After 22 years serving as Head Coach of Andover Wrestling, Rich Gorham ’86 will be stepping down. His successor will be Kassie Archambault ’06, currently the Assistant Coach of Andover Wrestling. Her appointment makes history: she will be the first female Head Coach of a New England Prep School wrestling team.
A former Andover wrestler herself, Archambault introduced to the sport by Gorham. She is looking forward to maintaining the familial environment that being involved in such a challenging sport entails.
According to Archambault and Co-Captain-clect Marisol Nugent ’20, this year especially, Gorham has paid particular attention on highlighting team values.
Archambault said, “Coach Gorham just emphasized what our team values were, what we’ve always had, but just kind of explicitly stated what our team values were. Our team values of inclusivity, hard work, and team concept. Those have been our values intrinsically since I was a student, but really being explicit about, no matter who you are, if you want to work hard and be part of this team, we want you on this team.”
Nugent said, “[Andover has] had women in the wrestling program for 25 years… and I’ve never seen a coach have such an open mindset about it. [Gorham] really prides our team on inclusion. I transferred here from a public school that, [though] they accepted me, [they] didn’t really accept me the same way that Gorham did. I think he’s definitely done a lot for women’s wrestling in Massachusetts.”
According to Gorham, his most significant achievements as a coach lie not in competition but in fostering character.
Gorham said, “My greatest accomplishments as a coach are not wins or losses, but in providing opportunities for athletes to grow and develop as people in a challenging, but supportive environment. This has been made clear to me in conversations with alums, who come to visit me many years later. They do not remember the wins or the losses, but they look back fondly on their Andover wrestling career as a formative experience in their lives.
Gorham taught Archambault values that have persisted with her since her days competing, according to Archambault.
“He really instilled in me a love for wrestling, the work ethic, the drive, and all those life skills that wrestling gives you that you can apply after. It was kind of a surreal feeling to know that I was taking over this program and was able to continue that great work that meant so much to me when I was a student here,” said Archambault.
According to Nugent, Archambault will bring a fresh energy to the team and looks to capitalize on the team’s potential for greatness.
“She just has so much energy for our program and our program. Coach Gorham has been there 22 years so I think it’s nice to get just a new fresh set of eyes, so I think Kassie’s the perfect person for that. She just has so much energy and enthusiasm, and, I don’t want to say that we’ve grown a little stagnant over the years, but I think she’s going to be the energy we’ve been missing,” said Nugent.
She continued, “She’s had so many ideas. She has so much stuff that she wants to do with the program, I think she recognizes the potential that we have to be great, and she has the new recruiting initiative that she wants to bring.… She’s excited she always has new ideas and she’s always ready to do stuff, she’s always ready to make things happen.”
In recent years, Archambault has continued to trailblaze in women’s high school wrestling. Archambault established the Phillips Academy All-Female wrestling tournament, which has grown from just nine participants to more than 50 in only six years. According to Archambault, it is one of the premier tournaments for girls competing on both public and prep school teams in New England.
Archambault believes wrestling gives each member the opportunity to learn from one another in a unique way as.
“I feel like wrestling is the only truly co-ed sport that we have on campus.… We practice together, but we also compete together on the same team, in the same dual meets, in the same tournaments…Marisol is Co-Captain of the entire team. When she wrestles Varsity, she wrestles against guys…and I wish more of our programs were actually co-ed, because I think we can learn a lot from each other. There’s a lot of respect that happens when we train together in that way, and so that’s something that I love about the team,” said Archambault.
According to Archambault, the relationships formed on the team is the reason why so many of the program’s future head coaches are coached by former coaches who also attended Andover.
Archambault said, “The bonds that you forge while part of that program are long lasting.…We want to give back to the program that developed us into who we are today. We want to get back on the mat, we want to keep coaching, and then I think that kind of lineage just progresses naturally because we want to give back to this wrestling program that really defined our Andover experience.”