Boston High School: Paul Vachon

New England Roundup: Maine

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
11:04
PM ET
Waterville senior Bethanie Brown is coming off a winter season where she posted new state records in the mile and 2-mile. She was also state champion in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 last spring. She also found time to be a state finalist in the Poetry Out Loud competition and blog for a high school running website, and she recently won the 2013 Maine Principals' Association Award, which takes into account a student's academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship, and leadership.

MaineBrown will be running for the University of Connecticut this fall. She recently took time to answer some questions about UConn and her high school career.

Q: What made you decide on the University of Connecticut?

A: "It was a number of things. Overall, out of all of the colleges that I looked at, it seemed to be the best fit for me. Recruiting junior year and especially last summer and fall was a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got multiple calls every week last summer, and got to talk to a lot of coaches about their college, the team, and their coaching style. I finally narrowed it down to my top five, and those were the ones I took official visits to. After visiting each one and thinking about all the pros and cons of each school, I felt like UConn was the best fit. The University is big, so I’ll have lots of options open for majors, which is important since I’m sort of undecided. I really like the coach, and I feel like her coaching style will work well with my personality. I met the team and really liked them, and I also know some people in Connecticut so it won’t be as nerve-wracking to live there without my parents."

Q: You mentioned in one of your blogs about running laps and seeing the same neighbors walking their dogs five times. Obviously, there's some drudgery in running. What kinds of things do you do to stay motivated?

A: "Yes, I tend to joke about that. Since one loop of my neighborhood is 0.9 miles, it’s kind of like a giant track! It’s fun to see all my neighbors when I’m out running. We’ll say hello and even chat sometimes when I finish my run. It’s nice to have neighborhood support. Obviously, running loops can get boring at times, so when I feel bored I switch it up and run other routes. But, as a track person, I like running in circles! During the track season I usually run near the high school instead of in my neighborhood, so that gives my running a little bit of variety.

"In terms of staying motivated, it’s not that hard because I like to run. There are days when I’m tired, and maybe not as anxious for my run as on other days, but I know the importance of continuity in training, and so I just do it. But I usually look forward to racing and going to practice, because running is something that I genuinely enjoy."

Q: You and the Waterville girls have had such an incredible run during your high school years. Do you find yourself thinking a lot about how your high school career is almost over?

A: "I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that this is actually my last high school track season. It feels so normal to be a part of the Waterville track team! It has been an incredibly exciting experience to go into each year aiming for a state title as a team. It creates a supportive, focused atmosphere, because each person knows that they need their teammates to do their best in order to win. As a freshman, I was intimidated by the team of older kids who were so good at their events, and so knowledgeable and serious about track. I remember being nervous to compete, but really enjoying being a part of such a successful team. Now, I guess I’m the older, serious track athlete. It feels strange to think I won’t be there next year to help out the team. I will miss it so much, even though I’m excited for next year too. It’s been so fun."

Q: Ian Wilson is regarded as one of the best coaches in the state. What makes him so good at what he does?

A: "He’s really serious about track, and he devotes a lot of time to the team. He studies and continually learns more about the sport, so even though he never ran track, he is really good at helping his athletes to have good mechanics. He can look at someone who has never run track before, and know what they will be good at. He has made a lot of individual state champions, and, well, the team championships speak for themselves. It might seem like Waterville has a lot of talent, but really, it’s that kids who have just as much talent as any other kids in any other school are spending 6 days a week at track practice, running and doing strength work, and working really hard to improve.

"Every meet, he emphasizes the importance of getting better each week. He plans tough, demanding workouts for his team, and the team toughs it out because they respect him and are motivated by him and his goals for the team. Not only is he good at the training side of track, he is also really good at the psychology of it too. He tells motivating stories, puts motivational quotes on the practice plan every day, and knows how to make his team feel confident in their abilities. He has a good sense of what motivates certain individuals, and what helps them specifically to do well.

