OAKLAND — They’re young. They’re energetic. They’re also both recent Thomas College graduates.

Most importantly for Messalonskee High School, the Eagles hope that first-year head coaches Crystal Leavitt and Samantha Moore will continue steering state championship-winning programs toward future glory.

Leavitt takes over the girls lacrosse post this season, while Moore replaces 11-year fixture Leo Bouchard in the softball dugout. They are two of three new girls coaches at Messalonskee this spring, with Lynn Richard now at the helm of the girls tennis team.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Moore said. “I have a staff that’s looking forward to it, and if the people who are coaching are invested, it’s going to be a great season no matter what the (final) record is.”

Both Leavitt and Moore have recent experience at Messalonskee.

Leavitt was the assistant coach last year when the girls lacrosse team won its first Class A state championship, while Moore served as Bouchard’s assistant on a team that won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference title as part of an undefeated regular season. The Eagles also won the 2015 Class A state title.


Moore, who is from Etna and played high school softball at Nokomis, graduated from Thomas in 2013 following a four-year playing career as a catcher and outfielder for the Terriers. Leavitt graduated from Thomas last spring — wrapping up her own playing career at the same time she was helping guide the Eagles.

“It was a full load last year, but it was worth it. It led me to a great opportunity,” said Leavitt, who went to Morse High School, where she was a goalie, before turning into a defender for Thomas during her collegiate career.

More than their relative work experience, recent college graduations or ties to Thomas College, Leavitt and Moore represent the next generation in coaching. Though Leavitt returns the bulk of Messalonskee’s key players from a year ago and Moore needs to rebuild with six starters having graduated, each looks at the process as an all-inclusive one.

“It’s about getting on a level where they feel like they’re learning it themselves,” Leavitt said of her philosophy. “It’s making them feel like they have that ‘A-ha! moment.’ I remember last year I was teaching one of the players something about defense, and I saw the light bulb go off over her head. She was excited about it, and that made me excited about it — and it made me realize this is what I want to do.”

In the weeks leading up to Messalonskee’s Class A North regional championship last season, lots of chatter centered around the perceived gap between the northern teams and their southern counterparts. The old cliche of it being “a whole different ballgame” was often thrown around.

Leavitt said that one of her first orders of business is to make sure the Eagles — who defeated Massabesic 7-6 in overtime for the state title — understand that things have changed.


“There’s no ‘different ballgame’ anymore. We’re all on the same field now,” Leavitt said. “We’re going to go into every game this season working hard and ready to go to beat every team. It doesn’t matter if you’re South or North. Our objective is the same every game, and we’re not going to change that for any team. That’s somethng I want to instill in the girls.”

Moore arrived at Messalonskee one year after the Eagles won the state softball championship — the third in school history — in 2015. She’d also like to instill a new way of thinking.

“They had an older school style of coaching before,” Moore said. “For me, it’s about having a lot more of a community base, it’s about keeping the girls in the loop and being transparent with them so they’re on the same page and understand why we’re making the decisions we are making. It’s about letting them understand the why.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621


Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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