PORTLAND – Andy Gildart spent Thursday night behind the bench coaching the Portland High boys’ hockey team, while his wife, Caity, sat in the Portland Ice Arena bleachers.

Friday night meant Christmas Eve in Maine.

Travel to Southborough, Mass., today to be with Caity’s family.

Sunday will be spent in New York with Andy’s brother, Dan, and his family.

Monday, the Gildarts will be back in Maine. Andy coaches the Bulldogs in the Maine Hockey High School Invitational next week.

Just another whirlwind time in the life of Andy and Caity Gildart, a young couple who work full-time jobs together, while coaching and making time for family.

“We are busy but it’s a good busy,” Caity said.

Andy, 33, is in his third year as the Portland High head coach after spending several years as an assistant at Portland and Deering high schools, and the Portland middle-school program. The Bulldogs will be one of the 43 teams in the annual hockey extravaganza this week at four rinks.

“It’s nice to play out-of-state teams and we don’t have to travel,” Gildart said. “And (alumni) can come home and catch some games.”

SMOOTH SAILING

Caity Gildart, 30, will watch the games, especially with her own season well over. She’s an assistant women’s soccer coach at Southern Maine Community College, where she used to be the athletic trainer. She also is a burgeoning distance runner, competing in the Boston Marathon last spring.

“She said she wanted to do it by the time she was 30 and she did it,” Andy said. “That made for some interesting Saturdays when she got up and ran 18 miles.”

But if Caity’s running and their coaching different teams keeps them separated, there is plenty of time together, including breaks at work.

Caity works in sales and marketing at Casco Bay Lines, the ferry system serving the islands in Casco Bay, where Andy is a boat captain. It was there they met more than eight years ago. Caity, whose family summered on Peaks Island, got a part-time job with the ferry service; Andy was a deck hand.

Andy Gildart grew up in Portland, the oldest of four children — Dan, Stephanie and Joe. He played hockey at the Portland Ice Arena for Deering High until transferring to North Yarmouth Academy before his senior year.

Gildart’s seasons were divided between spring and summer at Casco Bay Lines, where he moved freight, unloaded passengers, parked cars and did whatever else was needed, to fall and winter in the rink.

ON THE WAY UP

After NYA, Gildart enrolled at St. Anselm College and became a walk-on with the hockey team.

“I was an All-State guy from Maine who could score,” Gildart said, “but they were Division II with guys on scholarship and guys from Canada. I wasn’t cracking that lineup.”

For more playing time, affordable tuition and free housing at home, Gildart transferred to the University of Southern Maine, where he played for Jeff Beaney, who had been the Portland Ice Arena manager.

At USM, Gildart got a degree in communications, as well as a coaching certificate. Gildart found few employment opportunities and eventually ended up back as a deck hand. He also helped coach his brother Joe’s hockey teams, leading to the middle-school assistant post.

Joe, by the way, is now on the University of New Hampshire golf team, the fourth of four Gildarts to play college sports. Dan (lacrosse) and Stephanie (field hockey) both went to Western New England College.

After logging enough sea hours, Gildart took the test for his captain’s license. His current route takes him to Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Chebeague and Cliff islands.

On the coaching front, Gildart became an assistant at Deering, then Portland High. Gildart was named the Bulldogs’ head coach before the 2008-09 season, about the same time he married Caity Baker.

Baker, a native of Southborough, Mass., was a good enough athlete to play college soccer, but her athletic training studies took precedent at Plymouth State. After graduation, she took a trainer’s position at Southern Maine Community College, until the head soccer coach noticed her abilities and asked her to be an assistant coach. That coincided with her taking a full-time job with Casco Bay Lines.

Now the Gildarts are doing what several dedicated coaches do — balancing full-time employment with their passion for coaching.

HECTIC TIME OF YEAR

At Portland High, it takes passion to coach boys’ hockey, a sport that has seen a decline in numbers within the city limits. In previous years, Gildart has talked athletes from other sports — especially lacrosse and football — to learn to skate and play hockey.

Gildart is doing something right. While Portland is not a powerhouse, it continues to win and earned a Tier I schedule this year, meaning it will play the best teams in the West twice this season.

In this week’s invitational, Portland will begin play 4 p.m. Monday at the Portland Ice Arena against South Windsor, Conn.

The regular season resumes in January. Hockey concludes before spring, which is when Casco Bay Lines gets busier. Then comes the hectic tourist season. Then soccer in the fall The Gildarts keep on keeping on.

“A good busy,” Caity Gildart said.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or

[email protected]