PARIS – Encouraging students to perform remarkable feats is an admirable feat in itself. And to recognize a couple of longtime coaches who have year-after-year coaxed students to impressive athleticism, Oxford Hills Middle School has created a new award to honor Douglas Craib and Larry Coulombe.

The award will be given annually to two student-athletes graduating from the eighth grade. The names of the students will be engraved in a wall display containing the biographies and photographs of the two popular coaches.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” Craib said Monday, of hearing of the award. “It is human nature to make light of things like that, it makes you feel uncomfortable. I just go to work, I do my job, it’s not what you expect. We know as coaches and teachers when we’re appreciated.”

He added, “It makes me feel wonderful, but I also think about those other coaches and teachers a lot who deserve to be honored.”

Craib, who grew up in Norway, has coached basketball, golf, track and football at the middle school and high school since 1973. He also teaches social studies. Coulombe, who retired from teaching physical education in 1999, started at Oxford Hills in 1967 and was instrumental in starting a track and field program and a football program at the junior high school. He still coaches cross-country and track and field.

The wall display will be finished in about three weeks, said Chuck Martin, a science teacher and coach. The first two recipients of the award are Justin St. John and Lindsay Strout, whose names will be listed below the coaches when the display, planned for the middle school’s gymnasium or gym entrance, is ready.

Martin was coached by Craib and Coulombe when he was a student, and he worked alongside them professionally when he returned to the school to teach. He said he was compelled to create an award in their honor after Coulombe retired and Craib began talking about leaving work.

“We’re all mortal and some time we leave and are forgotten,” Martin said. “And I don’t want them to be forgotten, I want their names to be remembered.”

Martin said Craib excels as a coach because he sets high expectations and is no softy.

“He’s very stern, but the kids learn to love that respect and follow through. They leave the season really respecting the season and their coach,” he said.

On the other hand, Coulombe coaches with a slightly different style.

“Larry has a warming personality,” Martin said. “He knows a lot about the fundamentals of the game and constructively criticizes you, but still make you feel special as an athlete.”

Craib, who is 55, said he will likely retire from his teaching position in a year or so. He said he has probably instructed thousands of student-athletes.

“When I hear someone call me that, ‘Coach,’ that is a special term, and it says a lot,” Craib said. “If it is something you have done all your life, it has a special meaning.”



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