While waiting for another March Madness to begin without the University of Maine men’s basketball team …

At 73, Bob Brown isn’t concerned about his coaching legacy. “I want to know I still have an impact on these kids,” he said after a practice at Cheverus High was over. Several days later his team beat Bonny Eagle in the Western Class A final.

Bangor then beat Cheverus for the state title last Saturday night in Augusta. Did the loss tarnish Brown’s legacy of success in high school and college coaching in any way? It shouldn’t have.

But wasn’t there something more personal at stake? One man’s desire, in the twilight of a career, to show he still has his fastball? The Brown-coached Cheverus team was the defending champion. Back-to-back titles would have stuck the exclamation point to the Brown biography.

No, said Brown. The trophy was second to his relationship with his players.

I told Brown of Dave Dion, the legendary race car driver. Basketball coach and race car driver are beyond apples and oranges but there is common ground here. Dion, at one of his final appearances in the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway, explained why he was trying to win for the fourth time.

The three victories had proven to earlier generations that he was one of the best. He wanted to show a newer generation that he could live up to the stories its parents and grandparents told of the great Dave Dion. That he still had what it takes.

He didn’t win that day. In April, Dion will be one of six men to be inducted into a motorsports Hall of Fame presented by the Maine Vintage Cars Association.

Brown shook his head a second time.

No, he wanted the 2011 Gold Ball trophy to be the exclamation point to his players’ high school careers, not his.

He wouldn’t say this, but I will: Bob Brown’s career already speaks for itself. …

In a small way, the cycle of life was experienced again last weekend. Lofa Tatupu considered flying East to pay his respects to the family of Royston English, the former University of Maine running back who died of cancer.

English’s wake and funeral were Friday and Saturday.

At the same time, Rachael Tatupu was giving birth to their first child, a son, Kai Mosiula Tatupu.

Dad just finished his seventh season playing linebacker in the NFL, all with the Seattle Seahawks.

Lofa and English were freshman and senior teammates at Maine before Tatupu transferred to the University of Southern California. Tatupu won’t forget English’s impact on him.

One more of life’s ripples: Since English’s funeral, Tatupu and Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove have exchanged heartfelt e-mails, maybe for the first time in 10 years. Tatupu explaining and apologizing for his seemingly abrupt decision to leave Maine for Southern California. Cosgrove, in turn, explaining why no apology was necessary.

Another ripple: Lofa’s father, Mosi, fullback and special teams player for the Patriots and a fan favorite died last February at his Eastern Massachusetts home in Plainville, where Lofa grew up. Zack Magliaro, one of Lofa’s captains at Maine, called Lofa to offer his sympathy.

While reaching out to Tatupu, Magliaro never mentioned his diagnosis of cancer . …

The roller coaster that can be one day in Cosgrove’s life: He spoke at English’s funeral, which was a two-hour celebration of English’s life. From Waltham, Mass., where the service was held, Cosgrove went to Boston University to watch Riley Masters, a senior at Maine, win the mile in the IC4A/ECAC Championships. Then it was back in the car for the trip north, hoping to reach Augusta in time for the Cheverus-Bangor basketball game for the state Class A championship. Cosgrove’s son, Matt, is on the Bangor junior varsity. …

Bri Fecteau, the pride of Westbrook High girls’ basketball some 15 years ago, finished up her rookie season as head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., by winning the Empire 8 championship before losing to Colby in the NCAA Division III regional tournament, 58-48. Stevens ended the season with a 19-9 record. Fecteau starred at Bentley before serving seven years as an assistant at Harvard. …

St. Thomas More and its point guard, Indiana Faithfull, lost in the semifinals of the New England Prep School Athletic Council basketball tournament to New Hampton Prep recently. Maine Central Institute, the tournament’s underdog, won the championship.

Faithfull will decide soon where he will attend college and continue his basketball career.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]