EASTON – Let’s face it. Mondays are tough for most everyone.
For Dillon Kingsbury, this past Monday was tough — times two.
In the morning, Kingsbury had to take a final exam in his anatomy and physiology class at UMaine-Presque Isle. At 4 p.m., Coach Kingsbury boarded the school bus with his Easton Bears boys’ basketball team for a game in Fort Fairfield. The evening ended with a loss when a Fort Fairfield player hit two free throws with less than a second to play.
Welcome to the wintertime world of the youngest varsity basketball coach in Maine.
Kingsbury turned 20 in May and is in his second season as Easton’s varsity coach. He’s also a full-time student in his junior year at UMPI, working toward a degree in physical education.
“The folks at UMPI know my situation, they’ve been very flexible,” says Kingsbury. “It’s not as bad as you think. I still have time to do homework, scout teams, prepare for practices and games. Amazingly, I have a little down time. I manage my time well.”
So matter-of-fact about it all. So confident. So mature beyond his years.
And that is exactly what Easton school officials noticed when they hired him in the summer of 2011. “He’s fresh, eager, just what Easton needed,” says longtime coach and athletic administrator Steve Shaw. “He knows the game. I see a lot of veteran coach aspects in him …. Dillon has that ability to command attention.”
Kingsbury showed that ability in his first meeting with Easton players last year.
“We had a preseason meeting and I said, ‘Look, I know I’m young. You know I’m young and so we’ve got a couple of options. We can take the first three weeks and you can kind of feel me out. Or, you can trust me that I know what I’m doing and we can hit the ground running from day one.’“
The players chose that second option. The Bears went 14-4, and the seniors got their first taste of a tournament game on the Bangor Auditorium floor.
Kingsbury played point guard in high school for Presque Isle. He says his former coach, Tim Prescott, was and will always be a great mentor.
As for his first taste of the coaching bug, Kingsbury says his younger sister Krystal, now a sophomore starter for Presque Isle, may be responsible. “She was in the eighth grade and someone asked if I wanted to coach her travel team. I did, and it kind of sparked the fire. I thought, geez, this is something I’d like to pursue. It kind of snowballed from there.”
Despite that last second loss Monday night, Kingsbury’s team is off to a 3-1 start. His college record: a 3.3 GPA. Not a bad first semester.
DEER ISLE-STONINGTON’S Sam Grindle won the Class C state individual golf title in the fall. This week he became a 1,000-point scorer in basketball. The Mariners are off to a 4-1 start. The one loss came in overtime against Jonesport-Beals.
THE GREATER HOULTON Christian Academy girls’ basketball team has eight players, and three are eighth-graders. The boys team also has eight players, and two are eighth-graders.