Communities show support for Ouellette family ahead of Saturday services for brothers

  • Pelham boys’ soccer teammates got off the bus and ran through pre-game warm-ups in yellow T-shirts that said “Ouellette” on the back in honor of Nick and Gavin Ouellette on Sept. 14, 2021 Courtesy of Chip Griffin

  • —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 9/15/2021 2:39:45 PM

The life stories of Nicholas and Gavin Ouellette were just beginning to take shape.

Nick, a 16-year-old junior at Bow High School, was the kind of kid that everyone got along with. A football player for the Falcons, No. 55 was never looked at as just an athlete.

He was everybody’s friend.

“He was somebody that I looked to as a head coach and thought ‘this is the kind of kid I want the younger players to emulate,” Bow football coach Paul Cohen said. “And unfortunately, he leaves a legacy for us instead of being here with us.”

Whenever the Falcons took the field, six-year-old Gavin was either in the stands or on the sideline. With last year’s pandemic and a family-only crowd, it made it a little easier for Gavin to be closer to Nick and watch him play the game they both loved.

Cohen can recall seeing the two brothers always exchange a hug before and after games as a sign of the love they had for one another.

Following last week’s tragic accident, sports teams from across the state are paying tribute to the Ouellettes through moments of silence, fundraisers, T-shirts, blue armbands, or memorial stickers. The players at Division II rival and neighboring school Merrimack Valley unanimously decided to wear blue and yellow helmet decals with Nick’s No. 55. Its booster club also plans to make a donation to the family.

Merrimack Valley coach Joe Raycraft said it was an easy decision to make, as the Bow community has helped his program in its time of need.

“Football is a unique sport and it’s almost like a little community in of itself,” Raycraft said. “By helping each other out in times of crisis, even though we battle each other on the field, we still have one common goal and that’s we want what’s best for the programs.”

John Stark had parents volunteer to work the concession stands as well as the chains during Bow’s football game against Plymouth this Friday, according to Athletic Director Mark Searles.

“We’re neighbors, we feel for the community and the football program. Anything that we can do to help and support them, we’re going to definitely do,” Searles said.

Concord’s football program will also don helmet decals with the No. 55 and will wear various blue and yellow garments at its away game Friday, according to coach Jim Corkum.

Corkum lives in Bow and his wife, Beth Corkum, works at Bow High School. He said he has been moved by the community’s strength and the response that other schools across the state have taken.

“It’s my understanding that there will be a statewide moment of silence Friday night in support of the Ouellettes,” he said.

Mike Desilets, the athletic director at Bow High School, walked into his office Wednesday and a bouquet of flowers was brought in from Kingswood High School. Derryfield High School and Bow played each other in a field hockey game Tuesday night and signs of support for the Falcons community surrounded the field.

Both the boys and girls soccer matches against Pelham on Tuesday featured a 55-second moment of silence. The Pelham boys’ team stepped off its bus wearing yellow t-shirts with the name “Ouellette” on the back spelled out in blue, which it wore until the game started.

Schools across New Hampshire and outside of Bow’s division have offered their support, including with donations to the GoFundMe page – which has raised more than $250,000 for the family. Some of those schools and communities include Kearsarge, Manchester Central, Nashua, John Stark and Merrimack Valley. Multiple police departments across the state have also donated in support of the Ouellettes as their father Tom is a Bow Police officer who works as the resource officer at the high school. Tom Ouellette was driving with Nick and Gavin when their vehicle drifted into the breakdown lane and struck the back of a disabled tractor-trailer. Tom Ouellette survived, the boys did not, State Police said.

One of the gestures of support from schools has been the agreement to move games that were originally scheduled for Saturday to Friday in order for the community to attend a public memorial and celebration of life on Saturday.

The service will take place at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester with doors opening at 10:30 a.m. and the service to begin at noon.

The remainder of Bow’s football season will be dedicated to both Nick and Gavin. There were conversations amongst the players about what they wanted to do, and when they all agreed to keep going forward, Cohen knew his program was doing what Nick would have wanted them to do.

Always a positive person, Nick’s final moment with his coach was at the conclusion of last Thursday’s rainy practice. He told his coach he was pumped for the Falcons’ home opener against Hillsboro-Deering-Hopkinton with the goal of getting their first win of the season after a one-point loss at Hanover the week prior.

At a community gathering the next day, just hours after the crash on Interstate 89 claimed the lives of their teammate and his younger brother, the football team raised their helmets in the air much like after a game. The players said only said one word.


Together is the Falcons’ motto and it’s going to be the word that carries them throughout the rest of the season.

Together, a town will offer its continued support following in tragedy. Together, a family and community will grieve.

Together, Bow will remember two of its fallen sons, celebrate their memory and make sure their story has been told.

Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.

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