Coach of the year is another very difficult award to bestow. There are so many devoted and excellent ones out there.

These awards were not necessarily awarded to a man and a woman, but to the top coach of a boys’ team and the top coach of a girls’ team.

Winter 2008-09 South Coach of the Year-Boys’ Team

While the Scarborough girls’ indoor track program has enjoyed an unrivaled run of success this decade, the boys’ program has been good, but not quite championship material.

That all changed this winter.

The Red Storm completed a steady rise to the top on Feb. 16 by holding off Brunswick and Bonny Eagle to win the Class A crown for the first time.

While several athletes played key roles, a big dose of credit has to go to coach Derek Veilleux, who pushed all the right buttons and built this team into a champion.

As a result, The Forecaster is naming Derek Veilleux our Winter 2008-09 South edition Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.

Veilleux grew up in Fairfield and was a running specialist at Lawrence High School. He also ran at the University of Southern Maine. He got into coaching in 2001 with the Scarborough recreation program. He served as an indoor assistant for two years, then became head coach for the 2003-04 season. Prior to this season, the Red Storm had a pair of runner-up finishes, two fifth-place showings and a seventh under Veilleux.

This season, Scarborough got off to a strong start at the Bowdoin Relays and was consistently among the best in the Southern Maine Activities Association. But after a fourth-place showing at Southwesterns, the jury was still out on whether or not this was a championship squad.

Thanks to first place showings from pole vaulter Brad Nakanishi and Sam Chick (800), and several other solid finishes from a talented supporting cast, the Red Storm were able to make history and come in first for the first time since they were known as the Redskins and won the Class B crown back in 2000-01.

“These seniors had been building up to it,” Veilleux said. “They wanted to end on a high note. They were very motivated.”

Veilleux, who also coaches the Scarborough outdoor boys’ squad, as well as the Scarborough Middle School team, spends the majority of his coaching focusing on the runners. He lives in Gorham and works in Westbrook. He plans to coach for a long time, calling it a “passion.”

That passion paid off in a big way this season. A record-setting season with the happiest of endings was due in large part to the contribution of Derek Veilleux, our Winter 2008-09 South boys’ Coach of the Year.

2007-08 winner: Phil Conley (South Portland basketball).
2006-07 winner: Tony DiBiase (South Portland basketball)
2005-06 winner: Jay Mazur (Scarborough hockey)
2004-05 winner: Jason Tremblay (Cape Elizabeth hockey)
2003-04 winner: Jim Ray (Cape Elizabeth basketball)
2002-03 winner: Matt Townsend (Scarborough basketball)
2001-02 winner: Paul Brogan (South Portland indoor track)

Winter 2008-09 South Coach of the Year -Girls’ Team

When Chris Roberts played for the Cape Elizabeth girls’ basketball team in the mid-1990s, the Capers were one of the best teams in the Western Maine Conference.

When she returned to her alma mater as coach a decade later, the Cape Elizabeth program was in disarray, failing to win more than three games in any season since 1999-2000.

After a rough first year, Roberts and the Capers turned things around in a big way this winter. Cape Elizabeth got win No. 4 on Jan. 9 and added three more for its best season this century. While the Capers ultimately fell short of the postseason, their season can’t be considered anything but an overwhelming success, one which hopefully will set the stage for even greater glory in the near future.

For stepping into a difficult position, for committing to restoring her alma mater to respectability, for making a point of reaching out to the community and most of all, for bringing a downtrodden program back to the pack, Chris Roberts gets The Forecaster’s nod as our Winter 2008-09 South edition Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.

Roberts grew up in Cape Elizabeth and played basketball, soccer and softball in high school. She still holds the basketball program’s record for assists and made 3-point shots and is the school’s second-leading scorer. She then played at Colby College, where she studied Political Science.

Roberts got into coaching serving as an assistant at Scarborough for a season. Then she came home to become the Capers fourth coach this decade and third in as many years.

Cape Elizabeth won exactly once in her first season (the third time this decade the Capers finished 1-17, five other times, they went 3-15).

Despite the recent struggles, Roberts and the players entered this season excited and enthusiastic, believing they were going to turn the corner. The addition of former boys’ star Aaron Spaulding to the coaching staff didn’t hurt either. After opening with competitive losses to Fryeburg, Gray-New Gloucester and Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth hit its stride, winning at Freeport before shocking the local basketball community with an upset victory over three-time defending regional champion Lake Region. A win at Poland two days before Christmas evened its record.

After losing to eventual Western B champion York and eventual Western C runner-up Waynflete to start 2009, the Capers got that elusive fourth victory and later downed Traip, Freeport and Yarmouth again to finish 7-11.

“Beating Lake Region was big for confidence,” Roberts said. “We built from there. The kids put in the time. We wanted to be competitive. We’ll have expectations next year.”

Roberts, who lives in Cape Elizabeth and is a lawyer by trade, now has the challenge of keeping Cape Elizabeth at the top.

Don’t bet against her. This reclamation project is already showing tremendous dividends. Chris Roberts, our Winter 2008-09 South girls’ Coach of the Year, has once again made her alma mater proud.

2007-08 winner: Bre Fortiguerra (Scarborough Hockey)
2006-07 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)
2005-06 winner: Deven Morrill (Cape Elizabeth Nordic skiing)
2004-05 winner: Ron Kelly (Scarborough Indoor track)
2003-04 winner: Mike Giordano (South Portland basketball)
2002-03 winner: Kerry Kertes (Cape Elizabeth swimming)
2001-02 winner: Tim Kipp (Scarborough swimming)

Derek Veilleux

Roberts.jpgChris Roberts