Fall Coaches of the Year

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

These awards aren’t 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.

PORTLAND EDITION BOYS’ FALL 2011 COACH OF THE YEAR

BRANDON SALWAY-WAYNFLETE SOCCER

They say good things come to those who wait.

After some cruel postseason losses, a good man and coach finally got back to the pinnacle this fall.

While it only seems like Brandon Salway has coached at Waynflete forever, it had been a long time since he was able to celebrate a championship.

This year, after three years of gutwrenching defeats, Salway and the Flyers reached the pinnacle for the first time in Class C.

A senior-laden squad did the heavy lifting, but Salway played a huge role with his direction and demeanor, got that title he richly deserved and as a result is The Forecaster’s choice as our boys’ Coach of the Year for our Portland edition.

Salway has long been active in sports in the state of Maine. He grew up in Bethel and attended Telstar, where he played soccer, basketball and baseball. He played a year of basketball at Dean College, then two years of soccer at the University of Southern Maine, for a coach named Gary Fifield.

Salway got involved with coaching his final year at USM and in 1989 eschewed a budding sportswriting career to become the boys’ soccer coach at Waynflete.

Journalism’s loss was the Flyers’ gain.

After losing in the Class D state game in two of his four seasons, Salway won his first title in 1993. Waynflete did it again in 2001 and 2002, but fell in the state game each of the next two seasons.

In 2005, the Flyers moved up to Class C and by 2008, had overcome a No. 11 seed to make an improbable run to the state final. The fairy tale ended there with a loss to Washington Academy, but Waynflete appeared primed to finish the job after a 12-1-1 season in 2009. Instead, the Flyers were upset by Georges Valley in their first playoff game. If that wasn’t painful enough, losing to rival North Yarmouth Academy in 2010, one step shy of the state final, had to have Waynflete wondering if it was snakebitten.

Then came the 2011 season where again, the Flyers lost just once, beat and tied NYA and earned a first-ever win over traditional power Cape Elizabeth. Waynflete knew it would be judged by what it did in the playoffs and did the Flyers ever rise to the occasion.

After a 3-0 win over Wiscasset in the quarterfinals, Waynflete held off Hall-Dale on penalty kicks, then avenged last year’s loss with a 3-1 win over NYA in the regional final. The elusive state title didn’t come easily, but when senior William Cleaves scored in double overtime, the Flyers were finally on top.

“The freshmen contributed and the kids who weren’t playing as much made us improve because of their attitude,” Salway said. “We had great chemistry and all the credit for our success goes to the players.”

Through the playoffs, Salway, who now has 195 wins as Waynflete coach, displayed great calm (especially when contrasted to some of his opposing coaches) and left the game in the hands (and feet) of his talented squad.

Salway, who is also the school’s girls’ basketball coach (he’s in his second stint and is on the verge of 200 victories), also served as the boys’ basketball coach and even worked with Fifield coaching the USM women’s basketball team, for two seasons. He’s also coached his share of middle school, served as a JV baseball coach in Scarborough for one season and filled in as Waynflete’s athletic director in the 2003-04 school year.

Salway, who lives in Old Orchard Beach, is Waynflete’s assistant athletic director and physical education teacher to even the youngest students, says that coaching and athletics are in his blood and that he hopes to continue coaching for many years.

Those who bleed green and white can only hope that’s the case. Brandon Salway, our Fall 2011 boys’ team Coach of the Year, has set the bar for excellence for many, many years.

2010 winner: Rocky Frenzilli (Portland soccer)

2009 winner: John Wolfgram (Cheverus football)

2008 winner: Billy Goodman (Deering golf)

2007 winner: Andy LeFebvre (Deering soccer)

2006 winner: John Simpson (Cheverus cross country)

2005 winner: Jim Ouellette (Cheverus golf)

2004 winner: Mike Bailey (Portland football)

PORTLAND EDITION GIRLS’ FALL 2011 COACH OF THE YEAR

BETH ARSENAULT-PORTLAND FIELD HOCKEY

After toiling her way through numerous painful seasons, Beth Arsenault was rewarded for her perseverance in a big way this autumn.

The Portland field hockey team, long off the radar in Western A, not only had an strong regular season, but went about making history, reaching the regional final for the first time before finally bowing out.

Arsenault successfully blended a pair of talented newcomers to a veteran roster, got the most out of a first-year goalie and got her girls to believe that despite their lack of success historically, great things were possible.

For helping author arguably the best feel-good story of the season, being so highly respected by her players and peers and reminding us that sometimes good things really do happen to those who are worthy, Beth Arsenault is The Forecaster’s choice for our Portland edition Fall 2011 Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Arsenault grew up in South Portland, where she ran track and played softball. She didn’t play field hockey because she was in the marching band. After running track at the University of Maine, Arsenault starting working in the Portland school district in 1992 and began coaching track at Lincoln Middle School.

After serving as an indoor and outdoor track coach at both the middle and high school levels, she served as the Portland JV field hockey coach for three seasons, then took over the varsity squad in 2000.

Suffice it to say that the job wasn’t highly coveted as the Bulldogs were in the midst of a 33-game losing streak.

Arsenault delivered a victory right away over Thornton Academy and led Portland to the playoffs in five of her first six seasons (which includes a very good team in 2004, which produced her only winning campaign). The program then regressed and suffered more than its share of agonizing losses, bottoming out at 1-13 in 2009. Last fall, the Bulldogs improved to 6-8 and with a huge senior core and the addition of transfers Gabi Cardona and Kyle Dalbec, this season was expected to be memorable.

It didn’t start well, however, as Portland dropped its first two games and sat at 2-4 after a 5-0 loss to Cheverus.

Then, everything fell into place and the Bulldogs finished the regular season on a 7-0-1 surge.

The postseason fireworks began in the preliminary round with a penalty corners victory against Thornton Academy. Then, at second-ranked Sanford, the Bulldogs sprung their first upset, 3-1. A 2-1 victory at Westbrook followed and for the first time, Portland appeared in the regional final. While the Bulldogs were ultimately done in by a talented Marshwood squad, the season was nothing short of magical.

“What made it so special was everyone appreciated every second of it,” said Arsenault. “I appreciated the kids and how exciting it was for them and for me.”

“(Coach) is very calm,” said Bulldogs senior standout Raechel Allen. “She’s more than a coach. She’s so personable. She’s the most fun coach I’ve had.”

Arsenault works with Alternative Education student at Portland High, where she’s worked the past 15 years. She lives in South Portland with her 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.

Another run at glory won’t come easily next fall after graduating so many good players, but don’t write the Bulldogs off. Now that Beth Arsenault, our Fall 2011 Portland edition girls’ team Coach of the Year has tasted success, it’s likely she’ll continue to do great things.

2010 winner: Noelle Surette (Waynflete field hockey)

2009 winner: Amy McMullin (Cheverus field hockey)

2008 winner: Ziggy Gillespie (Waynflete cross country)

2007 winner: Patsy Fowler (Cheverus field hockey)

2006 winner: Dave Levasseur (Portland soccer)

2005 winner: Tim Donovan (McAuley cross country)

2004 winner: Jon Shardlow (Waynflete soccer)

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.