BUCKFIELD — The new faces coaching some softball teams this spring may not be so new to their players.

Buckfield, Lewiston and Spruce Mountain all had change over in head coaches from last year, but there’s a bit of familiarity with the coaching staff.

Jess McGreevy at Buckfield, Erica Crowley at Lewiston and Spruce Mountain’s Clint Brooks all have ties to their respective teams and make for a pretty easy transition this season.

McGreevy is a Buckfield native. She grew up around Bucks softball, even though she ultimately attended the Maine School of Science and Math in Limestone.

“It’s something I always considered doing — trying to find a position in the area,” said McGreevy, who is just the third coach at Buckfield in the last two decades. “When it came up, I thought I’d try it out.”

McGreevy had coached softball at Vinalhaven School for four years. She spent last year in Limestone working at the Maine School of Science and Math. Last summer, after having a baby, she took a job in Augusta with the Maine Math and Science Alliance. When Ken Farmington resigned as coach, the opportunity was there for McGreevy to return home.

“It’s really great,” said McGreevy, who lives in Buckfield. “It’s very different. When I was coaching at Vinalhaven, we were building a program. Now I’m stepping into a program that has been in existence for a long time. It’s a very different set of challenges that I have. But I’m really enjoying being back in Buckfield and coaching in my hometown.”

She’s excited to be back coaching after being away from the game last year.

She has 27 kids in the program, including nine freshmen. Though the numbers are the same as she had with the Vikings, many of her kids now have been playing for 10 years. That’s a fundamental luxury she hadn’t had before.

The Bucks are relatively young and coming off a year in which they had an early exit in the tourney, losing to Rangeley in the semifinals.

“It’s still going to be kind of a building year,” said McGreevy, who was also an assistant coach in softball and basketball at Jay. “The pitcher graduated as well as the catcher, shortstop and right fielder.”

In contrast, Lewiston has its third coach in as many years. Crowley takes over the top job with the Blue Devils after devoting years of work in the program. She was not only a Lewiston player but also a volunteer coach, the freshman coach and the JV coach.

“I thought I had done my time and felt like I was ready to take on what I needed to do and what our program needed to do to get better,” said Crowley, who graduated from Lewiston in 2001.

Lewiston is still a young team and building. They only have a handful of seniors, but many of these kids, Crowley coached at the lower levels.

“I’ve known these kids,” said Crowley. “I’ve known my seniors for the last four years. They played for me on my freshman team.”

Between her years as a player and coach at Lewiston, Crowley already has an investment in the program, and she wants to see that pay off as the Blue Devils return to the kind of program it was a few years ago. Lewiston was consistently winning and challenging for the tournament when Crowley played. It has been a few years since the Blue Devils made the playoffs.

“I get to see these kids in the community,” said Crowley. “I work at the high school. I see these girls all the time, and I live in the community. I went to school here. So I’m very invested in the community. The softball culture in the community has kind of died off. It’s been uninterested. So we’d like to change that culture.”

 At Spruce Mountain, Brooks has been co-coaching with Robin Roberts for the last decade. When Roberts decided his work schedule proved too much of a challenge to juggle with coaching, he stepped down. Brooks wanted to continue.

“We talked about it over the years and we’d always say that neither one of us was going to walk away from this program together,” said Brooks. “I decided I wanted to stay around the program a little while longer.”

Brooks had hoped that maybe Roberts would change his mind, but that didn’t happen. Instead Brooks is on his own in his 11th year but inherits a team that he knows well.

“I really like being around the kids,” said Brooks. “I enjoy it so much. Winning is nice but it is not first and foremost. There are other things you bring to the program and bring to the kids. The winning is just the gravy.”

The Phoenix has a collection of returning players that should make them competitive, but Spruce Mountain still has some holes to fill.

“With the exception of Emily Keene, we lost our whole infield from last year,” said Brooks. “We’re replacing most everyone in the infield as well as our pitcher and catcher. So the infield will have a whole new look.”

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