By Joe Mitchell
Lynnfield High School football coach Neal Weidman, who has occupied the sidelines for the past 13 years – the last 10 as head coach – abruptly stepped down from the top post last week, citing a “combination of things.” He will remain on as a health and physical education teacher at the high school.
“I was a little unsure at first, and that’s why I took some time to think it over,” said Weidman. “It was definitely emotional. I have been coaching here a lot of years, and each year new kids come in, and you get to know them. That’s the toughest part, and as a result there’s really no good time to leave this job as head coach, because you develop a relationship with all these kids.”
Weidman added, “Coaching here in Lynnfield is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Everybody’s been great to me from the School Committee all the way down to the players themselves.”
Weidman grew up in Buffalo Bills territory in upstate New York and was a Dallas Cowboys fan. His first coaching job was with the Ithaca College football program, pretty much right after he graduated from the school. He then took over the head football coaching job at his high school alma mater in Dansville, N.Y.
Weidman then married a North Reading native, prompting his move to the Bay State, where he immediately accepted a position as an assistant coach on the Lynnfield football staff. He was a Pioneers assistant for three years before becoming head coach at Ayer and Marlboro High Schools. But when another opening became available on the Lynnfield football coaching staff 13 years ago, he went back to his adopted sports home. He was an assistant for three years before assuming the head coaching job, a position that he has held with distinction for the last 10 years.
His teams throughout the past decade compiled a 78-34 record. They have won seven Cape Ann League titles and two divisional championships. They played in 15 postseason games, including one Super Bowl and three Division 3 North finals, the last of which was last November, when Watertown pulled off the upset.
Weidman, a Boxford resident, has three sons: Hudson, 13; Cal, 10; and Trip, 8. He currently helps out the Masco youth basketball and baseball programs as a coach.
He says if one of his assistants wants to apply for his job, he will support them, but not get involved in the decision-making process to select his successor. He would like to attend games next year as a fan of the program, but admits at first it might be “too painful” to watch many of his former players.
Weidman has no plans to coach a high school team in the foreseeable future. But there’s no doubt that he put his heart and soul into the Lynnfield football program the last 13 years, and he now leaves it with a winning tradition that attracts the elite athlete annually.