PORTLAND—McAuley girls’ basketball coach Amy Vachon, who led the Lions to the Class A state title in her lone season at the helm, is leaving the program to become an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Maine in Orono, under the Black Bears’ new head man, Richard Barron.
Vachon, the daughter of coaching legend Paul Vachon, was a playing standout at Cony High School and later in Orono (where she was a two-time captain and holds the program record for most assists in a season and the school and America East Conference mark for career assists).
Vachon won 20 of her 22 games last winter, capped by a palpitating regional final victory over Deering in overtime and a 39-23 win over Hampden Academy in the state final.
Vachon said that she loved her time with McAuley and had no intention of leaving, but this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
“It’s hard because I love McAuley,” said Vachon, who will work as a recruiter and on-court coach in Orono. “I was so happy with the kids and with the community. Leaving the kids is the hardest part. I met with the girls and parents (Sunday night). It’s really hard. The kids were great last year. They did everything I asked. This is not fair at all to them. There are a lot of different feelings going on.
“This wasn’t even on my radar screen at all. A week ago Saturday, (Barron) gave me a call and we talked. We met last week and talked some more. They offered and I accepted. He has so much energy and enthusiasm. I think he can do good things with that program. I’m not sure if I want to be a coach at the college level, but I have to take the opportunity to find out. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The U. Maine program means so much to me. I want to be part of that excitement.”
McAuley athletic director Joe Kilmartin praised Vachon for her short tenure and said she would be missed.
“The departure of coach Vachon is a significant loss,” Kilmartin said. “In just the span of one year, Amy was able to meet and exceed the school’s expectation of a new coach for the basketball program. Her successful leadership on the court is undeniable. A year ago, I said that Amy was an ideal choice for our school, based on her basketball background and her personal characteristics and I was not wrong.
“I wish otherwise, but I understand why newly appointed UMO coach Richard Barron has enlisted Amy to help rebuild the program at her alma mater where she was such a successful player. I thank Amy on behalf of the whole McAuley community for all she has done for the school and wish her the best of luck in the future.”
Kilmartin added that names of potential replacements have been explored by an initial search committee and that a public posting for the job will be forthcoming.
“I know whoever comes in will do a great job,” Vachon said. “(He or she) will have kids that are willing to run through a wall for them.”
In Orono, Barron, the new coach, said that he’s very excited to have Vachon join the program.
“Amy has been a great success at everything she has taken on in her life,” Barron said. “She has coaching in her DNA. She has proved to be a strong coach and communicator. Her understanding of and networking with Maine girls’ basketball will be a tremendous asset and her experience on great teams and as Maine’s all-time assist leader will help us as we communicate to recruits the potential of this program. I couldn’t be more pleased that she has accepted the offer.”
Vachon will be very familiar with one Black Bear next season as she’s joined by incoming freshman Rebecca Knight, who was a key cog on the Lions’ championship team and was McAuley’s Winter Athlete of the Year.
“Becca’s probably the only one that’s happy,” Vachon said. “She seems excited.”
Amy Vachon led McAuley to a Class A title in her one season as coach. She’s moving on to become an assistant with her alma mater, the University of Maine.