Hall-Dale High School athletic director Tim Johnson gets the itch every spring to get back into the dugout and coach.

For the fifth time in his coaching career Johnson gave in this spring and is once again coaching the Hall-Dale baseball team. He’s one of three new baseball coaches, including Chris McLaughlin at Gardiner and Pete Dennis at Oak Hill, who is taking over a varsity team. Hall-Dale has also hired new coaches for track and softball.

Johnson is hardly new but it’s been a few years since he coached the Bulldogs. He replaces Steve Acedo, who served as interim coach last season.

“I’m not taking it as an interim (coach), I’m Walter Alston,” said Johnson, referring to the longtime Dodgers manager.

Johnson first coached Hall-Dale baseball in the 1987-88 season. He has returned several times, including the 2001 season when the Bulldogs won the Class C state championship. This year will be his 14th overall as the school’s baseball coach. Also returning to assist Johnson is former Mt. Ararat coach Bruce Kingdon. Former Hall-Dale athlete Steve Vellani will also assist Johnson.

“I’m actually looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “I’ve done a lot of prep work in the last two weeks and it all came back to me.”

McLaughlin was the junior varsity coach at Gardiner last season under Jim Palmer, who resigned to become the athletic director at Oak Hill. McLaughlin also played three years of varsity baseball under Palmer at Gardiner where he graduated in 2002.

“As far as changes for the players they probably won’t see much,” said Mclaughlin, who works for Augusta Fire and Rescue and is the fire chief in West Gardiner.

Dennis served as junior varsity coach and assistant under Palmer at Gardiner for several years along with coaching the Gardiner American Legion team.

He replaces Chad Drouin, who coached the Raiders for seven years and led them to the Class B state championship in 2006. Dennis teaches at Oak Hill Middle School and is familiar with many of the players on this year’s team.

“I was ready to step back in and enjoy what I like to do,” he said.

Todd Johnson is Oak Hill’s new junior varsity coach while former Gardiner standout Kyle Stilphen will assist Dennis.

Hall-Dale also has new coaches this spring in track and field and softball. Jarod Richmond, who assisted the boys and girls track teams last spring, takes over as head coach for Kristen Davis, who is on maternity leave. Christen Lachapelle, who played softball at Hall-Dale and the University of Southern Maine,  will coach that sport this spring. She replaces Dave Kaplan, who coached the Bulldogs for the past eight seasons.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]