Rob Schmidt is stepping down as head coach of the Maranacook Community School boys basketball team, after 18 seasons at the Black Bears’ helm.

Schmidt, 50, confirmed the news Wednesday, saying that he addressed his team that morning before submitting his resignation to the school. Schmidt said he’s leaving to spend more time watching his daughter Ella, a freshman, play on the girls basketball team.

“It’s 100 percent my decision,” he said. “It’s a time in my life where I had to make a choice between watching my daughter play for the next three years, or continuing to coach with the boys. It really was a no-brainer, as much as it was a difficult decision to give up the program after a lot of years. That’s really what I want to do.”

Schmidt, who works at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center, said the way the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s schedule is made the decision easier.

“The girls play in one location, the boys play in the other location, so I would miss all of her games,” he said. “I’m just not willing to do that.”

Schmidt had a successful career on the Maranacook bench, leading the Black Bears to state championships in 2006 and ’08. His last season at Maranacook was a memorable one; he led the Black Bears to a 16-2 record and the No. 2 seed in Class B South, then steered them to the regional semifinals, where they lost to Cape Elizabeth 64-61.

“When I took over, I was immediately impressed with his composure, his rapport with the kids and the families that he dealt with,” athletic director Brant Remington said. “I thought his demeanor on the sidelines was second to none. I thought he was very calm on the sidelines in all situations. … In every game, it was hard to tell if they were doing really well or not so well.”

Remington, who took over as athletic director in December, said Schmidt mentioned shortly after the season that he was considering leaving. Remington and JV coach Bill Belanger, who is also leaving, were with Schmidt when he addressed the team.

“A week or two after the season got out, he was contemplating the decision,” Remington said. “And I wasn’t surprised when he and I talked the other day and when we met again this morning. … I absolutely respect that decision. I’m sad to see him go, because I was looking forward to working with him.”

Schmidt said he had started to think about leaving during the season, but didn’t want to make the call based on impulse.

“I’d been stewing on it throughout the season. It was in the back of my mind,” he said. “I really knew that it was the right thing to do, and I knew the time would come. … Once the season ended, I just wanted the smoke to clear a little bit and I wanted to think it through with a little less emotion.”

Even with the time to think it over, Schmidt knew he had his decision.

“It really is a very straightforward decision for me,” he said. “I put a lot of time into it and a lot of effort into it, and I take a lot of pride in what we’ve accomplished there. It’s not real easy to walk away from that. Although the decision is the right one, it’s still not easy to walk away from it after all these years.”

Schmidt said a few memories stood out from those years, one being the 2005-06 team, which went 20-1 and defeated Mountain Valley for the school’s first basketball title. Two years later, the Black Bears, featuring Mr. Maine Basketball pick Ryan Martin, went 22-0 and won another Gold Ball.

“Nobody really saw it coming,” Schmidt said of the championship won by the sophomore-heavy 2006 team. “It was the first one Maranacook ever won, so that one will always stand out in my mind. The perfect season we had in 2008 will always stand out in my mind.”

Schmidt said there was more to look back upon fondly from 18 years, even off the court.

“In the long term, some of the relationships I’ve made … with players, with parents. Just making friendships along the way,” he said. “Those are some of the long-term memories that will continue to last.”

Schmidt didn’t close the door when asked about a return to coaching after his daughter finishes playing, but said he’d want to return to an all-in scenario like he had with Maranacook.

“I don’t want to just be a varsity coach. I want to run a basketball program. If I’m going to do it, I feel like I want to do it right,” he said. “That means working with the youth program, it means making sure the middle school coaches and the rec coaches are all in place.”

Remington said the school would post the opening in-house and then online, and start going through candidates with a goal of having a new coach in place by the middle of May.

“I think it’s really important to have somebody that early. That way they can start establishing things for the summer,” he said. “I know it’ll be a fairly popular opening. The boys basketball team has had a lot of success over the years.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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