Leavitt Area High School Nordic ski coach Dustin Williamson at the school’s ski shack on November 17, 2020. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

A quartet of local coaches were among 20 high school coaches in the state to be named State Coaches of the Year by the Maine Principals’ Association.

The awards, sponsored by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), were announced by the MPA earlier this month, and three local girls coaches and one boys coach — all from the winter season — garnered recognition. An MPA selection committee picked the winners.

Both Lewiston hockey coaches, boys head coach Jamie Belleau and girls coach Ron Dumont, won awards.

Lewiston head boys hockey coach Jamie Belleau talks with Drew St. Hilaire during practice in 2018. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

“It’s always nice to be recognized, but my feeling about getting recognition as a coach, you’re only as good as the players and other coaches around you,” Belleau said. “We had a pretty special group of young men that played for the hockey program this year, and I think that I’m surrounded around the best coaching staff in the state. So any recognition I get is just a recognition of how important the kids are and how important my coaching staff is to me.”

Belleau’s Blue Devils won the Class A state title with a perfect 21-0 record during the 2019-20 season.

Dumont’s team also captured a championship, winning the girls state crown an accumulating a record of 20-0-1.

 

Lewiston girls’ hockey coach, Ron Dumont, talks to his team between periods during a game in January. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

“Personally it is nice to be recognized, but it’s an award that is connected to every facet of the team,” Dumont said. “By that I mean that for a head coach to be recognized in this manner there are a whole lot of other people who contributed.

“I’m lucky because I have tremendous support from LHS as a whole and the athletic department and AD Jason Fuller in particular. … I have also been fortunate to have a staff that shares many of the same hockey philosophies that I have, but are also comfortable and willing to share their own personal takes on strategy, team dynamics, etc. All which go to building a successful team.”

“And probably most importantly you need to be blessed with players that are willing to buy into what you are selling so to speak,” Dumont added.

Jodd Bowles sets gates on the Bull Moose trail at Lost Valley Ski Area in Auburn in 2013. Bowles was Lost Valley Director of Ski Racing at the time.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

Leavitt girls Nordic ski coach Dustin Williamson and Edward Little girls Alpine ski coach Jodd Bowles also were quick to pass off praise directed at them to the athletes, who as Bowles said, “make me look good.”

“Listen, ultimately it’s the athletes that make me look good whenever we achieve anything,” Bowles said. “The coach has something to do with it, but in ski racing, probably as much or more than any other sport, they’re individual athletes. Once they hop in that start gate, it’s them that do it. You can’t ski the course for them. You can help them prepare and be there for them, but it’s them. They’re the ones who do it and they’re the ones who make the coaches look good or bad.”

Bowles’ Red Eddies team narrowly finished as the runner-up for the Class A state title last winter, right behind Mt. Blue.

“I’ve been fortunate as long as I’ve coached skiing to have a group of athletes that make me look good. I try to bring them to peak performance and do what I can with what I know,” Bowles said. “We’ve had our share of successes in the ski program in Auburn over the years. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of it, and get an award now and then.”

Williamson, who has been at the helm of the Hornets program for 17 (and hopefully going on 18) years, was humbled by his award, and he admitted to getting a little emotional when he found out.

Leavitt nordic ski coach Dustin Williamson at the school’s ski shack on Tuesday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“And when I was thinking about it, and actually a bunch of the skiers have come in and congratulated me and I tell them this: ‘I can’t be the coach of the year without having great skiers on a team,'” Williamson said. “And I think that this award is a direct reflection of the incredibly talented and awesome kids that I’m so lucky to coach each year.”

The Hornets finished fifth at the Class A state championship last winter.

“It’s great results, great skiers, great student-athletes, and I’m just a mere reflection of how awesome they are. But of course they quickly reply to me and say ‘Well, we wouldn’t be awesome if you weren’t a great coach.’ It’s a humble honor,” Williamson said.

The coaches will all be considered for Sectional and potentially National Coach of the Year honors in their sport by NFHS. MPA Executive Director Mike Burnham noted that two coaches from Maine were named National Coaches of the Year last year, in Maranacook Nordic ski coach Steve DeAngelis and Camden Hills girls soccer coach Meredith Messer. Lewiston girls tennis coach Anita Murphy and Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty are also former national award winners.

Other Maine state coaches of the year from the 2019-20 school year include: Bonny Eagle’s Kevin Cooper (football), Hampden Academy’s Russ Bartlett (boys basketball), Falmouth’s David Halligan (boys soccer), Massabesic’s Rick DeRosier (wrestling), Mt. Ararat’s Diane Fournier (boys cross country), Ellsworth’s James Goodman (boys swimming & diving), Falmouth’s Tip Kimball (boys Alpine), Colin Jandreau (boys Nordic), Central Aroostook’s Dillon Kingsbury (girls basketball), Biddeford’s Ruth Shaw (volleyball), North Yarmouth Academy’s Rick Doyon (girls soccer), Greely’s David Dowling (girls cross country), Kennebunk’s Andrew Coulombe (girls swimming & diving), Winslow’s Mary Beth Bourgoin (field hockey), and Biddeford’s Deb Lebel (spirit/cheerleading).


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