By Mac Cerullo
---- — BYFIELD — In honor of his years of dedication to the health and well being of local students, longtime Triton coach and gym teacher Henry Sheldon will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, Triton Regional High School athletic director Sean McInnis said this week.
Sheldon spent his entire professional career working in the Triton school district, starting at the Salisbury Elementary School in 1952 shortly after he graduated from the University of New Hampshire. He later moved to Triton Regional High School, where he spent nearly 40 years teaching and coaching at the school in various capacities.
Over the years, Sheldon served as Triton’s varsity basketball coach, cross-country coach, track and field coach, and the coach of the freshman and middle school football teams. He was also a gym teacher, and even after retiring in 1993, he stayed on at Triton in a volunteer capacity for nearly 20 years, during which time he mentored many of the school’s newer coaches.
“What he meant to the school speaks volumes,” McInnis said. “All the employees, coaches and alumni speak so highly of him and how he’s changed their lives.”
Joe Colbert, who has served as the Triton track and field coach since 2001, called Sheldon a mentor and said he was a huge help when he first took over the program. Colbert said that Sheldon had been the head coach prior to his arrival, and when he took over the plan was for Sheldon to stay on as an assistant for one year, so Colbert could get settled in and eventually hire an assistant of his own.
“So I met him, and he’s this crusty old guy, and I’m kind of rolling my eyes thinking, ‘how is this going to work out,’” Colbert said. “But by the end of the season I asked him to stay. I couldn’t have asked for a better assistant coach.”
Shawn McElligott, who is currently the head wrestling coach and who has coached track, said he had Sheldon as a gym teacher and a track coach in the early 1990s, and he later got to know him as a colleague as well.
“He was my track coach from 1990 to 1992, and prior to that he was my gym teacher for two years straight, so I knew Henry Sheldon early on,” McElligott said. “When I came here as a coach in 1997, as an assistant coach, and later on as the head girls track coach, Henry was still here and more than willing to help a young kid as a varsity coach out in any which way possible.”
Over the years, Sheldon has impacted the lives of thousands of local students both educationally through his teaching and coaching, and financially through the scholarship awarded in his name every year to an athlete who excels in cross-country, basketball, track, or a combination of the three. He also founded the annual Triple Classic track meet, which was renamed in his honor in 2008.
With Sheldon no longer physically able to contribute to Triton the way he used, the school decided it was time to honor him so that future generations of Triton students would always know who he was. McInnis said that the details of Sheldon’s induction ceremony haven’t been finalized, but that it will likely be held in the near future at a local restaurant.