Maine's Parise Rossignol (12) dribbles the ball against North Carolina State's Aislinn Konig during their NCAA women’s college basketball tournament game in March. Rossignol on Thursday was named an assistant coach for the Black Bears. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Credit: Gerry Broome | AP

ORONO, Maine — Parise Rossignol’s basketball career at the University of Maine took yet another interesting and unexpected twist on Thursday when she was named an assistant coach for the team.

“Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do and I couldn’t think of a better opportunity than coaching at the school I played for and the school I love,” Rossignol said.

The 23-year-old Rossignol is replacing Gary Fifield, a University of Maine System retiree who was with the program this season under a temporary exception to retirement rules. Fifield spent 27 years as the head coach at the University of Southern Maine.

Rossignol, a Van Buren native who is a graduate student at UMaine, was a seldom-used substitute who left the UMaine’s program after two years. She returned and went on to become a captain and all-conference player.

Rossignol signed a one-year contract worth $30,000 a year, effective July 1. She said she was surprised when head coach Amy Vachon offered her the job.

“If you had told me two years ago we’d be having this conversation about me becoming an assistant coach here, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Rossignol said.

“My experiences haven’t all been easy. But I’ve grown so much during my time here from the beginning of my freshman year until now. My confidence and leadership abilities have prepared me to become a coach,” she added.

Vachon said UMaine is excited to keep Rossignol in the program.

“Something that is really important about coaching at Maine and playing at Maine is wanting to be here. It’s a special place,” she said.

“When you want to be here and you can talk about your successes and your experiences and how much it has meant to you and been a part of your life, that can only help. There’s not a better person out there than Parise,” Vachon added.

Rossignol will be involved in recruiting and all aspects of coaching, according to Vachon.

“She’s a people person and recruiting is about relationships and about being honest and truthful and you won’t find anyone who has those qualities better than Parise,” Vachon said.

Rossignol, who is working with the track team at Cohen Middle School in Bangor this spring, said her coaching style will revolve around building relationships.

“If you build good relationships with your players, they’re going to trust you and that’s when you get that buy-in you need to be successful,” Rossignol said.

She is looking forward to recruiting, especially in-state players, so she can share the special feelings of being from Maine and playing for the Black Bears.

Rossignol said she has learned something from all of her coaches including her father, Matt, who coached her at Van Buren, and Vachon. She doesn’t anticipate having any problems transitioning from player and teammate to coach.

“Being a captain this year was a glimpse of that. I’ve gained their respect being a teammate and I think they will respect me as a coach,” Rossignol said.

UMaine junior guard and America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Blanca Millan is pleased about the development.

“It’s going to be weird at the beginning,” she said of playing for a former teammate.

“But I know she’s definitely ready for this and she’s really excited. So that will be good for us and for her. I have learned so much from her on and off the court the past two years and will keep learning from her.”

Rossignol played two seasons at UMaine (2014-2016) before stepping away. She returned in 2017, earning the America East Sixth Player Award that season before garnering all-conference, second-team recognition last winter while helping the Black Bears win a second straight conference title.

Rossignol appeared in 98 career games with 45 starts. She totaled 567 points, 201 rebounds and 74 assists. She led America East in 3-point shooting percentage (.420) last season.

Rossignol also set UMaine’s record for 3-pointers in a game when she made eight in a win over UMass Lowell.

She graduated from UMaine with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 2018 and is enrolled in the Masters of Education program where she is pursuing a degree in Secondary Education: Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction.

Rossignol starred at Van Buren high school, leading the state in scoring four consecutive years while averaging 30.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals as a senior (2013-2014). She holds the distinction of being the Maine player to reach 1,000 points the fastest and finished with 2,589 points, the second most in state history.

As a senior, she was a finalist for the Miss Maine Basketball award.

Rossignol also played on two Class D state runner-up soccer squads at Van Buren.