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Coaches of the Year: Northern edition

Sports

Coaches of the Year: Northern edition

Coach of the year is a very difficult award to bestow. There are so many devoted and excellent ones out there.

These awards were not necessarily awarded to a man and a woman, but to the top coach of a boys' team and the top coach of a girls' team.

FALL 2009 NORTH COACH OF THE YEAR-BOYS' TEAM

JIM HARTMAN-YARMOUTH FOOTBALL

The nascent Yarmouth football program went 0-9 its first year and 1-8 its second, so when the Clippers began 0-2 this fall, the thought that they could play for the Western C championship a mere nine weeks later was inconceivable.

Yarmouth would shock the world, however, putting it all together and running the table the rest of the regular season before upsetting higher seeded Livermore Falls and Old Orchard Beach for dramatic playoff wins. The run and fun ended with a one-sided loss to eventual state champion Dirigo in the regional final, but the Clippers' varsity program had arrived for good.

After starting 1-19, Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman could have thrown in the towel, but instead, got his players to believe they could not only win, but win every time out and become one of the top contenders in the region.

For building a program into a contender overnight and for building belief in the face of adversity, Jim Hartman did a masterful job this autumn and as a result, gets The Forecaster's nod as our northern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

Hartman played some football himself back in his high school and college days. He got into coaching thanks to his own children and found success on the softball diamond (he was our Spring Coach of the Year in 2005 after leading South Portland's softball team to its first and only regional crown). Hartman took over the Yarmouth football program in 2004, when the Clippers were still in the Developmental League and ushered them into a new era.

This year's senior-laden team expected to compete, but after losing early games to Old Orchard Beach and Oak Hill, looked like it would be on the outside looking in yet again.

Instead, Hartman got them to buy into the program and believe that they had too much talent to be denied. Yarmouth broke out with a 56-8 victory at Traip, then won five more games in decisive fashion, scoring points with abandon, while shutting down the opposition, to finish 6-2 and earn the No. 7 seed for the playoffs.

The Clippers then went to No. 2 Livermore Falls and beat the established Andies 35-28 thanks to a late drive and a defensive stand on the final play of the contest. The next week in the semifinals, Yarmouth dug a hole, rallied, then went to overtime in a rematch at Old Orchard Beach. There, the Clippers scored a touchdown, then got a key defensive stop to pull out another dramatic victory. Yarmouth scored first in its regional final at Dirigo, but the Cougars went on to win 41-7, finally bringing the Clippers' magical run to an end.

Hartman, a Portland resident and father of three who works in sales, did perhaps his best work this season. He got an unproven group to think they were the best football team around and when the dust settled, the Clippers came pretty darn close. Jim Hartman, our boys' North Fall Coach of the Year, has plenty to be proud of.

2008 winner: Mike Hagerty (Yarmouth soccer)

2007 winner: Mike Andreasen (Greely soccer)

2006 winner: Dave Halligan (Falmouth soccer)

2005 winner: Joe Heathco (Freeport soccer)

2004 winner: Mike Hagerty (Yarmouth soccer)

2003 winner: Dave Halligan (Falmouth soccer)

2002 winner: Bob Gilman (Falmouth cross country)

2001 winner: Mark Luthe (Falmouth golf)

FALL 2009 NORTH COACH OF THE YEAR- GIRLS' TEAM

GARY POWERS-FALMOUTH VOLLEYBALL

The Falmouth volleyball team managed to do something this fall that only three other teams had ever done, beat the perennial state champion Greely Rangers. Not only did the Yachtsmen down Greely, but they won their first 13 matches and earned the top seed for the Class A playoffs. Falmouth then cruised into the state match and a rematch with the Rangers. This time, the story didn't have a happy ending, but the Yachtsmen had been without question, the feel-good story of the season.

Making the tale even more improbable was that Falmouth was only in its third varsity season. From nowhere, the Yachtsmen advanced to the state final and established their program as one that figures to compete year in, year out.

While several key players had their moments and everyone on the roster contributed, the ultimate credit has to go to coach Gary Powers, who took what he learned as a Greely assistant and created a near-champion at Falmouth.

For making the Yachtsmen so entertaining and so successful and for leading them to a season that no one could have envisioned, Gary Powers is The Forecaster's choice for our northern edition Fall Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Powers is from New Jersey. Track was his sport growing up. He ran at West Virginia and also picked up volleyball in gym class. He started playing in pickup games and men's leagues and after coming to Maine eventually got into coaching at Greely. Powers was with the Rangers for four seasons, which happened to correspond with the program's first four (of seven) successive titles.

When the Falmouth program began in 2007, Powers took the helm and led the Yachtsmen to a 6-9 mark and a playoff berth. In 2008, Falmouth reached the semifinals and won 12 matches, but few outside the program thought the Yachtsmen were ready to challenge the Rangers this season.

As it turned out, Greely had to get its act together to beat Falmouth and keep its championship run going. Powers utilized the myriad skills of the hungry and seasoned players on his roster and a fast start turned into a memorable run.

While the Yachtsmen's state match loss to the Rangers was a disappointment, it's likely Falmouth will be back soon with a chance to avenge that setback. Powers, who works for the post office, hopes to coach for awhile and wants to deliver a first championship.

The Falmouth volleyball team stole the headlines this season. Gary Powers, our northern edition girls' Coach of the Year helped author an amazing story.

2008 winner: Julia Littlefield (NYA field hockey)

2007 winner: Jeff Thoreck (NYA soccer)

2006 winner: Kelvin Hasch (Greely volleyball)

2005 winner: Cathy McGuire (Freeport cross country)

2004 winner: Robin Haley (Falmouth field hockey)

2003 winner: Robyn Thayer (Greely field hockey)

2002 winner: Bob Morse (Yarmouth cross country)

2001 winner: Melissa Anderson (Falmouth soccer)

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Hartman

Photo: Hoffer
Powers