LINCOLN, Maine — Dean Libbey is in his 37th season coaching the field hockey team at Mattanawcook Academy and there is no retirement in sight.
“I still enjoy it. And I’d like to think the girls respond to me. As long as I feel that way [I’ll keep coaching],” said the 59-year-old Libbey, who teaches algebra at the academy.
“I find it easier to teach here on the field than I do in the classroom,” he grinned.
Libbey got his start as an assistant soccer coach at Sacred Heart High School in Newport, Vt., before becoming the field hockey coach.
“I had one year of experience coaching soccer and I applied that to field hockey,” said Libbey. “I attended clinics and conferences; bought some videos and books and watched some college games. I went from there.
“I learn something [new] each and every year. I’ve tried to keep improving as a coach. I make it as interesting as I can for the girls so the numbers stay solid. We have fun along the way and we win some games. We’ve been pretty successful. We make the playoffs most years,” said Libbey.
He enjoys the interaction with the players.
“It’s unique to have that because they listen to you. This means something to them. Whether or not they get an algebra problem is less meaningful to them than whether or not they get a drill or a skill correct,” said Libbey.
With the retirement of Allen Holmes at Belfast after 40 seasons last November, Libbey is the state’s longest-serving male field hockey coach.
“It’s one of those sports that is mostly [coached by] women,” said Libbey. “But there are more men officiating now. That’s neat to see.
“It’s a great sport. I love it. I’ll tell you what … not everyone can play it. That makes it that much more unique, fascinating and enjoyable. Getting out there with a stick and that ball on an uneven field and trying to move it up the field is tough. But it’s fun,” said Libbey.
His players enjoy playing for him.
“We love [Libbey],” said Brianah Weston, one of two seniors on the team. “We’re so used to having a male coach, if we switched to a female it probably wouldn’t do as well.
“He really understands us. He takes time to understand our weaknesses and our strengths and he works with us on them. He’s really compassionate,” said Weston.
Libbey’s Lynx are off to a 1-2 start during a transition year.
The Lynx graduated 11 players and have eight freshmen on the roster.
“I think we’ll have a decent team. When we get to the end of the season, hopefully we’ll have won as many as we’ve lost and we’ll have improved and we’ll be in the playoff picture,” he said.