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Northern edition Winter Coaches of the Year

Sports

Northern edition Winter Coaches of the Year

Ed. Note: This story will appear in our April 17 print edition.

Boys' Team

ROB HALE—Greely Swimming

For five seasons, Greely's boys' swim team has faced the best the opposition can muster and come February, the Rangers have celebrated a Class B state title.

A large reason for the program's success is the man who has made a habit of doing a state championship-celebrating belly flop in recent years, longtime coach Rob Hale.

For his ability to get the most out of his swimmers, his tireless advocacy of the sport, one-of-a-kind personality and for turning the Greely swim program into a destination for those of all skill levels, Rob Hale gets The Forecaster's nod as our northern edition Winter Male Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

Hale was named girls' Coach of the Year in 2010.

Hale is a Greely man through and through. He grew up in Cumberland, started swimming at the age of 12 and is a member of the Greely Class of 1978. He was a swimming standout with the Rangers, went on to prep school at Exeter (where he also played water polo), then went to Colgate for two years before finishing up at the University of Maine.

Hale's first coaching job was with the Seacoast youth team. He went on to coach as an assistant at Bangor, spent two years in Westbrook, then came home. For over two decades, Hale has been synonymous with Greely swimming. Hale also coached the National Paralympic team in 1996, where he met his wife, Joyce.

While Hale has been fortunate to have a series of stellar swimmers during his watch, he has created depth and that makes the difference in the biggest meets.

This winter, Hale didn't have his most talent-laden team, but he got the most out of his charges and by February it was belly flop time once more.

Hale has also coached middle school track and softball, junior varsity softball and volleyball and is an Ed. Tech at the high school. Hale, who lives in Cumberland and is a father of three, now has won six boys' titles and eight on the girls' side.

There will be more to come.

That's because Rob Hale, our northern edition boys' team Coach of the Year, is one of a kind and his success is well deserved.

Previous winners:

2012-13: Deron Barton (Falmouth hockey)

2011-12: Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2010-11: Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2009-10: Marc Halsted (Yarmouth hockey)

2008-09: Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)

2007-08: Craig Sickels (Freeport basketball)

2006-07: Adam Smith (Yarmouth basketball)

2005-06: Jorma Kurry (Falmouth track)

2004-05: Scott Rousseau (Falmouth hockey)

2003-04: Barry Mothes (Greely hockey)

2002-03: John Maloney (Yarmouth basketball)

2001-02: Scott Matusovich (Yarmouth hockey)

Girls' team

JEFF HALEY—Yarmouth/Freeport hockey

The Yarmouth/Freeport girls' hockey team stole headlines this winter, producing the best record in program history and going deep into the playoffs.

There was no buzz around the squad heading into the year, but thanks to a phenomenal effort by many talented players, Yarmouth/Freeport wound up one of the final four teams standing in the East Region come February.

Another large reason for the program's success was coach Jeff Haley, who with some help, pushed all the right buttons and put the team on the competitive map.

For turning Yarmouth/Freeport not only into a contender, but just like that, into a power, Haley gets The Forecaster's nod as our northern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Haley grew up playing goalie in Massachusetts. After working as a goalie coach at the youth level for many years in Massachusetts, he came to Maine and volunteered to help out with Casco Bay Youth Hockey. After serving as an assistant to Marc Halsted with the Yarmouth boys' program for a few years, Haley assisted David Neujahr with the girls' team for four seasons, then took over the squad at the last minute prior to the 2012-13 season. Yarmouth/Freeport finished 6-11-1 and missed the playoffs and there weren't many (outside of Yarmouth and Freeport anyway) who expected much from this year's squad.

The tone was set five days before Thanksgiving, when Yarmouth/Freeport beat Brunswick, 7-2. The wins kept coming and by Christmas, the team was 8-0. While Yarmouth/Freeport cooled a bit in the second half of the season, it wound up 13-4-1 and earned the No. 4 seed for the playoffs. Yarmouth/Freeport then blanked Mt. Ararat, 7-0, in the quarterfinals and gave top-ranked Leavitt/Edward Little a battle before falling, 6-1, in the semifinals.

Yarmouth/Freeport featured a nice blend of experienced players and strong newcomers and Haley and his staff pushed the right buttons to produce a successful run.

It was a great time,” Haley said. “I'm happy for the seniors who worked so hard to go out that way. I was a little surprised, but I knew our freshmen would contribute. We had great leadership. I like teaching and seeing the kids build confidence. I want to add that our program wouldn't be at the level it is today without the hard work and dedication of my assistant coach, Elaine Driscoll, who's been with the program since its inception. We're fortunate to have her.”

Haley lives in Yarmouth, is the father of two and works as a claims investigator for an insurance company. He looks forward to next season and has established the program where it can be competitive every season.

Jeff Haley, our northern edition girls' team Coach of the Year, had the Midas Touch this winter and it wasn't an aberration. Yarmouth/Freeport will be in the mix for a long time.

Previous winners:

2012-13: Nate Guerin (Greely hockey)

2011-12: Jay Lowery (Yarmouth basketball)

2010-11: Mark Ouellette (Greely Alpine skiing)

2009-10: Rob Hale (Greely swimming)

2008-09: Billy Goodman (Greely basketball)

2007-08: Nick Nash (Yarmouth basketball)

2006-07: George Conant (Falmouth basketball)

2005-06: John Keyes (Falmouth swimming)

2004-05: John Folan (Greely track)

2003-04: Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)

2002-03: Jim Seavey (Greely basketball)

2001-02: Eric Austin (NYA basketball)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.