After 13 years of coaching the North Yarmouth Academy boys basketball team, Jason Knight is taking his prowess — and his namesake — to the Knights of Poland Regional High School.

Knight stepped in at NYA as assistant coach for the 2011-2012 season before accepting the head coach role ahead of the 2012-13 campaign when there was a vacancy. During his 12 years as head coach at NYA, the Panthers went 104-110. Knight was named Maine Association of Basketball Coaches Class C Coach of the Year in 2017, coached 28 Western Maine Conference all-conference players and had numerous players receive all-star game recognition.

“I’m really excited,” Knight said of starting at Poland. “It’s bittersweet for me to leave NYA, a program that was 13 years of my life. Twelve years of it was me shaping that program, (while) being competitive with sometimes limited resources, in terms of the number of players we had.”

At NYA, Knight coached Te’Andre King, a 2020 graduate who was the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,535 career points. Four Panthers players continued on to the college level under Knight’s coaching. Despite the accolades and recognition, the opportunity to coach in a bigger class with a larger roster was a challenge that motivated Knight to apply for the Poland opening.

NYA senior Te’Andre King (23), joined by his teammates and head coach Jason Knight, celebrates his new program-record scoring mark following a 56-50 win over Traip Academy in Yarmouth in January 2020. North Yarmouth Academy photo

“I knew there’s a good basketball community in Poland and lots of good, athletic players with some skill,” Knight said. “I think there’s a lot of potential here with numbers and with athletes; they’re good basketball players.”

Last season, Poland was 3-15 under third-year coach Bill Flynn. Knight said the record and the need for structure is not completely unfamiliar to him as a coach.


“It’s not dissimilar to the scenario when I took over at NYA. They hadn’t had a lot of wins in the prior two or three years,” Knight said. “I explained to the team on our first practice (this summer), this is going to be a process and I think got a blueprint in which I can help — not only this year, but the next few years. It may take a little time, but the energy level is there.”

Knight also said he’s been “pleased after a couple of (summer) practices,” with the players’ attendance, effort and focus to improve. Preseason goals include a playoff run, so the need for structure, discipline and consistency are on par with reaching that goal, Knight said.

“I’m definitely not a rah-rah kind of coach, but I will motivate my players,” Knight said. “I’m not yelling at them, but they’ll know when I’m not happy. My style is, if I’m yelling, it’s usually through some sort of motivation or just trying to push them a little bit.”

Knight also has experience coaching at the professional level, with the Rockland-based Midcoast Sternmen of the Professional Basketball Association in 2021. He was an assistant to head coach and general manager Jim Graffam, who was a 2023 inductee into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.

Past Sternmen players include former Mt. Blue standout Isaiah Braithwaite, now the boys coach at Cony, and Trevon Butler, who played at Husson University.

“That was a great resource for me as a coach, and one of the learning opportunities to advance my coaching,” Knight said. “It’s frankly one of the reasons why I decided to make a move, or at least look into the pursuit of the Poland (coaching) opportunity — a means to a new challenge. It’s a bigger school, different environment, different school and schedule. Challenging myself in that regard, and hopefully impacting this group.”


Knight describes his coaching style as “creating a culture of hard work and discipline,” while “making sure we’re doing the little things.”

“As I tell my players, details matter,” Knight said. “That’s one of those life lessons I try to translate through coaching, as well, and trying to get some rigidity to it and making sure we’re doing things in a structured manner.”

Poland Athletic Director Don King added that while some kids may “fight” a more disciplined and scheduled program, results show that it leads to success.

“I think he’s very interested in developing a competitive basketball program, and in addition, developing the young men in our program,” King said. “From a personal standpoint, I’m excited about that. I think that we have landed a pretty good coach and I’m excited to work with him.”

King said he expects this year’s group of Knights to “challenge other teams with their athleticism” on the court while making a much-desired run to the Class B South playoffs. The Knights’ girls basketball program recently earned a similar outcome, improving from 0-18 during the 2022-2023 season to 13-7 this past season.

King said he’s hoping the boys program can see the same transformation.

Beyond basketball, Knight said his biggest pride as a coach comes in the classroom, seeing his players graduate and mature into young adults. He’s attended every single graduation except one for his former players, and said he loves seeing personal growth from freshman to senior year.

“Having texts after the fact, ‘Coach, thanks for what you did. May not have always liked it at the time or never understood it, but now I get what you’re trying to do,’… those messages resonate with me,” Knight said.

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