AUBURN — After a tumultuous offseason, St. Dominic Academy has filled one of the higher-profile ice hockey coaching vacancies in Maine.

Bob Parker, a local businessman whose two sons played for St. Dom’s and who for the past three seasons was the school’s junior varsity coach, has agreed to step into the varsity position.

“I’m very excited to get going,” Parker said.

The hire comes nearly three months after Steve Ouellette resigned abruptly at the same time as former Athletic Director Gene Keene. Keith Weatherbie, longtime AD at Cape Elizabeth High School and a chemistry teacher at St. Dom’s, took over Keene’s role less than a week later. He has been working to fill what is arguably the school’s highest-profile position since then.

“After what happened in June, it was difficult,” Weatherbie said. “All you’d hear is that it was a coveted position, but some people we talked to about it thought otherwise. And as it turns out we had someone right in the system that we felt was the best fit for the job.

“He has knowledge of the kids and of the game,” Weatherbie added. “In the long run, I think he’ll do a good job.”

Parker was a natural candidate. An Edward Little graduate, his sons Casey (Class of 2009) and Alex (’11) played for the Saints, with Alex being named a finalist for the Travis Roy Award as a senior. He’s been around the program for several years, and has seen its successes. He’s also well aware of the school’s hockey history, which includes 24 state championships, the most recent coming in 2000.

“To watch both of my kids play at St. Dom’s was awesome as a parent,” Parker said. “It was different coaching at the JV level, and I and sure it will be completely different at the varsity level. Having been a parent in the system, and having been a coach, I feel like I have a good sense of what the players need, and also what it’s like to be a parent of someone on the team.”

Parker played at the University of Southern Maine in the mid 1980s after graduating from Edward Little in 1982.

More recently, Parker coached a local Under-18 midget team to a national Tier-II championship in 2011. He was also instrumental in getting the St. Dom’s middle school team off the ground. Weatherbie said Parker is willing to hit the ground running, and that stability and familiarity played a part in his hiring, given that the rest of the team’s varsity coaching staff also left with Ouellette.

“I’ve always felt that the JV coach should be someone who is willing and able to step up to the varsity level if something were to happen,” Weatherbie said. “After all the applications and interviews, the selection committee felt he was the best one for the job.”

While Ouellette cited personal and family reasons for leaving the position after seven seasons, six regional finals appearances and four regional titles, Keene alluded to problems dealing with parents at the private school, and many people believe the simultaneous resignations, while not related to the same specific incident, were both related to the same overall issue.

“(The families) chose to go to a private school and pay that money and to a certain extent, they have the right to question what’s going on,” Keene said when he resigned. “But at the same time, I sometimes think that, for a small percentage of parents, they feel they have a sense of entitlement, that if things don’t go exactly the way they want, they want change.”

When Weatherbie came on board a week later, he alluded to the same issue surrounding Ouellette’s departure.

“I know some of the parents are rather vociferous about some things and I have to try to find out what the problem is and try to straighten it out,” Weatherbie said at the time.

Parker is well aware of the pressures that come with coaching the high-profile program, and he’s ready to deal with them head on.

“It’s been a long summer,” Parker admitted. “I was originally going to be an assistant coach with Steve (Ouellette) and Mike (Hefty), and I was mentally preparing to join them, and then a lot of situations occurred. I stepped back a bit, more out of disbelief and shock. Steve had been there a while, I get along well with him. He’d coached my boys. Now, I guess it’s my turn.”


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