, Salem, MA


September 2, 2010

Living Legend

Welch became an Ipswich institution in his 37 years on sidelines


He is known for many things, from his famous Delaware Wing-T offense to wearing orange socks on game days and never, ever wearing a baseball hat on the sidelines.

But perhaps more than anything, Welch is known as the coaching genius who almost always had tiny Ipswich — the smallest school in the Cape Ann League for almost every one of his 37 years coaching — near the top of the league's gridiron standings.

"Coach Welch was exceptional in the way he dealt with people," said Brett Budzinski, who as a quarterback led the Tigers to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1991-92. "He was very good at understanding and relating to the players and getting the most out of each and every one of them.

"I remember thinking in high school, 'I would do anything to win for Coach Welch' — and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. He was that sort of guy."

Toughness Inc.

When you stop coaching football, said Welch, it doesn't mean that you stop being a football coach. That's especially true at this time of year, with the leaves about to turn and football teams about to get going for another campaign.

"No question, I still think about it," said Welch from his Newburyport home, which many of his former players visit regularly. "Coaching's in your blood; it doesn't leave. The difference now is that I don't get wound up the way I would (as a coach), being so competitive and knowing what I wanted us to accomplish. Now I can just go to the games and watch and relax.

"What I miss the most is the preparation and trying to get that competitive edge."

If there's one word that best describes Welch — at least in an athletic sense — it is competitive. Whether he was playing or coaching, Welch was always looking for any way to beat his opponent.

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