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Carl Reichard has won seven state championships as East Lyme High School girls' track and field coach, the last in 2011 when the Vikings finished first in Class MM.
"It makes it different. To win a championship is a great experience," said Reichard, who recently completed his 26th season. "I wouldn't want to say that is the only reason anybody coaches, though. You don't win every year. The main reason I coach is the relationships I have with the athletes, the parents, the assistant coaches."
Reichard was named National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year for his sport at the organization's national convention in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, June 18. He attended the convention along with his wife, Karen, the third time Reichard has been nominated for the national honor.
He called himself "shocked" when he heard his name called.
"When you go, all the finalists give a talk about how they run their program," Reichard said. "There's a lot learned from these people. I went two other times and didn't win, but still learned a great deal."
Doug Sharples, the former St. Bernard School boys' cross country coach who was inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame in 2013 and serves as chairman of the national girls' cross country committee, said it was Reichard and fellow longtime East Lyme coach Dave Sdao who talked him into coming out of retirement after St. Bernard to coach six more seasons at East Lyme.
"I went down (to East Lyme) because I have great respect for them, great respect for their track program. I really liked Carl. I always have," Sharples said. "He's a great coach and also a great human being. ... He knows his events. He's a very fine girls' coach. He's much more laid back than I am, much more understanding.
"He's one of the guys in the coaching profession I respect."
Reichard, a chemistry teacher in East Lyme for the last 37 years, chuckled at the description of him as "laid back."
"I didn't used to be," he said. "When I first started I was pretty high strung. Then I figured out we get much better results if I stay calm."
Also honored at the convention was former New London High School coaching great Jim Buonocore, named to the NHSACA Hall of Fame.