WINTHROP — For 21 years, Dave Poulin coached Winthrop High School’s boys basketball players. For 46 years, he taught its students.

At no point in that time did he think he would be getting an honor like the one he got Saturday afternoon.

The gymnasium at Winthrop will now be called the David J. Poulin Gymnasium, a tribute the school made official Saturday during a dedication before the boys basketball team’s game with Carrabec. Fans arriving at the game — which Winthrop won 61-48 — entered through doors under a sign bearing the gym’s new name, and after the ceremony the longtime coach called the honor “overwhelming.”

“I’m just about in tears,” said Poulin, who was joined during the recognition by his wife, Lisa, son Mike and daughter Katie, and grandchildren Noah and Sophie. “It’s unbelievable, the people here. I had students and their kids as students, and maybe it even got to the point where (I taught) some grandkids of students. … It just means a lot.”

Poulin won back-to-back state championships in 1992 and ’93 and guided the Ramblers to seven Mountain Valley Conference championships, but said having his name put on the team’s gym was a surprise.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “No way whatsoever. … I did not in any way see this.”

Advertisement

The ceremony featured a presentation by athletic director Joel Stoneton, who thanked Poulin for his contributions for nearly a half-century of teaching, as well as his family for “sharing your father with us, and your husband.”

During the ceremony, Stoneton asked everyone who played for or was taught by Poulin, who was the parent of a student or player of his, or who worked with him or knew him well in the community to stand. By the time Stoneton was finished with his criteria, few of the people in attendance were still sitting.

“This is what I thought, coach,” Stoneton said. “If you ever doubt the impact that you’ve had on these people, take this mental picture and live in it.”

Logan Baird scored 24 points and Matt Beck added 15 to pace Winthrop, which used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a 42-39 deficit. Joel Gehrke scored 18 points and Luke Carey added 14 to lead the Cobras.

Poulin, who said he heard from several former players ahead of the ceremony, didn’t say anything afterward. He said that was the plan going in.

David Poulin, left, hugs Winthrop Athletic Director Joel Stoneton after a court-naming ceremony Saturday at the high school. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“When this all happened, I said ‘Joel, I’m not talking.’ This was months ago,” he said. “I was probably more nervous today than when the Colts were playing. I was really nervous. And I knew I wasn’t going to be talking. It’s just one thing to coach and kind of be in the center of what’s going on, but you’re really not. This was the center of everything.”

Advertisement

Poulin’s best player, T.J. Caouette, said last month that his coach was deserving of the honor.

“The impact that he had, not only on players, but individuals that came through the Winthrop system, he touched all their lives, all for the better,” he said. “Certainly, when you think of the town of Winthrop and sports, my mind immediately goes to Coach Poulin.”

Current Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur was on hand for the ceremony, and lauded both Poulin’s contributions as a teacher and his style as a coach.

This February 17, 1997 file photo shows Winthrop boys basketball coach Dave Poulin at Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“(He was) incredibly passionate, and held kids to very high standards and loved his kids,” he said. “He was a demanding coach, and if you watched him and didn’t know him you would think he was tough. But he loved his kids, and they would run through a brick wall for him.”

Caouette said that demanding nature made Poulin the ideal man for the job.

“Everything about his life was Winthrop basketball,” Caouette said. “He’s very demanding, but at the same time, he developed all the boys, because he was a teacher as well. … If you were to interview every single player that came through all the decades, I think they’d all echo the same thing.”

Advertisement

Winthrop’s first game in the officially renamed gym was a test. Eager to back up its strong start to the season, Carrabec got 16 first-half points from Gehrke en route to a 42-39 lead with 6:59 to play. But the Ramblers cranked up the defense, and for the next five minutes didn’t allow a point while building their lead to 56-42.

MacArthur said the game wasn’t Winthrop’s best, but he praised his team for stepping up when it was needed most.

“We always preach in this program how to win in the fourth quarter,” he said. “Execution, discipline, taking quality shots, valuing the basketball and valuing each possession. They’re buying in with that concept in the fourth quarter. If we can continue to improve on that, we’re going to be a hard team to beat regardless of our faults.”

Baird, who had 12 points in the fourth including a 3-pointer with 5:10 to play that broke a 42-42 tie and gave Winthrop the lead for good, said the run was a product of the team raising its energy level.

“It was bound to come around. Everything ended up falling into place in the second half,” he said. “The second we started to get hot, the energy was up, everyone was excited. … We were getting excited and keeping the momentum flowing.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login 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.