Smith done at McAuley
PORTLAND—Catherine McAuley High School girls' varsity basketball coach Wil Smith has stepped down after four seasons.
Smith, who was involved with the Lions program for nearly a decade, felt the timing was right and stressed the desire to spend more time with family.
"It was just time," he said. "I've been there nine years. It was time to think about where the program was and is, my and my family's future. The program's in a good place. Ready to compete for a championship. It's best for all parties for me to resign at this time."
Smith served as the school's junior varsity coach for five seasons (producing three perfect records), then took over the varsity program for the 2006-07 season. He led the Lions to a 20-2 mark and the state final, where they lost, 46-41, to Cony. McAuley went 10-8 in both 2007-08 and 2008-09, losing to Massabesic in the preliminary round in 2008 and to Deering in the 2009 quarterfinals. This winter, the Lions went 12-6 in the regular season, earned the No. 3 seed for the playoffs, then defeated No. 6 Gorham, 33-22, in the quarterfinals, before falling to two-time defending state champion Deering (45-35) in the semifinals.
Smith, who was 54-27 overall, said that he treasured his time at the school.
"I was fortunate enough to be involved with the finest basketball family in the state," he said. "That's truly how I feel. I had the luxury of being mentored by (former coach) Liz Rickett. I learned a lot. I enjoyed some very good times. I won a state title as an assistant coach. We went to states my first year as a varsity coach. We rebuilt the program into another state championship challenger. I leave with some sadness since I love the girls and the program, but I'm very satisfied with where I left it."
McAuley co-principal Sister Edward Mary praised Smith for his accomplishments.
"Coach Smith has been a loyal colleague and dedicated coach to McAuley's basketball program," she said, in a letter to the school. "The caliber of his selfless efforts on behalf of McAuley athletics can only be spoken of in superlatives. We have been blessed with his leadership. We at McAuley thank him for his solid leadership which will afford the program and our athletes a continued bright future."
Smith, a Portland resident and the father of a 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, is also the associate dean at Bowdoin College, an active member of the Navy and works with the Seeds of Peace camp in the summer. He was named a "Person of the Week" by NBC Nightly News in 2007.
"I was able to fit everything in and doing all of those things made me better at the other," Smith said. "I was juggling them for four years. I'm rethinking that philosophy."
Smith didn't rule out a return to the coaching ranks down the road. Another possibility is someday taking a job in the National Basketball Association. His brother, Otis, is the general manager of the Orlando Magic.
"I might resurface somewhere else if it's optimal for me, my family and the program," Smith said. "I still have a sixth grade boys' AAU team to work with to keep me sharp."
McAuley athletic director Joe Kilmartin said that the search will begin for a new coach. Kilmartin added that he did not know if any of the current assistant coaches would look to make the step up or if Rickett might be interested in returning to the program she made famous.
With the likes of Alexa Coulombe and Rebecca Knight returning, the Lions will likely be the Western A favorite in 2010-11.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org