"As a freshman, I was a little scared of him, I will admit. Scared because he seems very intimidating. In reality, he knows what he’s doing, and isn’t actually as scary as I thought he wasthat is, as long as you stay clean from drugs and alcohol, wear practice uniforms, never miss practice without permission, and give 110% effort in practice and at meets. He’s the coach you’ll hear bellowing from the sidelines at track meets. Trust me, it’s like magic. When he yells, you do go faster. Even if you feel like you’re giving your all, you just find another gear. It’s sort of like a lion’s chasing youbut instead it’s Wilson yelling at you. Overall, he’s just a really experienced, knowledgeable, motivating coach. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with him."

Q: Bill Stewart wrote a column in the Morning Sentinel, urging people to go watch you run so they could see greatness. What were some of the reactions you had when you read that column? Did your teammates kid you about it?

"My parents told me about it and read me some quotes from the article, because they really liked it, but they didn’t have me read it. They are saving it for me to read at the end of the season. They don’t want to put too much pressure on me. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from members of the community who saw the article and thought it was very nice, so I’m excited to read it. A parent of one of my friends told me that he liked seeing that article because he had been telling people at work for a while that they should come and watch me run."

Q: Alex Jenson is such a key part of your team, and she's out for the season with an injury. What's it like to watch a teammate go through that?

A: "It’s really hard because I know it must be so frustrating for her to watch other people compete, and not be able to. It’s her senior year, and she has loved being coached by Wilson, and has been such a key part of our team even since freshman year. I live near her, and so we have been friends since she moved to Waterville in fourth grade and we rode the bus together. I’ve always been impressed with her talent and work ethic, and I know that she’ll find a way to stay positive through this disappointment because she’s really tough."

Q: What kind of goals do you have for this season?

A: "My goal is to improve! It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to keep finding ways to improve yourself. And when you finally get a PR, it feels so good! It’s a feeling of accomplishment to know that you just ran faster than you have ever run before. This season, I started off with a lifetime PR in the 3200 (two-mile) of 10:22, and so I’d be thrilled to improve that time. In my races I have to run at the front a lot, which is different than running with a pack of girls, and can be hard to do sometimes. So, another goal is to just be really focused and tough even when I’m just racing the clock."

NEW INDUCTEES FOR MAINE SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Maine Sports Hall of Fame inducted 10 new members at its annual banquet May 5 at the Augusta Civic Center. Included on that list are four people who are inducted based on their contributions to Maine high school sports:

- Skowhegan field hockey coach Paula Doughty, who has won 438 career games and 14 Class A state championships. Doughty has twice won the National Coach of the Year award, and her teams have won 11 of the last 12 Class A state titles.

-Cony girls basketball coach Paul Vachon. Now the athletic director at Cony, Vachon compiled a 451-40 record while coaching the Rams. He won 11 regional and seven Class A state championships.

-Football coach John Wolfgram, who has won a total of 10 state championships at four different high schools. Wolfgram's Cheverus team won 34 consecutive games from 2010 to 2012. That broke the previous state record of 31, set by Wolfgram's South Portland team from 1995 to 1997.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

With spring season under way, here are eight athletes you should know about. This isn’t meant to be a list of the best athletes in their sports, but it is clear that all of them can be expected to be at the top of their game this season:

Ryan Rebar, Foxcroft baseball: An outstanding three-sport athlete, baseball is Rebar’s best sport. He’s a pitcher and shortstop. “A sign of a top notch pitcher is the ability to put up great numbers even when he does not have his best stuff,” says Marc Calnan of Examiner.com. “Ryan Rebar does that. I have covered many games that Rebar has pitched between high school and American Legion in the last four years. I have not seen any situation overwhelm him. As a shortstop, he is as smooth as anyone in any class.”

