Vachon appointed UMaine women’s basketball coach for 2017-2018; Barron remains in treatment

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Amy Vachon speaks at a press conference Wednesday after the University of Maine announced she will serve as interim head coach for UMaine women’s basketball’s 2017-2018 season as head coach Richard Barron continues to battle a debilitating illness.

ORONO — With head coach Richard Barron continuing to battle a debilitating illness, Amy Vachon, who led the University of Maine women’s basketball team during the second half of this season, will continue to serve as interim head coach for the 2017-2018 season.

That went into effect Wednesday.

Barron, who began taking an extended medical leave on Jan. 6, said in a statement that he urged UMaine athletic director Karlton Creech to give Vachon “full authority of the program.”

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Creech has taken that step with the naming of Vachon as interim coach.

“Amy stepped up at a difficult time during the 2016-17 season in coach Richard Barron’s absence and handled the head coaching duties with poise and confidence,” Creech said in a news release. “As Coach Barron takes the time needed to seek improvement for his health, we are once again confident in coach Vachon’s ability to successfully lead the program over the next year, and we thank her for her loyalty and service to the University of Maine.”

Barron, who remains under contract, on Wednesday provided an update of his condition and steps being taken to bring it under control. He explained that he has “two parallel neurological conditions.”

One leaves him with pain, numbness and weakness in his arms and legs and the other causes migraines that can be debilitating, “especially outside of a controlled environment.”

Barron, who signed a four-year contract extension in March 2016, said his doctors have told him there is reason for “long-term optimism with medications and therapies, but is also something that could stay with me for a year or longer or permanently.”

Barron said that as his health issues continued, it is important that the basketball program have some “certainty — certainty that I cannot give at this time.”

Last winter, Vachon guided the Black Bears back to their second straight America East championship game and an 11-7 record. The results of those 18 games are credited to Barron’s coaching record.

“I want to thank Karlton Creech and President Susan Hunter for this opportunity,” said Vachon in the release. “Although it is not an ideal situation, I could not be more excited to continue working with our team. We have a fabulous group returning and the incoming recruits fit our culture, believe in our standards and are great basketball players.

“I also want to thank coach Barron for his continued support of me and this program,” she continued. “He has poured his heart and soul into this program, and I have been fortunate to have him as a mentor and a friend. I am looking forward to a tremendous 2017-18 basketball season.”

Barron said he has great confidence in Vachon.

“Amy has been a stalwart of the program for the past six years and has been a part of every decision. She will not only bring what she has learned from me to the position, but what she has learned through her career as a played and coach,” said Barron who also thanked well-wishers, his players and coaches, Creech and Hunter for their support.

Vachon, who was promoted to associate head coach in May 2016, joined the staff as an assistant coach in May 2011. She also has been the recruiting coordinator.

Prior to joining the UMaine staff, Vachon was the head girls basketball coach at Catherine McAuley High School, guiding the squad to the 2011 Maine Class A state championship.

Vachon was a two-year captain at UMaine and led the Black Bears to four straight NCAA tournament appearances. She was a member of the 1999 team that knocked off Stanford in the first round.

Vachon, who was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, holds the UMaine season record for assists with 234 and the school and America East career mark (759). When hired in 2011, she ranked 22nd all-time in NCAA history in career assists.

Vachon is the daughter of former Cony High School girls basketball coach Paul Vachon. At Cony, she played on two state championship teams, was a four-year All-Maine Basketball selection and a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year. In 1996, she was named Miss Maine Basketball.

Vachon excelled in the classroom as a member of the All-Maine Women Honor Society and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2000 with a degree in elementary education. In 2002, she earned her Master’s of Education in school counseling at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

University of Maine associate head coach Amy Vachon, a former UMaine star from Augusta, is directing the team in the absence of head coach Richard Barron, who is on medical leave for an undisclosed illness.

University of Maine athletics director Karlton Creech, right, speaks at a press conference Wednesday after announcing Amy Vachon, left, will serve as interim head coach for UMaine women’s basketball’s 2017-2018 season as head coach Richard Barron continues to battle a debilitating illness.University of Maine Athletics Director Karlton Creech speaks at a press conference Wednesday after announcing Amy Vachon will serve as interim head coach for UMaine women’s basketball’s 2017-2018 season as head coach Richard Barron continues to battle a debilitating illness.

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