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Fall, 2003 




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• Dan Duquette: Teaching kids life lessons through sports


 Dan Duquette


Dan Duquette: Teaching kids life lessons through sports
By Patrick Rheaume

For years, residents of the Berkshires looked at Dan Duquette as a local boy who made it big. Now he has returned to the county to direct a sports academy for children.

"The Berkshires have always been a great place to run a summer camp," he says. With his brother Dave, Dan founded the Duquette Sports Academy in Hinsdale. The camp sports five professional-grade fields, four basketball courts, a volleyball court, a 6,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse and conference center and dormitory and cafeteria facilities suitable for up to 175 campers and staff.

Asked how he decided to found the camp, Duquette recalls that "the choice was easy -- it's about sports and helping kids who need summer activities."

The sports training complex serves youths between the ages of 7 and 18. "One of the most important things kids learn here," Duquette says, "is how to transfer skills from sports into everyday life." During school vacations, Duquette hopes to operate tournaments in basketball and baseball. “Right now, we're working on making the facility a year-round community asset,” he says.

The academy also plans to host professional teams that need available field space.

"It's a privilege to return here and give kids a chance to learn about sports and have fun at the same time," he says.

Having never acted before, Duquette accepted the role of Benny Van Buren in a recent production of "Damn Yankees," staged at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield Sponsored by the Colonial Theatre in conjunction with their restoration project, the play depicts the Washington Senators in the midst of a Faustian effort to defeat the New York Yankees.

"One of the things I liked about the play," says Duquette, "was watching our team beat the Yankees in every game down the stretch.”

Duquette credits the strong support of director James Warwick and producers Jenny and Adam Hersch with making the production a success. "It's a great story line," he says. "They even got me to sing 'You Gotta Have Heart.’"

Born in Dalton, Duquette graduated from Wahconah Regional High School and Amherst College, where he majored in English and American studies. After working in the Milwaukee Brewers and Montreal Expos organizations, he became general manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1994.

Returning to the Berkshires has allowed Duquette to rediscover his roots. "My father was a longtime teacher and superintendent in Dalton and the Central Berkshires Regional School District," he says. Additionally, all five of his siblings live in the county.

In the community, Duquette works with the Genesis Foundation for children with birth defects, and serves as president of the Sports Academy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides athletic and academic opportunities for underprivileged children. In 2003, the foundation provided scholarships for more than 75 youths to attended summer camps.

Duquette also works with the United Way and a number of Catholic charities.

In his free time, Duquette coaches his sons' football, baseball and basketball teams, and enjoys cross country and downhill skiing. He lives with his wife, Sharon, and their three children.

The Berkshires, says Duquette, are such an interesting area for sports because they contain fans of nearly every stripe divided in their loyalty between the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Mets, along with a host of local independent or minor league teams. "We have a terrific group of fans here," he says. "People seem to enjoy the competitive aspect of our sports teams."

Duquette greatly appreciates the foundation given him in Berkshire County. "I grew up here, and now my kids are here, going to the public schools," he reflects. "It's good to be home."

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