Julie Wescott knew that her time would come to be a varsity basketball coach.
When she learned Jake Gentle was stepping down at Lisbon earlier this spring, it was the perfect opportunity for the Westbrook native.
“Jake let me know that he was going to be resigning,” Wescott said. “He asked if it was something I’d be interested in. I said, ‘Definitely.’ I know the girls really well, and it was a good opportunity.”
Wescott was named the new girls’ varsity coach at Lisbon last week. She had coached the Greyhounds’ JV team the last three seasons.
“I wanted to bump up to that varsity position at some point,” said Wescott. “This seemed like a great opportunity to be able to do that.”
Gentle coached the varsity program for eight seasons and helped turn the Greyhounds into a competitive team in the MVC and a consistent tourney team in Western B.
He took over a club that won just three games total in his first three seasons, but the Greyhounds then produced four consecutive winning seasons and four tourney berths, including three trips to the Western B quarterfinals.
Lisbon went 6-12 last year after losing three starters from a team that went 14-5 and lost in the Western B quarterfinals. Gentle, whose wife gave birth just after the basketball season ended, cited a need for family time in his resignation, but will stay on as the girls’ varsity soccer coach.
“I have a good group of girls coming back,” said Wescott. “A lot of the kids that will be seniors were freshmen that I started with. That’s a really good group. So I’m excited.”
Wescott grew up in Westbrook and played basketball at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. She began working at Lisbon right out of college.
The Greyhounds graduate seniors Kelsey Linnell, Allie Fitzgerald, Ashley Fournier and Randi Brannon, but still have the bulk of the squad returning. Wescott’s familiarity with the players and the program should make for a smooth transition.
“I learned a lot from Jake as far as coaching style and bouncing ideas off each other and learning what works and what works specifically with this group of kids,” said Wescott, who teaches physical education at Lisbon. “I have these kids as students, but to have them as a coach is different.”
With Gentle’s help, the summer program is already taking shape. The Greyhounds have 10 games scheduled, and Wescott is anxious for the season to begin.
“I’m just really looking forward to it,” she said. “I’m really excited about it. I’m still young and motivated with a lot of ideas. I hope to bring the program in the right direction. There are big shoes to fill because he’s done so much with it, but I’m ready for the challenge.”