LEWISTON — Having played at Lewiston and then coached there, Lynn Girouard started thinking about the idea of coaching the varsity at her alma mater.
It seemed like a natural progression for the Lewiston native and former Miss Maine Basketball.
So when the girls’ varsity basketball job opened up this summer at Lewiston High School, Girouard thought the time might be right.
On Monday, Girouard was approved as Lewiston new head coach. She is the seventh varsity coach for the Blue Devils since 2000. She replaces Mike Labonte, who resigned after the summer basketball season.
“I’ve been the JV coach for the last two years,” Girouard said. “So I know a lot of the girls and know what they’re capable of. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would like to be the varsity coach at some point. Being an alumni, having played basketball there and having had a successful career there, once I started coaching, it was something I always hoped I’d get to do in the near future.”
Labonte had coached the varsity team for two seasons and led the Blue Devils to their first playoff game since 2005. Lewiston lost to Mt. Blue in a thrilling Eastern Class A prelim last February. The Blue Devils rallied from six-points down in the final quarter and had the lead late, but watched Mt. Blue rally to win.
Girouard had actually applied for the varsity job a few years ago after Mike McGraw stepped down. Labonte eventually got that job. Girouard was then offered the JV position, which Labonte vacated to take the varsity.
“I just wanted to be part of the program,” Girouard said. “I didn’t care if I was the JV coach. I told (athletic director) Jason (Fuller) that if Coach Labonte wanted an assistant or wanted some extra ears and eyes next to him on the bench, I was willing to do that. I just wanted to be somewhere and be part of the program.”
Girouard was a 1,000-point scorer as a Blue Devil. She won the Miss Maine Basketball honor in 1999 and was part of Lewiston’s only Western A championship team. She finished second in career scoring behind teammate Kristi Royer.
Girouard then continued her stellar play at Central Maine Community College. After school, she coached the Lewiston freshman team for a year but then took time after to raise her daughter. She returned to coaching when she took the JV job two years ago.
“It’s just been a natural progression to be the Lewiston coach and it just feels great,” Girouard said. “I’m excited. It’s something I always wanted to do. I think I’ve got a lot of support behind me. I think the girls are excited and believe we can do some great things this season.”
Having been with the program the last two seasons and been part of the summer basketball season, Girouard makes for an easy transition for the team.
“I think it’s good for the girls,” Girouard said. “They know who’s going to be in that position. I think they’re excited to start a new chapter of Lewiston girls’ basketball. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things I’d like to do. Hopefully, we can do those things. I think we have the caliber of players to do those things I’d like to do. I’t’s just a matter of whether or not they believe it.”
Lewiston is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent years. The Blue Devils went 5-13 for the second straight year and earned the preliminary berth in Eastern A, nearly advancing to the quarterfinals. Considering the program isn’t far removed from a string of 74 consecutive losses, the program has made great strides.
Girouard hopes to continue that momentum and build off last year’s success.
“We did a lot of great things last year,” Girouard said. “The girls overcame a lot of stuff. Winning five games was a huge deal for them. From not winning games for multiple seasons to winning five was a great achievement for them.”
The Blue Devils graduated veteran seniors Jenessa Talarico, Brie Wilson, Maegan Mathon and Laurianne Murphy, but still have some promising players that could keep the progress going. Kristina Blais was a starter, while Amanda Swart, Morgan Eliasen and Emily Brochu, who was injured during the season, are seasoned players that came off the bench.
“I believe they can do the things I’d like to do,” Girouard said. “We’re going to try them and see if we can.”