Longtime Lebanon High administrator, basketball coach leaving jobs

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-19-2023 9:59 AM

LEBANON — Kieth Matte, Lebanon High’s boys basketball coach since 1997 and a teacher and administrator at the school for nearly as long, will resign his positions and depart the school district at the end of the current academic year.

“The district and Mr. Matte reached this agreement believing it is in their respective best interests,” Superintendent Joanne Roberts said in a written statement Tuesday evening.

The release said that Matte, the school’s vice principal for the past seven years, will pursue other employment while district begins a search for his replacement.

The news release did not elaborate on the reason for the split.

Matte, 54, said he’s prohibited from discussing events that led his exit because of a non-disclosure agreement.

However, he said that he’s “leaving in good standing and of my own free will.”

Matte said he was a recent finalist for the principal’s job at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt., as he’s previously been at two other institutions.

“I’ve been a bridesmaid three times now, but I’m also at a point where I can be choosy,” said Matte, adding that he’s looking throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

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“I’ve worked 25 years and I’m vested in my pension, so I have the ability to retire, but I can still coach. But if I take a job somewhere else, I can’t coach at Lebanon, so I’m resigning from basketball, too.”

Matte, a Kearsarge High and New England College graduate, replaced legendary Lebanon coach Lang Metcalf for the 1997-98 season and won a state title during that initial campaign and more than 300 subsequent games. His Raiders also captured state crowns in 2017 and 2021 and were primed for a championship run in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season early.

Matte, who said he earned an engineering degree from New England College, recalled that a Lebanon High physics teacher quit during his first basketball season and he took over the class. He remained in the position for nearly two decades. Matte said he received his principal’s certification in 2004 and was hired at Lebanon’s vice principal in 2015.

Matte said the daily requirements of the vice principal’s job have become somewhat repetitive and he desires a new challenge.

“There are moments where I want to come back and moments I’m pleased with my decision,” he said. “I just want to do other things.”

Matte said he hopes either his son, K.J. Matte, a former Lebanon High star, paraeducator and boys basketball assistant coach, or Connor Rockwell, the Raiders’ junior varsity boys basketball coach and a varsity assistant, replace him.

“They’re both more than qualified, and I would love to see someone who worked with or played for me take over,” Matte said. “Basketball season doesn’t just start around Thanksgiving; it starts now, with summer basketball, and there’s a huge amount of work needed to be competitive.”

Lebanon athletics has been a revolving door in recent months. The Raiders currently have openings for a golf coach and a boys hockey coach.

Already this year, the school has hired new head coaches for football and girls basketball. Both programs will have their third new coach in the last four seasons. A new Nordic ski coach also was brought on board.

Bethany Robinson, the second-year softball coach, announced prior to this season that she won’t return next spring so she can pursue further education. Her replacement also will be the team’s third such bench boss in four seasons.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.

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