Coach’s kid. High school state champion. University of Maine point guard. A coach elsewhere before returning to Orono.

Courtney England has been promoted to associate head coach of the University of Maine women’s basketball team. The 2011 Leavitt and 2015 UMaine grad has been on head coach Amy Vachon’s staff since 2017. Peter Buehner photo

That’s a synopsis of Courtney England’s basketball life. It also fits the script of England’s boss, UMaine women’s head coach Amy Vachon. England’s trajectory will now follow Vachon’s in one more was: Black Bears associate head coach.

Vachon recently promoted England, a 2011 Leavitt high school graduate when she was known as Courtney Anderson, from assistant coach to associate head coach — the same promotion that Vachon was given in 2016 by then-women’s coach Richard Barron, who now coaches the UMaine men’s team.

“It’s great. I mean, every day, regardless of what my title is, it’s a blessing to come to work and know that you’re going to do something that you love with people that you love to work with, and to get to see our players every day and just work with them through a process, which I enjoyed so much as a player,” England said. “It’s a blessing, regardless of the title, but the title is really cool, too.”

Vachon, who started coaching at UMaine when Barron, now the Black Bears men’s coach, took over as head coach in 2011, said England has been instrumental in turning the Black Bears program around, starting with her time as a player. Following her graduation in 2015, England spent two years away from the UMaine program — first as Director of Basketball Operations and an assistant coach at New Hampshire (where her younger sister Kristen was a player), then as an assistant at Presbyterian College in South Carolina — before returning to Maine as part of Vachon’s coaching staff.

“She’s just really worked hard,” Vachon said. “She’s very smart, she’s very talented and she just creates great relationships with our players. So everything that you would want in an assistant coach and an associate head coach, Courtney has it.”

England participated in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want To Be A Coach” program in 2015. But she had the coaching itch long before that.

“Honestly, I started coaching from a young age. I started coaching AAU right after I got done playing AAU, so I started coaching on teams that my sister player for,” England said. “I knew that the thinking behind the game was something I really enjoyed. So the X’s and O’s. And then just really developing players, like I had done small, individual workouts with people back home as soon as I started playing college, and with younger kids in my community and stuff. And so I really enjoyed the player development aspect of it. I really enjoy the X’s and O’s aspect of it. I enjoy just watching people grow. I was an education major here as well. So, I mean, kind of been in my DNA for a while. It’s something that I enjoy doing, in every sense of it. So I think for a long time that coaching was kind of what I felt like I was going to be really good at.”

Courtney Anderson of Leavitt Area High School shoots amongst heavy traffic against Greely High School in Portland in February 2010. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Coaching is in England’s blood. At Leavitt, she played for her mother Tammy Anderson, whom England said she is similar to personality-wise “when it comes to what we enjoy doing, so the coaching was kind of no different from that.”

“Getting to play for my mother, getting to watch my mother coach, it really just drove home that this was kind of a passion of mine as well,” England added.

Like England, Vachon also was a coach’s kid. She won two state championships playing for her father Paul Vachon at Cony. Interestingly, Vachon’s two Class A state titles as a player came right after Cindy Blodgett — her future UMaine teammate — helped lead Lawrence to four-consecutive Class A titles. Blodgett was the UMaine coach that recruited England to play for the Black Bears, but she was fired following the 2010-2011 season. Vachon was on Barron’s staff the next year, after coaching Catherine McAuley High School to the Class A state championship the day after England won the Class B title with Leavitt.

Vachon, speaking from experience, said England being a coach’s kid has helped her development as a coach, but she also noted that she and England are different types of people, despite all their similarities. She said having a coaching staff full of clones wouldn’t work.

“You have to have different personalities and different strengths,” Vachon said.

Differences as people and coaches aside, England said the coaching staff, which also includes Tom Biskup and former Maine high school star and Black Bears player Parise Rossignol, is truly a family.

“Like this past year, just in general, I spent Thanksgiving, saw them around Christmas like every day. We all work out of the same one office, the same table,” England said. “For me, personally, after watching — well, knowing — Amy when I was growing up as a kid playing basketball, and then to play for her when I was here and she was an assistant coach, and that now to work with her and coach with her, it’s awesome. It’s great every day.”

Courtney England has been promoted to associate head coach of the University of Maine women’s basketball team. The 2011 Leavitt and 2015 UMaine grad has been on head coach Amy Vachon’s staff since 2017. Peter Buehner photo

UMaine has had plenty of success during England’s time on the staff, advancing to the America East title game every year, and winning it twice. Vachon said everything is a team effort, and everyone has their role, and that England does her role “very well.”

That role won’t change much despite the promotion, both England and Vachon said.

“Responsibilities stay the same,” England said. “I think every Division I coaching staff — except for I don’t know about Ivy League — but you get three assistants and give them whatever titles that you deem fit. So I think Coach Vachon thought that I deserved a promotion in that regard, and that was great to see some work recognized, but my job description hasn’t really changed, in that sense.”

The Black Bears’ roster will change drastically from last year’s, England said. There are 11 underclassmen and gone are many of the biggest names from the recent championship teams. But England is excited about the future of the program, in terms of both the chance to develop the young roster as well as the facility changes coming to UMaine as part of a donation from the Alfond Foundation.

“For us, it’s always exciting to be here at Maine, but I think it’s a very exciting time, just for the athletic department in general, and definitely for me,” England said.

Vachon said the future is equally bright for England.

“If coaching is her passion, if coaching is something she wants to do, if head coaching is, if not, whatever it is, Court can put her mind to something and really do it well,” Vachon said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.