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North area Spring Coaches of the Year

Sports

North area Spring Coaches of the Year

Coach of the year is always a very difficult award to bestow. There are so many devoted and excellent candidates 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 2009 Northern Edition Coach of the Year-Boys' Team

MIKE LEBEL-FALMOUTH LACROSSE

For the last few years, boys' lacrosse coaches warned that the up and coming power was the Yachtsmen of Falmouth.

In 2009, those Yachtsmen arrived and became one of the most compelling stories in the sport.

Falmouth's success didn't happen overnight of course. The coaching staff had a lot to do with it. Assistant coach Chris Richards was honored by his peers this spring and now it's the head coach's turn.

For leading the program to the point where it can contend with the best teams in the state, for helping the Yachtsmen reach and exceed their promise and for molding a young team into a top threat, Mike LeBel is The Forecaster's choice for our 2009 Northern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

LeBel grew up in Massachusetts and started playing lacrosse in middle school. He was also a football player and was able to play lacrosse (as a middie) at Alfred (N.Y.) University.

LeBel got into coaching as a graduate assistant at Alfred, spent 10 years at Cushing Academy, then came to Falmouth in 2007, following on the heels of his wife, Deb, who led the Yachtsmen to three girls' soccer crowns in her four years as coach.

Falmouth was competitive his first two seasons, but 2009 was something else entirely. The Yachtsmen gave defending Class A champion Scarborough, defending Western B champ Cape Elizabeth and eventual Class A champ Portland fits in close losses, and got over the hump with impressive wins over Kennebunk, Greely and North Yarmouth Academy.

Falmouth wound up 8-4, earned the No. 2 seed in Western B and avenged two prior agonizing playoff losses with a romp over Greely in the semifinals. The run finally ended with another close setback to Cape Elizabeth in the regional final, but the Yachtsmen had arrived to stay.

LeBel credits the dedication of his players, as well as the help he's gotten from coaches Richards and John Fay. With almost everyone back in 2010, Falmouth won't be able to sneak up on anyone and will have to deal with heavy expectations for the first time.

LeBel, who has a degree in education and works as a mortgage loan officer for Bank of America, lives in Raymond, where he and his wife are expecting their first child at any time.

That will be the capper for a magical few months. The Yachtsmen have arrived as a top threat and only figure to get better. Mike LeBel, our 2009 Northern edition boys' Coach of the Year, has played a large role in turning an up-and-coming program into a top contender.

2008 winner: Casey Abbott (Greely lacrosse)

2007 winner: Derek Soule (Greely baseball)

2006 winner: Chris Carpentier (Freeport lacrosse)

2005 winner: Chris Mazzurco (NYA track)

2004 winner: Craig Curry (Yarmouth lacrosse)

2003 winner: Bruce Poliquin (NYA baseball)

2002 winner: Hank Ogilby (Freeport baseball)

Spring 2009 Northern Edition Coach of the Year-Girls' Team

SANDRA STONE-FALMOUTH TENNIS

While it might seem as if the Falmouth girls' tennis team simply shows up and wins every time out in decisive fashion, it's not true.

Indeed, the Yachtsmen have an abundance of superb players and a commitment to reach the pinnacle every season, but they're also fortunate in that they have some superb guidance at the top.

Sandra Stone has been able to put the pieces together and with the help of her assistant, Prisca Thomson, has fostered a fun environment as Falmouth has become the premier Class B girls' program.

For getting the most out of her skilled players and for leading the Yachtsmen to the top one more time, Sandra Stone is The Forecaster's choice as our 2009 Northern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Stone also won the honor in 2005.

A native of Evanston, Ill., Stone played junior varsity tennis at Bowdoin College. She took over the Falmouth program in 2003 and by her third year had the Yachtsmen winning a Class B crown.

A second followed in 2006 and a third arrived in 2008. This year's team might have been the best of all.

Falmouth's two doubles teams are so strong that they squared off in the conference final for the second straight year. Two stellar freshman came aboard to join Hallsey Leighton as arguably the finest singles triumvirate around.

The results were plain to see as the Yachtsmen went 12-0, winning every match but one by a 4-1 or 5-0 margin (a 3-2 victory at Waynflete May 1 was the closest call). Falmouth easily earned the top seed for the playoffs and blanked all four of its postseason foes in securing another crown.

Stone considered herself more of a manager this year, but certainly made the right moves. She works more with the singles players (she remains an active player herself) and allows Thomson to work with the doubles teams.

Through it all, the coaches believe in allowing for as much fun and spirit as possible.

There doesn't figure to be any reason to change anytime soon and with several standouts returning, the Yachtsmen will be on the short list of favorites again in 2010.

Stone, who lives in Cumberland and works for the Maine Center for Enterprise Development at USM, hopes to keep Falmouth on top for the foreseeable future.

Based on her pedigree, Sandra Stone, our 2009 Northern girls' Coach of the Year, has many more celebrations to look forward to.

2008 winner; Julia Littlefield (NYA lacrosse)

2007 winner: Robin Haley (Falmouth lacrosse)

2006 winner: Dorothy Holt (Yarmouth lacrosse)

2005 winner: Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)

2004 winner: Ann Harradon (Yarmouth tennis)

2003 winner: Julia Seely (NYA tennis)

2002 winner: Julia Littlefield (Yarmouth lacrosse)

Photo:
LeBel

Photo:
Stone