T.J. Maines and Ted Rioux are sharing gym time for their respective basketball teams again this season, but the venue has changed.
Both men coached at Thomas College for the past few seasons, Maines with the men and Rioux with the women, and both have moved on to Cony High School.
“It’s fun,” said Maines, who is coaching the Cony boys team. “We gave each other a big hug tonight. I think it’s great for the girls and the community to have Ted doing this, too.”
Monday was opening day of high school practices for basketball and hockey teams. Wrestling, skiing, swimming and indoor track all get underway later this month.
Absent from Monday’s boys tryouts at Cony were several football players, who are preparing for Friday night’s state championship game. Maines said from six to eight of the football players will be varsity basketball members.
“We’re going to look a little different in a week and a half,” he said.
Maines said he practiced fundamentals every day at Thomas, but the task in high school is a little different.
“There’s certainly a lot more teaching right now that has to be done,” he said. “I caught myself today they would know one thing when we started a drill up and we had a teaching point. There needed to be a teaching point before the teaching point. I’ve got to re-learn some things on how to teach.”
Both Maines and Rioux were with their teams throughout the summer and are familiar with their players. As Maines did, Rioux found himself coaching more fundamentals of the game.
“In some ways it’s refreshing because you’re getting back to the basics of coaching,” he said. “You kind of forget that until you get to the camp situations where you’re coaching sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth graders again. It’s fun.”
Rioux was an assistant coach under Paul Vachon several years ago and said he’ll stick with the uptempo philosophy he instilled and Karen Magnusson continued after taking over for Vachon.
“I don’t think it will be all that different,” he said. “They’ll be some real minor changes, maybe defensively where the pressure is going to be and where the traps are going to be.”
â€¢ â€¢ â€¢
Lawrence and Skowhegan have formed a cooperative hockey team this season for the first time and head coach Ted Fabian has embraced the change.
“Both schools and both sets of players bond well,” said Fabian, who coached Lawrence last season. “A lot of them played together in youth hockey. And they both come from blue collar communities.”
Fabian welcomed 25 players to Monday’s first practice, including four goalies.
“It definitely changes the way you can put together a practice,” he said. “Last year we only had one goalie. This year it’s really exciting. I tell the kids, with more than 11 players you’re really going to have to fight for your spots.”
The team will compete in Class A this year under the banner of the LSHS Bandits, the LSHS standing for Lawrence/Skowhegan High School. As they have in the past, they’ll practice and play their home games at Sukee Arena in Winslow.
“In order to keep both programs alive, it was what needed to be done,” Fabian said.
In a couple of other changes to high school hockey, former Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop coach Andy Dube has taken over at Winslow while former Dube assistant and youth hockey coach Chip Jones takes over at Maranacook.
â€¢ â€¢ â€¢
Wade Morrill found out about the coaching opening with the Waterville boys basketball team in mid-summer after former coach Jason Briggs resigned to take the athletic director’s job at Winslow. Morrill was coaching the Valley boys at the time but jumped at the chance to move on.
“It was a great opportunity to try to move up in class,” Morrill said. “I think change is good for people.”
Hired on Aug. 13, Morrill didn’t get a chance to coach the Purple Panthers during the summer.
“I never had a chance to coach or assess them until tonight,” he said Monday.”I’m excited.”
Thirty-seven players showed up for tryouts and the varsity is expected to contend for one of the top spots in the Class B division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. Morrill said his style of play will be similar to the one Briggs employed.
“That’s probably part of the reason I was hired,” he said.
Luke Hartwell, an assistant at Valley the past six years, takes over as head boys coach. Like Morrill, he was player at the school and part of the team’s historic 101-game winning streak.
“Leaving Valley, it was a difficult decision,” Morrill said, “but it was time. This is a chance to challenge myself as a person, a teacher and a coach.”
In coming to Waterville, Morrill was hired to teach health at the junior high school.
Maine Central Institute has hired new coaches with ties to Nokomis. Wes Brann, who at one time coached the Hall-Dale girls, takes over as girls head coach, while former Nokomis assistant Josh Hardy is the new boys coach. At Skowhegan, Tom Nadeau takes over as boys basketball coach. He formerly coached the Winslow girls and Hall-Dale boys.