Sonja Morse, Cony softball: Softball is still a game dominated by talented pitchers, and Morse carried Cony to the state title last year and could do so again this spring. Morse went 13-0 with 0.50 ERA last season, with 146 strikeouts in 87 innings. At the plate, she hit .479 and drove in 30 runs in 22 games. In the state final against South Portland, Morse retired the first 20 batters before losing her perfect game on a two-out single in the seventh of Cony’s 2-0 victory.

Patrick Ordway, Waynflete tennis: Ordway won the state singles title as a sophomore, and seemed poised to do it again last spring. He was the No. 1 seed and breezed into the semifinals, losing a total of five games in his first three matches. But in the semis, Ordway was stunned by fifth-seeded Jordan Friedland of Lincoln Academy, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4. Friedland went on to win the state title, and is back as a senior to defend his title. Their teams don’t meet in the regular season and can’t meet in the playoffs, but if Ordway and Friedland meet in the state singles tournament, it will be a fun match to watch.

Maisie Silverman, Brunswick tennis: Silverman was the state singles runner-up as a freshman in 2011, and took the title last year as a sophomore, defeating Falmouth senior Annie Criscione, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Silverman was also tested in the tournament by Waterville’s Colleen O’Donnell and Falmouth’s Olivia Leavitt, both of whom are back this year. Brunswick is also out to defend its team Class A state title.

Nicco DeLorenzo, Kennebunk lacrosse: The name rolls off the tongue, but he’s more than just a name. According to a preseason feature article in the Portland Press Herald, DeLorenzo, a junior at Kennebunk, has already verbally committed to play at Colgate. DeLorenzo had 120 ground balls last season, and is a presence as a long-stick midfielder.

Lauren Steidl, Cape Elizabeth lacrosse: Steidl is coming off a season in which she scored 58 goals and dished out 26 assists as the Capers reached the Western B championship game. Steidl will play for Princeton next year. She’s actually one of two 50-goal scorers on the Cape Elizabeth roster. Talley Perkins, who will play at Boston University next season, had 50 goals last year.

Alex Shain, Sanford track and field: Shain was a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist after rushing for 1,400 yards and scoring 28 touchdowns for the Sanford football team this fall. He does the running thing pretty well in the spring, too. Shain is the defending Class A state champion in the 100 (11.33 seconds) and the triple jump (42 feet, 6.75 inches). He was also part of the school’s state champion 4x100 relay team, and placed fifth in the long jump (20 feet, 0.25 inches).

Bethanie Brown, Waterville track and field: Brown has one of the best résumés of any runner around. Last spring, she won the Class A state title in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 55.23 seconds) and 3,200 (10:34.79) then went out and won both of those events at the New England championships. She also helped Waterville’s 4x400 relay team win the state title. The winter, she set Class B state indoor record in the mile and 2-mile. Brown is headed to the University of Connecticut this fall. In a preseason column, the Morning Sentinel’s Bill Stewart wrote, “As you fill the calendars with what you hope to see this spring, particularly when the weather pleasantly warms, do yourself a favor and go see Waterville senior Bethanie Brown run. Do it. You won’t be disappointed.”

New England Roundup: Maine

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
6:37
PM ET
Paul Vachon established himself as one of the top basketball coaches in Maine, winning seven girls Class A state championships in 23 years at Cony High School in Augusta. Prior to that he coached at Waterville and Messalonskee and won over 400 games in his career at Cony alone. He stepped down five years ago to take the athletic director’s position at Cony and recently answered a few questions about his job.

Q: You were a basketball coach for nearly 30 years. What misconceptions did you have about an athletic director’s job during that time?

MaineA: "I didn't realize all the time and responsibility that came with this position. Being in charge of 23 varsity sports, 25 sub-varsity, 55 coaches, supervising events, and attending meetings, certainly puts a lot on your plate. I had tunnel vision when I was coaching. Basketball was all I saw. Wow, was I ever wrong."

Q: How many hours do you work during an average week during the school year? And what are those hours devoted to?

