New Coach, New Era For Lebanon High School Hockey

Those of us who have ever played sports in high school remember our favorite coaches fondly. At the time they may have seemed too tough, too regimented, or too discipline-oriented, but after some time, we realized the lessons that they taught us were important in negotiating the real world in which we later found ourselves. Those lessons of teamwork, giving it your all, carrying through till the finish, and practice till you get it right are not just applicable to sports, but to almost every aspect of life.

For the players on the Lebanon High School (LHS) Boys Hockey Team, they now have a new coach from whom they’ll learn both the intricacies of the sport and the life lessons of participating on a team. Last year, Dean Cashman assumed the role of head coach of the Raiders hockey team. Now in his first season as Lebanon’s coach, Cashman is far from a newbie to the sport, and coaching.

Coach Dean Cashman (left) with assistant coach Ben Peters.

“I played for Dick Dodds at Hanover High, graduating in 1996,” says Coach Cashman. “When I returned home from college, Scott Peters was looking for a youth hockey assistant and Dick Dodds offered up my name. Scott and I have been friends ever since, and I helped him for four years before I eventually ended up assisting Dick (Dodds) for 10 years at Hanover. Last year, I transitioned back to youth as I thought it would be my last chance to coach my boy. I coached the U14 Storm team.”

A big change in the program at LHS was adding Mascoma Valley Regional High School to their co-op arrangement which resulted in a move up to a higher division in high school hockey in New Hampshire, which peaked Cashman’s interest in taking on the coaching vacancy. “With the new co-op alignment of Lebanon-Mascoma-Stevens (high schools) and the bump up to Division 2, there was a clean slate and opportunity to build a new beginning for the Raiders,” says Cashman. In addition, “Five of the kids I coached at the U14 Storm (team) are a part of the team now. Knowing how much they all love the game
motivated me to get involved.”

Familiarity with those involved in the current LHS team extends beyond the players themselves. “Scott Peters’ son, Ben, who I coached for four years, is my assistant now,” says Cashman. Support from parents, and the community in general, is critical for the success of any high school sports team and their coaching staff. Dean Cashman says his Lebanon team is reaping the rewards of that community support.

“A group of proud alumni and parents created a Boosters program to support the boys’ and girls’ teams,” Cashman says. “(Held recently) was the first Winter Classic at Campion rink. The girls played at 10am and the boys at 1:30pm. In between games there was a public skate for families with current Raiders players. All day long the lobby was filled with raffles, concessions, and a side room with little kids coloring and playing. Both (Lebanon) teams won their games but seeing the hundreds of people roll into Campion
throughout the day was the biggest win.”

Cashman says one initiative in particular is creating much goodwill, and bolstering his confidence for the future of the Lebanon program. “Credit to Nenia Ballard for implementing a ‘Kid Captain’ at each home game. Before the game, a local kid gets a gift bag with a t-shirt, puck, and certificate to memorialize the day. They also come down to the locker room with me and take a picture with our Captain, Jack Clary, or some other players they might have a tie to,” Cashman says. “When I get these pictures post-game, it’s a reassurance that we are building a program the community can be excited about.”

At any level, when a new coach comes onboard, they put their own mark on the program by detailing their priorities. Dean Cashman was no different, upon becoming head coach of the Lebanon Raiders. “(We’ve) made a concerted effort in letting the players know from day one that accountability was going to be demanded from the players. The players are all showing up every day, working hard and getting better. They are excited to come to the rink,” Cashman says, adding that he’s always open to a dialog with his players.

“The players know that they can approach me at any time. Coach Peters and I consistently meet with individual players. We discuss school and their other life interests. Whatever they want to discuss. It doesn’t have to be hockey.”

Eventually, it’s the players’ reaction to their coaching staff that helps determine the success of any program. Jack Clary, the Raiders’ team captain, affirms the positive reaction of the players towards Lebanon’s new coaching staff.

“Coach Dean has been met with lots of enthusiasm and has brought so much to the program,” says Clary. “He and I came into this year preaching the importance of discipline and camaraderie, and it has paid immediate dividends. Everyone shows up each day ready to work, and I know we will continue to improve as the season progresses.”