, Newburyport, MA

May 6, 2014

Longtime Triton coach and educator Henry Sheldon passes away

By Mac Cerullo
Sports Editor

---- — BYFIELD — Henry Sheldon, who touched the lives of thousands of Triton students over the course of his six-decade teaching career, has passed away.

Sheldon spent his entire professional career working in the Triton school district, where he served in a variety of roles as a coach and teacher. Following his arrival at Triton Regional High School upon the school’s opening in the early ’70s, he served as the school’s varsity basketball coach, cross-country coach, track and field coach, freshman and middle school football coach, and as a gym teacher.

Though he officially retired in 1993, he remained at the school in a volunteer capacity for nearly 20 more years before finally stepping away for good in 2012. During that time, he served as a mentor for several young coaches, who cite him today as among the biggest influences in their lives.

“He had such a tremendous impact on the students, faculty, alumni and this entire community,” said Triton athletic director Sean McInnis. “Whenever you have a loss of this magnitude, it’s felt, but he had an impact on so many people that he’s going to be well represented going forward.”

Sheldon first came to the area in 1952, when he started at Salisbury Elementary School shortly after graduating from the University of New Hampshire. When Triton Regional High School opened its doors in 1971, he became the heart of the school’s athletic program right from the get-go.

“If you went to Triton, you knew him and respected him,” said Stacey Beaulieu, Triton’s head girls lacrosse coach. “He was a very quiet leader and a great man. I’m honored to have known him.”

In his later volunteer years, Sheldon was heavily involved in Triton’s track and field program. When current head coach Joe Colbert was hired, Sheldon initially stayed on as an assistant for what was supposed to be a one-year transitional period. Colbert enjoyed having Sheldon around so much that he asked him to stay on, and he grew to consider Sheldon a great mentor and a close friend.

“Henry had a really big impact on me,” Colbert said. “He was a great mentor, he was my first assistant coach, and having someone like that to rely on, I wouldn’t have had the success as a coach without him.”

In April, Triton school officials announced that Sheldon would be inducted into the Triton Regional High School Hall of Fame. McInnis said that Sheldon will be inducted posthumously as part of the Class of 2014, and that the induction ceremony will likely take place at some point this coming fall.

Sheldon’s influence wasn’t limited to just the Triton communities either. Coaches and administrators in surrounding towns had tremendous respect for him as well through their battles over the years and through events like the annual Triple Classic track meet, which Sheldon founded and which was renamed in his honor in 2008.

“I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who treated kids better than he did. The kids loved him and he was a really special guy,” said Don Hennigar, head coach of the Newburyport cross-country program. “He had a tremendous sense of humor, he was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known, he always kept things in perspective and always had the kids’ best interests at heart.”

Funeral arrangements for Sheldon will be announced in the coming days.