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Last Updated April 24, 2011


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  Gail Chesnut Plaque Dedication May 21, 2011 2PM

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Dear Alums,

For over thirty years, from 1957 to 1991, during the decades that saw the growth of our community from a rural crossroads to the highly regarded suburban town that it is today, Gail Chesnut dedicated her career to the children of Chatham as a physical education teacher and coach.  Ahead of her time, she worked with great enthusiasm and tenacity to establish a sports program for the girls of our community that would be equal in stature to the program for the boys and superior to programs found in neighboring school districts many times larger in size.  Through her emphasis on building character in her students, Gail Chesnut guided and inspired more girls in our community than any other educator in the history of our town, building a program in Chatham that would set the standards for excellence for future generations to come.

Today, Chatham’s outstanding girls’ lacrosse program can trace its origin and ultimate success to the efforts of this remarkable teacher, coach and role model.  In 1972 Gail Chesnut developed a girl’s lacrosse program in Chatham, one of the first public school programs in all of Northern New Jersey.  In order to improve the competition for the girls in the ensuing years, she implemented the North Jersey Invitational Lacrosse Tournament.  Her tournament format inspired the NJSIAA to form a girls’ state tournament, which began in 1978. Gail Chesnut was recognized for the vital role she played in the growth of this sport when she was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame in 1998. 

Currently, the girls lacrosse team at Chatham High School ranks in the top 10 in New Jersey and the team has been ranked nationally over the past few years. Graduates of our high school have gone on to play women’s lacrosse at many prestigious division 1 schools including: Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Lehigh, Loyola, Holy Cross, Boston University, and the University of New Hampshire. Additionally, young women in the class of 2010 have committed to play lacrosse at, among others, St. Joseph’s, Lafayette, Hamilton and Yale.  The level of excellence in lacrosse at Chatham High School is clearly outstanding.

During her years in Chatham, Gail Chesnut also led the field hockey teams to six state titles and eleven conference championships.  Her overall win-loss record in field hockey was a remarkable 271-72-33.  The high level of play Miss Chesnut established in field hockey also led to many of her students continuing to play this sport at the college level. As with the girls’ lacrosse program, Chatham can be proud of the many accomplishments her students had in field hockey nationwide, including the graduate who played for Gail Chesnut in Chatham and then went on to become one of the first two women field hockey co-captains in the history of Yale University!

Gail Chesnut had a positive impact on many students in our community. In addition to her outstanding sports teams, she encouraged and developed a broad range of athletic activities for students of all levels of ability during her years in Chatham. Her annual Girl’s Athletic Association shows packed the gym with over a thousand spectators and participants involving over half the high school girls in gymnastic routines created by the students themselves.  She coached the cheerleading squads and, on her own time, chaperoned ski club trips, teaching endless numbers of Chatham students basic skiing skills, with humor and patience.  For a period of time she even coached the boys’ junior varsity basketball team!   A great teacher and coach, Gail Chesnut rewarded not only the most talented athletes, but all who gave their very best. 

Although she is now retired, Gail Chesnut continues her commitment to the students of our community by funding an award given each spring to an outstanding senior girl athlete at the annual awards assembly. In addition, she has established a student council service award at our high school, in memory of Beda Johnson, one of her former Chatham students.

Please join us on Saturday, May 21 @ 2PM in the High School to dedicate a plaque honoring Gail Chesnut’s contributions with Gail in attendance. Reception following dedication ceremony. Please contact Lori Patterson at with questions.





Dedicated Teacher and Coach
Founder of Our Outstanding Girls' Sports Program
Serving the Youth of the Chathams since 1957


Career Record: 271 Wins – 72 Losses – 33 Ties

Mountain Valley Conference Title

Colonial Hills Conference Title

Morris County Title

NJSIAA Group I Section Title

NJSIAA Group I State Title


1974 - 1975 - 1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1980 - 1981 - 1982 - 1983 - 1987 – 1988 - 1990


1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1979 - 1980 - 1983 - 1986 - 1987

1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1979 - 1980 – 1983

1978 Star Ledger Coach of the Year

1985 Morris County Coaches Award

1985 NJSIAA Coaches Award


Introduced Lacrosse to Chatham Township High School - 1972 -
where she coached Varsity and Junior Varsity teams through the merger that produced District of the Chathams – Chatham High School - 1991

1975 Girls’ Lacrosse (10-0-0): First Undefeated, Untied Season in the History of Girls’ and Boys’ Varsity Sports at Chatham Township High School

1998 New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame




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