Hundreds filled Oak Hill High School’s gymnasium on a gloomy Saturday afternoon to remember and celebrate the life of Stacen Doucette, Oak Hill’s football coach since 2012, who died unexpectedly due to a sudden illness last Monday at the age of 45.

At the request of Doucette’s family and friends, many in attendance wore their school’s football colors. Dozens of coaches and opposing players paid their respects by wearing black, green, yellow, white and virtually any other color that can be found on a Maine high school football jersey. It was another reminder of how tight-knit the state’s football community is, and how even though Doucette made his greatest mark in communities such as Sabattus, Litchfield, Wales and Lisbon, the football community had lost one of its own, too.

Randy Whitehouse

Amidst all of that color, three managed to stand out to me as I and every other mourner hung on every word of the moving 80-minute service — red, gold and blue.

The red is the Oak Hill football flag that hung above the gym. The team carries the flag, with Oak Hill’s menacing racoon mascot, onto the field for team introductions before every game. Not that long ago, the flag and the animal on it would lead someone on the opposing sideline to snicker about the Raiders being roadkill. That stopped almost from the day Doucette left Lisbon to take over as head coach in 2012.

On a table below the flag sat the three gold trophies from Oak Hill’s Class D state championship three-peat of 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doucette’s dynasty started right after the Maine Principals’ Association reinstituted Class D in its first major realignment. Although it was the smallest among the football classes at the time in terms of school size, Doucette and the Raiders immediately gave the class credibility and became one of the state’s gold-standard football programs.

Next to the trophies, a procession of speakers stood and testified to the standards Doucette set for himself and others as a father, husband, friend, mentor and coach.

Daughter Valerie delivered an emotional tribute to Stacen Doucette the father, a story of love and devotion that lay bare the loss that she and her mother, Danielle, have suffered. The words “love” and “devotion” echoed throughout the rest of the 80-minute memorial.

Dick Mynahan, Doucette’s mentor when he played and coached at Lisbon, told stories about him as a young quarterback who knew just the right audible to call to make his coach look good, and about the young assistant coach who went for pre-game walks with Mynahan before Lisbon’s games, and about the head coach and devoted protege who, after Mynahan retired from coaching in 2016, walked his mentor through his Oak Hill game plans every week.

Former Oak Hill players Brian Daniels, Ethan Richard and Dalton Therrien described how Doucette influenced their lives away from football and helped mold them into men. They spoke for several hundred young men seated together in the bleachers forming a sea of blue in their Raiders jerseys.

The players noted Doucette never asked something of someone if he didn’t believe they could do it. But he didn’t show them any shortcuts, either. He could provide motivation, infuse them with confidence and encourage them along the way, but it was up to the individual to find within themselves whatever it was they had to offer to the team. Much like Valerie Doucette’s tribute, they talked about how he continued to show his love and devotion to them long after they had given all they had to offer to the team.

Many good football coaches and mentors preceded Doucette’s arrival at Oak Hill in 2012. Most toiled in mediocrity in Class C while rivals Lisbon and Winthrop added state and regional hardware to their trophy cases in the 1990s and early 2000s. I can tell you from having lived in Sabattus for 15 years and, with my late wife, Joyce, raised a son who graduated from Oak Hill around the time of Doucette’s arrival, that no one was able to connect with the players and convince them of what was possible the way Doucette did.

The three gold balls, no matter how long they are displayed in the Oak Hill trophy case, barely scratch the surface of proof. The proof is the young men in the blue jerseys who already have gone on to college — law and medical school in some cases, who have started careers and families and who themselves have gone into coaching. I don’t know how many would have done the same if Stacen Doucette had not impacted their lives, but I know that many more future young men have been denied the chance to have him impact their lives.

Whenever Doucette would call one of his coaching colleagues to run a game plan idea by them, whenever he would text Oak Hill athletic director Jim Palmer about a bus schedule, or whenever he would text a member of the media for stats so he could bolster his players’ case for conference all-stars, the conversation would end with him saying, “Sorry to bother you.”

So, sorry to bother you, dear reader, but just because Stacen Doucette’s life was cut short doesn’t mean his legacy can’t continue. Organized by Parker Asselin, the quarterback of Doucette’s first state champion, friends have launched a Go Fund Me page to establish a memorial scholarship fund in his name. They raised over $3,000 in the first 20 hours, eclipsed their goal of $5,000 in just two days and were over $9,000 as of early Saturday night.

To contribute, visit gf.me/v/c/7rrz/stacen-doucette-memorial-fund


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