September 10, 2013

Boys' Soccer Preview: About-face a boon for Eagles

Wally LeBlanc retired from coaching the Falmouth girls, but then got an offer from Windham he couldn't pass up.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When Wally LeBlanc announced his retirement last fall from coaching after guiding the Falmouth girls' soccer team to their second consecutive Class B state championship, he meant it.

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Wally LeBlanc shares a laugh with his new team before a recent scrimmage. LeBlanc started his coaching career with Windham in 1993, and now he’s back.

Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Spencer Hodge, left, battling with Gray-New Gloucester’s Jesse Lowell during a recent scrimmage, is one of the players who will be coached by Wally LeBlanc this season. LeBlanc coached the Falmouth girls last fall.

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"I was just ready to move on," he said. "I went out and bought a kayak, and I was ready to hike and kayak and do some other things."

Then, LeBlanc, 50, got an opportunity he just couldn't pass up -- a chance to coach the boys' soccer team at Windham High School.

"I got to be honest and say I don't think I would accept a girls' coaching position ever again because (of the experience) I had at Falmouth was just so amazing., he said. "There's nothing I would want to take that away."

Coaching the boys at Windham has brought LeBlanc, who teaches health at Westbrook High School, full circle. He coached the Eagles for the 1993 and '94 seasons before going on to coach girls' soccer teams at Edward Little, Westbrook, Windham and Falmouth over the next 18 seasons.

At Windham, LeBlanc replaces Colin Minte, who left to devote more time to his business.

"His business really took off and flourished, which is always a great thing, but it became a question of checks and balances," Windham Athletic Director Rich Drummond said. "During the 2012 season, I think, Colin was running on fumes at times to run his business and try to do what he needed to do for a successful soccer program."

In 2011, Minte capped his first season as a high school varsity head coach by guiding the Eagles to their first Class A state championship.

Drummond said he encouraged Le Blanc to apply for the job.

"I knew Wally had gotten done coaching soccer, so, in my eyes, he was available," Drummond said. "There's always a process when you have positions open, but I also think as an AD you're always actively recruiting good people, and Wally is a good person, he's a good coach and he's an educator.

"We had conversations about the position before he applied (for the job), and it's one of those things that came together, and I think our community is blessed to have him back involved with soccer."

Initially, LeBlanc made a decision to retire following the deaths of his mother and his college soccer coach a few months apart last year.

"The combination of those two (deaths) made me look at things in a different way, I guess," he said. "At the end of (last) season (at Falmouth), I just felt those girls, those families and the community gave me a wonderful gift, but I had changed."

Drummond said he wasn't surprised he was able to talk LeBlanc out of retirement.

"Coaching soccer is in his blood," Drummond said. "Sometimes, when people set a certain thing aside, it's always going to be there. If they can find the right fit, I think it can resurface quickly."

"The fact it was a job coaching boys made me think," LeBlanc said. "It's a different challenge. Maybe, it would spark my energy level."

"I'm coming all-in. I hope I feel energetic and challenged and this is something I can continue to do in years to come."

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

 

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Wally LeBlanc

  


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