Belchertown athletic director Jen Gouvin moving on after 5½ years

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-20-2024 7:11 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Following 5½ years with Belchertown High School, athletic director Jen Gouvin has taken a full-time role in the same position at Clinton Public Schools in eastern Massachusetts.

Running the athletics department at Belchertown wasn’t her only job, as Gouvin also specialized in work-based learning – which served as an internship program for high school kids. Gouvin helped take students on field trips to expand their horizons and see the different types of jobs available for them in the future; she guided them to find their strengths and passions.

At Clinton, Gouvin can take on the full-time athletic director role – focusing solely on athletics. Clinton has a full middle school program (Belchertown does not), and although there are a few more co-ops which Clinton is not the host of, Gouvin felt the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Her husband works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A move out east needed to happen eventually. Gouvin’s plan was to wait a bit longer, but the full-time athletics appeal couldn’t be ignored.

“I had really hoped to wait a year or two, but I got a couple of offers and there were just too many good opportunities to pass up,” Gouvin said. “Clinton was just a good fit for me. It’s in a great area, they have a great school system and their middle school program was a huge draw as well.”

Since Gouvin started at Belchertown in January of 2019, there has been an increase in participation in every single sport at the school. Given the overall landscape of sports in western Massachusetts (numbers continue to decline across the board), that’s an impressive feat over a five-year span.

The amount of people attending games at Belchertown has also shot up. Gouvin witnessed an increase in ticket sales and as well as annual income for the athletics department. Belchertown pulled in roughly $25,000 more this past year than it did in 2019.

“That’s a big increase in that short span, as far as both the number of athletes participating and how many people are attending games,” Gouvin said. “It’s a huge increase.”

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Of course, her decision to leave didn’t come without stressful, sleepless nights. Gouvin’s strong relationships with the faculty and students at Belchertown made it difficult. Aside from athletics, Gouvin took pride in aiding the students career-wise. She helped a handful of them land internships and made it a priority to develop connections deeper than surface level.

She even guided a few student-athletes through the recruitment process to help them achieve their dreams of playing collegiate athletics.

“All the little things have added up over time to make my time here such a great experience,” Gouvin said. “Belchertown is a great district and community, and they definitely support their sports. We have special athletes here at Belchertown. They just work so hard, and whether things go right on the scoreboard or not, their respect and how they deal with it is awesome. They’re very, very classy kids… Learning about their wants, needs and what their goals are and how to help them through that was a big part of my job that I really enjoyed.”

Gouvin added that all of her co-workers made her time at Belchertown special, but gave specific shout outs to principal Christine Vigneaux and athletic trainer Amelia Phillips. Between them, and the fact the Gouvin and Co. have worked extremely hard to ensure the athletic department is in a good place before she leaves, the next athletic director should transition smoothly into the new role. Belchertown is even currently working on starting an indoor track program next year.

Taking Gouvin’s position is Kevin McNeill, who worked as a physical education teacher at Swift River Elementary School in Belchertown.

“The administration was awesome to work with, and Mrs. Vigneux was a class act. She taught me so much and I’ll miss working with her very much,” Gouvin said. “Amelia Phillips, the athletic trainer, she has been here way longer than me and is the rock of the athletic department. We’ve put a lot of policies, procedures and efficiencies into place, and I think it sets up the next athletic director pretty well.”