SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

September 2, 2010

Living Legend

Welch became an Ipswich institution in his 37 years on sidelines

(Continued)

As the years go on, that fire hasn't dimmed in the least. Welch still plays tennis with his regular group twice a week — and plays to win. A sore knee hasn't prevented him from hitting the courts or getting out on his bike; if it's something active and he can fit it into his schedule, Welch is game to do it.

"Even near the end of his coaching days, when he had bad hands and bad knees, he was leading the calisthenics every day. Every day," said Doug Woodworth, a tight end for Welch in the early 1970s who was later part of his coaching staff for 20 years. "To see that, how are you not going to do it if you're a teenage kid?"

A huge reason why Welch stayed in Ipswich as long as he did — and he certainly had opportunities to go elsewhere, both in high school and the college coaching ranks — was that he had what he perceived as a perfect situation, especially one that worked in perfect harmony with his killer instinct as a coach.

"I had great kids, the kind of kids that I grew up with," said Welch. "We had a lot of tough kids from big families in town; Greek kids, Polish kids. That was my bread-and-butter; tough, tough kids who never quit and were always competitive and hard working.

"I wasn't the easiest guy to play for, but they'd do everything I asked of them. You could drive the hell out of them and they never stopped working. That was my kind of kid; they were the backbone of Ipswich High football."

Wing-T'ing it

Toughness was certainly a welcome trait if you wanted to don the Tigers' colors. But you also had to be able to fill a role, be it that of a two-way superstar or a plugger who filled a valuable spot on one of the lines.

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