Portland Winter Coaches of the Year

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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 2008-09 Portland Coach of the Year-Boys’ Team
KEVIN HALEY-Cheverus Swimming

Kevin Haley is a Cheverus man through and through. The one-time Stags swimmer has served as a longtime coach and this winter proved to be one of his most successful and enjoyable campaigns.

Haley led the boys’ team to a runner-up finish at the Class A state meet in February, has the program as popular as ever and consistently pumps out stellar talent. If that’s not enough, he led not just the boys, but the girls’ squad as well to a Sportsmanship title.

Such achievement is worthy of praise and as a result The Forecaster is happy to name Kevin Haley our Winter 2008-09 Portland Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Haley has spent a good chunk of his life involved with Cheverus swimming. After competing, he went to school at Northeastern University, then returned home and got into coaching as an assistant with the Stags. He took over the head job in 1997 and became the girls’ coach in 2004.

The boys have enjoyed several top five state finishes until his leadership and this year had their best showing since winning the state championship in 1998.

Haley credited coming off an Olympic year for much of the team’s growth, but there’s little secret that swimming for Cheverus often pays off with great acclaim and occasionally an opportunity to compete at the next level.

This winter, the Stags saved their best for last, placing third at Southwesterns, competing against the best teams that Class A and B. Only perennial powerhouse Bangor stood in Cheverus’ way at states and the way the Stags comported themselves in and out of the water didn’t go unrewarded.

Haley lives in Portland, works for the Portland Police Department and is the father of a daughter, Emily, and a son, William. He sees no reason to leave the first and only coaching job he’s had anytime soon.

That’s good news for a perennial contender. The Stags have been doing things the right way for a long time and at long last, Kevin Haley, our Winter 2008-09 Portland boys’ Coach of the Year, is getting recognized for setting the tone.

2007-08 winner: Bob Brown (Cheverus Basketball)
2006-07 winner: Bob Brown (Cheverus Basketball)
2005-06 winner: Dan LeGage (Deering Basketball)
2004-05 winner: Jack Lowry (Cheverus Hockey)
2003-04 winner: Joe Russo (Portland Basketball)

Winter 2008-09 Portland Coach of the Year-Girls’ team
MIKE MURPHY-Deering Basketball

The Deering girls’ basketball team won its second straight Class A state championship the night of Feb. 28. Just as it was expected to.

But this was no run-of-the-mill undefeated crown.

The Rams faced a unique dose of adversity prior to the season when coach Mike D’Andrea stepped down. Luckily for Deering, Mike Murphy was able and willing to step into the breach. Smartly, he left his veteran and hungry team largely to its own devices and the result was a celebration on the Augusta Civic Center floor.

For taking over a challenging position at the last minute, for making the most of his team’s talent and for pushing the right buttons along the way, Mike Murphy is the recipient of our Winter 2008-09 Portland Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Murphy had his share of success as a basketball player (he also played baseball and ran track in high school) at Cheverus, Merrimack College and at the University of Southern Maine. After spending 12 years leading the Scarborough girls’ program and five more at Westbrook, Murphy inherited a champion and made a point of giving the Rams their space.

Not only did he take over a team full of talent, but senior-laden Deering didn’t need to be motivated. Still stung over what transpired in the offseason, the Rams were on a mission and behind such senior stars as Diana Manduca and Jess Ruhlin, along with junior Claire Ramonas and sophomore Kayla Burchill, they dominated the opposition, winning every game by 10 points or more.

“My thoughts going in were how do we make this an easy adjustment for them?” Murphy said. “The kids were great. It was tough for them.”

The players credited Murphy for his approach.

“The coaching change was an easy transition,” said Manduca. “We were comfortable with him from the get-go.”

Murphy, who has also coached golf at Scarborough for 21 years, teaches at Scarborough Middle School. He lives in Westbrook with his wife Beth and is the father of three athletically talented kids, daughters Meaghan and Erin and son Sean.

Murphy plans to coach for awhile and with the talent pipeline at Deering bursting at the seams, this likely wasn’t a one-year deal.

It’s rare a story has this happy an ending, but Mike Murphy, our Winter 2008-09 Portland girls’ Coach of the Year, deserved to celebrate for helping pen a championship script.

2007-08 winner: John Smith (McAuley Swimming)
2006-07 winner: Jan Veinot (Waynflete Basketball)
2005-2006 winner: Kevin Campbell (Deering Indoor track)
2004-2005 winner: Lindsay Reagan (Waynflete Nordic skiing)
2003-2004 winner: Mike D’Andrea (Deering Basketball)

Haley.jpgKevin Haley
Murphy.jpgMike Murphy