SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Inside the South Burlington Dolphins facility lies a half century of history.
"This was a championship-- 2011," Rene Laberge said, pointing to a photo.
Reporter Joe Carroll: What's this room mean to you?
Rene Laberge: Well, 50 years of coaching.
Coaching the South Burlington Dolphins, a youth football program.
"Keeps me a young man," Rene said. "I get excited."
The room is the past but 75-year-old Rene is always looking at the future.
"Yes, gear up!" he called. "You got 15 minutes, you better hurry!"
Today, he's training a group of 12- to 14-year-olds.
Joe Carroll: Are these like your own kids?
Rene Laberge: Yeah.
"We charge a fee to play, but I never turn a kid away, never, ever, ever," Rene said.
Football, of course, is a team sport. One of Rene's kids has second thoughts about playing.
"So don't start giving up now," Rene advised the boy. "You're giving up on yourself, you're not giving up on me."
Each player touches a landmark before practice. It's both an inspiration and a remembrance of those who played and are no longer alive.
"That's the Pride Rock. That just says they are going to do their best today," Rene explained.
Joe Carroll: How many kids have you coached?
Rene Laberge: A couple thousand.
Joe Carroll: Wow.
The coach has mellowed but he still has an edge.
"Don't talk, listen," Rene said.
Old-fashioned discipline for kids with modern problems. Rene says kids have changed. He says thanks to video games, they have the attention span of a nanosecond. He calls many of them "free-range kids" whose parents let them do anything they want.
"They get into trouble because they have no dreams, no hopes and a lot of times no self-worth. Sometimes coach is the only one around," Rene said.
The name Dolphins came from his favorite coach, Don Shula. The orange and black uniforms come from Middlebury High School where he played. Rene's parents couldn't afford to send him to college but he became a successful businessman managing a technical firm with a staff of 50 and a budget in the millions. He is now retired. He and his wife, Linda, have one son who lives out of state.
Joe Carroll: Fifty years of this, hunh?
Rene Laberge: Fifty years of this. It keeps you young. I mean, look at those little guys out there.
This season, he has 90 kids hitting the field ranging from first-grade to eighth-grade. Rene doesn't work alone.
"Most of the time there's like 15 coaches here," he said.
And the player who was about to quit? He was back at practice the next day.
Joe Carroll: You're not giving up on him?
Rene Laberge: You never give up on a kid. That just doesn't happen.