GARDINER — As Gardiner field hockey coach Moe McNally entered her fourth decade on the sidelines, she asked former coaches how they knew when it was time to step down. They all told her, “When it’s time, you’ll know.”

For McNally, it’s time. After 35 seasons, two state championships, and over 400 career victories, McNally announced her retirement recently at the team’s annual end-of-the-season banquet.

“I don’t know if there’s any one thing,” she said. “It’s a decision that I didn’t come to lightly. I left when I felt good about it. I still have a passion for it. But I just thought it was time. Everything pointed to it.”

In addition to her accomplishments, McNally has been one of the faces of field hockey in Maine. The annual senior all-star game at Colby College each summer was renamed after her while she was still coaching the Tigers.

There have been rumors in the field hockey community for several years about McNally possibly retiring. She said this was completely her decision. She also said it was important to her not to leave the cupboard bare for her successor.

“I’ve had great support (at Gardiner),” McNally said. “Since I’ve made the decision, people in administrative positions have asked me, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’

“I didn’t want to leave when things were down. Our middle school program is in great hands, and it went undefeated this year. Our fifth and sixth grade program is in great hands, and they also went undefeated this year.”

McNally said Gardiner has “a great bunch of kids” returning to the varsity next season. She said she’ll miss many things, including the process of developing a team through the season.

“Obviously, I’m going to miss the kids,” she said. “I really enjoy planning out practices. The improvements of kids from Day 1 to the end of the season are things I’ll really miss.”

As for her future plans, McNally said she hopes to enjoy her summer off by traveling. In the fall, she has a grand-niece who plays high school field hockey just outside of Baltimore, and she’ll make trips to see a few Maine teams she hasn’t seen in a while. Of course, she also plans to see some Gardiner games.

“You can’t step away completely, any time you have this much passion,” McNally said. “But I don’t want to be an intrusion to whoever takes over the program, either. I’m going to let them run their own program.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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