For many 23-year-olds, a post-graduation job at a Starbucks or as a waiter at a local restaurant is a good start … if they've even graduated yet. That's not the case with Jim Lauzon. The 2011 graduate of St. Anselm College in New Hampshire got his degree and immediately applied to become the new head coach at his high school alma mater, Manchester (N.H.) West High.
Lauzon probably isn't the first man within two years of the drinking age to apply for a football coaching job, but he might be one of the first to actually land the gig. Now two weeks into his new position, Lauzon is trying to turn the tides of a program that hasn't reached the state playoffs since 2007.
The early returns would seem to indicate that West's players have had little trouble connecting with a leader who is only half a decade older than many of his starters. After a stirring, 32-31 overtime victory against Peterborough (N.H.) ConVal High in the season's opening week, West put a major scare into significantly larger (and more fancied) Manchester (N.H.) Memorial High before eventually falling, 36-26.
"I'm really proud of our guys right now. We're really starting to become a football team and it's showing," Lauzon told the New Hampshire Union Leader following Friday's loss, which happened to coincide with his 23rd birthday.
"We had six starters out for the game and another two went down at the half. For us to compete the way we did is a really positive thing and we're just looking to keep the momentum from what we've done so far."
The fact that Lauzon is living out an opportunity that few others his age have ever been handed isn't lost on the young head man. In an interview with the Union Leader's Marc Thaler, Lauzon issued words of thanks to a hodgepodge of his past coaching influences just before the season kicked off, including the head coaches of two other New Hampshire programs; Bishop Guertin (N.H.) School and Milford (N.H.) High. Milford coach Keith Jones, in particular, was cited for his willingness to offer up advice to Lauzon.
"When coaches like that support you, it makes you feel good about yourself, more confident," the new West head coach told the Union Leader. "Numbers are up. Energy's been up. It's a long season. We haven't competed for a playoff spot in a long time."
Now West is hoping to do that. If they achieve that goal, youth will play a major role, both among the starting lineup and the coaching staff.