Jay Kemble (right) jots down some notes during a Bangor High School girls basketball game last winter. Kemble has been recommended to take over for Joe Nelson (left), who stepped down recently after two seasons leading the Rams. Credit: Pete Warner | BDN

Jay Kemble is going to add a chapter to his long and impressive coaching resume next winter.

The former assistant baseball coach at the University of Maine, who served as the head baseball coach at Old Town and Orono high schools, has been approved as the head coach of the Bangor High School girls basketball team.

Kemble replaces Joe Nelson, who stepped down recently after two seasons.

The 55-year-old Kemble, a history teacher at Bangor High, assisted Nelson last winter.

“I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity to be involved in a program that has a good history and is well-supported,” said Kemble, who praised athletic director Steve Vanidestine, principal Paul Butler and superintendent of schools Dr. Betsy Webb for making sure coaches have all the resources they need to be successful.

“Having that kind of support makes the challenge that much more fun,” Kemble said.

He said he enjoyed and benefited from working alongside Nelson as they also coached American Legion baseball together.

“He allowed me to say what I thought. He would listen and take my advice or he wouldn’t, which was great also,” Kemble said.

Vanidestine said Kemble is popular with the students and the athletes in the school.

“He is a respected faculty member and has a very good knowledge of our team from working with them last year,” he said.

Kemble, who assisted Dave Morris with the Bangor football team last fall, also coached football under former Bangor High and Husson coach Gabby Price, was the head coach of a state championship Brewer American Legion team and has coached several sports at Doughty Middle School in Bangor.

He also coached at John Bapst High School and was an assistant baseball coach at Cornell University.

“He has had several coaching positions with us over the years and is a valuable member of our staff,” Vanidestine said. “We’re fortunate to have a veteran coach who has the ability to maintain a high standard and still be popular with the players. His experience will be huge.”

Vanidestine said there were several candidates and Kemble was one of five who was interviewed.

Kemble is a Farmington native who played football, basketball and baseball at Mt. Blue High School. The 1982 graduate went on to pitch at UMaine and earned a degree in education in 1987.

After playing for hall of fame coach John Winkin, he served as Winkin’s assistant for eight years.

Kemble said he has been fortunate to have coached with some great people, including Cornell baseball coach Ted Thorne.

“As a coach, you take a little bit of this and a little bit of that from everybody,” he said.

The Bangor girls basketball team achieved significant improvement last winter, finishing 12-8 while reaching the Class AA semifinals. The Rams were 4-15 the previous season.

Kemble was responsible for directing Bangor’s defense, which limited opponents to 41.9 points per game.

The Rams return five of their top six players in twins Libby Fleming and Abby Fleming, sisters Rowan Andrews and Riley Andrews, and Maggie Cowperthwaite. All but Rowan Andrews will be juniors.

“Everything we do will revolve around defense,” Kemble said. “I rely heavily on man-to-man but we also have to be able to expand and run different types of defenses. We have to be able to mix it up based on the personnel we have on the floor.”

He also looks to expand Bangor’s offensive capabilities, building on ball movement and shot selection.

“We have to have to work on getting the ball into the hands of someone where we have an advantage on the court,” Kemble said. “We have a lot of players who do a lot of good things. And we have to be able to finish games (strong) next season.”

Kemble looks forward to running the summer program where the staff will work on skill development.

Kemble and wife Karen have two children, Peter, a sophomore pitcher at the University of Maine, and Anna, who will graduate from Bangor High in June.