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John Habib's City Sports: Happy landings for Lawrence, Jaskolka
Manchester West High lacrosse captain Tyler Halstead warms up his team in the gym. The Blue Knights are preparing for spring sports indoors because of snow. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
Manchester teachers Adam Lawrence and Nick Jaskolka, both former standout baseball players at Manchester Memorial High who went on to become high school assistant coaches, are now heading other varsity programs after applying for the head coach's position at Manchester Central.
Lawrence, a teacher at Manchester High School West, landed the top job at Goffstown. Jaskolka, a teacher at Hillside Middle School, was hired as head coach at Merrimack.
The Manchester Board of School Committee had by-passed those two candidates in favor of Kevin O'Leary, a Central teacher with no previous coaching experience at the varsity or junior varsity level before taking charge of the Little Green.
Lawrence and Jaskolka have moved on.
"This is a great opportunity for me," Lawrence said. "Goffstown is flourishing as a solid baseball town, and the high school program is just incredibly well-organized."
Lawrence, who also played for Keene State College, replaced Eddie Coulombe, now serving as an assistant to St. Anselm College head coach Barry Rosen.
"Eddie ran a great program, and the most impressive thing to me is how the players at Goffstown preach winning," said Lawrence. "They just want to get better and win, and that's a great combination."
Lawrence cited Goffstown's youth-league programs as another reason for the high school team's strength.
"From Little League to Babe Ruth, you've got strong programs at the lower levels that produce some talented, skilled players," he said. "It's part of the winning tradition there."
Lawrence already had a lengthy coaching resume when he applied for the Goffstown job.
He served four seasons as the JV baseball coach at Memorial and spent five seasons as varsity head coach at Manchester West, leading the Blue Knights to three tournament appearances.
He also served two seasons as coach of West's freshman basketball and soccer teams, and one as head coach of the school's boys' JV soccer squad.
His coaching staff at Goffstown includes varsity assistants Colin Burke and John Lopez, and JV head coach Tom Lamy.
Lawrence said he's looking forward to being part of the Bedford-Goffstown rivalry and noted that the Grizzlies' first home game this season will be against West.
Jaskolka was a catcher for two varsity seasons at Memorial and two seasons at Plymouth State University. Coincidentally, Lawrence, 36, coached the 27-year-old Jaskolka when the younger man was playing Babe Ruth League baseball.
Jaskolka also played for coach Paul Lemire on Manchester's Sweeney Post team and was a member of the 2002 squad that went to the American Legion World Series.
Jaskolka's first coaching job was as a JV assistant at Goffstown High. In his four seasons there, the Grizzlies won three junior varsity state championships.
He also coached in AAU ball for the Central Orange, a travel team in the Derry-Londonderry area. He joined Al Palmer's Goffstown American Legion Post 16 staff as an assistant in 2010, and the team won the state title that season.
Palmer stepped down after the championship and Jaskolka became head coach in 2011. Jaskolka led Goffstown to the state finals at Holman Stadium last year, losing to Concord Post 21.
Jaskolka said he will not return to coach Goffstown Post 21 this season.
"I want to focus all my attention with Merrimack, and I'm looking forward to this season," he said. "I know some of the Merrimack players from the various showcase leagues they recently played in. I'm going to play to my team's strengths this season."
Jaskolka replaced Ryan Anderson, who resigned last year after he was ejected from a Division I tournament game, received an automatic two-game suspension and unwittingly violated the terms of the suspension by being present during warm-ups for Merrimack's game in the ensuing round. (The incident also led to Andy Krahling's resignation as athletics director.)
Jaskolka said that while he was at Goffstown, he watched Merrimack play under Anderson and came away impressed.
"He had his team prepared to play, and I have nothing but respect for Coach Anderson," Jaskolka said.
"City Sports" appears Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.