While the majority of inductees join the Keene State Hall of Fame based on their success and achievements in one particular sport, Bert Poirier has the distinction of entering the hall of fame for his contribution in two sports: men's and women's soccer.
Born in Montreal where hockey was king, Poirier quickly switched his allegiance to soccer when his family moved to Europe. Developing his talents in Italy, and later at Fox Line High School in Westchester, N.Y., Poirier came to Keene State in the fall of 1978.
"Bert was a finesse player when he first got to Keene State. He could dribble in a phone booth," said Ron Butcher, the Owls' long-time coach. "He learned that to be successful you have to mix that finesse with an aggressive style of play."
Heeding the words of his coach, Poirier would go on to distinguish himself on the field. An outstanding All-New England midfielder (1978,1980-82), Poirier completed his four-year career with 17goals, 21 assists, and 55 points, "I was the Denise Lyons of the men's team," said Poirier with smile. "My job was to get the play started and create opportunities."
Surrounded by equally talented teammates, Poirier did his job to perfection. It was easy to understand why the Owls would twice qualify for the NAIA National Tournament during his career.
Playing later in the Lanza League, where he earned all-star honors against top international competition, Poirier also worked as an assistant coach for Butcher before taking over the Keene State women's program.
Any doubts Poirier had of his coaching ability quickly diminished as he led the Owls to three consecutive NCAA Division II berths, including an appearance in the championship game in his very first season in 1989. While the soccer cupboard wasn't bare when he took over, Poirier was able to provide that missing element that lifted the Owls to among the elite teams in the country.
"It was no big formula," said Poirier, playing down his contribution. "All I did was give them soccer and get them excited about the sport."
Knowing when to put his foot on the accelerator, Poirier, who finished with a 44-11-5 coaching mark, made an undeniable mark on his teams. It's no accident that three of his players would go on to be successful collegiate coaches.
"His knowledge and enthusiasm was very contagious," said Alison Foley, a former KSC All-American and current coach at Boston College. "You wanted to play for him."
Poirier's contribution to Owl soccer didn't end with his coaching career. As a member of the KSC admissions department the past 14 years, Poirier has continued to assist both programs by bringing quality student-athletes to the campus. "I always felt it was my duty to recruit for this program," said Poirier. "I told 'Butch,' what I couldn't do for you on the field, I'm going to do for you off the field."
While Bert Poirier enters KSC's Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame this evening for his playing and coaching with the Owls, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't feel he should be inducted for his recruiting as well.