HAMPDEN, Maine — Tricia Carver admits coaching wasn’t on her radar back in high school.
After graduating from the University of Maine with degrees in Spanish and education, the former Jonesport-Beals basketball, volleyball and softball standout decided to take the plunge into the coaching ranks at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden in 2007, guiding “B” softball at that school.
“I had a really good friend [Andrea Lee] who was coaching the ‘A’ team at the time and she just pestered me until I finally caved in and said, OK, I’ll do it,” Carver said.
Now, Carver has returned to the hardwood, as she’s not only on coach Chad Bradbury’s varsity staff at Hampden Academy, but is also skippering the junior varsity squad at the school.
“I thought it’d be really good for girls to have a female coach who had kind of been around a little bit,” said Carver before her JV team practiced Monday.
Carver has an impressive resume, having led the Royalettes to Class D state championships in basketball and volleyball in 1999-2000, and she was also named MVP of the regional Class D tourney that year.
“I’m enjoying this season as a coach more than others, not because I enjoy my team, but because I finally feel like I’m getting a feel for what it feels like to be a coach,” said Carver, who also helped Jonesport-Beals win two regional softball crowns and went on to play a year of volleyball at UMaine.
Not a lot of Carver’s players know about her background.
“When I play against them they’ll say things like, ‘wow, she’s good, or wow, she’s tall,’ but I don’t think they necessarily know the championships that my team was able to win,” she explained.
The Broncos sit in eighth place in Eastern Maine Class A — eight teams will qualify for the regional tourney in Augusta — while Carver’s JV team has posted an undefeated record through six games.
“I feel like [the varsity team is] just starting to get a taste of how good they can be and it’s really exciting,” Carver said of a Broncos team that features a talented nucleus of juniors and sophomores.
“This is definitely a building year, but at the same time we want to go to the tournament.”
Carver still plays pickup ball a couple times a week and works as a youth minister through Community of Christ, which has 20 churches in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. She had several mentors such as Blaine Steeves and Glenn Libby, but the one who influenced her the most never coached her at the high school level.
“The person that I probably look to the most for coaching would be Julie Treadwell. She was my AAU coach for a number of years and she’s just an incredibly strong woman,” Carver said.
If there’s one thing Carver enjoys most about coaching, it’s the passion her players have for basketball.
“We have some really great girls. They’re funny, they’re fun, they’re silly, but when they get on the floor they work hard, and that’s the best part about coaching these girls,” she said. “They’re serious when they go on the court.”
Hampden faces a tough road contest tonight when it travels to Oakland to meet Messalonskee.
Balanced scoring and team-oriented play usually go a long way in determining a basketball team’s success.
The Hermon girls have epitomized that so far, and have parlayed that into a 5-2 start that has coach Margie Deabay’s team thinking postseason.
“They’re playing as a team, playing very unselfish. They all get along really well,” said Deabay, whose Hawks earned big wins recently over Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and previously undefeated Class C contender Foxcroft Academy.
“It’s never any one person. Different people step up at different times,” Deabay added.
They include Ashley Thayer, third in the Big East at 12 points per game while shooting at a solid 44-percent clip from the field, along with Vanessa Davenport, Dani Ross, Marissa Kelley and Kayla Snow.
Hermon is fourth in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal points with just more than half a season to play, including two games against John Bapst and one apiece with Presque Isle and Mount Desert Island — who sit 1-2 in the standings.
“The one thing that I keep reminding them is don’t look past any team, we can’t look past anybody,” Deabay said. “Like the example of Caribou [beating] MDI, one game at a time.”