Maria Lewis will remain as the University of Maine women’s ice hockey coach.
Lewis had been contacted by University of Vermont athletic director Bob Corran about interviewing for the Vermont job and she was one of the coaches interviewed for the position this past week.
Corran had received permission from Maine athletic director Steve Abbott to approach Lewis, who was the Hockey East co-coach of the year in just her second season at Maine this past season.
After the interview, Lewis met with University of Maine president Paul W. Ferguson and Abbott and, after the meeting, she said she “immediately” decided to stay at Maine regardless of the outcome at Vermont.
Lewis said she was flattered to be asked to interview at Vermont, but wanted to stay at Maine all along and continue building the program into a national championship contender. In her meeting with Ferguson and Abbott, they said they supported her and the program and were committed to doing what they can to help her elevate the program into a position of prominence.
“It was what I had hoped for. We shared a vision. They want me to continue my trajectory. That allowed me to feel good about staying. I’m really excited about the future,” said Lewis.
She had previously indicated that she wanted the university to increase her recruiting budget, supply better equipment to the players and improve the travel budget so they can play a full 34-game schedule.
The Black Bears do have the full allotment of scholarships (18) allowed under NCAA guidelines for hockey.
Lewis and Abbott said they haven’t discussed specifics pertaining to the financial commitment to the program yet.
Abbott said he and Lewis discussed a three-year plan before this past season for continuing to grow the program.
Lewis has a one-year contract at Maine that expires at the end of June.
“We’re definitely going to give her a contract extension,” said Abbott. “We’ll be discussing that in the weeks ahead.”
Lewis is making $45,000 per year, which is less than each of the University of Vermont’s two assistant women’s hockey coaches.
Outgoing UVM head coach Tim Bothwell made a reported $106,000 this past season. Vermont has not yet named a new coach
Lewis said she was impressed with Ferguson’s vision for the university.
“He has some great ideas to build up the university,” said Lewis, who added that athletics will also benefit from those ideas.
“It’s exciting,” she said.
Lewis guided the Bears to a 17-11-6 record, 11-8-2 in the league last season.
The 11 Hockey East wins was a school record and the 17 overall victories tied the school record.
Maine went 12-17-5 (6-12-3) in her first season.
“I’m very happy to have her back,” said Abbott. “She has been great for our program. She has done a terrific job. The program has a lot of momentum and is in a very good spot right now. It’s definitely going in the right direction and we want her to continue that trajectory.”
Lewis said throughout the process, she had received “overwhelming support” from people in the community and she also said she is “ecstatic” about next year’s team.
This season was a solid first step, as the Black Bears not only set or tied school records for wins and made the four-team Hockey East Tournament, they also went 3-3 against NCAA Tournament teams Boston College and Boston University and two of the losses came in one-goal games.
Maine had gone 25-89-15 (13-59-12 in Hockey East) in its previous four seasons before Lewis took over the program.
Lewis was a volunteer assistant at Maine during the 1999-2000 season before serving as an assistant coach at Mercyhurst College (Pa.) and the University of North Dakota.
At Mercyhurst, she helped recruit Canadian Olympian Meghan Agosta, who went on to become the nation’s leading career point-getter (303) and goal scorer (157) and was a four-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist.
The Patty Kazmaier Award is given to the nation’s top Division I women’s player.