AUGUSTA — Cony High School girls basketball coach Karen Magnusson informed her players last week that she is stepping away from that job to take care of the baby she’s expecting in August.
Magnusson made it clear she intends to return to coaching, but that her family comes first. Her husband Travis coaches the Dirigo High School boys basketball team and many winter nights she said they don’t see one another until 9 o’clock.
“I felt like I was choosing between my own kid and my basketball family,” Magnusson said. “It hurt because I want to be there. It’s going to hurt until I have my baby then I want to spend time with my child. I want to be a great mom.”
Magnusson is the second Cony basketball coach to resign after the season. Last week, Cony boys coach Tim Bonsant announced he’s retiring from coaching after spending five years with the Rams and 19 overall as a head coach. Cony athletic director Paul Vachon said he won’t advertise the girls coaching job until Magnusson submits a written resignation.
Magnusson came to Cony five years ago, a year after graduating from the University of Maine at Farmington where she was a standout player. She played for Vachon at Cony, eventually replacing her coach who stepped down after 23 seasons and seven Class A state championships.
Magnusson steadily improved as a coach. Last year, her team went 21-0 before losing to McAuley in the Class A state championship game. This season, despite graduating five players and not returning a player over 5-foot-9, the Rams finished at 14-8 and reached the Eastern Maine championship game. They needed a prelim win to reach the tournament then promptly knocked off top-seeded Edward Little in the opening round.
“I’ve absolutely grown,” Magnusson said. “It was hard starting off. You can’t replace someone like Vachon. I think by my third year I really felt very comfortable.”
Vachon agreed that as Magnusson began to believe in herself, she became her own coach. She employed an uptempo, pressing style much as Vachon did and 3-point shots figured heavily into her offense.
“She likes them to play loose and have great fundamentals,” Vachon said. “To be honest Karen coached her own style.”
Magnusson, who played as Karen Sirois at Cony and UMF, said she anticipated coaching at Cony until her retirement or possibly until a college position opened up. She said she’ll return to coaching in two or three years and Vachon added “(she) can work for us anytime.”
Magnusson said she’ll return to Winthrop Grade School next fall where she teaches fourth grade, but that a hiatus from coaching may do her some good.
“I’m really looking forward to the time I’m going to have being a mom, and honestly to take care of my house,” she said. “In basketball season our house is a mess.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638