Allen Holmes’ first year coaching field hockey at Belfast was a tough one.
The 1978 version of the Lions went 0-8-1 in their first year of varsity play, experiencing the typical growing pains a new high school program endures.
But it has been nothing but success on the midcoast ever since. Holmes’ teams have recorded 37 consecutive winning seasons, played in 10 Class B state championship games — winning six of them — and compiled a 54-game win streak en route to three straight state titles from 2004-06.
Holmes, who has coached the Lions since that first season nearly four decades ago, picked up his 400th win when Belfast defeated Hampden Academy 1-0 on Sept. 14.
Getting that elusive victory didn’t come easy for the Lions, who lost to Winslow and Nokomis of Newport before finally beating the Broncos to reach the milestone.
“We decided we needed to get this for the team, not for me,” Holmes said. “It was good to get it out of the way. Dee Hessert, the coach at Hampden, is a class act, she was very pleased that we had the 400th and we didn’t run it up.”
When Holmes clinched his 400th win, his players gave him the traditional Gatorade shower, and presented him with a cake, cards and a lion carved out of wood.
“The middle school team was over. They didn’t have a game, so they were there on the sideline cheering,” Holmes said.
Holmes also thanked his wife, Ruth, sons John and Joe, daughter Jan and his six grandchildren for their support over the years.
The impact Holmes has had on his players has been remarkable. Approximately 120 of them, Holmes said, have gone on to play college field hockey, while many others are in the coaching ranks. That includes daughter Jan the head coach at nearby Camden Hills of Rockport.
“They have a good knowledge of the game when they leave high school. If they go on to play some college, it enhances that,” Holmes said.
That stems from the coaching Holmes received when he played football, basketball and baseball at Belfast. He really looked up to Don Vachon, for whom he played basketball and baseball.
“He was a really big influence,” said Holmes, who went on to play four years of college baseball at Aroostook State College (now the University of Maine-Presque Isle).
In 1973, Belfast’s first year as a varsity squad, the Lions faced established programs such as Gardiner, Cony of Augusta, Mt. Blue of Farmington, Waterville, Skowhegan and Lawrence of Fairfield in building toward the success they’ve enjoyed.
“Every coach wants to have a team improve as it moves along,” Holmes said.
That’s his goal for the 2010 version of the Lions, who possess a 4-2 record six games into the regular season.
“We have good numbers, they get along pretty well for the most part. We’re working hard in practice and trying to carry that into the games,” Holmes said.
All that success would not be possible if not for the support of Holmes’ players, assistant coaches and the administration at Belfast.
“It’s made all the difference in the world. I’ve been fortunate to have former players come back and coach with me,” he said. “And my middle school coaches are former players.”
Holmes was a tickled when one of his former players, Kallie Aldus, scored the game-winning goal to help the University of Maine defeat the University of Michigan in an early-season game.
“It was very nice when Kallie scored the goal against Michigan,” Holmes said. “Right there under her picture was a Belfast field hockey story. A lot of those girls read the article saying, I want to be like that.”
Local teams support breast cancer
It’s no surprise to see a throng of local high school teams participating in the Komen Race for the Cure, and Sunday’s 11th annual event in Bangor was no different.
Many high school teams came to the Queen City to run or walk in the annual race which raises awareness for breast cancer.
The Bangor boys and girls soccer teams, along with the school’s fall cheerleading squad, all participated in the event in some fashion, with the cheerleaders joining other squads from eastern Maine along the race route to support the thousands of runners and walkers.
The Bangor boys wore their home jerseys while partaking in the event while the Bangor girls donned black T-shirts with their names on the back, a pink ribbon and “Save the Ta-Ta’s.”
John Bapst of Bangor was also well-represented, with members of the football, field hockey and soccer teams participating along with athletes from Orono, Hampden Academy and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.