BFA-St. Albans softball coach Bert Berthiaume is one of 20 coaches from across the country who have been selected 2011 National Coaches of the Year by the National Federation of High School (NFHS) Coaches' Association.
Berthiaume will be entering his 25th season as the Comets' softball coach this spring. His teams have reached the Division I final 13 times and have won six state championships.
Other Vermont coaches who have been named national coach of the year by the NFHS include Mill River softball coach Shirley Brusso (2007), Essex hockey coach Bill O'Neil (2006) and Hartford field hockey coach Heather Scudder (2004).
O'Neil, who also coaches softball at Essex, has met Berthiaume's BFA-St. Albans teams in the Division I championship game three times (2005-07). The Comets won two of those three meetings.
“He sets the bar for every other coach in the state,” O'Neil told the St. Albans Messenger. “He is the master and the guru who teaches and coaches his players with an intensity, sensitivity and passion that leads them down the path of success.”
BFA-St. Albans athletic director Bob Marlow nominated Berthiaume for the award.
The NFHS, which has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982, honors coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports (by participation numbers). Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year in which they receive their award. This year’s awards recognize coaches for the 2010-11 school year.
Berthiaume also coaches junior varsity girls soccer and junior varsity girls basketball at BFA-St. Albans. He has coached each of those sports at the varsity level as well.
Berthiaume will be honored at the Vermont Principals' Association's annual Hall of Fame banquet in May.
RICHFORD'S PURRIER REPEATS
Richford's Elle Purrier has been named Vermont's Gatorade cross country runner of the year for the second consecutive season.
Gatorade, in conjunction with ESPN High Schools, announced the state-by-state winners last week. The award recognizes athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.
Purrier's fall season included Vermont, New England and Northeast Regional titles.
“Elle is able to push herself unlike any student-athlete I've ever met,” Richford head coach Andrew Hathaways said. “The push comes from within, whether or not there's a watch on her.”
After she won the Division III state championship, Purrier, a junior, recorded first-place finishes at the New England meet (18 minutes, 1 second) and the Northeast Regional (18:30.6). Her performance at the Northeast Regional qualified her for the Nike Cross Nationals.
Purrier, a Montgomery resident, also posted victories at the Essex, Harwood and Burlington invitationals.
ESSEX GIRLS REMAIN UNBEATEN
Junior Kari Lavalette made five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points to help the Essex girls basketball team overcome a 12-point deficit and raise its record to 8-0 by defeating Rice 57-48 on Jan. 12.
Essex trailed by two at halftime, but took control by outscoring Rice 19-5 in the third quarter. Essex sophomore Kara Sheftic had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
Champlain Valey (7-0) entered the week as the only other unbeaten team in Division I.
FAIR HAVEN'S AUDET RESIGNS
Fair Haven High School football coach Ryan Audet submitted his resignation last month after two years with the program. Audet guided the Slaters to the Division 2 state championship last season.
Audet said his resignation came after his wife chose to pursue a business opportunity that will force the family to move to Connecticut.
Audet, who graduated from Fair Haven in 1997, was an assistant at Alfred University for two years and coached at Castleton State College for a year before taking the head coaching job at Fair Haven. He played college football for St. Lawrence.
BRATTLEBORO ICON DIES
Darrell Sawyer, who coached football and softball at Brattleboro, died on Dec. 28. He was 87.
Sawyer guided the Brattleboro football team to a state title in 1973, when he was named Vermont Coach of the Year. He started the school's softball program and led the Colonels to five state championships and seven runner-up finishes.
Sawyer also served as Brattleboro's athletic director.
Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He publishes the New Hampshire Football Report and covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.