Mohawk Trail track coach secures most wins in state

  • Joe Chadwick is honored during a ceremony for becoming the all time winningest high school sports coach, with 1,262 wins as head coach for the Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s track and field team, Friday, at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Joe Chadwick is honored during a ceremony for becoming the all time winningest high school sports coach with 1,262 wins as head coach for the Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s track and field team Friday at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Joe Chadwick is honored during a ceremony for becoming the all time winningest high school sports coach with 1,262 wins as head coach for the Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s track and field team Friday at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Joe Chadwick speaks during a small ceremony to honor him becoming the all-time winningest high school sports coach, with 1,262 wins as head coach for the Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s track and field team, Friday, at the school in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/17/2019 11:09:52 PM
Modified: 5/17/2019 11:09:39 PM

BUCKLAND — Current and past students cheered on Mohawk Trail’s longtime track coach Joe Chadwick Friday, as he was honored as a sports leader with the most wins in the state.

Chadwick led Mohawk Trail’s track team to more than 1,250 victories since he began coaching the sport in 1982, passing retired Leominster coach Emile Johnson in December. Chadwick’s ties to Mohawk Trail extend back further than his coaching career — he was also a student, graduating from the school in 1974.

While working at a small school is challenging as resources are limited, Chadwick said, the rewards of coaching kids keep him coming back year after year.

“It’s the kids. Just being with kids,” Chadwick said. “You couldn’t ever write a book about how I coach or anything, but I think the kids know how I feel about them.”

Proof of Chadwick’s strong relationship with his students was clear at the presentation, with a crowd of former athletes looking on as he received the award.

Natasha Olanyk, former track captain and 2016 graduate, attributes her success on the team to Chadwick’s kind, encouraging leadership style.

“You just know he knows what he’s doing, so you trust him,” Olanyk said. “I don’t think I ever called him coach, I just called him Joe.”

Violet Rawlings of the Class of 2018 said Chadwick “did not need to be strict” as his strong reputation preceded him.

“I don’t think we ever pushed him enough for him to need to be strict with us because we respected him too much,” Rawlings said.

Another 2018 graduate, Lilly Wells, recalled her six-year tenure on the track team fondly, saying Chadwick fostered a team spirit that felt akin to a family. She said her time on the team had spurred her love of running for pleasure as well as competition.

“We love coach Joe,” Wells said. “He cares about you personally, he cares about you on the team, and he really cares about how everyone comes together as well.”

Wells said the team even called themselves the “Chadwick Chargers” for a while.

A smattering of former Mohawk Trail parents also attended the ceremony to see Chadwick be honored. Among them was Nancy Dole, of Shelburne Falls, who said her now middle-aged children were once coached by Chadwick. She said his leadership continues to affect her children’s lives, as her daughter runs marathons to this day, thanks in part to Chadwick’s mentorship.

“He’s just a really special person,” Dole said.

Two state leaders attended the ceremony to honor Chadwick — Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, and Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield. Hinds graduated from Mohawk Trail in 1994.

“I got to see first-hand the impact that you had on this school, this region, this sport,” Hinds said. “Numbers are impressive, but what really matters … it’s your impact on individual lives, and how you made everyone feel like you’re good enough, they’re valuable and special. And that really resonates through the decades here at Mohawk.”

Mohawk Trail Co-Principal Marisa Mendonsa also spoke highly of Chadwick, saying the presence of his former students is a testament to his coaching abilities.

“His care and his commitment to our students — you remember that as an athlete,” Mendonsa said. “You might not always remember how many wins you had or how many losses you had, but you remember how a coach cared about you.”

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.




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