Watson resigns as FA girls’ varsity basketball coach

Sean Watson

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — While Sean Watson thoroughly enjoyed coaching girls’ varsity basketball, it came at a big price.

Feeling a need to spend more time with his family, Watson has resigned as Fryeburg Academy’s head coach. He recently submitted his resignation letter to FA Athletic Director Sue Thurston.

“It was time to step down for a number of reasons. There was one big reason and several other reasons that made it clear to me that stepping down was the right thing to do,” he told The News Tuesday night. “My son played basketball this past winter and I only had the opportunity to see him play in full, one time. I found that I really missed watching him and if I don’t watch him now, I will never get that opportunity back. That is the biggest reason for me stepping down.”

Secondly, Watson said coaching high school basketball has become a full year commitment.

“I knew this, abstractly, when I took the position. But until one lives it, one can’t appreciate the time it consumes,” he said. “Coaches use March and April to set up their summer schedule of practices, games and tournaments. May involves creating the summer practice plans. The summer season goes through June and July. In August and September, we try to get to some clinics and plan the preseason schedule of games. Preseason starts in November. The regular season starts in December and if you’re lucky enough, it runs through February break.”

Like this past winter when the Raiders earned a trip to the Class A quarterfinals at the Portland Expo as the fifth-seed. FA lost to fourth-ranked Marshwood.

Coaching responsibilities often kept Watson from family time and activities.

“My family and I hunt, fish, and golf. We haven’t really done as many of those things since I have been coaching basketball. My deer-hunting season gets cut short in November. I haven’t ice fished or rabbit hunted in five years. My family has a golf membership at Lake Kezar and we haven’t really enjoyed the full pleasure of using it due to summer basketball,” he noted.

And, there is also the “outside pressures” that coaches contend with, which ultimately lead many to put down the clipboard and pass the whistle.

“With all of this and the seemingly increased amount of parental involvement in the world of high school coaching, it was clear it was time to do other things. I know there have always been issues between parents and coaches. I have witnessed this in the past. But, in today’s world, it has gone to an uncomfortable level,” he added. “What I experienced, one night this year, no coach should have to tolerate.”

Plenty to be proud of

While the Raiders may have come up short in their quest to advance deep in the playoffs, Coach Watson was always very proud of the effort his girls gave every day — be it practice time or game time. They were tenacious, gritty and never gave up.

“I do know how lucky I have been to be associated with kids that always played hard and never quit. That is no reflection on me. I think kids either play hard or they don’t. I think it is a habit that is developed or fostered long before high school,” he said when asked what he was most proud of during his time on the FA sidelines. “I loved having kids that played hard. But again, I didn’t have anything to do with that. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Watson added, “I am proud that our staff always tried to make things about the players and tried to make decisions that were in the best interests of kids. The coaches have tried very hard to give everything we have to the kids that play for us. The plan was to give them our best effort every day. Those kids deserve that. The game is about them. It has to be. I guess I am most proud of knowing we tried our best every day to do things the right way and set a good example for the kids.”

As to what he will miss most, Watson said, “Boy, there are a lot of things I will miss. I will miss the excitement of preseason and the preparation that goes along with it. I’ll miss the challenge of a new season. I will miss practices. I love the practices. The practices are much more enjoyable for me than any games.

“I will miss the coaching camaraderie. Coaching is a unique gig, where you are doing all you can with your players to beat the opposing coach and their kids. But at the same time, the coaches in our conference get along well. We can appreciate what the other person is going through. It is a great fraternity and I will really miss that.

“I will miss catching a few minutes of watching Coach Saunders run his practice every day. I really appreciate Sedge and all he has done on the boys’ side of things. I’ve learned a lot from him. He has been extremely helpful not only with the x’s and o’s but also as a sounding board. He is a great coach and an even better person. Fryeburg Academy is very lucky to have him. I think he has been coaching for over 20 years. That’s remarkable. He is definitely in it for the right reasons and that is what is most important. He has been a great influence on me.

“What I will miss the most is seeing the progression of the young ladies from their freshman year through their senior year. To see them grow and mature on the court and off the court is what it is all about.”

While Watson has left the hardwood sideline, he will remain in the coaching ranks as JV golf coach at Kennebunk High School, where he is a teacher.

“That’s a great coaching job! It’s probably the best coaching position in Maine,” he said. “I certainly won’t rule out coaching basketball again. I know I will miss it. I had tremendous help along the way. I had a really knowledgeable, caring and supportive staff, starting with Billie L’Heureux and Steve Bush and for the last couple of years, Coreen Eccleston and Chris Dutton. All of them were fantastic. They had to put up with my constant questions, texts, e-mails, changes to practice plans, etc. It was a fun five years. But, if I never coach basketball again, I am confident I will be okay with it. I’ve got some great memories of wonderful kids that always gave their best. And I am certain; I learned a lot more from those players than they ever learned from me.”

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