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Southern edition Coaches of the Year

Sports

Southern edition Coaches of the Year

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

Winter 2009-10 Southern edition Coach of the Year-Boys' Team

JOE ROBINSON, SOUTH PORTLAND HOCKEY

When the South Portland boys' hockey team dropped three of its first four games this winter, there were some who felt that last year's growth and success might have been a fluke.

By the end of the season, there wasn't a detractor to be found.

The Red Riots won 13 of their final 14 regular season contests, then won a quarterfinal round playoff game for the first time, culminating what has to be considered as the finest campaign in the program's history.

In just a few short years, Joe Robinson has raised the Red Riots' profile, has made the most of a small roster and has produced a winner, attributes that convinced The Forecaster to name him our Winter 2009-10 Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a boys' team.

Robinson is a Red Riot at heart. He's a member of the Class of 1994. He was a hockey and baseball standout in high school, went on to Bridgton Academy and the University of Southern Maine and started coaching at the ripe age of 20 when he ran across South Portland athletic director Thor Nilsen while serving jury duty and learned of a freshman softball opening. After spending a short period of time in Arizona, Robinson returned to South Portland and coached girls' soccer and baseball at Mahoney Middle School. He served as an assistant with the Cape Elizabeth hockey program and was an integral part of two state championships. He took over the Red Riots for the 2007-08 season.

South Portland was coming off a 4-16 campaign, but Robinson produced a winning record (10-9-1) in his first year, then led the Red Riots to 15 victories and a trip to the quarterfinals last winter.

This year's team not only had to deal with small numbers and youth. Brendan Horton was diagnosed with cancer. While he missed much of the season, the team, led by his older brother, Zach, rallied around him and overcame its 1-3 start to finish fourth in the Western A Heals. A come-from-behind 3-2 win over rival Portland in the quarterfinals made history and even though the run ended with a 7-2 loss to eventual state champion Biddeford in the semifinals, the Red Riots produced a feel-good story.

Robinson pushed all the right buttons this year. He credited the timing of Christmas break and a team meeting for turning things around.

Robinson is still the girls' soccer coach at Mahoney. He's preparing to embark on his first season as the South Portland assistant varsity baseball coach. He and his wife, Jen, and their baby live in Biddeford.

The flip side of South Portland's youth is the fact that almost everyone will be back next winter, where the Red Riots will face expectations for the first time and won't be able to sneak up on anyone.

That's OK, this program will be ready for any eventuality. Joe Robinson, our Winter 2009-10 Southern edition boys' Coach of the Year, has created a budding powerhouse.

2008-09 winner: Derek Veilleux (Scarborough track)

2007-08 winner: Phil Conley (South Portland basketball).

2006-07 winner: Tony DiBiase (South Portland basketball)

2005-06 winner: Jay Mazur (Scarborough hockey)

2004-05 winner: Jason Tremblay (Cape Elizabeth hockey)

2003-04 winner: Jim Ray (Cape Elizabeth basketball)

2002-03 winner: Matt Townsend (Scarborough basketball)

2001-02 winner: Paul Brogan (South Portland indoor track)

Winter 2009-10 Southern edition Coach of the Year -Girls' Team

JIM SEAVEY, SCARBOROUGH BASKETBALL

A program that had never made it past the regional final is now the finest in the state.

The Scarborough girls' basketball team boasted an indomitable group of senior players who simply don't know how to lose, but the architect of the Red Storm's revival was the man at the top.

Jim Seavey left Greely four years ago after leading the Rangers to two regional titles and the 2004 Class B championship. He inherited a Scarborough team that was coming off a five-win campaign and promptly molded the Red Storm into a tenacious, clutch group that simply wouldn't be denied.

For proving once again that he's a coach with few equals, for getting a group unaccustomed to hardwood success to believe it could be the best around and for mixing and matching with nearly flawless results during the regular and postseasons, Jim Seavey is The Forecaster's choice as our Winter 2009-10 Southern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls' team.

Seavey won the award twice previously at Greely, in 2003 and 2004.

Seavey grew up in Biddeford, playing football, basketball and baseball. Before coaching at Greely, he served at Edward Little, Gray-New Gloucester and Oxford Hills. He reached the pinnacle of his profession at Greely, then, decided it was time to take on a new challenge.

In his first season in Scarborough, the Red Storm won eight games and made it to the preliminary round of the Western A playoffs, losing to Kennebunk. The next season, Scarborough won 13 times and got to the Expo before falling to Westbrook in the quarterfinals. Last year, the Red Storm won 18 times, but were upset by Biddeford in the semifinals.

There would be no stumbles this winter.

Scarborough entered the year as a co-favorite with two-time defending champion Deering. The Red Storm quickly became the team to beat with a dramatic come-from-behind home victory over the Rams, then passed every subsequent test. Seavey relied heavily on his accomplished players, many of whom had won titles in other sports.

Scarborough entered the tournament as the favorite for the first time and didn't disappoint. In the quarterfinals, against South Portland, the Red Storm's defense (a longtime Seavey calling card) didn't allow the Red Riots to get across halfcourt for much of a first period that ended with a '0' next to South Portland's name on the scoreboard. In the semifinals, playing without injured stalwart Jenn Colpitts, Seavey got his girls to stay focused despite an early deficit and they rallied to set up another date with Deering in the regional final. There, the Rams appeared on several occasions primed to pull away, but Scarborough hung close, then finished with a flurry to capture the regional crown. In the state game, against Skowhegan, Seavey threw a wrinkle at the Indians, playing sophomore Brittany Bona for major minutes. Instead of coming from behind, the Red Storm raced to an 19-3 lead and cruised to a 52-32 win, capping a first-ever undefeated and championship season.

Seavey, who also worked as a football coach at Greely and Gray-New Gloucester and led the Greely softball team to the 2002 Class B title, broke the 200 career hoops wins mark this winter. He and his wife Heather (the South Portland field hockey coach) and their children, Quincy (5) and Sydney (3), live in Westbrook.

Seavey now turns his attention to coaching Westbrook softball this spring. Next winter, the Red Storm won't be picked by many to repeat, but you can never rule out a Seavey-coached squad.

This basketball season will never be forgotten in Scarborough. A championship was only a pipe dream for years until Jim Seavey, our Winter 2009-10 Southern edition girls' Coach of the Year, arrived on the scene.

2008-09 winner: Chris Roberts (Cape Elizabeth basketball

2007-08 winner: Bre Fortiguerra (Scarborough hockey)

2006-07 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)

2005-06 winner: Deven Morrill (Cape Elizabeth Nordic skiing)

2004-05 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)

2003-04 winner: Mike Giordano (South Portland basketball)

2002-03 winner: Kerry Kertes (Cape Elizabeth swimming)

2001-02 winner: Tim Kipp (Scarborough swimming)