When Amy Vachon’s playing career at the University of Maine ended in 2000, she figured the book had been closed on her basketball career.
“I needed a break, and for the last 10 years I’ve been away and then I just keep coming back to it somehow,” she said.
One of the best girls basketball players in state history is now set to take over a tradition-laden girls hoop program, as Vachon will coach at Catherine McAuley in Portland next winter.
Vachon served as an assistant at Greely of Cumberland Center the last two seasons under head coach Billy Goodman, and when the McAuley post opened following the resignation of Will Smith, Vachon decided to apply.
“This past year, I kind of got the itch at different times where I’d like to have my own program,” she said.
Vachon’s coaching experience goes back to her alma mater, Cony High in Augusta, where she served as an assistant for her father and longtime head coach Paul Vachon. She was also the head coach at Waterville High for one season before going to graduate school at the University of North Carolina.
The 2000 UMaine graduate, a four-time BDN All-Maine selection and two-time Gatorade Player of the Year (1995-96), helped lead the Black Bears to their only NCAA tournament win in program history, over Stanford University in 1999 when Maine was coached by current Duke coach, Joanne P. McCallie.
“I think I’ve been very lucky to play for and coach under some really, really awesome and just phenomenal coaches, and I think each one of them just have different qualities that they bring to the table,” said Vachon.
Paul Vachon, now the athletic administrator at Cony, couldn’t be happier for his daughter.
“Let’s put it this way: I think Amy probably understands athletics as well as anyone and what it’s all about,” he said. “I think she has the whole package that athletic directors are looking for. It’s a great hire for McAuley and a great hire for girls basketball.”
Amy Vachon, who works as an eighth-grade guidance counselor in Westbrook and also coaches eighth-grade field hockey in that town, takes over a McAuley squad which advanced to the Western Maine Class A semifinals before falling to Deering of Portland.
The Lions are expected to be among the favorites in Class A next winter with a talented returning nucleus, including BDN All-Maine second-teamer Rebecca Knight, who has already verbally committed to play at UMaine.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us,” said Vachon.
She and former UMaine teammate and current Black Bear women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett have exchanged text messages, but have yet to speak over the phone since Vachon’s hiring.
Vachon hopes to instill the traditional Cony style of uptempo offense and in-your-face defense at McAuley, but that depends on player personnel.
“I think it’s a good way to play, [but] you have to have the horses to do that,” Vachon said, “if we don’t have the players, then we’ll adjust and do what we need to do.”