Southern edition Winter Coaches of the Year
Ed. Note: This story will appear in our April 18 print edition.
JOE ROBINSON, SOUTH PORTLAND HOCKEY
The South Portland boys' hockey program became a feel-good story this winter, but not in the way anyone expected.
While low numbers have been the rule and not the exception for awhile, few envisioned the Red Riots being able to produce 12 victories, including one in the playoffs, but that's exactly what happened.
South Portland's players gave their all from start to finish, in part because they wanted the program to succeed and in part to pay tribute to the man at the top, Joe Robinson, who redefined the word dedication.
For getting the absolute most out of a challenging situation and for continuing to prove he's one of the best around, regardless of how many players he has on his roster, Joe Robinson is The Forecaster's choice as our Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.
Robinson was also honored in 2010.
Robinson graduated from South Portland High School in 1994 after being a hockey and baseball standout. He went on to Bridgton Academy and the University of Southern Maine. He assisted a state champion Cape Elizabeth boys' hockey program before taking over the Red Riots in 2007.
Robinson had an idea that this year's team would be short-handed and prepared accordingly.
“I really focused on conditioning on and off the ice to prepare the guys for what ended up the inevitable,” Robinson said. “We only had nine players and two goalies at the end. I had to get them prepared for that and the guys didn't complain."
As the numbers gradually grew smaller, you wouldn't know it by South Portland's play. The Red Riots found a way to win more games than they lost, including several victories in stirring fashion, and punched their ticket to the playoffs where they downed Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills in the preliminary round before finally being ousted by eventual state champion Falmouth in the quarterfinals.
“This is the proudest I've been of any team I've coached,” Robinson said. “This team really went far and beyond what anyone would have thought. We were hoping for six or seven wins and maybe a playoff spot. To look back and see we won 12 games, including a prelim, was extremely impressive. They embraced what the coaching staff demanded of them and they rose to the occasion. Through hard work and dedication, they gained confidence which in the end, gave them a lot of success.”
While Robinson's appreciated the effort of his players, they in turn, paid tribute to him.
“He's one of the best I've been coached by,” said junior captain Andrew Whipple. “He has a positive attitude. He's wicked patient.”
While he's hoping for a more robust roster in 2014-15, rest assured that Joe Robinson, our Southern edition boys' team Coach of the Year, will mix and match and produce a winner. That's just who and what he is.
2012-13: Phil Conley (South Portland basketball)
2011-12: Derek Veilleux (Scarborough track)
2010-11: Jim Ray (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2009-10: Joe Robinson (South Portland hockey)
2008-09: Derek Veilleux (Scarborough track)
2007-08: Phil Conley (South Portland basketball).
2006-07: Tony DiBiase (South Portland basketball)
2005-06: Jay Mazur (Scarborough hockey)
2004-05: Jason Tremblay (Cape Elizabeth hockey)
2003-04: Jim Ray (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2002-03: Matt Townsend (Scarborough basketball)
2001-02: Paul Brogan (South Portland indoor track)
CAITLIN CASHMAN, SCARBOROUGH HOCKEY
After so many close calls, the Scarborough girls' hockey team kicked in the door this winter and won the state championship.
And it wasn't even close.
The Red Storm went undefeated and was rarely challenged, but with the stakes the highest and with the title on the line, Scarborough had to dig deep and found a way to get the job done.
While the roster is littered with talented players, make no mistake, the Red Storm's success begins with Caitlin Cashman, who pushed all the right buttons this year.
For getting Scarborough over the hump and for getting so much out of so many players, Caitlin Cashman is The Forecaster's choice for our southern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.
Cashman grew up in Connecticut, started playing hockey (as a defender) at the age of six and played hockey (and lacrosse) at the University of Southern Maine.
After college, Cashman was an assistant for two years, then head coach for a year at Portland, then took over the Scarborough job in 2009-10.
“I wanted to stay in the game,” Cashman said. “Hockey is such a big part of my life. I wanted to help develop the game in Maine and show girls who want to play at the next level what you need to do.”
After suffering progressively more agonizing semifinal round losses her first three seasons, Cashman led the Red Storm to the state game last winter, but Scarborough lost in overtime to Greely.
This season, however, nothing would stop the Red Storm Express.
In the regular season, Scarborough dominated its 18 foes by a margin of 108 goals to 10. After handling Capeflete and Falmouth by a composite 18-1 margin in the regional playoffs, the Red Storm got back to the state final, but had to play Lewiston, at the Colisee no less. Scarborough only led, 2-1, late, but this time wouldn't be denied, getting a late tally to clinch it and at last, the Red Storm could call itself the best team in the state.
“There was pressure, but the girls handled it well,” Cashman said. “They were mature and responsible. We were all about being team first. I drilled that into them.”
Cashman is still an active player, more than holding her own in local men's leagues. She lives in Brunswick and works as a child therapist in Lewiston. She hopes to continue coaching and Scarborough is happy to have her.
That's because Caitlin Cashman, our Southern edition girls' team Coach of the Year, knows what it takes to win and has passed that along. She and her team aren't close to finished.
2012-13: Chris Casterella (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2011-12: Tom Maines (Scarborough basketball)
2010-11: Chris Roberts (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2009-10: Jim Seavey (Scarborough basketball)
2008-09: Chris Roberts (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2007-08: Bre Fortiguerra (Scarborough hockey)
2006-07: Ron Kelly (Scarborough track)
2005-06: Deven Morrill (Cape Elizabeth Nordic skiing)
2004-05: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)
2003-04: Mike Giordano (South Portland basketball)
2002-03: Kerry Kertes (Cape Elizabeth swimming)
2001-02: Tim Kipp (Scarborough swimming)
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.