February 28, 2020
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Maine volleyball coaching legend pauses retirement to lead new Brewer team

Rich Nutter, who guided the Woodland High School girls volleyball team to three state championships and six state title game appearances, will be the head coach of Brewer High School’s first varsity volleyball team.

Nutter, 71, retired from Woodland in 2010 but has been coaching the girls tennis team at Hampden Academy for the past 10 years.

Nutter and his wife, Susie, moved to Bangor in 2000 after she landed a job at Bangor’s Husson University.

“I can’t wait until the first practice on Monday,” Nutter said. “I’m hard-wired to coach. I’ve been coaching the Hampden girls tennis team, and I love the kids. It’s a lot of fun.

“I watched a Woodland volleyball match last year and wished I was back on the sidelines. The job at Brewer was available. … It’s a new program, so I thought it would be a nice challenge. I just enjoy being out there, being a part of the excitement and competition,” he added.

“Rich is the whole package,” Brewer High School athletic director Dave Utterback said. “He doesn’t just teach volleyball, he teaches life skills. He is pretty impressive.”

Utterback said he liked Nutter’s experience and the fact he took over a young Woodland program in 1988 and molded it into one of the top teams in the state.

In addition to winning the three state championships, Nutter coached 27 all-state players, three Gatorade Players of the Year and two state championship match Most Valuable Players.

“I’m happy to have him lead our program,” Utterback, who had one other applicant for the job, added. “He sent a number of players on to play at the college level.”

Nutter will still have to be approved by the school committee Monday.

The Witches will have a full schedule this fall but the games won’t be countable (by the Maine Principals Association) for the first season.

Utterback said 27 girls signed up for the team and that didn’t include freshmen.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to encourage other teams in the Bangor area to add volleyball,” Nutter said.

There are 36 varsity programs in the state encompassing three classes: A, B and C.

But Bucksport, Ellsworth and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill are the only ones within 40 miles of Brewer.

Nutter said they have a good schedule which will give his Witches a chance to get their feet wet.

“There is a big gap between recreational and interscholastic volleyball,” Nutter, a Caribou native, said. “We’re going to really focus on technique and fundamentals this year and whatever else comes, comes.

“They’ve got to learn how to play the game … to play hard and I want them to have some fun,” Nutter added.

“I coached very few girls who didn’t really enjoy the activity. We had some fond memories, and I think the same thing is going to be true in Brewer. I really give credit to Brewer for going out and saying this is something they want to do,” he said.

The Nutters have two children and two grandchildren.


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