ORONO, Maine — Several times a day, Willie Gavett will walk through his large garden, and when he gets to his potato crop he’ll invariably start picking bugs off the plants one by one.
That may not be the most efficient way of ridding his garden of the pest, but it’s that sort of attention to detail Gavett hopes to impart on the Orono High School boys basketball program as the Red Riots’ new varsity coach.
Gavett’s appointment was approved Tuesday night by a unanimous vote of the Orono school committee.
“It’s important to dot your I’s and cross your T’s,” said Gavett. “Those details are a big part of the game.”
Gavett replaces Ben Goodwin, who stepped down after six seasons to take a similar position at Brewer High School.
“The opportunity presented itself,” said Gavett, a 1967 Orono graduate. “I live five minutes from the school, and it really was a decision made at the spur of the moment, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
The hiring marks the start of Gavett’s second head coaching stint at Orono. He guided the Red Riots to a 47-31 record over four seasons between 1989 and 1992, a run highlighted by an Eastern Maine Class B championship in 1991.
“First and foremost, he’s a great teacher of the game, and we look at this as a great opportunity for our kids to gain that knowledge base that he has,” said Orono athletic administrator Mike Archer. “Not that they haven’t been taught before, but Willie offers great insight into the game and he really enjoys teaching the nuances of the game.”
Gavett sees coaching basketball as an exercise in instruction little different from any other academic endeavor.
“One thing I love more than about anything else is teaching the game of basketball, teaching the fundamentals,” he said.
The Gavett name is synonymous with basketball at Orono High School — Willie and younger brothers Peter and Steve Gavett all were named Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team honorees during their playing days.
Willie Gavett was honored in 1967 after leading the Red Riots to the Class L (now Class B) state championship. Peter Gavett earned All-Maine accolades in 1969, with Steve Gavett earning similar honors in 1973.
“This is also an opportunity to bring one of our alumni back, which I think is important,” said Archer. “I think it’s going to generate a lot of enthusiasm in the community.”
Willie Gavett went on to play at both Husson College and the University of Maine and subsequently has remained close to the sport largely through his work as a basketball official.
“I really believe you can win with good kids,” said Gavett. “I told the kids when I first met with them that it’s most important to be a good person in school, a good citizen and a good student.
“And if you happen to be a good basketball player along the way, we can use you.”
Orono last won an Eastern Maine title in boys basketball in 1996 and its most recent state crown came in 1981, both while the Red Riots were in Class B.
Now in Class C, Orono has compiled a 39-18 record over the last three seasons, including a 16-3 mark last winter.