GORHAM – Josh Longstaff, the Gorham High boys’ basketball coach, said last Friday was the toughest day in his short tenure as the Rams’ coach. That’s when he told his team he wouldn’t be returning as their coach.

Longstaff, 27, started a new job with Idexx Labs in Westbrook a month ago. His schedule won’t allow him to coach.

“It was really hard for me to tell them,” he said. “I really love coaching. The players and the community were great.

“It wouldn’t be fair to the program or to the community because I couldn’t give the hours coaching requires. Because of my work schedule, I would have to hustle just to make the games and I would miss the junior varsity game. It would be too tough. I love coaching, but my job has to come first.”

Longstaff said his hours at Idexx are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. His responsibility is West Coast sales. Previously, he worked at Applicators Sales and Service in Portland.

“I decided to do something else,” he said. “I feel fortunate to get the job at Idexx with the economy the way it is.”

Longstaff is a graduate of Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., where he earned a degree in marketing. He coach at Gorham for two seasons after replacing longtime coach Kevin Jenkins. The Rams were in a rebuilding mode after years of success under Jenkins, mostly in Class B. Gorham moved up to Class A because of enrollment near the end of Jenkins’ tenure.

Gorham had a 6-12 regular-season record in Longstaff’s first season and lost to Windham in the preliminary round of the Western Class A tournament. Last winter, Gorham went 4-14.

Despite those records, Longstaff liked the way his teams battled both seasons. The Rams gave eventual state champion Cheverus a good game last season after losing to them by a huge margin in summer league play. Gorham also went to overtime against Thornton Academy, the 2009 state champion.

“It would have been a different season if we had won those games,” he said.

With most of the team returning and good players moving up from the freshman team, the Rams could begin to turn things around over the next two seasons, said Longstaff.

Longstaff said he will miss being part of the turnaround, working with the players, and the challenge of preparing a team for the competitive SMAA. Longstaff said he incorporated a lot of material he learned playing for Max Good, a Gardiner native, at Bryant. Good is now the head coach at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“Max always said that players don’t care what you know until they know you care about them,” said Longstaff. “It was emotional last Friday. It made me realize they cared for me more than I actually thought.”

When Gorham Athletic Director Gerry Durgin hired Longstaff two years, he thought his young coach would be around for while.

“I was sure hoping so,” said Durgin. “We’re glad we had Josh for the time we did. We’ll move on and try to get the program to where it’s strong all the way through.”

Durgin has posted the opening in-house, but could advertise elsewhere if need be.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We would want someone in place before the end of the school year because of summer basketball programs.”

Longstaff graduated from Portland High in 2001, finishing as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 850 points. He was co-captain at Bryant his senior year, when the team lost in the 2005 Division II national championship.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com