Dodi Saucier, who began coaching field hockey in 1979 and has spent 20 years coaching the Orono High School girls during two different stints, has decided to retire.
Saucier, who also has coached at Old Town High, said it was time for her to step down.
“I loved it, but it’s time for some new blood,” said Saucier. “Some years, you don’t know who is out there among young coaches [to succeed me]. But there are a lot of young talented coaches available now who would step into my position and do a very good job.
“That made it an easier decision,” said the 60-year-old Saucier.
Saucier’s teams were perennial playoff contenders, and she guided the Orono girls to the Class C state championship in 1990.
This year’s team was very young after suffering heavy graduation losses off the 2013 team, which went 9-3-2 before losing to Winthrop 1-0 in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal.
The Riots went 3-11 this fall, but six of the losses were by one goal, and four others were by two. Saucier had 14 freshmen and seven sophomores on her 30-player roster.
She spent seven seasons at Orono during her current stint.
“I wanted to leave the program in a good place, and it is in a good place now. The transition is always tricky for kids who are left behind. You want to leave when the program is strong,” said Saucier. “Prior to this season, we had been struggling with numbers. We’re a small school with very strong soccer and cross country programs.
“But we have very talented freshman and sophomore classes in addition to our upperclassmen, and we’ll have some [good] eighth graders coming in next fall,” said Saucier. “They have a good future.”
Saucier has overcome five bouts of cancer in putting together her distinguished career.
Her daughters, Shaunessy and Liz, were outstanding players at Old Town High School and are both involved in coaching. Shaunessy is the head coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island, and Liz just concluded her first season as the head coach at Bangor’s John Bapst High.
Both formerly served as assistants at the University of Maine after their exemplary college playing careers ended. Shaunessy was an All-America East player at Maine, and Liz was an NCAA Division II All-American at William Smith College in New York.
Dodi coached both girls at the Leonard Middle School in Old Town and Liz also played for her one year at Old Town High.
Dodi Saucier said there wasn’t one specific highlight in her coaching career.
“I just loved how my teams played, a skilled ball-control style of play,” she said. “I enjoyed teaching them good clean hockey and how to use space well.”
Orono athletic director Mike Archer said Saucier was special.
“You couldn’t have had a better role model for young women,” said Archer. “Despite her battles with cancer, she missed very little time. And she never complained.
“She was an icon in the community and was highly regarded across the state among the coaches [and field hockey community],” added Archer. “She was very positive.”
Archer called her a “fierce competitor” who hated to lose, but she also was able to put things into perspective. She realized that field hockey was one of several activities that contributed to the growth and development of her student-athletes.
Saucier, who had been a physical education teacher in the Orono school system before retiring several years ago, was “awesome to work with,” according to Archer.
Saucier was on the field hockey, basketball and track teams at Wells High School before playing field hockey, basketball and lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire.
Archer said he hopes to have a successor named by the end of December.
Saucier said she plans to “garden and pay attention to my family.”
In addition to her two daughters, she has two stepchildren, Dave and Shelli Saucier.