Northern edition Coaches of the Year

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

FALL 2010 NORTH COACH OF THE YEAR-BOYS’ TEAM

DAVID HIGGINS-GREELY FOOTBALL

The 2009 Greely football team lost its final seven contests and entered 2010 far off the radar in the eyes of most pundits.

Coach David Higgins didn’t see it that way, however.

From the get-go, Higgins insisted that the Rangers were going to make a run at the playoffs and did they ever back him up.

Greely became one of the best stories of the 2010 football season, winning six games, including a double-overtime thriller over defending regional champion Cape Elizabeth and only missed out on the postseason after an agonizing loss to rival Falmouth in the finale and a subsequent coin toss which didn’t go its way.

While they didn’t get to take their chances in the playoffs, the Rangers were unequivocally winners and much of the credit has to go to their head man who set the bar high and ensured his team followed.

For making believers out of everyone, getting a maximum effort from his charges from start to finish and for producing some of the most inspirational football to be found, David Higgins is The Forecaster’s choice as our northern edition Fall 2010 Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Football runs thick in the Higgins family, which donated the scoreboard now in place at Greely. Coach Higgins grew up in Cumberland and went to Greely for two years (where he played soccer and basketball), then spent two years at Cheverus where he played football. After a year at Bridgton Academy, he walked on at the University of Maine and spent three years playing tight end. He began coaching sons David, Christopher and Jon in football, basketball and Little League baseball and when the Falmouth-Cumberland football program started, he coached those kids as well.

After three years as an assistant with the nascent Greely program, Higgins took over as head coach in 2009 and got off to a strong start as the Rangers won their first two games. They didn’t win again, however, and as a result, weren’t expected to do much this fall.

Greely gained confidence with a hard-fought loss at Wells on Opening Night, then won four in a row, capped by a first-ever victory over York. After dropping a 13-0 decision at eventual Class B champion Mountain Valley, the Rangers outlasted Cape Elizabeth in double-OT thriller and got to within the brink of a playoff berth after downing Fryeburg. The dream would be denied in the most painful way possible as Falmouth scored late for a 15-14 win in the finale. The Rangers, Yachtsmen and Capers all wound up 6-3 and with just two postseason spots available, it came down to a coin toss to determine who would move on. The coin didn’t land Greely’s way and a season to remember came to a sudden and disappointing conclusion.

The Rangers had found their way back on the map, however, and produced many highlights.

Higgins owns Higgins Office Products. He still lives in Cumberland with his wife, Linda. His son David is a walk-on at U. Maine. Christopher plays at the University of New Haven. Jon is a senior and is Greely’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year. He’s looking to play in college as well.

This football season was an unexpected treat for the Greely program. David Higgins, our Fall 2010 boys’ Coach of the Year, authored an exhilarating tale.

2009 winner: Jim Hartman (Yarmouth football)

2008 winner: Mike Hagerty (Yarmouth soccer)

2007 winner: Mike Andreasen (Greely soccer)

2006 winner: Dave Halligan (Falmouth soccer)

2005 winner: Joe Heathco (Freeport soccer)

2004 winner: Mike Hagerty (Yarmouth soccer)

2003 winner: Dave Halligan (Falmouth soccer)

2002 winner: Bob Gilman (Falmouth cross country)

2001 winner: Mark Luthe (Falmouth golf)

FALL 2010 NORTH COACH OF THE YEAR- GIRLS’ TEAM

RICH SMITH-YARMOUTH SOCCER

Rich Smith grew up a rough and tough football guy, but he’s become the sentimental and emotional godfather of one of the premier girls’ soccer programs in the state.

As the only coach the Clippers have ever known, Smith has enjoyed his share of success, including Class B state championships in 1995 and 2003.

This fall, however, he might have produced his piece de resistance.

Yarmouth entered the 2010 campaign far behind defending state champion York and perennial powerhouse Falmouth in terms of prestige and expectation, but when the dust settled, the Clippers won 12 games (including one in landmark fashion) and earned the top seed for the playoffs. Behind a special group of senior leaders and several promising youngsters, Yarmouth vanquished the best teams in the state and earned kudos for its performance on and off the field. While the season would end in heartbreak, it was one unique in Clippers annals and the longtime mentor deserves plenty of praise.

We’re happy to oblige as Rich Smith is The Forecaster’s choice as our northern edition Fall 2010 Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Smith grew up in Medford, Mass., where he played football, basketball, baseball and ran track. He played defensive back at the University of Maine in the early 1980s. After graduating, he began teaching at Yarmouth Elementary School and his life soon changed dramatically.

Even though he had no soccer background, Smith was asked to coach the JV boys’ soccer team.

“I didn’t know anything about soccer like the names of the positions, but the coach heard I was good with kids,” Smith recalls.

Smith, who spent a year as an assistant football coach at Deering, then started the girls’ program in 1987. The Clippers didn’t win a game, but earned a late season tie that produced a celebration that Smith recalled rivaled the championship wins. It didn’t take long for Yarmouth to become a power and year in, year out, the Clippers are in the mix.

This year’s squad took umbrage over a perceived lack of respect heading into the season. After wins at Freeport and Gray-New Gloucester to start the year, Yarmouth arrived as a team to beat on Sept. 11 with a 3-2 home victory over Falmouth. That win was the 200th of Smith’s career and it came against the Clippers’ fiercest rival. The good times continued as Yarmouth won its first 11 outings. Although the Clippers struggled late in the year with injury and lack of scoring, they still wound up first in Western B. After downing Gray-New Gloucester, 4-0, in the quarterfinals, Yarmouth met up with Falmouth again in the semis and this time couldn’t score as an early Yachtsmen goal held up for a 1-0 decision.

“I love Yarmouth kids,” Smith said. “Their character, loyalty and tenacious pursuit of excellence is what really keeps me loving the job. This year, it was a combination of a great coaching staff, supportive parents and captains who united the group into a family. Having a team like I had, makes coaching a most rewarding experience.”

Smith, who also coached girls’ and boys’ basketball at Yarmouth, as well as middle school track, is the Falmouth Middle School basketball coach. He is a longtime fifth grade teacher at Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth, lives in Falmouth and is the father of three children. He credits longtime assistants Cathy Flanagan and Rod Corey, as well as this year’s goalie coach, Shawn Miles, for much of his success.

Smith (who has learned the names of the positions, as well as a lot more over the years) has been known to write poems about his teams and can barely talk about his players (especially this group) without breaking down. The football guy has found his perfect fit with girls’ soccer players, many of whom first played for him as 5-year-olds in the Yarmouth youth program.

We hope there are many more. The only coach the Yarmouth girls’ program has ever had is something special indeed. Rich Smith, our Fall 2010 girls’ Coach of the Year, has much to be proud of.

2009 winner: Gary Powers (Volleyball)

2008 winner: Julia Littlefield (NYA field hockey)

2007 winner: Jeff Thoreck (NYA soccer)

2006 winner: Kelvin Hasch (Greely volleyball)

2005 winner: Cathy McGuire (Freeport cross country)

2004 winner: Robin Haley (Falmouth field hockey)

2003 winner: Robyn Thayer (Greely field hockey)

2002 winner: Bob Morse (Yarmouth cross country)

2001 winner: Melissa Anderson (Falmouth soccer)

Sidebar Elements


Higgins

Smith

0
Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.