Portland edition Winter Coaches of the Year

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Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald photo.

Boys’ Team

KEVIN HALEY—Cheverus swimming

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time, not that long ago, that Kevin Haley and his Cheverus boys’ swim program couldn’t find the way to the top of the podium.

That’s no longer a problem.

This February, the Stags boys won Class A for the sixth year in a row as they remain the program by which all others measure themselves.

For molding a dynasty that just keeps winning and winning, Kevin Haley is The Forecaster’s choice as our Portland edition, boys’ team Coach of the Year.

Haley also was honored as a boys’ coach in 2009 and as a girls’ coach in 2014.

Haley swam for Cheverus before attending Northeastern University. In 1997, Haley took over his alma mater, which at that point, was still a boys’-only school. In 2004, he inherited the girls’ program as well.

After six runner-up performances, Haley led the Stags’ boys’ team to an elusive Class A title in 2013. Cheverus then won it again in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. And again, this winter, as the Stags downed runner-up Bangor by 78 points.

Haley, who also led the Cheverus girls’ program to a state title in 2014, is a longtime member of the Portland Police Department.

The Stags Dynasty shows no signs of slowing. As long as Kevin Haley, our Portland edition, boys’ team Coach of the Year is leading his alma mater, Cheverus will remain in the thick of the championship hunt.

Previous winners:

2016-17 Jeff Beaney (Portland/Deering hockey)

2015-16 Joe Russo (Portland basketball)

2014-15 Dan Lucas (Cheverus hockey)

2013-14 Joe Russo (Portland basketball)

2012-13 Rich Henry (Waynflete basketball)

2011-12 Dan LeGage (Deering basketball)

2010-11 Joe Russo (Portland basketball)

2009-10 Bob Brown (Cheverus basketball)

2008-09 Kevin Haley (Cheverus swimming)

2007-08 Bob Brown (Cheverus basketball)

2006-07 Bob Brown (Cheverus basketball)

2005-06 Dan LeGage (Deering basketball)

2004-05 Jack Lowry (Cheverus hockey)

2003-04 Joe Russo (Portland basketball)

Girls’ team

TOM CLIFFORD, Portland/Deering hockey

Clifford returned to coaching varsity hockey this winter and had a debut season to remember, leading the Portland/Deering girls to the best record in program history.

For leading the program to great heights and to its first regional final, Tom Clifford is The Forecaster’s selection as our Portland edition, Winter Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Clifford played hockey at Lewiston High School and the University of Southern Maine and spent 11 years as the coach of South Portland’s boys’ program before taking a long hiatus from being a head coach at the high school level.

He returned this winter and inherited a team which won just once in 2016-17. Portland/Deering easily surpassed that total this year in its fourth game and never looked back. Portland/Deering handed rival Cheverus/Kennebunk its only loss in the New Year’s Day “City Cup” and went on to post a 13-5 record. 

Portland/Deering earned the No. 2 seed in the South Region and earned a bye into the semifinals, where it held off Cape Elizabeth/South Portland/Waynflete, 3-2, to reach the regional final for the first time.

While the squad’s title dreams were dashed by Cheverus/Kennebunk, 8-2, the season was an amazing ride.

“The resiliency the girls showed all year long was amazing,” Clifford said. “Since (the first day of practice Nov. 6), they bought into working hard.”

With a young core and a new expectation of winning, Portland/Deering should be a factor again next winter.

As long as Tom Clifford, our Portland edition, girls’ team Coach of the Year is leading the way, Portland/Deering will be a program to take seriously.

Previous winners:

2016-17 Billy Goodman (MGA basketball)

2015-16 Kent Hulst (Cheverus hockey)

2014-15 Billy Goodman (McAuley basketball)

2013-14 Kevin Haley (Cheverus swimming)

2012-13 Brandon Salway (Waynflete basketball)

2011-12 Brandon Salway (Waynflete basketball)

2010-11 Amy Vachon (McAuley basketball)

2009-10 J.P. Lavoie (Cheverus hockey)

2008-09 Mike Murphy (Deering basketball)

2007-08 John Smith (McAuley swimming)

2006-07 Jan Veinot (Waynflete basketball)

2005-06 Kevin Campbell (Deering track)

2004-05 Lindsay Reagan (Waynflete Nordic skiing)

2003-04 Mike D’Andrea (Deering basketball)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter:@foresports.

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