BENNINGTON, Vt. – Friday marked the end of a lengthy coaching career for Thomas L. Otero who spent the last four years of that vocation as the head coach of the Southern Vermont College women's lacrosse team.
Otero was hired in May 2014 as the inaugural coach of the newly-founded SVC lacrosse program and led the Mountaineers to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) playoffs in each of his four seasons at the helm. Three of those trips to the league tournament resulted in Southern Vermont earning an appearance in the semifinal round with SVC making it all the way to the championship game in 2016—just the second year of the team's existence.
"My past four years at Southern Vermont College have been a refreshing experience," Otero said, "not only with the student-athletes, but with my colleagues, staff, and administration; they have been a very large part in our success over the past four seasons. I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with the quality of students at SVC. Their diversity, effort, and desire to succeed is overwhelming. I will truly miss Southern Vermont College and my players."
In 2016, before making a run to the Conference's title game, Otero's peers around the league selected him as the NECC Coach of the Year. During his time at SVC, Otero coached players who reeled in a slew of personal accolades; he had six team members make their way to the All-NECC First Team while also coaching the league's 2016 Player of the Year (Mel Orrell '17) and its 2018 Rookie of the Year (Alex Safford '21).
"Over the past four years, Coach Otero has built a competitive, successful program—basically from scratch—and brought good cheer and hard work to our athletic program," said SVC President David Evans. "He's set a great standard for his successor and leaves a solidly-established program. His athletes love him and have been exemplary performers on the field and in the classroom—which is our highest goal. I am sincerely grateful to him and wish him a wonderful retirement from coaching."
"Coach Otero's ability to develop student-athletes quickly established the women's lacrosse program as one of the best in the Conference," said Southern Vermont Director of Athletics Sharief Hashim. "OT's positive attitude and empathetic coaching style endeared him to his players and coworkers. He brought a level of experience and professionalism to the department that will be missed."
Prior to making his way up the hill, Otero was a multi-sport coach at nearby Mount Anthony Union High School. He was the varsity girls' lacrosse coach at MAU for 14 years—leading the Patriots to Vermont's Division I championship game twice and winning the state title in 2010. He also began leading Mount Anthony's varsity football program in 1975 and helped coach the Patriots' varsity baseball team for 28 years starting back in 1979.
The Miami native made the move to the Green Mountain State as a teenager and graduated from MAUHS in 1972. He then ventured a little further north to study physical education at Norwich University and was a three-year member of the Cadets' men's lacrosse team prior to receiving his bachelor's in 1976. Otero became a member of the Bennington Police Department following his 1980 graduation from the Vermont State Police Academy and started working for MAUHS in 1988; he retired from his high school post in 2016.
Otero added, "Coaching has been a big part of my life for the last 43 years beginning in 1975—coaching Mount Anthony High School to its first-ever Vermont State football championship and culminating with SVC women's lacrosse playing in the NECC conference semifinals for the third-straight year in 2018. I am looking forward to my time away from coaching; it will be a new experience for me, and I am looking forward to the challenges."
While Otero hangs up the whistle, he plans to pick up the fishing rod more regularly following a move to Florida. He also looks forward to spending retirement with his wife, Linda, and grandson, Michael.
– #LetsGoSVC –