His last years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, coach Tom Lovett’s football Knights rang up a spectacular record of 31-6.
Yet, could anything be more fulfilling than his first season at Springfield High School in 1986?
He was hired late that year, a July appointment so he wasn’t sure what to expect.
It did not take him long to find out.
“One of the teachers wished me good luck and said, ‘I just wanted you to know that none of the 12 seniors are going to play,’” Lovett said.
Those seniors had played on a team that did not win a game the previous year.
There was another surprise. The Cosmos were no longer in Division I. Something Lovett was not aware of.
They were Division I when Lovett played against them when he suited up for Mount St. Joseph Academy in the 1940s.
Lovett is not one to fold under a challenge. He went to work.
“I went to each house (of the seniors) and asked them to give it a chance. I told them that I wasn’t going to berate them or make fun of them and if they didn’t like it, they could always leave.”
The players came out. They weren’t winless this time. Lovett’s Cosmos won the opener at Hartford and kept on going. They finished 7-2 after a 7-0 start.
“We were competitive in those last two games but we had lost two of our linebackers to injuries,” Lovett said.
“One of my goals was to bring back the Springfield that I knew when I played against them in the 40s,” Lovett said. “Springfield was tough every year.”
He loved the atmosphere that swirled Cosmos athletics.
“Springfield fans love their sports. They always referred to them as OUR Cosmos,” Lovett said.
He coached against Springfield when he was a coach at Bellows Falls. That was a great rivalry and he saw it in a way few had the opportunity to view it, from both sides.
He remembers how jubilant the celebrations were in the square downtown when the Cosmos won.
He was the New Hampshire head coach in the 1977 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl but his team came up short, losing to Vermont 14-6.
Still, he found the honor to be rewarding.
“That was an awesome experience,” he said. “Going to the hospital was amazing.”
The trip to visit the child patients n the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts was a tradition then for the players and coaches. Many regard the experience as their most indelible memory of the Shrine Game.
Lovett won in several places including at Kingswood where he coached football, basketball and baseball on top of being athletic director.
But his memories of Springfield, where he was on the staff as athletic director and coach from 1986 through 1995, burn brightly.
That is why his latest honor of being selected for the Springfield High School’s Hall of Fame is so meaningful.