Keene State College didn't have to look far to find a successor to longtime head men's soccer coach Ron Butcher. He's been standing next to him on the sidelines the past 22 years.
On Monday, Keene State Athletic Director John Ratliff announced that Rick Scott will take over as head coach of the Owl men's soccer team. He replaces Butcher, who acknowledged a few weeks ago that he would be stepping down as the Owls' coach after 43 seasons. Scott has served as Butcher's top assistant for 22 seasons, the past 16 years as associate head coach.
Ratliff also announced that assistant coach Kevin Chevalier will be elevated to the position of associate coach on Scott's staff.
"I don't think there is anybody out there from an experience level that could surpass Rick," said Ratliff. "Keene State has always had consistency in their coaching ranks. That's one reason why we've been successful, and Rick brings that consistency to the program as a former player and coach."
"I'm thrilled and relieved. I'm glad they thought enough of me to give me the position," said Scott, a native of Claremont, N.H.
Associated with the program since his playing days in the early 1970s, Scott feels he has paid his dues and is looking forward to keeping the Keene State men's soccer tradition alive. "I always felt a big part of this program," he said. "Now I'll have the opportunity to play even a bigger role."
Scott got a ringing endorsement from his predecessor. "I'm very happy for him," said Butcher. "Rick has been successful at every level of the game. He was a great player at Keene State, a very successful high school coach, and a valuable assistant for me the past 22 years. He could've been a head coach at any time."
After playing soccer at St. Mary's High School in Claremont, N.H., Scott moved on to Keene State, where he was a four-year member of the team (1973-76), earning All-Conference and All-New England honors and serving as team captain in his final two seasons. A hard-nosed defender and the heart and soul of the team's backfield, Scott played a pivotal role in the Owls' success. His teams posted a 57-12-6 record, capturing three NESCAC Championships. His 1973 team advanced to the NAIA District 32 Northern Championship. Sharing the NESCAC title in 1975, the Owls earned a berth in the ECAC Tournament, where they defeated Brandeis (1-0) before falling to Springfield College (2-1, OT) in the second round. Scott concluded his career in 1976, leading KSC to a 2-0 win over Castleton State in the championship game of the NESCAC tournament.
After his playing career, Scott served 11 seasons as head coach at Keene High School, leading the boys' varsity team to a pair of Class L titles and a 126-35-12 record. As the coach of the Blackbirds, Scott developed many All-State, All-New England, and All-American high school players. He also started the Cheshire Youth Soccer Club in 1994.
While he stressed the importance of continuing a strong connection with the program's alumni, Scott says he will also implement some new ideas. "Every coach that's worth his salt has his own ideas," he said. "I'm going to do the stuff that's always worked for me in my past, but I'll also have my own way of doing things."
One of his priorities will be improving the fitness level of the team. "We've had a large number of injuries to the core of our players' bodies the past few years and I think it's a serious problem," said Scott. "Our kids the last few years have shown up to get in shape. This year they're going to show up in shape and we'll get them in game shape."
Scott and his staff have hit the ground running, scouring the area for talented soccer players. "We've seen more games this year than we have in the last three all put together," he said. "We have a tremendous list of players and now it's our job to sell the school, the campus, and the program and the city to get these kids here.
"We want to win the Little East Conference next year. That's our first goal," Scott added.
"The bottom line is Keene State's soccer tradition of excellence will be kept alive with Rick taking over and I'm very confident that you'll see us back in the NCAA tournament next year and once we get back there they'll be there almost every year," said Butcher.
Scott said he didn't always want the job. "Four or five years ago, people asked me about it and I said, 'No, I'm not interested.' But then when more of the retirement talk started to come into the picture I started to reconsider it," said Scott. "Over the last couple of years, I said I'd like to have this job. I'd like to leave my mark on the program that has meant so much to me. And I'm looking forward to that."
Kevin Chevalier begins his 10th season with the KSC program. A former four-year (1994-97) standout with the Owls, will help Head Coach Ron Butcher with all phases of the program, including scouting and on the field coaching.
A fixture at midfield for the Owls, "Chevy" finished his career with 23 goals, 28 assists, and 74 points. Named to All-Region and All-Little East teams as a senior, Chevalier led KSC to a pair of post-season tournament appearances, including its first Division III NCAA berth in 1997.
|Title:||Assistant Coach/ Goaltending|
Caron begins his sixth season as
the Owls goaltending coach. A technically sound
netminder during his four-year (2002-05) Owl career,
Caron closely monitors Keene State's talented group of veteran
and first-year keepers.
Prior to joining the Owls, Caron, a native of Amston, Conn., was a two-year starter at RHAM High school who earned All-Conference honors as a senior. Caron earned his physical education degree in 2006.