Basketball

Springfield to coach Conant girls

Second Orioles stint will also feature the return of daughter Madison to program

  • The No. 1 Conant girls basketball team lost 46-31 to No. 4 White Mountains in the Division III semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

He’s coached multiple sports, multiple age groups and both genders from grade school all the way to college. Now, Jaffrey’s Dave Springfield will face his latest coaching challenge — taking the reins of the Conant varsity girls basketball team. It’s a familiar position for Springfield — he was the girls coach for several years in the 2000s and was at the helm as the Orioles captured a state title in 2005. This time, he has an even better reason to take over the program than simply his dedication and love of coaching; Dave’s not the only Springfield returning to Conant next season. His daughter Madison, who made a splash in her freshman season before transferring to Marianapolis Preparatory Academy for her sophomore year, is coming back for her junior year. It’s a perfect storm for the Orioles — and like any storm, it comes with its share of high pressure.

“David’s a coach that gets results,” said Conant athletic director Rick Simoneau. “In everything he’s coached, he’s gotten results, and he expects that. Between that and Maddy coming back — who arguably could have been Player of the Year last year as a freshman — the expectations are high. Whether it’s fair or not, they’re there. I hate to put pressure on him, but they should go deep into the playoffs. They should be the team to beat for sure.”

But Springfield, who was a 1,000-point scorer himself for Conant and led them to their first-ever state title in 1985, said he isn’t going to worry about the pressure that comes with the high expectations.

“The thing about it is,” Springfield said, “no one’s going to put any higher expectations on it than me. My expectations are always through the roof.”

Springfield will take over for Dan Rosenfield, the Lousiana transplant who coached the Conant girls last year before choosing to return to the South. Conant made the playoffs last season, losing in the second round at Sanborn.

“It was a rough year anyway taking over the way he did and what he was walking into,” Simoneau said. “I don’t think he knew the level of expectations he was getting into here at Conant. Filling in like he did, coming in and filling that void, he did a fantastic job and the girls really enjoyed it. We couldn’t have asked for more than what he was able to give.”

With the year-round commitment required for coaching Conant basketball too much for a retiree from Louisiana to put on his plate, Rosenfield and Simoneau agreed that someone from the community needed to take over.

“Obviously when David’s name came up he certainly rose to the top of the heap,” Simoneau said. “He’s a year-round guy, he coaches everything, hes so involved in the community. He’s just a dream to have as a coach.”

Springfield jumped right into the job; he’s got the Oriole girls playing in a summer league and he’s working on building the trust it takes to fully lead the team.

“Coaching girls can be a little different than coaching guys,” Springfield said, “but once they understand that you’re 100% committed to them, they’ll go through a wall for you, and that’s what I really liked about coaching the girls. Once they feel that you’re really a part of it with them, they’ll be dedicated. The goal this year is to get the girls to start really enjoying basketball and looking forward to coming to the summer league, look forward to coming to practice and I think that’s happening right now.”

If Springfield was simply inheriting the Orioles team that made the playoffs last year, he’d be in good shape; Conant will be able to boast senior leadership in guards Katie Chadbourne and Kelsey Martin, a force in the paint in junior Sarah Gonsalves, a pair of young talents in sophs Megan Wheeler and Grace Chadbourne, and incoming freshman Eva Hodgson is renowned as one of the hardest-working girls basketball players in the region. However, with the news that Madison Springfield is returning to Conant, the team takes on a whole new shape.

“Maddy is, I’m not going to lie, she’s a special player,” Springfield said. “She’s a special student, she’s a special kid. She’s a team player. Maddy’s so unselfish, the girls are loving her.”

No matter what happens next season, Springfield’s goal is for his team to have some fun.

“We’re going to work hard, we’re going to enjoy these years, enjoy every day, and if it ends up being a championship it ends up being a championship,” Springfield said, “but we;’re not going to look at it like at the beginning of the year ‘We’ve got to win this championship or it’s a failure.’ My thing to them is it’s fun to compete, it’s fun to get blood, sweat and tears, it’s fun to do that. It doesn’t have to be stressful to be competitive and try to reach the top. And if you don’t you look back and you might cry, you might smile, but the feeling of just going for it is fun.”

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