The Exeter Bulletin — Summer 2000
Jim Tufts '70
July 15, 2000
Lundholm WinnerBy John Habib
Jim Tufts '70, of Exeter, one of the founders of the New Hampshire Soccer Conference and a tireless volunteer for the New Hampshire chapter of the Special Olympics, was recently selected by The Manchester Union Leader's Board of Judges as the 31st annual recipient of the Carl Lundholm Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Youth in Athletics in the Granite State.
Tufts has been involved with the Special Olympics since 1967 when his mother, Jean, founded the New Hampshire chapter and served as principal for the Rockingham School for Special Olympics in Exeter during the 60s. "My initial involvement with Special Olympics was spending time at Rockingham School with individuals who had disabilities," said Tufts. "I can remember clearly, as a student at the Academy, going to the school to spend time with people from ages 6 to 21. It was fun knowing time spent at the private institution was uplifting someone's life and I knew that I wanted to be a part of this."
Tufts said his mother got the idea to start the New Hampshire chapter of the Special Olympics when Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the first Special Olympics program nationally. "My mom said we've got to have one of these in New Hampshire and sure enough it happened," said Tufts, who received his bachelor of science and master's degrees in physical education from the University of New Hampshire.
After graduation he taught at the Lincoln Ackerman School in Hampton Falls, and began his professional coaching career at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, NH. He moved on to coach at Exeter High School in 1977 and began teaching there in 1983. He has coached the boys' soccer and ice hockey teams for the past 26 seasons, guiding them to a great deal of success. He has also been actively involved in youth soccer, hockey, and baseball. Tufts has also been instrumental in involving youngsters in sports with "learn to skate" and "learn to play hockey" programs.
But Special Olympics was always the focal part of his life and became more so when his son Matthew was born prematurely with disabilities. "I will forever be involved with Special Olympics,"said Tufts. "I learned a long time ago that everyone has a hidden value. As teachers and volunteers, we try to bring that positive to the surface. That's the fun part, watching kids grow before our eyes."
In 1995 Tufts served as head coach of the New Hampshire soccer team at the 1995 Special Olympics World Games, leading the squad to a silver medal. His team was recognized by the International Special Olympics Association for sportsmanship and was selected runner-up National High School Coaches Association Special Olympics Coach of the Year. Tufts has been coach of Exeter area Special Olympics team in track and field, soccer, and skiing for many years.
— John Habib