WASHBURN, Maine — The two-time defending Class D state champion Washburn District High School girl’s basketball team has a new coach.
Ashland native Diana Trams was hired this week to replace Mike Carlos, who was told his coaching contract would not be renewed by superintendent of schools Ed Buckley shortly after he led Washburn to its second straight gold ball last winter.
Trams, the former Diana Belskis, accepted the post Tuesday afternoon, just as many of her future players were on the soccer field leading the top-ranked Beavers to a 1-0 victory over Schenck of East Millinocket in the Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinals.
“She’s a very hard worker, she’s dedicated and she loves the game,” said Washburn vice principal and athletic administrator Ron Ericson. “We’re excited about having her here.”
Trams was a star athlete at Ashland High School, helping the Hornets win the 1989 Class D state title in girls soccer and the 1991 Class D state championship in girls basketball. She was named to the 1991 Bangor Daily News Eastern Maine basketball all-tournament team and later was selected as a 1993 Maine McDonald’s East-West Senior All-Star.
Trams went on to play basketball for two years at the University of Maine at Presque Isle before transferring to Salisbury (Md.) University, from where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
She subsequently earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and has since worked in youth counseling. She also coached the girl’s junior varsity basketball team at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School in Cambridge, Md., from 2000 to 2002.
Trams, the daughter of longtime Ashland coach Peter Belskis, moved back to her hometown in July and soon after began working as an intern in the Washburn High School guidance department.
“I saw Mr. Ericson at one of the soccer games and we were just chatting and I became aware that they still had a vacancy,” Trams said. “I didn’t really give it much thought at the time because I have two young kids (ages 1 and 7) and they come first.”
But as she became more familiar with her new academic surroundings, Trams decided to consider the coaching vacancy more seriously.
“It wasn’t something I actively pursued,” she said. “But I felt like there were some strong administrative leaders here and a lot of support and knowledge, and what they wanted for the girls was for them to have a good experience in addition to the wins and losses.”
Carlos guided Washburn to a 54-9 record during his three seasons as Washburn’s head coach, with the Beavers winning the program’s first state championship in 22 years in 2011, followed by a successful title defense last winter, which was capped off by a 60-35 victory over Richmond in the state final.
Although no parents, players or fans were willing to go on the record, there was some apparent dissatisfaction with Carlos’ coaching style, which led to Buckley’s decision not to rehire Carlos, who is currently coaching boys varsity soccer at Houlton High School.
Buckley subsequently issued a statement related to his decision.
“Washburn District High School is a unique school where students respect the teachers and our teachers respect the students. We encourage all students to participate in sports, music, drama and clubs because students who are involved in co-curricular activities are healthier and much more well-rounded individuals. Consequently, we do not measure the success of our athletic teams by the number of contests they win but whether it is a positive experience for all our students,” Buckley said.
Washburn figures to be a strong favorite to win a third consecutive state championship in girls basketball this winter, having graduated no one from last year’s 21-1 team.
“I’ve always had the approach, particularly when I played, that team goals are first and everyone has to buy into that,” Trams said.