There was nothing more relaxing than a motorcycle ride for Rick Leary as dusk approached one evening earlier this week.
But once he pulled off the road to talk with a sportswriter, he was quickly returned to the world of high school football that likely will consume the majority of his time for the next few months.
The Fairfield native, who played at Lawrence High School and later coached in that system for 25 years before more recent stops at Winslow and Messalonskee of Oakland, has been named the new varsity football coach at Mount View High School of Thorndike.
He was hired late last week, just in time for a single meeting with his players before the start of the Maine Principals’ Association-mandated annual two-week “hands-off” period that precedes the start of fall sports practices, this year on Aug. 14.
“I met with the kids Friday night,” said Leary. “I’ve always loved coaching and I love the kids, though it’s so late getting into it this year that I’m up against the wall but I’m going to do my best at it.
“I put 20 hours in last weekend and I’ve got a lot more work to do to get ready, but hopefully I’ll teach them that hard work speaks for itself. I’m very thankful to have this opportunity.”
Pratt guided the Mustangs to a 17-18 record over the last four seasons and was named the LTC’s coach of the year in 2015 after leading Mount View to its first playoff berth since 2011. The Mustangs finished third in the final Class D North regular-season standings and concluded the year with a 7-3 record after making their first trip to the LTC semifinals.
Mount View had another winning season last fall, finishing 5-4 and ranked fifth in Class D North, just missing the LTC playoffs.
“My philosophy is to get the kids physical, to get them stronger and quicker and to have that winning attitude so that when we step into any ballgame we can win,” said Leary. “I’m going to bring them some toughness, that’s high on the agenda.”
Leary, a veteran of 32 years on the sidelines, had been out of coaching recently but was spurred to return to the gridiron in the aftermath of the death of his wife, Deborah, due to illness late last year.
“I’m thankful to get back on the football field, which is something I love to do, and I’m also doing it out of respect to her for all of the seasons she’s supported me as a coach,” said Leary.
“I look forward to the opportunity to getting busy and back working with the kids because they’ve all got something to bring forward, every one of them. I’m looking forward to bringing that out of the kids because they bring something to me, too. Coaching is a two-way street.”