After 34 seasons, this Quabbin regional coach hangs up his whistle

BARRE — “This quote from John Wooden: ‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life. It was one of the first things I thought of when I heard that Rick Lindsten had announced he was retiring as the boys football coach at Quabbin University,” said the Quabbin Regional University girls’ soccer coach, Jamie (Szafarowicz) Cook.

Lindsten informed Panthers athletic director Mark Miville late last month of his decision to retire as a college football coach, a position he had held since 2011. This fall, for the first time in 35 years, Lindsten will not coach football in any capacity.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a few years. I coached soccer for 34 consecutive years; I started when I was 29,” Lindsten, 64, said. “It’s been a long time and it’s been fun. For the past 11 years I have also been the girls’ golf coach at Quabbin.

“Coaching two sports is a big commitment,” said Lindsten, the all-time leading scorer (60 goals, 21 assists, 81 points) in Quabbin regional soccer history and a member of its Hall of Fame. athletic. “I finish the girls’ golf season in June, then we have a week-long soccer camp in July. Next thing you know it’s August and the football starts. From the start of the golf season to the end of the football season is a long time; about 23 weeks.

Rick Lindsten, pictured right with Quabbin Regional women's varsity football coach Jamie Cook, is retiring as head coach of the Quabbin Regional men's varsity football team after 12 seasons with the Panthers.  Lindsten, who coached Cook on youth teams, has coached soccer at various locations and levels for the past 34 years.

Rick Lindsten, pictured right with Quabbin Regional women’s varsity football coach Jamie Cook, is retiring as head coach of the Quabbin Regional men’s varsity football team after 12 seasons with the Panthers. Lindsten, who coached Cook on youth teams, has coached soccer at various locations and levels for the past 34 years.

Miville said Lindsten’s retirement will create a vacuum on the sidelines at Panthers soccer games.

“Rick’s knowledge, enthusiasm and competitive spirit will certainly be missed,” said Miville. “Rick always had an anecdote to back up the point he was trying to get across to his team. His players respect him. They respect the fact that he’s a Quabbin veteran and has dedicated his life and so many efforts at Quabbin’s athletics.

In addition to getting some much-needed time off, retired Lindsten will be able to follow the cross-country and track career of her 14-year-old daughter Julianna, who will be a freshman at Quabbin Regional in September.

Lindsten was the college women’s soccer coach at Wachusett Regional from 1996 to 2006. The Mountaineers qualified for the Central Mass tournament. Division 1 every year, Lindsten was the coach.

During Lindsten’s tenure, Wachusett compiled a record of 138-53-29 and captured the Central Mass title. Division 1 twice (1996 and 2001). In 2001, the Mountaineers defeated Notre Dame of Hingham, 2-1, to win the Massachusetts Division 1 championship. The Central Mass Championship. 1996 and the 2001 state title were the first of their kind in Wachusett women’s soccer history.

Quabbin’s teams from Lindsten weren’t as successful win-loss-wise as his teams from Wachusett, but the Panthers qualified for the Central Mass tournament. in 2013 (Division 1), 2018 and 2019 (Division 3).

Quabbin’s 2020 men’s varsity football team is widely considered the strongest team during Lindsten’s tenure. The Panthers were 7-0-1 in this COVID-altered year, winning the Mid-Wach C Pod Championship. The Panthers scored 36 goals in those eight games while allowing just seven.

Between coaching stops in high school, Lindsten was head coach of the women’s soccer team at Becker College (known as Becker Junior College at the time) for three years, assistant coach at Anna Maria College for a year and assistant coach at Clark University. during two years.

During his career, Lindsten has also coached several travel teams that have competed in international tournaments, including Antigua (four times), Barbuda, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. During one of his trips to Antigua, his team won the 3 Nations Cup. Lindsten was also part of a four-day excursion he called a “coaching trip” to Iceland with a collection of football and ice hockey coaches.

Lindsten also coached in the Quabbin Youth Soccer program, where he met Cook.

“I started playing for Rick when I was 13,” said Cook, the all-time leading scorer (57 goals, 23 assists, 80 points) in Quabbin regional women’s soccer history and inductee in 2016 into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “I wouldn’t have had a playing career or a coaching career without him. He definitely had the biggest impact on my footballing journey.

“Until then (as a teenager) you were playing youth football and you were just happy to be there, happy to be part of the team,” Cook said. “Around that age I realized that football was going to be my thing. Rick played a part in that. The way he coached, the way he pushed me, the way he pushed us all.

The USA Blue Devils travel soccer team take a break during a tournament in Antigua in 1996. Front row (left to right): Toni Musnicki, Stephanie Forsman, Jennifer Higgins, Erin Reardon, Alyssa Leonard, Ashley Stewart.  Back Row: Amanda Edmonds, Jesslyn Monfreda, Nicole Deschênes, Lisa DiTaranto, Courtney Deschênes, Carolyn Mucha, Jamie Szafarowicz, Head Coach Rick Lindsten, Melissa Martin.

The USA Blue Devils travel soccer team take a break during a tournament in Antigua in 1996. Front row (left to right): Toni Musnicki, Stephanie Forsman, Jennifer Higgins, Erin Reardon, Alyssa Leonard, Ashley Stewart. Back Row: Amanda Edmonds, Jesslyn Monfreda, Nicole Deschênes, Lisa DiTaranto, Courtney Deschênes, Carolyn Mucha, Jamie Szafarowicz, Head Coach Rick Lindsten, Melissa Martin.

Lindsten also showed Cook and his teammates that the sport was more important than they could experience at the youth, high school and college levels.

“At that time, the United States Women’s National Team was all over the news; they were doing really well, women like Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm were becoming nationally known,” Cook said. “Rick really brought that to our team. He made us realize that there was this higher level of playing football. I had no idea at the time. That he brought that to us at the start 1990s, I thought it was spectacular.

About eight years ago, when Cook decided she was ready to dip her toe in the shallow end of the football coaching pool, it was Lindsten who came, picked her up and threw her away. in the deep end of this pool.

“We both worked at Quabbin and he came up to me one day and said, ‘We have to get you to coach,'” Cook recalled, “and I told him I didn’t think I had time. because my kids were very young then that summer Rick called me and said his JV coach had to quit and he needed a JV coach and the season was starting in two weeks.

“Again, I told him I didn’t think I had time,” Cook continued, “and he said, ‘no, tryouts start next week. I need you here. Rick had so much did for me that I thought I had to figure it out. I was looking forward to trying it out and thought the joint venture position would be a good stepping stone. So I thought, ‘OK, we’re going to do this ‘ I remember going to that first practice thinking, ‘What am I getting into? I’m not prepared for this.

Lindsten briefed Cook on the training plans and how the trials would unfold, explaining the process every step of the way.

“I got it all. I worked alongside him all season. In the middle of the year we had a lot of injuries and he had to bring up a lot of my players from JV to college. So much that we ended up having several games canceled at the end of the season,” Cook said. “I ended up on his bench as college football assistant coach for the rest of the year.

“I watched him train that season and said, ‘This is where I want to be. I want to coach on the college sideline at some point,” Cook continued. “And then, by sheer coincidence, the position for varsity girls opened up next season and I applied for it. I wouldn’t be anywhere in my playing or coaching career if my path hadn’t I’ve never met Rick’s. I’m so happy for Rick. He’s had a long playing and coaching career, but I’m sad he’s retiring.

This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Quabbin Regional Men’s Soccer Coach Rick Lindsten Retires

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