A 'Quick' History
In the spring of 1978, a group of parents with 6th grade sons started talking about their kids not having a place to play football. Their first chance to play would not be until they were in High School.
With no money, no equipment, no practice field, no game field, but a lot of determination, Ed Pouliot, Mike Mondoux (who became the first head coach of the Squires), Leo Littlefield and Harry Tasker set to work to start a Junior High football program for 7th and 8th graders at Noble, and got it done!
First, the team needed equipment. Ed approached Collins Sporting Goods of Rochester, NH, searching for a way to get 40 sets of gear to outfit players in the first year, with no money up front. Collins did the unbelievable! They fronted the complete uniforms - helmets, jerseys, shoulder pads, girdles, pads, footballs, medical kits...Everything!
Next they needed a place to practice. The beautiful Recreation field we have today was literally a dumping ground at the time. One baseball field was all that was there (the tennis court went in the next year). In future years, the Squires helped to level out and clean various areas, expanding practice space, and picking tons of broken glass out of the playing areas. The Squires also installed the poles/lighting now at the field, along with the first irrigation system for watering the practice fields.
Practices originally were held in the late afternoon after school, which meant players from outside of Berwick did not have time to go home before practice. Dave and Gerry Kennie, who still live nearby on Annie Street, became mom and dad for the majority of the team, opening their garage up for 30+ players to come over to change before and after practice. (Dave and Gerry later went on to foster and/or adopt dozens of kids over the years).
S.A.D. #60 was not involved in the founding of the Squires in any way. The middle school sports programs that are all now called "Squires" originated with the Squire football program. The name "Squires" almost didn't exist, as the program was nearly named "Junior Knights". The school did provide a game field for the Squires and rented out use of the school buses to take the teams to away games.
In that first year, several moms heard about the fledgling football program, and decided that if the boys were going to play football, then the Squires needed cheerleaders as well. The moms made all of the skirts and hair bows, and each girl wore a white polo shirt. Today our cheer teams are outfitted in commercial uniforms, and are one of the sole remaining successful cheer programs in SMYFL.
Five years later, the Squires added a Pee Wee program for grades 4, 5, and 6. Prior to that, Berwick kids could play in Somersworth, but North Berwick and Lebanon players had no place to play. Eventually the pee wee program's numbers increased so much that the Squires split the players into two teams (Lancers and Crusaders), so as to get players more playing time. In 2009, SMYFL made the decision to move the 4th graders out of Pee Wees, and created a new Mites program for grades 3 and 4. Pee Wees became grades 5 and 6. At the same time, the Squires were offering flag football for Grades K-2. After two years of offering Flag football, the Squires added an optional 2nd grade tackle football team that has had a dozen or more kids each year since it started.
The Squires originally played in a Maine/NH league, called the Seacoast League, for the first 8 years. It was at that time that the Squires spearheaded the movement to form the Southern Maine Youth Football League (SMYFL). SMYFL began with 8 teams, and has grown to 18 teams throughout Southern Maine.
Over the years, the number of players for both cheering and football have risen and fallen. In the first year, there were 37 football players and 32 cheerleaders for the Junior High. At its peak, the Squires had 72 Middle School football players, and one year had 78 cheerleaders tryout for Pee Wee cheering! In its largest year, the Squires had nearly 400 kids participating between all the levels!
Many people and families have given of themselves to build the Squires program into the success it is today. Trying to name all of them would result in someone being missed, but any history would be remiss without mentioning the Chandler families. Deb and Jim Chandler were always working behind the scenes with incredible artwork, pre-game hoops, field paintings, fundraising, chain gangs, donating use of heavy equipment for leveling additional practice areas, paving high traffic areas, etc., etc. Whatever needed doing, Deb and Jim were always there! Joe and Sue Chandler had an enormous impact on the Squires. Joe coached, Sue ran the Board of Directors. The two of them gave everything they had, not for the Squires, but for the kids in the Squires. They were second parents to hundreds of Noble players over the years. Their door and dinner table were always open to anyone. Without the efforts of the Chandlers, Kaplan Field would never have been lit through the fall evenings for us all to enjoy the sounds of pads colliding, whistles blowing, fans cheering - and getting to watch our Noble Squires make us all proud on the game field!