The fall sports season brought us plenty of great moments

  • First-year Concord High School football coach Jim Corkum watches a running play at practice last week at Rundlett Middle School. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 11/10/2021 4:36:57 PM

​​​​​​It’s hard to believe that the last three months have gone by as fast as they have.

One day you’re putting in the directions to a local high school that’s only a few miles away and, in the blink of an eye, you can drive all around the greater Concord area blindfolded and find your way.

(Disclaimer: This is not an advocation to drive blindfolded. I am indulging in hyperbole.)

My introduction to the New Hampshire high school sports scene is one that I will carry with me forever.

Truth be told, when I had accepted this position and moved out here, I had no idea what to expect. The most important thing then, and it still remains most important, is telling the stories of the kids. They manage the daily life of high school while adding on the time and effort at becoming the best in their respective sports.

It’s been incredible for me, a complete stranger, to be let into the sports community here. When I spoke with area athletic directors and a few coaches in the beginning of the fall season, it was evident that while the game itself was important, the preparation for life when the game is done was at the center.

I’m sure that’s the case around the country, but that sentiment was at the forefront in early conversations. This fall, it was incredible to see athletes in action.

Undoubtedly, one of my favorite moments in the fall was merely the first game I covered: Bow at John Stark boys soccer. The Falcons won, 6-0, but it’s one of my favorite moments simply because it was the first in-person sporting event I had covered since March 2020.

The season opened up and, with that, so did the community. I heard from parents of players, intrigued readers and even a few former athletes on where they’d like me to be.

Concord football began a new era this fall when Jim Corkum began his first year at the helm of the program. On paper, it looked like the Tide (3-6) had a disappointing season, but watching them in over half of their games, you could see a foundation being built. No matter what the scoreboard showed at the end of a game, the kids walked off the field heads high.

Merrimack Valley boys soccer lost a key component to its team when senior Jack Wormald suffered a season-ending injury just a few weeks into the fall. In stepped Trevor Simonds, a sophomore who really is a striker on the pitch. But in his opening moments against Oyster River, the 2020 state champions, he deflected and blocked shot after shot as the Pride forced a 2-2 draw.

Certainly one of the best games of the season happened late in the year when Pembroke girls soccer defeated Bow, 3-2. The two teams were both undefeated at the time and, with seconds left, senior Britney Hill scored the game-winner. That was probably the loudest regular-season game I had attended. Myself and Geoff Forester, the Monitor’s photo editor, in the following days talked about the goosebumps we still had from that match.

Another great few games were those between Hopkinton and Bishop Brady field hockey. The Hawks edged out the Giants both times I saw them play, getting 4-3 and 3-2 wins, but the tightness of the games were a thrill to watch. The Giants got the better end of the Hawks in boys soccer, however, when they defeated the No. 2 seed in the tournament behind a hat trick from sophomore Keegan Smith-Adams. 

There have been tales off the fields too, however. Lexi Myers, a junior at Merrimack Valley, is fighting for her life with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, but that doesn’t slow her down. Rivalries and competition were put to the side as all the surrounding communities put the game to the side to support Bow.

Sure, the stories on the field, the drama, the competition and the glory are great and all, but at the end of the day, these are kids playing a game. To see those kids turn their attention to more mature things and handle them with such grace was moving.

I’m sure I missed some things along the way. I can only be in so many places at once, but the stories I had the privilege to tell were just that.

A privilege. 

But now, the shoulder pads have been returned. The soccer balls are back in the equipment rooms. Some volleyball shoes are being swapped out for basketball shoes. In a few short weeks, winter sports will begin, and I’m excited to see what lies ahead next from this passionate community.

Thank you all for allowing me to tell the stories this fall. I hope you have had as much fun as I have.

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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