Thornton Academy in Saco didn’t have to look far for its new baseball coach.

On Monday, Ray Petit, an assistant coach for the last nine years, was named to replace Greg Paradis, who resigned to spend more time with his young family.

Petit, who works as the head groundskeeper at Thornton Academy, was one of six applicants who interviewed for the position. He was the clear choice of school officials, who liked his overall work as a coach at various levels, his experience as an umpire and his long relationship with the school’s program.

“One of the key things about Ray is that he’s been involved with the Thornton program for nine years, he cares about the school, he understands the nature of the school, the tradition of the school, and he’s built relationships with the students,” said Thornton Athletic Director Gary Stevens. “He cares deeply about Thornton Academy and the transition from Paradis to the next era will be made, if not seamlessly, then much smoother.

“He’s a person of great character and integrity, honesty and a stand-up guy. We know him, we know his work ethic and I think he’ll do a fine job.”

Petit, who served as the Trojans’ pitching coach, coached the Fayette-Staples American Legion team to the state tournament last summer. He has been a baseball umpire on the Western Maine Board for 26 years and a football referee for 24. He will continue to do both, although his baseball umpiring will be limited to summer league games not involving high school teams.

“I’m very excited about this,” said Petit, 49. “It’s going to be a little different not being with Greg and Dave (Sharland, another assistant). There’ll be a little more pressure. But I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Petit needs to find some assistants, and has some ideas who he will contact, but he knows what type of team he hopes to have.

“I’m kind of aggressive offensively,” he said. “I like to create a little havoc offensively. Defense is defense. We’ll work on that in practice. But offensively, we plan on being aggressive.”

The Trojans have nine players returning from a 10-6 team.

“This is definitely good for the program,” said Paradis. “I know Thornton Academy has always been extremely loyal to people who have worked hard and done good things for TA. Ray has certainly done that.”

Petit’s work as an umpire gives him a different appreciation for the coaching position.

“I have some insight,” he said. “I know when to argue, when not to argue. When the kids come back to the dugout upset about a call, I tell them, ‘Hey boys, he made the right call. If he didn’t, I’d be out there.’ “

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]