EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Schenck High School has moved quickly to fill its boys varsity basketball coaching vacancy, naming Ron Weatherbee to the post this week.
Weatherbee, who in March stepped down after eight years as the girls varsity basketball coach at Lee Academy, replaces Steve LeVasseur, who opted last month not to return to the Schenck bench this winter after coaching the Wolverines’ boys squad for 18 years.
Weatherbee, a Lincoln resident and director of that town’s recreation department, hadn’t planned on returning to the sidelines this winter until after learning of the Schenck vacancy.
“I got done at Lee last March, I just thought it was time, and then I never thought any more about coaching again until a week ago,” Weatherbee said. “I talked with a couple of people in East Millinocket and heard there was a good group of kids there, both as gentlemen and athletes, and it seemed like it would be a good challenge for me.”
Weatherbee has coached basketball at various levels for more than 30 years, beginning his varsity coaching career in 1990 with four years coaching the girls squad at Lee Academy before a 10-year stint guiding the boys squad at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
He subsequently coached girls varsity basketball for one year at Old Town and for eight more seasons at Lee, where he led the Pandas to four Eastern Maine championships and three state titles, the Class D crown in 2005 and 2007 and the Class C championship in 2008.
Weatherbee also had a successful run as Lee’s softball coach, leading that program to Eastern Maine championships in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 and the Class D state title in 2006.
Weatherbee, who interviewed for the Schenck job last Friday and was approved by the local school board Tuesday evening, was one of “multiple” candidates to fill the vacancy, according to Schenck athletic administrator John Montgomery.
“Ron brings a lot of experience to the job, which I’m very happy about,” said Montgomery.
LeVasseur’s decision not to return to coaching at his alma mater was related to a policy change that this year established a two-tiered pay structure for coaching stipends in which coaches who teach within the Schenck school system are paid at a higher rate than coaches like LeVasseur who come from outside the school system.
Under that structure, LeVasseur’s coaching stipend would have been reduced from $5,019 for the 2011-12 season to $3,510 for the 2012-13 season — the latter amount just $183 more than LeVasseur said he was paid for his first season as a varsity basketball coach at Stearns of Millinocket in 1984.
LeVasseur has compiled a 333-152 record in 24 years as a head coach, including a 72-15 record and three state titles during four years as the girls varsity basketball coach at Schenck during the late 1980s and a 242-118 record with two state championships during his time with the Schenck boys.
The Schenck boys squad finished 7-12 last winter after advancing to the Eastern Maine Class D preliminary round.