Winslow field hockey coach Mary Beth Bourgoin has some fun with her players during a preseason practice. Bourgoin won her second state title last fall, leading the Black Raiders to the Class B championship. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

It’s not pressure that comes with coaching at Winslow High, where teams in several sports regularly contend for regional and state championships and where banners on the gymnasium walls are constant reminders of that success. In fact, there’s no pressure at all, according to longtime field hockey coach Mary Beth Bourgoin.

“I don’t know if it’s pressure so much as pride,” Bourgoin said. “It’s pride in the town and representing Winslow. Those of us that went through (Winslow High) and graduated from here want to represent the town well.”

Last fall, Bourgoin and the Black Raiders added another accomplishment for the gym wall, winning the Class B state championship with a 7-2 victory over York. It was Winslow’s second state title under Bourgoin’s leadership, the first coming in Class C in 2014.

For her part in building one of the state’s most consistent winners, Bourgoin is our choice as the 2019-20 Varsity Maine girls’ team Coach of the Year.

Over the last decade, the Winslow field hockey program has two state championships and three regional titles and has played in the regional championship game five times. The Black Raiders reached at least the regional quarterfinals each of the last 10 seasons.

“She’s very calming, very mother-like,” said Silver Clukey, a senior captain last fall. “She can tell when anybody is getting stressed out. She takes you out of the game and says, ‘You’re OK.’ She really brings you back to the game.”

A basic tenet of Bourgoin’s coaching philosophy was instilled in her by her father, Jack Nivison (Winslow’s baseball field is named after him), and by Paula Lewis, Bourgoin’s field hockey coach as a player at Winslow: Treat athletes with the same love they receive from their families.

“They are the daughters of somebody who loves them very much. Having kids myself, I know what that love is,” Bourgoin said. “I try to make sure I think of that when I coach them.”

Bourgoin is willing to make whatever adjustments are needed to set her team up for success. That was evident last season in the regional championship game against Belfast. After Winslow lost to the Lions in the regular-season finale, Bourgoin changed the Black Raiders’ offensive attack for the rematch. She installed a diamond formation, placing a striker at the top, gambling that the different look would throw off Belfast’s strong defense just enough to create better scoring opportunities.

The move worked. Winslow scored four goals in the first half on the way to a 5-2 win.

“At halftime, I said, ‘How did you guys like the diamond?’ They said, ‘We’re staying with it,'” Bourgoin said.

Soon after the celebration ended for the 2019 team, Bourgoin began to focus on the upcoming season. Being active in all levels of field hockey in Winslow not only helps sustain the program’s success, it motivates Bourgoin to continue coaching.

“I put a lot of work into my youth program. I’ve had a lot of these girls since kindergarten, and that keeps me going,” she said.

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