Longtime Spartans coach announces retirement

March 26, 2012

By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW — Gil Gonsalves has been a fixture at the side of the pool and in the classroom at East Longmeadow High School for two decades.

Now he's decided it's time to move on.

Gonsalves recently announced that he would retire at the conclusion of this school year after 30 years in education, including 21 at East Longmeadow High School.

"There have been a lot of good memories. I'm an emotional guy to begin with, so this was a difficult decision for me to make," he said. "I knew it was coming eventually and it was just a matter of time, but it was still a tough decision. A lot of people have said a lot of nice things and I'm appreciative to everyone."

Gonsalves has served for the past 20 years as the head coach of the Spartans' swimming and diving teams, while also serving as a soccer coach for 10 years. In his tenure, he achieved 10 total championships, six in the pool and four on the soccer pitch, but credited being handed a strong swim program from his predecessor and the quality of the athletes he worked with for his success.

At the MIAA Western Massachusetts Championships on Feb. 12, he was able to hand first-place medals to Julie Lajoie (200 freestyle), Melanie Avdoulos (diving) and the 400 yard freestyle relay team of Julie Lajoie, Kelly Lajoie, Emily Lajoie and Callie Phillips as his girls team finished third overall.

"I think the swim program was strong before me. Dick Bolles, who I was an assistant under before becoming head coach, is a legend here in East Longmeadow," he said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the town itself. It's a nice environment with good kids who are really driven and want to succeed both inside the classroom and out."

Despite all the success and championships, Gonsalves said the best memories he will take with him from East Longmeadow High School are the good times he spent with his students and athletes.

"For me, it's the interaction with all the kids that I will miss the most," he said. "I have the championships and those will always be special to me, but the kids are what I'm going to really miss. It's always great when you can see a swimmer have a best time, whether it's to win Western Mass. or at a dual meet. Knowing that you just saw that kid d their absolute best is a great feeling."

Gonsalves said that he will be moving south, but said he and his wife don't have any concrete plans for the future just yet.

"I think we're just going to take some time for ourselves," he said. "At some point, I might officiate down there and I may teach part time on the college level because I've done that before, but for now, I think we're just going to relax."

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