After hearing the rumors all over the place I knew I had to go directly to Mr. Maynard and get my answer. I tried to drag it out of him for 20 minutes, but ultimately had to ask directly. With a noticeable sigh of frustration at the truth coming out, he confirmed the rumors. Almost 40 years after making his Oyster River coaching debut, Don Maynard is moving on to the next chapter of his life: retirement.
Maynard’s career in Oyster River has carried him through countless phases of his personal life—from getting married, to having kids and watching them grow up, to becoming a grandfather. Throughout his 38 years at Oyster River, Maynard has filled many roles, including reserve coach, athletic director, and his longest-lasting position of Exercise and Physiology and Wellness (EPW) teacher.
My first period class freshman year was EPW with Maynard and his coworkers in the EPW department, Victoria Sickler and John Morin. As a timid freshman starting her high school career from a laptop in her dining room, I was instantly relaxed as I joined the Teams meeting. I credit much of that to Maynard because he immediately smiled, joked around as if we had all known him for years, and dove into his daily trivia. It was clear why he was here: he’s a sports fanatic.
Maynard wanted to be a Physical Education teacher because he has always loved sports and played everything he could growing up: basketball, soccer, and baseball. After high school, Maynard attended Norwich University and got a degree in physical education. He played basketball in college before joining the military and eventually getting his Master’s degree. While Maynard admits it would have been nice to have a higher-paying job, he doesn’t know what else he would have done, especially since he can’t sit still.
Maynard’s career has always been a driving factor in his life outside of school with how much time he spent with his family. He made sure that his kids felt like they had a choice about whether they wanted to play sports, but they all chose to play. Maynard was able to coach all of them, and as a coach, he understood the importance of commitment to teams. He had shown them before they started playing that, during the season, you don’t slack off on your team. This meant that the family didn’t really go on vacations during his kids’ sports seasons because of games and practices that they had already committed to.
Maynard said that his time teaching has been great, and he has been really fortunate to have wonderful coworkers who have been friends in and out of the gym. Morin has worked with Maynard for over 20 years and has loved it. He said that ,together, “we’ve had a lot of experiences.” Morin explained that “some of the other departments might be a department, but they don’t necessarily do things together, at least not as much as we do.” The two consider themselves friends beyond just coworkers.
According to Morin, Maynard almost never misses work, is always early and ready to go, and can’t sit still. “He will organize things that have already been organized just so he can spend time organizing,” Morin recalled. “I don’t know if it’s because he wants his brain to work and keep himself in check, but he has reorganized his organized desk drawers multiple times.”
Morin also talked about his friend’s affinity for fixing things, saying, “He loves tape. He loves glue. He will tape anything or glue anything back together more than anybody I have ever seen. He’s saved the district so much money for so many years fixing everything, saving everything, repurposing everything. Nobody will ever understand how much stuff we have kept alive for so many years.” Maynard fixes arrows and targets, regrips rackets, and builds all sorts of athletic equipment for the sake of his students.
The gym is always a busy place and the EPW teachers all have a unique position in which they get to interact with every student who comes to ORHS as a freshman. Maynard hopes that all his students understand that he has expectations and is going to call out the “knuckleheads.” If a kid comes in causing trouble, he is going to do something about it because he understands that it isn’t fair to other kids in the class to have to put up with it or for them to get away with poor behavior. “He’s tough on kids because he cares,” said Jordyn March (‘23), a member of Maynard’s advisory.
When I asked Maynard what his favorite memory at ORHS was, he immediately went, “oh goodness!” He couldn’t pick a favorite because he loves just getting to see kids working hard and being successful in their endeavors. One moment he mentioned was from the days in the old gym when a 6’6” student would come in and play basketball every day during lunch. For the longest time he couldn’t dunk, but one day he came in and ran to the hoop, ball in hand, and put it right through the net. “I think he did five laps around the gym running and screaming with his arms up in the air because he was so excited,” said Maynard.
Over his nearly 40 years at Oyster River, Maynard has seen lots of changes in the school environment and culture over the years. Looking back on the state of the high school, he said, “we’re really good but we used to be great.” He misses the days where Oyster River was the school where people came to see what was new in the world of education. Now, he feels that this isn’t the case anymore. With that said, he is filled with pride thinking of all the accomplishments of his students and colleagues over the years and is excited for what is to come for ORHS.
Looking ahead, Maynard is excited to spend more time with his family because he still feels like he’s at a point where he can do things physically, like handy work, hiking, and playing with his granddaughter. “There are still bills to pay,” however, so he hopes to continue with some of the handywork he has been doing throughout the summers and will reluctantly be joining Facebook for that endeavor.
I have come to know Maynard through classes and random visits to the gym, and I’m grateful for the fact that he always has your back and is willing to talk to you about anything. The gym won’t be the same without his presence but his impact will continue to be felt by future students at ORHS, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!