WATERVILLE — Ted Rioux acknowledges fresh challenges make him equal parts nervous and excited.

“That nervousness is good,” he said. “It’s one of those things that if it doesn’t get you going I don’t know what will. I like a good challenge.”

He has another one now.

Thomas College announced Wednesday that Rioux will become its next women’s basketball coach.

Rioux, 41, of Winslow, previously coached the Waterville Senior High School girls basketball team.

“We’re very excited to have him on board,” Thomas athletic director Deb Biche said. “He’s had a great deal of success in his career. He’s just a presence in central Maine. He’s a quality person who has demonstrated care and concern for student-athletes, and that will provide him success at the collegiate level.”

Rioux coached the Purple Panthers from 2006 through last season. He compiled an 82-23 record at Waterville. Rioux led the Panthers to three consecutive Class B state titles, from 2007-09, and an impressive 67-game winning streak.

“He had one hell of a run at Waterville,” Waterville athletic director Doug Frame said. “He’ll be difficult to replace for sure.”

Rioux will take over a Thomas program that finished 8-15 last year, including 6-8 in the North Atlantic Conference.

“Oh absolutely I’m nervous,” he said. “But I’d be nervous if I took a seventh grade job. It’s a competitive thing. It’s bittersweet. I’m leaving some great people, but this is a great opportunity for myself. This has always been in the back of my mind. It is going to be tough to leave, but it’s extremely exciting.”

Rioux acknowledges a formidable challenge lies ahead.

“I’m going into uncharted waters,” he said. “I’m leaving the comfort zone of the (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference) and am going into a new conference. I have to learn new coaches and new styles. I don’t have that knowledge anymore. I’m going up against coaches who have great networks and who can recruit.”

Rioux, who takes over for Joy Charles, emerged as a viable candidate early last week after the position opened up earlier this summer, Biche said.

Biche said Rioux impressed during the interview process despite having no collegiate coaching experience.

“It was something we considered,” she said. “But if we were going to hire someone without college experience we wanted to see a good recruiting plan, and he certainly had one. He presented a strong plan. He impressed us with his X’s and O’s, too. The success he had at Waterville, he will rely on that in the beginning of his recruiting.”

Rioux, who will continue to teach in the Alternative School at Waterville, said he will look to bring in more central Maine players.

“The first thing that came to mind is we need to get the Maine kids,” he said. “There are so many great Maine players out there. I think a lot of those good Maine kids don’t go off and play college, either because they weren’t recruited or whatever. I think I can recruit Maine kids and go after Maine kids. I think I can put a good product on the basketball floor. I think that we will be competitive.”

Rioux added former Waterville center Jasmine Bishop already announced she plans to transfer from Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., to Thomas.

“I looked at some game stats and some game results from Thomas last season,” Rioux said, “and what I saw was that kids were playing a lot of minutes. We need to develop more depth. We can’t have college kids playing 40 minutes a game. So trying to get the depth of the program is No. 1, and that will have to be done in recruiting.

“Goal No. 2 will be to get some quick fixes in to help us with the quality of players. Jasmine Bishop is a tall, solid player, and hopefully she can help. We’ll also look around and see if there are players in the area who have eligibility left. A few contacts have been made there that I hope will help with the overall product on the floor.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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