Bangor High School coach relinquishes one job but keeps the other

Posted March 14, 2017, at 11:38 a.m.
Last modified March 14, 2017, at 2:27 p.m.

Joe Johnson has stepped down as the Bangor High School girls basketball coach after three seasons.

He is also the girls varsity soccer coach and will stay on in that capacity.
Johnson guided the Rams to a 38-22 overall basketball record and led them to a berth in the Class A North final in his first season. They lost to eventual state champ Lawrence of Fairfield 46-42 in the 2015 title game.

Bangor went 8-10 during the regular season this winter and earned the fifth seed in the Class AA North standings before upsetting No. 4 Cheverus of Portland in the quarterfinals and losing to Oxford Hills of South Paris in the semis.

Bangor dealt Oxford Hills its only regular-season loss. Oxford Hills lost to Gorham in the state final.

“It was a very tough decision, but I was looking for some down time. Both of my kids [Garrett and Morgan] are gone [in college] and my wife, Dianne, spends a lot of time alone,” said Johnson, who has also coached the basketball and soccer summer programs.

He will continue to coach soccer in the summer but not basketball.

“Both programs are a big commitment. Every year at the end of soccer, I assess it. The seasons run so close together and emotions run so high. It’s tough to keep the intensity up and to do it justice,” Johnson added.

He has coached basketball for 25 years, first in Fairfax, Virginia, and then at Bangor High School. He was the Rams’ junior varsity boys coach and a varsity assistant under Roger Reed and Ed Kohtala for 14 years before taking a year off and then replacing Katie Herbine as the girls basketball head coach.

“Coaching 25 years of basketball is a lot. I’m going to miss coaching. I’ll miss the games. But the bus rides are tough and getting tougher,” Johnson added.

Johnson has spent nine seasons as the varsity soccer coach and has led the Rams to five regional championships and two state Class A titles.

Bangor went 16-1 last fall, losing only to eventual state titlist Camden Hills 3-2 in the regional final.

“It has always been a lot of fun coaching at Bangor,” Johnson said. “It is such a great place to coach. I have received a lot of support.”

“We were very pleased that Joe was willing to take on that role the last three years,” Bangor athletic director Steve Vanidestine said. “We wanted to have a veteran coach who knew our system and could calm the waters for a while.

“He is one of our best coaches. He always has the best interests of the students in mind. He supports our academic mission and the values we promote,” Vanidestine added.

He said he knows it is very demanding for a coach at a large school to coach two sports.

“It got to be too much for him, but we kind of knew that [might happen],” Vanidestine acknowledged.

“We lost a good coach, but we feel strongly that he has put our program in a position we can operate from and feel good about,” Vanidestine said.

Vanidestine said they are hoping to name a new coach sooner than later.

“We want to make sure we have a coach in place so our summer basketball program can get off and running the way it should,” he said.

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