Gray-New Gloucester High School boys soccer coach Mike Dehetre demonstrates how a particular drill is run during practice at the high school on September 24, 2020. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

When Gray-New Gloucester suddenly was in need of a new varsity boys soccer coach, the Patriots didn’t need to look far to find one with experience.

The school only had to look one spot down the bench.

Mike Dehetre, who was an assistant to Kyle Fletcher last year, and Andy Higgins before that, has been named the interim head coach for this season. It will be Dehetre’s second stint leading a program he once played for, as he also coached the Patriots from 2007-10 before Higgins took over.

“Having another opportunity to coach this program during this time is exciting, but challenging,” Dehetre, a 1994 Gray-New Gloucester graduate, said. “I think I can speak for many coaches/educators that no matter how many years of experience you may have, this year is presenting challenges that we’ve never seen before (because of the coronavirus pandemic). So in a sense, it feels like you’re starting all over again as a brand new coach.”

The Patriots found themselves with a void at head coach when Fletcher was named the associate head coach at Thomas College, his alma mater.

“With a shortened season and lots of other details that require our attention this year, the relationship-building (with the players) would be difficult for any other new coach. It made sense to step in as an interim coach for this year,” Dehetre said.

Higgins chimed in on Twitter when it was announced that Dehetre had been named the new, interim coach.

“Worked with Coach Dehetre for years. He is a first-class guy, with a massive kids-first heart, this is a tremendous win for the Patriots boys Soccer program!” Higgins, now the girls soccer coach at Yarmouth, said in a tweet. “Congrats Mike and all the young men who will be positively impacted by this great role model!”

“In terms of X’s and O’s and the game of soccer itself, I gained a lot of knowledge working under Coach Higgins as his assistant for two years,” Dehetre said. “Andy is one of the most respected coaches in the state, and I learned a lot from his practice plans and his tactical approach to the game.”

Gray-New Gloucester High School boys’ soccer coach Mike Dehetre talks with his team at the start of practice at the high school on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Dehetre said that Fletcher was a great fit for the program last year, when the Patriots went 8-6-2 before losing to eventual Class B state champion Yarmouth in the regional quarterfinals.

“Being a younger coach, his ideas and approaches to practices and games seemed to click right away with last year’s group. The kids responded really well and he was able to create a special bond in the short time he was here,” Dehetre said. “The energy and physicality he brought helped with the team’s success and it was great to experience that as his assistant.”

Between stints, in addition to being an assistant with the program, Dehetre as coached his own children’s youth soccer club teams and refereed at the high school and middle school levels. He is also a health/physical education teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School.

“I think I’ve become more patient and understanding with students and players over the years. Working in public education for the past 15 years has taught me that,” Dehetre said. “Also helping students and players understand the value of taking risks, on the field, or off the field, even when they may fear the outcome. As mentors and role models, I believe we do the kids more harm than good if we prevent them from experiencing failure or disappointment.”

Dehetre will be coaching his son, sophomore midfielder Colby Dehetre, on this year’s team.

“I will be the first to tell you that I am always harder on him than I am on any other player,” Dehetre said. “I coached him all the way through youth soccer from U9 to U14, so one of the biggest reasons for holding back on coaching at the varsity level again was to allow him to have the opportunity to experience other coaches and to just have Dad observing and cheering him on from the sideline.

“This year, his team was in a tough place due to Fletcher leaving suddenly and the shortened season, so I was happy to step up to bridge the gap and allow him to have a season.”

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