BAKERSFIELD — Take Franklin County, add kids, toss in sports, and you have the recipe for Rhonda Goss’ passion.

Having moved to Bakersfield from Connecticut as a young girl, Goss quickly found an everlasting home within her community. Now serving as athletic director at Bakersfield Elementary Middle School, the Enosburg Falls H.S. graduate channeled her passion for working with students through sports more than 25 years ago.

“I started coaching in Bakersfield in 1980. I stopped coaching in Bakersfield in 2005 after 25 years only so that I could follow my boys’ high school careers,” Goss said.

The break from coaching didn’t last long. Only two years later, Goss was back in the coaching scene directing Enosburg’s freshman girls basketball team, a stint that lasted 10 years until there were not enough girls to field a team last winter.

Goss attributes her passion for coaching and working with kids to her father, who was a youth baseball coach in Vermont almost 40 years ago.

“My father was a Little league coach and he was my inspiration to take on coaching. My favorite memory of him is when I was coaching, I would either stop at his house and we would rehash the game, or I would call him once I got home when I had a family and I would say, ‘Hey Dad, we won today or we lost tonight. I think I made some mistakes coaching.’ He’d guide me through it and he’d make me think about what I had done or what the kids had done and how to change it and make it better,” Goss said.

Before the official title of athletic director was awarded to Goss in 2009, she had been handling most BEMS athletic events with her co-worker Lisa Briggs.

“There never used to be an athletic director in Bakersfield,” Goss said. “Lisa Briggs and I used to do all the scheduling, practices, coaching, uniforms, raising money if we needed too. We always did that together as volunteer stuff. In 2009 after they had an athletic director for one year, I took over that position because I had done it for so many years. I guess it was loving the sports and loving what I do. So it was a natural fit for me.”

In her decades working at Bakersfield, Goss has gotten to mold many young minds as a para-educator while watching students grow up on the athletic fields. One student, in particular, has had a strong effect on the longtime Franklin County resident.

Goss’ office at BEMS was filled with many pictures of former students, but one face showed up in nearly every picture: Cole Paquette, who passed away in September after a courageous battle with cancer.

“As you can see, he is all over my office. He was a strong kid, he taught kids a lot not only in school but in sports. You know, how to work hard, and be dedicated,” Goss said. “When he wasn’t able to play, he was on the bench coaching with Jordan (Goss, her son). He was truly an inspiration.”

A centerpiece of the warm office also bombarded with inspirational quotes is a signed basketball in a glass case atop a filing cabinet. Clearly emotional when talking about the impact Paquette had on her life, Goss kept looking upward at the prized ball.

“He signed that when he found out that he had cancer and we did a silent auction at a dance and I had already told my husband, ‘I am bidding on that basketball.’ It was funny because different parents were bidding on it and then when they saw that I was the one bidding on it they realized they are not going to beat me.”

 

To read the full article, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Messenger.