PORTLAND, Maine — Not just anybody could fill the big and successful coaching shoes of Dan LeGage, but luckily for the Deering High School boys basketball program, Todd Wing was ready and waiting.
Wing, 36, who spent the past five seasons as LeGage’s assistant, as well as the Rams’ junior varsity coach, was named the program’s new head coach Wednesday by Deering athletic director Mel Craig.
“I’m ecstatic,” Wing said. “I’ve waited my turn and it’s worked out. I know the kids. Dan allowed me to do a lot of hands-on stuff. It’s going to be a seamless transition.”
LeGage stepped down last month after an 11-year run which resulted in 143 victories and the school’s only two state championships.
“I’m happy for Todd, for the program and I’m happy for the kids,” LeGage said. “They’re comfortable with him. He’s getting rewarded for the five years he worked with me. He did the work. He’s been like a sponge. Anytime an organization can show they have the capacity to build great leadership from within, it’s a great thing.”
Craig echoed that theme.
“[Todd's] was the application I hoped to see,” Craig said. “He’s been with Dan and is familiar with the program. There was a lot of interest, but anytime you have a quality guy in-house, it makes my job easier. I’m confident he’ll pick up and continue the winning tradition while making the program his own and taking it to the next level. Following on the heels of the best is tough, but we’re very pleased.”
Wing played basketball — as well as soccer and track — at Telstar High School and played one year of basketball at St. Joseph’s College. He spent five years as an assistant to Rob Sanicola at St. Joe’s before joining LeGage at Deering. Wing played an integral role in the Rams’ run to the 2011-12 Class A title.
He’s committed to keeping Deering one of the state’s premier programs.
“Dan has built a tradition that reloads,” Wing said. “He left it in a position where the next coach can be successful. We have motivated kids. It’s a program of integrity.”
LeGage thinks Wing is ready.
“I knew when I approached [Todd] five years ago to coach with me that someday he would be a head coach,” LeGage said. “He’s a student of the game. He had great Xs and Os knowledge. Having gone through a championship season and coaching in Portland with dynamics that are different than anywhere else, prepared him for the job. A lot of what we do know already has his thumbprint.”
Wing lives in Portland with his wife, 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter and teaches in Windham. A first head coaching job in the toughest league in the state could be a daunting challenge, but he embraces the opportunity.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Wing said. “I’m going to thrive in the pressure. I’m going to bring a lot of energy and stability. I feel we’ll be successful.”
“I think he’ll be there a long time,” LeGage said.