Dave Gerrish would take a leisurely walk around town, and he inevitably strayed past a gymnasium. The subsequent sounds would tug at his heart and his coaching spirit.

“My wife and I used to walk around the Winslow area and we’d walk by the gym a lot,” said Gerrish. “I’d hear the ball bouncing. I’d think about how much I missed this. I wanted to get back coaching again.”

Gerrish will return to the varsity level this year as the new Leavitt girls’ basketball coach. His hiring was approved Thursday evening.  He replaces Tammy Anderson, who resigned after nine seasons with the team.

Though Gerrish had moved to the Winslow area upon taking a job with Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan, he’s moved back to the area to work at New Page Corporation in Rumford.

“I was coaching a travel team during the winter,” Gerrish said. “One thing kind of progressed to another and the Leavitt job came open. I thought that I’d put my name in the hat.”

Gerrish had two winters without basketball before coaching a travel team this past season.  It only increased his appetite.

“The family had moved up to the Winslow area, and I was still interested in coaching,” said Gerrish, who coached seventh grade girls this winter. “We had an opportunity to move back to this area. Over the winter a friend of mine from work had an opening with the travel team. I coached them and the girls did a great job. It was fun. I watched the varsity practices a little bit, and I really enjoyed coaching.”

Gerrish coached the Dirigo boys for a year and led that team to the 2010 Class C state championship game before losing to Washington Academy. He left that position because of the job move to Sappi.

Prior to coaching at Dirigo, he coached the Mountain Valley boys’ for four seasons and was an assistant with the girls’ program for two years. He also coached both boys and girls in AAU for over a decade.

He takes over a promising Leavitt squad that reached the Western B quarterfinals last year after a 13-5 regular season. Though the Hornets graduated seniors Kristen Anderson, Mariah Treadwell and Jenna Cote, the Hornets have young players that showed great potential this season, especially in light of an injury to Anderson that forced inexperienced players into larger roles.

There’s a solid group of juniors, which included Meagan Dow, Bri DeGone, Kendra Gilbert, Tatiana Sierre, Tasha Cloutier, Sierra Santamango, Melissa Richardson and Lindsey Godbout. Freshman Chantel Eells was a regular contributor as well.

“They had a really good coach the last nine years,” said Gerrish. “We just hope to continue that.”

Coaching the KVAC will be a little different, but Gerrish is excited about that challenge.

“I saw some of it when we were in Winslow,” he said. “I went to a few of their games. I watched a few games this year. It’s a good league.”

With his hiring approved Thursday, Gerrish now has time to put the kind of summer program he wants in place.

“That should go pretty smoothly,”  Gerrish said. “The kids get out of school in the middle of June. We’ll probably try to go and play in the Cony League. They’ve got something good going up there. It should work out fine. I’m really looking forward to my first day.”

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