Two days after Madison Area Memorial High School won its third state softball championship in five years, the Bulldogs were in the weight room at 6:30 a.m.

For Chris LeBlanc, there is no offseason. There’s only a 10-month gap in the calendar where there are no Maine high school softball games scheduled.

“I think back in the day, playing for my dad, my philosophies come from him,” LeBlanc said. “He taught me about always being coaching, that it doesn’t stop.”

For leading Madison to the Class C championship and posting his 100th career coaching victory with the win in the state final, LeBlanc has been selected as the Morning Sentinel Softball Coach of the Year.

Skowhegan’s Lee Johnson was also considered.

“He’s definitely not the easiest person to work with at first,” Madison senior Marah Hall said of LeBlanc. “But once you get to know him, he’s a caring person. He tells you what you need to do, but he can do it in a way to make you feel better.

“He’s truly there to help better his players.”

As for the 100-win mark, LeBlanc said the individual accolades aren’t what motivate him. He’s almost embarrassed by the attention reaching the milestone brought.

“I would trade in all of those wins for the championships and the building of the relationships with the girls,” LeBlanc said. “But, at the same time, I do have the philosophy that you can build a program a heck of a lot easier through winning than by trying to do it the other way.”

Madison went a perfect 21-0 this season, but it really wasn’t the end of the year for the Bulldogs.

Already this summer the returning members of the team have played in travel tournaments, spent time in the school’s weight room and have begun thinking about next year.

In fact, it was in June of 2017 that the first seeds of this year’s championship run were sown.

“After that state title (loss) in Brewer, Ashley (Emery) and I made the pact that we’d be back,” LeBlanc said. “This team, they had that desire.”

In an effort not to douse that burning fire with a senior-laden team featuring a number of three- and four-year starters, LeBlanc said he changed his approach.

The fiery coach, a stickler for details, often changed up his practice plans and his demeanor.

“The biggest challenge I had for myself was for those seniors,” he said. “They’ve heard the same things for four years now, over and over and over. I just wanted to make things a little different to keep them interested.”

But don’t think for a minute that LeBlanc let off the gas pedal or stopped trying to improve his players every single day of the season. It’s not in his nature, even with a starting lineup which returned virtually intact from the previous spring.

“I’m never going to stop teaching the fundamentals or in-game situations,” LeBlanc said. “I don’t think they would want it any other way.”

If they did, they wouldn’t all show up to a dark weight room two days after winning a state title — a week and a half after school ended for the summer — to begin getting ready for next year.

“Even though it’s only a couple of days after you’ve won it, you’re still there at 6:30 in the morning wondering, ‘Who else is doing this?'” LeBlanc said.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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