May 25, 2018
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‘Vocal minority’ plays role in John Bapst baseball coach losing job

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Shane Graham has been informed that he will not be rehired after serving the last eight years as varsity baseball coach at John Bapst of Bangor.

Graham received an e-mail within the last two weeks saying his coaching contract with the school would not renewed, and that opening was advertised beginning last weekend.

“There’s nothing really to say, it’s just a personnel issue,” said John Bapst athletic administrator Rick Sinclair. “I don’t really want to say anything to make anyone else look bad or myself look bad or John Bapst look bad. We’re just going to hire a new coach.”

Graham indicated that the influence of a “vocal minority” of parents concerning issues of playing time presented a significant challenge for him this spring and likely led to his dismissal, despite the fact John Bapst finished fifth in the final Eastern Maine Class B Heal point ratings with an 11-5 record before dropping a 6-5 decision to No. 4 Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor in the regional quarterfinals.

“I’m obviously not happy about the way things went down,” said Graham, who guided the Crusaders to 83 wins and eight consecutive postseason berths during his tenure. “But at this point if I come across with sour grapes it probably will be harder to land back on my feet.”

Graham said he received no written warnings about his job performance in advance of the the e-mail he received from Sinclair alerting him that his coaching contract would not be renewed for the 2012 season.

“I’ve been flooded with phone calls of support since this happened,” said Graham.

This marks the second major offseason coaching change at John Bapst this year. The school earlier opted not to renew the contract of boys varsity hockey coach Greg Stone after two seasons, instead rehiring veteran Gene Fadrigon, a former John Bapst head coach who resigned from the same post two years ago, initially citing the negativity and behind-the-scenes meddling of a few parents of his players.

Newport’s Braley touring Russia

Chris Braley is taking his game to an international level these days.

The Bangor Daily News All-Maine first-team basketball star from Nokomis of Newport is part of a contingent of high school standouts from around the country recently nominated and selected to participate in a two-week tour of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and USA Basketball, has organized the exchange in conjunction with the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. While in Russia, the student participants will learn about Russian culture and take part in basketball clinics with local athletes. The visiting American participants left for Russia last Thursday and are being hosted by the Russian Ministry of Sport, Tourism, and Youth Policy and the Russian Basketball Federation.

Braley, who will continue his high school basketball career at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., this fall, was nominated for the U.S. team by one of the Ivy League coaches who is recruiting him, according to his father, Scott Braley.

Since 2010, four groups of young athletes have traveled between Russia and the United States with the goal of enhancing people-to-people relations under the Bilateral Presidential Commission, according to a press release.

During the initial exchange in May 2010, 24 young Russian basketball players visited the Washington, D.C. area, where they played basketball with President Obama. Since then, Russian swimmers and ice hockey players have traveled to the United States while American beach volleyball players traveled to Russia for a two-week sports exchange program.

The U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission is dedicated to identifying areas of cooperation and joint projects that strengthen strategic stability, promote international security, and facilitate connections between the Russian and American people.

Braley, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 25.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last winter while leading Nokomis to a 12-8 record and an Eastern Maine Class B postseason berth.

He then scored 43 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in an overtime quarterfinal loss to Ellsworth after a 32-point, 15-rebound effort in a preliminary-round victory over Mount Desert Island.

Braley was a first-team All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B choice and a member of the Eastern B all-tournament team before earning BDN All-Maine first-team honors.

Braley is scheduled to return home July 19, but the stay will be brief as he then will join his MBNation teammates for the AAU Division I national championship tournament to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the following week.

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