AUGUSTA — It’s been eight years since Paul Vachon coached the Cony High School girls basketball team on a full-time basis, long enough for many of for the 123 attendees at this week’s Capital City Basketball Clinic to have never heard of the legendary coach.

The camp, now in its 30th year, concludes today at the Augusta Civic Center. And if many of the campers don’t know Vachon by a reputation that includes over 500 career victories, seven state championships and inductions into the Maine and New England halls of fame, that’s fine with him.

“The way it started I think (our success) had a lot to do with it,” Vachon said. “They wanted to see what we did. We had great free advertisement. We were in the newspaper all the time and we were on TV all the time.”

None of the girls in Grades 3 through 8 at the clinic this week recall those days, however. They’re just here to learn skills, make friends and have fun.

“I learned a lot of skills and I learned a lot about defense,” said Emma Whitney, a senior on the Cony varsity team and a camp instructor. “And I became a better shooter.”

The clinic’s range of attendees extends as far as Massachusetts where one of Vachon’s former players, Angela Beaudoin, has sent her daughter to the Civic Center. There are campers from Hampden and Boothbay and many more communities throughout central Maine.

“They’re a lot more skilled than when we first started,” Vachon said of the players. “But to be honest with you we’ve had 20 Miss Maine (Basketball) finalists come out of this clinic. And I think we’ve had 10 winners.”

The clinic employs several area coaches, both boys and girls, as well as players from area schools, including three this year from Winslow. As a sign of its longevity, the daughters of five of Vachon’s former players attended this year’s camp. Now in his 60s, he has shown few signs of slowing down.

“He hasn’t lost it a bit,” said Dave Hopkins, who along with Mark Smedberg has been at the camp since Day 1. “I’ve noticed as the years have gone on he’s having a lot more fun. He’s always had fun and he always had energy, but he has such a great rapport with kids and that has never lessened.”

The camp runs 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and there are extra hoops scattered throughout the civic center. In addition to skill development, campers play two games a day on teams coached by staff members.

“It’s fun to have your own team and be able to coach them,” Whitney said. “He gives us a lot of pointers on how to be a great coach. You encourage kids. Complimenting them in front of their peers is really a great motivator.”

The camp began at the former Cony High School before moving to the Civic Center many years ago, and at the height of its popularity the camp included two one-week sessions to accommodate all those who wanted to attend. It still remains a popular destination for aspiring young girls and now that he’s not coaching anymore, Vachon has more time and energy to devote to it.

“I don’t get as tired as I did before,” Vachon said. “I used to go right from here right to (summer) basketball. At least now I can go home and have a decent meal and rest a little bit, but it’s fantastic.”

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