Bill Nemer retired from coaching varsity sports in Ashland after the 2008 season, content that 30 years of baseball, basketball and soccer were enough — until a few weeks ago, when his school found itself in a coaching jam.
So Nemer is back on the sidelines again, for a one-year stint as the Hornets’ interim boys varsity basketball coach.
“They twisted my arm,” said Nemer.
The job became vacant just before the start of the season when Jim Gardner, who coached the team last season while also serving as the Ashland town manager, took a similar administrative post in Easton.
Nemer, a longtime physical education teacher, ultimately filled the void.
“I had these kids in class from kindergarten through sixth grade, so I know them,” said Nemer, who has coached varsity basketball for 15 years, including a 1985 stint with the Ashland boys team. “It’s a good bunch of kids.”
The Hornets, who finished 7-11 a year ago, are likely to struggle this winter in Eastern Maine Class D. Just 13 players — from a school enrollment of 88 as of April 1 — came out for basketball this year, so there is no junior varsity team.
The team is playing in a brand new gymnasium this year, part of a new Ashland High School that opened for business in September. The new gymnasium replaces an old Ashland gymnasium that was less than regulation size, meaning when the Hornets hosted preliminary-round tournament games in recent years they had to be moved to other locations.
“This new building is something else,” said Nemer.
Ashland opens its season Friday night at home against Washburn, which is expected to be one of the upper-echelon teams in Eastern D.
“I already know what I didn’t miss about coaching,” said Nemer of his return to the Ashland bench, “bus rides and 8 o’clock practices at night. But I feel alive again.”