"Everything we do is based on what we've done." These words were the foundation for Raider soccer success and three state championships! If you played Raider soccer between 2003 and 2021, you would recognize these words belonging to longtime soccer coach Chris Gardner. Chris coached the skill of soccer on the field but also taught life lessons and the power of family in teamwork on the field.
Chris remarks, "I start new kids each year with that phrase first, simply referring to our practices. These words ensure they pay attention and learn because what we work on one day will be built upon the next. I use it as a step progression of teaching the sport and also in teaching teamwork. It has very little to do with soccer but everything to do with life. And if we do it right, we should be using athletics to teach these kids lessons in life and help give them good foundations for the future."
This coaching philosophy resulted in the ecstatic faces of the three Raider championship teams. Ian Currier '15, a member of the 2015 championship team, supported Gardner's philosophy when he stated, "Talent wasn't the only key to our success. Our team came together as a family, which allowed us to combine our skills successfully." Pizza parties, video watching, trail runs, and the famous spaghetti team dinners before the 'big" game constantly reinforced the team's sense of family.
Chris Gardner was involved with soccer long before he was a Raider. He was a member of the Shead High School Soccer team and the University of Maine at Machias Soccer team. He coached and mentored numerous elementary and junior high players at summer soccer camps. Milos Gautier '09, a member of the 2008 championship team, was coached by Chris in elementary and high school and then coached with him at Washington Academy. He had the unique experience of winning a high school championship as a Raider athlete coached by Chris Gardner and then winning again in 2016 as Chris' assistant coach. Milos warmly states, "I used my love of the game to explore how far I could push myself, how far I could push my teammates, and how far I could push my coach (Chris Gardner) or how far I could handle him pushing me." Thanks, Chris, for this and the Gold Ball!"
Washington Academy would like to congratulate Chris Gardner on his impressive Raider coaching success and wish him luck with his new professional endeavor. Among many accolades, Chris was recognized in 2015 as the New England Small School Coach of the year and, in October 2019, celebrated his 200th game of coaching. His professional life has recently taken him to a new position at Player Design, Inc of Presque Isle engineering firm. This year Raider soccer will be coached by Mr. William Ashby, assisting him will be the familiar faces of Mr. David Whitney and Mr. Tracey Sawtelle.