Ed Noel, left, presents the 25th and final Frank A. Zoltek Passion for Coaching Award to Brian Gill of Mount Greylock.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School track and field coach Brian Gill says one of the keys to building a program is just knowing what his kids are doing.
And that goes equally for the athlete who never scores in meets as it does for the ones gunning for sectional titles.
"When a kid drops from 15.9 to 15.7 in the 100, you run to them and say, 'Did you see what you did? That's great,'" Gill said Wednesday morning just prior to receiving the Frank A. Zoltek Passion for Coaching Award.
Gill, who also coached girls basketball and golf during his career at Mount Greylock, became the 25th and final recipient of the North County coaching honor when he received the trophy from Ed Noel, who created the Frankie in honor of his friend and mentor, legendary Drury and St. Joseph's High School coach Zoltek.
Ideally, Gill would have received the award two years ago, in a class with MCLA baseball coach Mike Gladu. But Noel was not able to arrange a presentation before the spring of 2020, and starting in March 2020, in-person ceremonies were not possible.
On Wednesday, it was possible for Gill's current student-athletes to gather outside the middle-high school and see their coach be recognized.
Several students stepped forward to talk about the impact Gill has had on their lives.
"Even in practices, you never stop cheering," recent alumna Briana Dowling said. "Like the day when I couldn't hit the block with the discus. I couldn't get it further than 70 feet. And he starts getting everyone to yell at me, 'Hit that block.' And [the cheer] got faster and faster.
"And I threw my first 84 feet with the discus. And you hugged me. And it just made my day. I was so upset that day because it was the last day of school, and it was sad for me. And you cheered me right up. You're literally the best coach I've ever had."
Junior thrower Ryan Goss echoed Dowling in talking about the spirit Gill brings to the team.
"Something I very much admire about you is how enthusiastic you are, whatever the situation is," Goss told Gill. "You make sure it's a family environment, and that comes before the winning. Everyone's together.
"I think that's why you've made track my favorite sports season."
Elizabeth Dupras pointed out that she has been learning from Gill since kindergarten and her days in the Little Kids Track program. Next fall, Dupras will be joining the "big kids" at Division I Providence College as a recruit on its track and field team.
"One thing I admire about coach Gill is his determination and coaching skills," Dupras said. "He always knows how to make his athletes motivated but also not kill them. He makes you love the sport, which is a gift because I have had coaches throughout the years who work you too hard and you start to not like what you're doing.
"But coach Gill always pushes you just the right amount to still help you go far and achieve your goals."
In the 13 years of the Frankie Award, 25 individuals have been recognized by their fellow coaches for contributions to youth, high school and college sports. It was, perhaps, fitting that the final presentation took place at Mount Greylock, where 10 of the recipients, including Gill, have coached.
It also was fitting to see all the North Berkshire connections on display. Gill played high school basketball against teams coached by Zoltek. Noel coached basketball against Gill. Noel also coached the father of Goss, one of Gill's proteges.
Wednesday's honoree was thinking about more connections as he looked at the youngsters assembled to watch the ceremony.
"You stand on the backs of hundreds of other track athletes who have come before you," Gill said. "Some of them are now coaching here. Some of them are coaching other places. But they have caught the love of sport, and that, to me, is more satisfying than anything else.
"Just the relationships I've created over the years with you guys is the most special thing. And if this is a symbol of anything, it's a symbol of those relationships."
Winners of the Frank A. Zoltek Passion for Coaching Award:
2007 - Bill Robinson
2008 - Ray Miro
2009 - Bob LeClair and Bob Rivard
2010 - Jack Racette, Holly McGovern, Paul Barrett
2011 - Ed Noel and Erika DeSanty
2012 - George Canales and Steve Phaneuf
2013 - Shawn Flaherty
2014 - Al Giorgi and Mike Larabee
2015 - Blair Dils, Hilary and Hiram Greene, Steve Messina
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Throughout August, the Clark Art Institute and Images Cinema present four Norwegian films in conjunction with the exhibition "Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway."
This virtual film series is free, and each film can be viewed online for a week.
"Astrup: Catching the Flame" (August 4–10)
The series kicks off with "Catching the Flame" (Astrup: Flammen Over Jølster) (2019), directed by Pål Øie. The film tells the life story of Nikolai Astrup, one of Norway's greatest and most original painters. Growing up in a strict religious community, Astrup broke with his father, a Lutheran priest, at a young age and escaped to the continent to immerse himself in the world of art. Returning to his native Jølster, he frequently clashed with the small-minded locals, but he also found inspiration in the love of his wife Engel and the natural beauty of the valleys of western Norway. Danish actor Thure Lindhardt stars as an artist who stands today as one of Norway's greats. (Run time: 1 hour, 19 minutes)
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