George Allard, who led Burr and Burton to basketball titles, dies at 77 | Local-news
MANCHESTER – As a high school boys’ basketball coach, George Allard led Burr and Burton Seminary to Vermont’s state championship for four consecutive seasons from 1976-1979.
But Allard, who died last week, had an even more lasting impact on his players as a lifelong mentor and friend, his former players said on Tuesday.
Allard, a native of Bennington who taught and coached at Burr and Burton from 1967 until his retirement in 1981, died December 15 in Arlington Heights, Illinois, outside Chicago. He was 77.
Brian Allard of Napa, California, said his father worked on some health issues for a number of years.
“He and my mom held hands until the end,” he said. “He was as lucky as one can get in terms of passing. He was surrounded by people who loved him and he knew it.”
Brian Allard said his father was a devoted husband and father who enjoyed teaching his sons how to play sports, hunt and fish.
“He was a practical guy, someone who cared about his family and wanted to spend time with his sons.”
For former players, including Dave Shehadi and Steve Green, Allard’s ability to prepare them for success on the pitch has had a positive impact on their lives. They also recall how the basketball team rallied community support, with fans following the team to road games in the Marble Valley League and to the state finals at the University of Vermont.
Allard and Ed Latz “were instrumental in my life” as father figures and mentors, said Green, who came to Manchester as an eighth-grader from one of New York’s toughest neighborhoods. He went to college and recently retired from teaching high school math in schools in New York City.
“I spent a lot of time with coach Allard just talking [about] how to become a man, how to deal with being a young African American,” Green said.
David Shehadi, who played on the championship teams in 1975-76 and 1976-77 and later coached the Bulldogs, said Allard was a meek and reserved gentleman off the field but more intense on the touchlines and in training. He said Allard insisted the team be in excellent physical condition, play a one-on-one defense and a fast-break offense.
“He was very passionate about it. He could get upset, but it was wonderful to play for him. I think we all loved him as a coach,” Shehadi said.
“He blamed us and when things went bad you could see it coming. His face would be terribly red,” Shehadi added. “He also appreciated it when you made a good effort.”
Luckily for the Bulldogs, there wasn’t much to despair for four years. With a core of Green, Shehadi, the late Alex Johnson, Angel Rivera, Greg Carrano and Nathan Choice, Burr and Burton became the Marble Valley League class.
Green said he spoke to Allard every month. “He always started conversations with, ‘Is this the best point guard that Burr and Burton has ever played?'”
“I just spoke to him just before Thanksgiving,” Green said. “I have a photo of him in the hospital showing a thumbs up.
“I could tell his breathing was a little heavy and he looked a little frail,” Green said.
“We stayed in close contact. I had moved out of town. We talked a few times a year for maybe 15 years,” Shehadi said. “When I came back and started training, we got together and he came to our games. He wants to give hints. He liked to talk shop.”
Allard won Coach of the Year awards in 1971, 1975 and 1981. He was inducted into the Burr and Burton Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vermont Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
Dave Frederickson, who was also coaching the boys at Mount Anthony Union High School at the same time, recalled that Allard’s teams were “well prepared, well disciplined and organized.” The two teams did not play each other during the season back then, but fought every year.
“I know when his teams have travelled, Manchester have traveled with them,” he recalled of the community support at the time.
Brian Allard said he remembers Manchester fans boarding chartered buses and heading to opposing gyms and tournament games.
“All of a sudden, 200 people would be crowding into a team’s gym or [Barre Auditorium]and all would wear green and gold plastic caps.”
Born on November 7, 1945 to George and Rita Bronson Allard, George Allard graduated from Bennington Catholic High School and attended Providence (RI) College. He joined Burr and Burton Seminary (now Burr and Burton Academy) in 1967, where he taught business mathematics and coached baseball and basketball. Between 1977 and 1981 he was the school’s athletic director.
He married Angela Allard on April 1, 1967. The two had been together since their junior year of high school, Brian Allard said.
Family was a cornerstone of Allard’s life as he tutored his sons in Little League Baseball, American Legion Post 13 Baseball, and at his own Mt. Equinox Basketball Camp.
In 1983, with his son’s college education in mind, Allard started a small family business that grew to become one of the largest independent auto parts stores in the country. It was run by him and his wife and a longtime team of colleagues until it was sold in 2005 for Allard’s second retirement.
Brian Allard said the Auto City company is his family’s second championship team.
“He and my mom were a great combo,” he said. “When they owned the business together, they were a team.”
The couple moved to Illinois to be closer to their son Matthew, daughter-in-law Maggie, and three grandchildren.
When Green arrived at Burr and Burton Seminary in the early 1970s, he was a boy who had lost his father and found himself in a place very different from his home in New York City.
“You take a kid from East Harlem and you put him in Manchester, Vermont, it’s like ‘whoa,'” he recalled. “I was used to tall buildings and subways… now I’m in Manchester and I see deer in the backyard and snow up to my neck.”
Green recalled that Allard wanted him to emulate Boston Celtics point guard Bob Cousy, who grasps the “rhythm and flow” of the game – when to push the ball on a quick break and when to slow down and make an attack.
The lessons were as simple as looking people in the eye and giving them a firm hand, and as complicated as learning how to make wise decisions in life
“People, places and things,” Green often recalled Allard. “‘The people you hang out with, the places you go and the things you do will define your life.’ He said that all the time.
“I never understood our little conversations because I was so young,” Green said. “As I got older and went to St Joseph’s College in Rutland, it started to hit me – how you behave as a young man, how you meet people on an equal footing that show you’re paying attention and really want to learn understand.”
Allard was died by his older sister and a brother-in-law, Andrea and Richard Powers of Hinsdale, Mass., and his younger sister, Rosemary Webster of Rutland.
The surviving family includes his brother and sister-in-law Raymond and Patricia Joly of Woodford, his stepmother Rita R. Allard, and many nieces and nephews.
Commemorative gifts can be made to the Athletic Department of Burr and Burton Academy. A service will be held in Illinois this winter, followed by a celebration of life in Vermont later in the spring of 2023.