Editor’s note: One in a series profiling the 2012 Maine Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
DEXTER, Maine — At approximately 6 feet, 5 inches, Ed Guiski could be an imposing presence as a player or coach — a presence that belies his true personality, say those who know him.
“Ed to me is a gentle giant,” said John Carroll, a former teammate in prep school and college. “He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but he always played to win.”
Guiski, a star athlete at Winslow High School, Maine Central Institute, Boston University and the University of Southern Maine, became a coaching institution at Dexter Regional High School, guiding the Tigers’ basketball teams to 329 victories over 31 years, including the 1985 Eastern Maine Class B crown and the 1986 regional and state championships.
It’s a career that has earned the 75-year-old Guiski, now retired and living in Kennebunk, induction into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame Sunday at the Bangor Civic Center.
“He always had a calming influence over us,” said Steve Bell, who played on Guiski’s title teams at Dexter and now is the school’s principal. “We were just kids, we didn’t know how to react, but we’d be one or two points up or down in a game and he’d be so calm. He always had that confidence in us and it made a big difference.”
Guiski was a four-year letterwinner in football, basketball, baseball and track at Winslow, scoring more than 1,000 points in basketball.
He spent a postgrad year at MCI in Pittsfield in 1956, playing end on an undefeated football team as well as center and forward on a basketball team that qualified for the New England championships.
“We played all the college [football] teams and all the prep schools back then, and nobody could take Ed down,” said Carroll, a Southwest Harbor native and now chief deputy of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.
“Edward was a tremendous team person. He never thought of it as being about Ed Guiski. It was always about the team.”
Guiski and Carroll earned athletic scholarships to Boston University, where Guiski played football and basketball for two years before joining the Army. While in the Army from 1960 to 1962, Guiski made the final cut of 10 Army candidates for the 1960 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team.
“Ed just loved the game of basketball,” said Carroll. “He played football and liked it, but not as much as basketball.”
After leaving the military Guiski enrolled at the University of Southern Maine, where he still holds the school record for his career average of 15.2 rebounds per game.
Guiski took his first coaching and teaching job at Windham, then moved in 1968 to Dexter where he developed a basketball program known for hard-nosed defense and intensity.
“Ed really was a student of the game,” Carroll said. “I knew wherever he ended up he’d be coaching basketball at the school.”
The Tigers made 18 tournament appearances during Guiski’s 26 years as the boys varsity coach.
Dexter won the 1985 EM crown only to drop a last-second battle in the state final to Lake Region of Naples — a team featuring fellow 2012 MSHOF inductee Matt Hancock. A year later, the Tigers defeated Gorham in the state final after outlasting Rockland in a five-overtime Eastern Maine final.
“Our coaches felt sure we would win and that rubbed off on us,” said Bell of that memorable victory over Rockland. “Rockland kept hitting incredible shots to tie it up, but they felt the way we were playing that eventually we’d catch a break and we’d win the game.”
Guiski, a three-time coach of the year honoree by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches, retired from the Dexter bench in 1993 but returned several years later for a stint as the Tigers’ girls basketball coach in a gymnasium formally renamed in his honor.
“We still call it Guiski’s office,” said Bell of the boys locker room at the school. “He had a great sense of humor, he was always trying to crack a joke, but he really knew what he was doing. A lot of the stuff we did when he was coaching we’re still doing today.”