A: "I average between 50-70 hours a week. Bus scheduling, referee assignments, daily updates on events, committee meetings, cancellations, MPA information updates and paperwork, parent concerns, player concerns, student eligibility, drug and alcohol concerns, field and game preparations, special events, booster meetings, evaluations, and making sure there is enough pizza for tonight's game — just to name a few."

Q: What is the most important aspect of your job?

A: "The most important aspect of my job is to be a good listener. I may not agree with everything, but I must understand that everyone has their own opinion. I must listen, research, and evaluate all dilemmas. I then must come up with a solution that hopefully everyone will understand and agree upon."

Q: Augusta has a number of centrally located and well developed facilities which make it an attractive site for regional and state championship events. How much of an extra burden is this on your job?

A: "I don't know if I would call it a burden. This is what I envisioned the AD position would be like. I love watching athletics and I would do anything to promote events for our school and community. Yes, we are centrally located, but our administration, community and city have built some nice facilities that many people want to use. I feel it is one of my responsibilities that I help promote these outstanding facilities."

Q: How have athletes changed since you began coaching?

A: "School teams were always our No. 1 priority. I'm not sure that this is truly the case anymore. I've seen athletes miss practices and even games to attend other sporting events. Year round practices and games for elite groups are now being offered for all sports. Many athletes and parents have already chosen their career sport by middle school. Instead of developing athletes, it seems that we are focusing on a specific area and hoping for scholarships. The best teams I ever coached was when I had three sport athletes on our teams."

Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?

A: "The most difficult part of my job is my inability to have the time to spend with the student athlete. They need to know that we care about them and more than just being an athlete. It is a difficult world out there. Expectations for our student/ athletes is as pressurized as ever. We must remember that this is high school. Our job is to make sure that they feel good about who they are and that athletics is only one part of their high school education. We are teachers first and coaches second. Technology has made it very difficult to focus on certain areas."

Q: What is the most rewarding part of you job?

A: "The most rewarding part of my job is our support system. Our administration and school board have a great understanding that athletics play a huge role in a student's high school education. You must understand that Cony offers as many sports as any school in this state."

Q: Do you miss coaching and do you think you’ll ever return?

A: "I do miss coaching. I still run camps and attend clinics. I am positive that I will be coaching again."

Q: Is the turnover of coaches greater today than is was 15 or 20 years ago? If so, why?

A: "The turnover is much greater. I think if you check the coaches who have longevity, I think that you will find out that they are involved in the school system as an employee. Mike McGee, Dianne Fornier, Al Veneziano, Paula Doughty, Moe McNally, Scott Graffam, Mt. Blue football coach etc."

Q: Being a teacher in the system gives you a greater understanding of the student athlete and vice versa. How do you walk the fine line between parental involvement and parental interference in high school athletics?

A: "We need parent volunteers. Our All Sports Boosters raise a huge part of our athletic budget and it is all because of their great dedication and love that our parents have for their children. Cony High School is very fortunate to have such caring parents. With that said, I must admit that we do have dilemmas with parents voicing their personal opinions. I must also admit that I have been on both sides of the fence. I must again go back to my original statement; I must become a great listener. I hope what I have learned as a parent, teacher, coach, and administrator has provided me with the wisdom that I can share that provides comfort for the parent's concern."

Q: Cony continues to offer a number of sports that many schools do not. With a declining enrollment and budget considerations, how long can this be sustained?

A: "The athletic budget is less than two percent of the entire school budget. I am in hopes that the school board and community believe that athletics plays at least two percent of a role in a high school student's education."

Q: What changes, if any, would you like to see in high school athletics in Maine?

A: "I would like to see students receive credits for playing sports. A lot of lessons are learned in participating in athletics. We give chorus credit and band credit. Why not athletics?"

Q: Is today’s high school athlete as dedicated to their sport as he or she was 20 or 30 years ago?

A: "I believe that athletes are as dedicated today as they were 20-30 years ago. We just don't have as many. Kids have many more distractions today than they had 20 years ago."

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