Gavin Kane has spent his entire life living and working near his hometown of Wilton.
Last week he embarked, literally and figuratively, on a new chapter in his life.
Kane, 49, has given up his jobs as the manager at Wilson Lake Country Club and as a high school basketball coach to join Cindy Blodgett’s staff with the University of Maine women’s basketball program.
“It’s going to take me a while to get settled in and get comfortable, but I’m looking forward to the challenges,” Kane said Thursday from his office inside UMaine’s Memorial Gymnasium. “I certainly feel very comfortable from a basketball coaching standpoint.”
Kane, who directed highly successful boys and girls teams — a few of them simultaneously — at Dirigo High in Dixfield for the last 13 years, has aspired to move into the college ranks.
Recently, he read about the UMaine opening on the NCAA Web site. He quickly sent in an application, without getting his hopes too high.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for a high school coach to get a look at the college level,” Kane said. “I could only hope for an interview and felt that it was up to me to be able to present myself correctly and show a college coach that I had something to offer them and their program.”
Kane accomplished just that when Blodgett, at the urging of a coaching colleague, invited him to Orono for an informal meeting.
“I think he’s really genuine,” Blodgett said. “He’s a quality human being.
“Everyone I spoke to spoke about his character, his integrity as a person, his attention to detail, how much he cares about his players,” Blodgett said.
Their first meeting lasted four hours.
“I was actually shocked at how much time had gone by,” Kane said. “It’s a testament to how much I enjoyed that conversation.”
Blodgett was already aware of Kane’s coaching success. He guided the Dirigo girls to a 263-17 record, including six state championships and 11 straight Western Maine titles.
He led the Cougar boys the last four seasons, producing a 74-10 record, including a Class C state runner-up finish in 2009.
“He has years of wisdom. I see that as a tremendous benefit,” Blodgett said. “With Gavin’s coaching experience, I imagine he and I are going to have lots of conversations about X’s and O’s.”
Kane is prepared to contribute in any way possible. He spent his first week on the job studying the NCAA Manual in anticipation of passing a test that will allow him to recruit and perform other duties.
He also has been promoting and scheduling two August basketball camps and has been charged with organizing the annual Dead River Co. Classic in November.
“As we move into the season I’ll also be involved with the on-floor coaching as well as film evaluation of our opponents and our own players,” said Kane, who is looking forward to work with the Black Bears.
“I always felt that young ladies really hang on every word that you’re saying,” he said. “I always found that enjoyable, particularly as much as I love to coach in the practice setting.”
Kane, a former middle school special education teacher, spent the last 10 years managing Wilson Lake CC from April to November. He did some substitute teaching during the winter.
One of the big challenges for Kane will be spending a lot of time away from home.
He resides in Wilton, near Farmington, with his wife Carole, their son Connor, 13, and daughters Caitlin, 11, and Chelsea, 10. The trip to Orono takes almost two hours.
“We won’t look to relocate immediately,” Kane said. “My wife has a solid job in Farmington. I’m going to make the commute, at least initially.”
Kane is fortunate to have a place to stay as his brother Mike, the women’s basketball coach at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, lives in the Bangor area.
Another concession Gavin Kane has made is his vehicle. He has traded in their customized van for a Dodge Stratus.
“Now, for the first time in many years, I’m in a low rider,” he said with a laugh.
Kane is excited about helping Blodgett restore UMaine as one of the top Division I programs in the region.
“She certainly knows what it will take to get our team to a very high level,” he said. “I look forward to sharing in that vision and that drive that she has to see our program become very successful.”
Blodgett, who lost two coaching assistants at the end of last season, is expected to fill her last assistant coaching vacancy in the coming days.