Craig Jipson, shown here in a 2014 photo coaching Edward Little against Lewiston, announced that he is retiring as the Red Eddies’ girls’ basketball coach after 12 years and 20 years of varsity coaching.

AUBURN — Edward Little athletic director Dan Deshaies remembers when he interviewed Craig Jipson for the open girls’ varsity basketball coach job 12 years ago and Jipson, who lived in Lewiston at the time, promised to put his home up for sale and move his family to Auburn if he got the job.

“He was my last interview. I called him that night and I said, ‘Sell your house,'” Deshaies said. “Sure enough, the next day, he had it listed.”

Jipson went all in once he got the job, turning the Red Eddies from also-rans to perennial Class A and AA contenders. On Sunday, he told the team he is retiring from coaching after 12 years at EL, 20 overall including stints at Oxford Hills and Gray-New Gloucester.

Jipson, 52, had coached his daughter, Kaylee, a senior guard for the Red Eddies this season. He also has a son, C.J., who was a senior guard for EL’s boys’ basketball team. After missing out on many of C.J.’s games the past four years, he said he wanted to be able to watch his youngest son, Storm, now a freshman at Edward Little, play basketball for the Red Eddies the next three years. 

“It was really hard to see so few of C.J.’s games,” he said. “I have a freshman son and the other two are going to college and I just want to see some of his games.”

In his 12 years, Jipson led the Red Eddies to a 174-68 record, including three KVAC titles, three regional championship game appearances and one regional title in 2016.

“It’s been an absolute dream job, beyond anything I ever imagined,” he said. “It’s the best professional experience I’ve ever had.”

Jipson credited Chris Cifelli and Bill Walton, his assistant coaches since he started at EL, as well as the administrative and parental support he received.

“I give so much of our record to our assistant coaches. We had so much talent and they were great kids,” he said. “My administration has been so supportive, and we’ve had great parents. I’m old school. I’m demanding. I love the kids, but I’ll push them. And I’ve never had a parent say, ‘You’re too tough on my daughter.'”

“Craig Jipson leaving any program is a great loss,” Deshaies said. “He’s produced winners from day one, day in and day out.”

Jipson has coached other sports such as tennis and freshman football at EL and had the same impact he had on the girls’ basketball program, Deshaies said. He recalled asking Jipson to take over EL’s girls’ tennis program one spring because he had no one else to coach the team.

“He comes in and they make the playoffs. I think it was the first and only time. He’s just a winner,” Deshaies said.

Jipson, who coached girls’ varsity basketball at Oxford Hills for eight years and at Gray-New Gloucester for two years, compiled a 264-129 record in his 20-year career. 

For all of his teams’ on-court success, Jipson said he is most proud that every player who played for him her senior year at EL went on to enroll in college.

“The thing I’m really proud of is how successful our kids have been as college students,” he said. “The kids, they’re winners.”

While Jipson used the word “retirement” to describe the end of his coaching career, he isn’t staying away from coaching for good. A physical education/health teacher at Edward Little, he said he is looking into an administrative career where he can mentor young coaches.

That may include mentoring his successor, whoever it is. The Eddies graduate two starters, Kaylee Jipson and Jordan Reynolds, from a squad that finished this season at 14-5 after losing to Deering the Class AA North semifinals.

“It’s a great situation because the kids are great kids,” Jipson said. “The future is good. It’s going to keep being a strong program.”

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