Where are they now? Linehan: A Positive Force on All Athletic Fronts
Although Linehan enjoys success in athletics, his primary objective when dealing with young athletes is teaching accountability, responsibility and commitment.
“There is such a thing as healthy competitive spirit,” Linehan said. “I want to develop that, but being accountable, responsible and committed are the important values. At Ashland, our varsity team won the Tri Valley League title last year, but head coach Mark Champagne and I stressed constant improvement as our top goal. As a jayvee coach, my job is to prepare younger players for what it takes to be a varsity competitor.”
Linehan provides more insight into his philosophy when he labels “character development” as more important than basketball progress. “The players I coach will all go out into the world and deal with life issues,” he emphasized. “Few will go on to play college basketball. That’s why it’s important to build strong character.”
A native of Woburn, Linehan played football and basketball at Austin Prep in Reading. After graduation, he enrolled at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, where he played lacrosse for four years. Graduating in 1989 with a degree in psychology, Linehan worked in the bottled-water industry for almost two decades, for Poland Springs, Crystal Springs and Belmont Springs. Because of extensive travel as a regional manager, he was unable to see his children play youth sports; but, since getting involved in educational technology, he’s available not only to see his children compete but also to serve two communities in key roles.
Linehan has been president, secretary and a director in Bellingham’s youth softball association; he’s currently the president of the town’s youth lacrosse league; and he’s coached, served on the board of directors and now is working as website director for Bellingham’s youth basketball organization.
Linehan is such a positive force in Bellingham’s youth programs that he was asked about coaching varsity lacrosse at the high school. “The coaching position was open, but I told then athletic director Leo Dalpe that I’d do the town a better service if I tried to build a program at the youth level,” Linehan recalled. “I had experience in how youth boards are set up, so I founded the youth organization. At our first meeting we had three people show up. I followed up with emails and got 50 people to the next meeting. We formed a board and we’ve grown from 50 kids to 110 last season.”
Linehan’s link to Ashland’s basketball program is a direct result of his being a volunteer coach in 2008 for the Bellingham boys team. “Mark Champagne had become Ashland’s head coach, and he asked T.J. Chiappone to join him,” Linehan noted. “T.J. instead recommended me. I started as a volunteer with the Ashland freshmen. A year later, Mark offered me the jayvee post. I’m also a varsity assistant, managing the bench during games.”
Linehan’s jayvee records are 9-9, 12-6 and 13-7; and Ashland’s varsity records since he became jayvee coach are 10-11, 13-9 and 19-2. “Nine of the 12 boys on our title-winning varsity team last year played for me as jayvees,” Linehan said. “It was rewarding and satisfying to win the league championship, but Mark and I were more focused on seeing our players improve daily. We also strived to build a positive reputation for the program.”
Linehan isn’t opposed to eventually taking the reins of a varsity program, but he’s in no rush to make that leap. “I wouldn’t mind putting my stamp on a program, but it would have to be the right situation,” he said. “I’d want to go to a place that needs a positive influence.”
Linehan was extremely pleased for Bellingham’s softball and baseball teams that won State Championships last spring. Both programs benefit from solid youth programs. “I had coached 10 of the girls that played on the championship softball team,” Linehan said. “I was proud of the kids, the town, the school and coaches Dennis Baker and T.J. Chiappone. They deserve lots of credit for their commitment.”
Linehan and his wife Michele have three children—Averi, 16; Allison, 15; and Cade, 13. His family no doubt understands Linehan’s love for coaching and building strong character. He says the two best words he can be called are “dad” and “coach.”
Steve Linehan performs both functions in classy, stylish fashion, and his value to Bellingham and Ashland can’t be measured in wins and losses.