jean (center) accepts his WMass Indoor Coach of the Year Award along with Rick Kates (left, Chief Operating Officer) and Frank Mooney (Executive Director) of the MSTCA, Sunday in Randolph.  COURTESY/MSTCA

Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2019 1:16:53 PM
Modified: 6/14/2019 1:16:40 PM

The Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association named Athol track & field coach David St. Jean the WMass Indoor Coach of the Year at the 13th  Annual Awards Night in Randolph on Sunday.

Local coaches nominate the best candidates for the award and there was no shortage of candidates from other schools, according to Chief Operating Officer of the MSTCA, Rick Kates.

“For him to get selected was huge, he has done a great job,” Kates said. “Any candidate should be a fantastic role model for the team and the community, we make sure to recognize coaches who give back.”

The Athol indoor boys team won a share of the Valley South league championship during the winter. The Red Raiders finished 10-3 overall and 5-1 in the league. 

“David is a great coach with a great program,” Kates said. “He should be proud of what he has accomplished with that program.”

Working with a very small team, St. Jean extracted as much as he could from the winter season which began with 6 a.m. practices inside Athol High School during the preseason.

“There are a lot of good indoor coaches in Western Mass.,” St. Jean said. “A lot of them have achieved things I haven’t achieved. I’m proud of it because it’s more of a testament to keeping the program alive while at the same time having some success. ”

The Red Raiders have never had more than 40 athletes combined at once. 

“It’s a hard thing to do with our schedule,” St. Jean said. “With our population. Running both teams at once. Having middle school kids on the team as viable point getters.”

Having younger competitors mixed with older team members can be challenging.

“You are dealing with so many personalities across a wide range of activities,” St. Jean said. “The dirty work is  the psychological nature of it. Knowing how to get in their heads.”

St. Jean credited assistant coach Josh Talbot with assisting with some of the mental aspects of track & field.

After two consecutive league championships, the boys program will lose sprinter Mason Barrieau and distance runner Dennis St. Jean.

But the outlook is still positive for the Red Raiders for the boys and the girls next season. Colby Soltysik and Parker Deleo produced for Athol this past season.

On the girls’ side Emily England, Sadey Lehtomaki, Grace Dufour and Rashelly Dalmau-Gonzalez competed this past season and should form a formidable team next season.

Dennis St. Jean helped the program with recruiting during his time on the team. That leaves David St. Jean more inclined to find the next Athol track star on his own.

“That’s the hurdle I face in the next couple years,” David St. Jean said. “I am not quitting.”

St. Jean has coached track at Athol High School in some capacity for the last 12 years.


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