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Portland area Spring Coaches of the Year

Sports

Portland area Spring Coaches of the Year

Male & Female Coaches of the Year

Coach of the year is always 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.

Spring 2010 Portland edition Coach of the Year – Boys' team

Steve Kautz, Waynflete baseball

Prior to this spring, the Waynflete baseball program hadn't seriously contended in seven years, having won just 10 total games in six seasons. On a few occasions, the team appeared to be on life support due to precariously low numbers.

That all changed with a vengeance this year.

In his fourth year with the program, Kautz finally realized his rebuilding vision and the Flyers earned some long overdue attention after a late surge earned them the final playoff spot in Western Class C.

For sticking with a challenging situation and for bearing the fruit he deserved, Steve Kautz is The Forecaster's choice for our Spring 2010 Portland edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

Kautz is from Tennessee and grew up in Connecticut. He played baseball recreationally, not in high school or college, but took part in men's leagues as an adult, which is when he began to coach.

While serving in the Peace Corps in Czechoslovkia in the late 1990s, Kautz worked on the side with a baseball program and attended clinics put on by Major League Baseball coaches, which reinvigorated his love for the sport.

Kautz came to Waynflete in 2004, served as a baseball assistant in 2005 and 2006, then inherited a Flyers team in 2007 that hadn't posted a winning mark since 1994.

While his early years were fraught with a small roster and a lot of defeats, Kautz (with the able assistance of Paul Grazia and Zak Starr) remained confident that he was on the brink of seeing the program take a turn for the better.

That finally happened this spring.

An early stretch of four wins in six games (including one over local power and rival North Yarmouth Academy) created confidence, but it appeared as if Waynflete would fall short of the playoffs when it entered its regular season finale, a home doubleheader with Traip Academy, with a record of 4-7. Instead, the Flyers punched their playoff ticket by winning the first game, 5-2, and holding on in the nightcap, 10-8.

Kautz inspired strong efforts out of everyone on the roster, young and old, and on June 8, Waynflete found itself at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach for the preliminary round round of the postseason.

Waynflete wasn't able to advance any further (falling, 5-2, in a tight game), but with an abundance of underclassmen on the roster, the Flyers have likely established themselves as a team to be reckoned with going forward.

Kautz, who teaches in the Waynflete math department and lives in Portland with his wife, Raquel, will look to guide the Flyers even higher in 2011 and beyond.

That's certainly a distinct possibility. Steve Kautz, our Spring 2010 Portland edition boys' Coach of the Year, has made the most of his resources and now, with some success under his belt, figures to keep the good times rolling.

2009 winner: Eric Begonia (Portland lacrosse)

2008 winner: Mike D'Andrea (Deering baseball)

2007 winner: Mike D'Andrea (Deering baseball)

2006 winner: Stephane Pejic (Waynflete tennis)

2005 winner: Eric Begonia (Portland lacrosse)

2004 winner: Mike D'Andrea (Deering baseball)

Spring 2010 Portland edition Coach of the Year – Girls' team

Robbie Ferrante, McAuley softball

Even though they were unable to sustain their sizzling start and didn't manage to win a playoff game, there's little question that the most inspirational city softball story this spring was that of the McAuley Lions.

McAuley entered 2010 with no expectations, but went on to post the best record in program history.

While the Lions featured an abundance of offense and solid pitching, as well as an infusion of some fantastic younger players, much of the credit for their revival has to go to the new man at the top, coach Robbie Ferrante.

Ferrante made a return to the program with which he cut his coaching teeth, molded a dangerous team and got McAuley to believe it could win, then did so.

For turning the Lions around in dizzying time, Robbie Ferrante is The Forecaster's choice for our Spring 2010 Portland edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Ferrante grew up in Portland, played basketball at Portland High and graduated in 1972. Not long after, he was invited by now-McAuley athletic director Joe Kilmartin to help out with the softball program and he took over the Lions in 1978. Ferrante coached until 1990, but never posted a winning mark, won more than seven games or reached the playoffs.

Ferrante would eventually find great success with the Portland program, leading the Bulldogs to the 2004 Class A title. He also served as Portland's assistant boys' basketball coach for a decade and served in the same capacity at Cheverus for four years.

Ferrante stepped down at Portland after the 2008 season and took 2009 off, then returned to McAuley this spring, not knowing what to expect.

The Lions opened at home against highly-touted Cheverus and trailed 12-4 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Then, in a wondrous sign of things to come, McAuley shed its past and astonishingly erupted for nine runs to win, 13-12. Behind the pitching of junior Jen Field and freshman Gabby Townsend and offensive contributions up and down the roster, the Lions won 10 of their first 11 games.

McAuley would struggle against the meat of its schedule down the stretch, but still wound up 11-5, good for seventh in Western A. The Lions then made No. 2 South Portland, then eventual state champion, sweat in the quarterfinals before going down to a 6-4 defeat.

Throughout, Ferrante pushed all the right buttons and created a contender that figures to be in the mix for the foreseeable future.

Ferrante credited the fast start, focus and good health, as well as his assistant coaches, Jim Conley and Ryan Danley, for the Lions' rise.

Ferrante works for Rudy's All-Star Diner in Portland (which used to be his Dad's place) and lives in Saco with wife, Gail, and son Joseph, a sophomore at Thornton Academy.

Now that's he proved he can create a contender from scratch, the job will get more difficult in the future, but don't think for a minute that Robbie Ferrante, our Spring 2010 Portland edition girls' Coach of the Year, isn't up to the task.

2009 winner: Bonnie Moran (Portland tennis)

2008 winner: Cathie Connors (Waynflete lacrosse)

2007 winner: Jamie Chamberlain (Cheverus lacrosse)

2006 winner: Jamie Chamberlain (Cheverus lacrosse)

2005 winner: Rick Supinski (Cheverus softball)

2004 winner: Cathie Connors (Waynflete lacrosse)