Rusty Worcester’s softball teams qualified for the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons. Three won state championships.
But this was Worcester’s last season coaching the Rockland-based Oceanside High School Mariners. He is retiring to spend more time with his family.
In his last game on Friday, his fifth-seeded Mariners (14-4) were eliminated 2-0 by No. 4 Medomak Valley of Waldoboro in the quarterfinals.
“I started thinking about it four years ago when [ace pitcher] Chloe Jones and her [freshman] class came in,” Worcester said. “I was going to evaluate [my situation] their senior year and see what I was going to do.
“I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in my personal life lately that has opened up my eyes. I’ve got grandkids in Las Vegas who are in big-time soccer programs, and I have been missing going on trips with my wife and stuff,” Worcester said.
He turns 56 next month and said softball consumes a lot of his family time from March through June.
Also, his mother-in-law died recently as did the best friend of his wife, Mae.
“That gets you thinking about putting a higher priority on your family time,” Worcester said.
Prior to this season, Worcester had led his previous nine teams to five regional championship-game appearances, including a Class B state championship in 2013.
His 2010 and 2011 teams at Georges Valley High School of Thomaston both lost to eventual state champion Telstar of Bethel in the Class C South championship games.
Georges Valley and Rockland High merged to become Oceanside in 2012 and the Mariners won the state title in their second season after reaching the Class B North semis in 2012.
Oceanside played in the 2017 and 2018 Class B North title games and lost to eventual state champions Brewer and Old Town, respectively.
Oceanside posted a 14-7 playoffs record under Worcester.
“He is a fantastic coach who loves the game and pushes his players to do their absolute best,” Old Town coach Jenn Plourde said.
“He has a great program and I’ve always respected him and his teams,” Plourde added. “It’s always fun to compete against them.”
She said Worcester is a fierce competitor on the field but that “outside of the game, he loves to monkey around and have fun. He truly wants his kids to enjoy the sport.”
Medomak Valley High of Waldoboro coach Richard Vannah said Worcester’s attention to detail is second to none.
“He’s a very good coach and has a very good demeanor,” Vannah said. “It’s always fun to play against him. He has great character. He’s a genuine guy.”
Worcester, a native of Columbia Falls and a three-sport athlete at Narraguagus High School in Harrington, spent three years as an assistant before becoming the head softball coach at Georges Valley.
He said he will miss working with the players.
“They’re so special. I call them my softball daughters,” Worcester said.
He added that he thoroughly enjoyed helping them develop during their time with him.
“They came in ready to perform at a high level. It was a pleasure to coach all of them,” Worcester said.
He said it was the friendly, cooperative nature of his players who made the Georges Valley-Rockland merger easy to handle.
Worcester’s teams have always been fundamentally solid and aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths. He has helped produce several top-notch pitchers.
He said the highlight of his career was winning back-to-back Class C state championships at Georges Valley in 2007 and 2008 because his daughter, Brittany, was his second baseman.
“Sharing two state championships with your daughter … it doesn’t get any better than that,” Worcester said. “We still talk about it.”
Worcester has one daughter and two step-children, Paul Benjamin and Angela Benjamin.
He intends to help Oceanside athletic director Molly Bishop pick his successor and said he is willing to help out with the team in any way he can.
“I might jump back into it [in the future as a head coach]. I might get the itch. There’s no guarantees,” Worcester said.
Worcester is the acting director of the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren, where he has been employed for the past 35 years.