When word came out last week that Mike Giordano had resigned after 17 years as the varsity girls’ basketball coach at South Portland High, reaction across the sport was one of surprise.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than Giordano.

He resigned, he said, after receiving what he called unfavorable reviews in a year-end survey conducted by Todd Livingston, the school’s athletic director.

The reviews, in the form of online surveys, came from his players.

“There were very few favorable reviews,” Giordano said. “A lot of the kids were not so favorable. I understand.

“I’ve been somewhere for 17 years and what happens over time, there is a sense that some people want to see me move on. The dinner table discussions with the kids are not favorable for me. And when it gets to the point where kids are believing what is told to them on a day-to-day basis, then it becomes a problem.”

Rather than try to keep his job, Giordano resigned. He left the Riots with a 207-125 record. His teams finished at or above .500 in 15 of his 17 seasons. He was the SMAA coach of the year last season after leading the Riots to a 12-6 record.

“I’m comfortable with who I am as a coach and how I respect the kids and opponents,” he said. “I’m not looking in the mirror and questioning who I am as a coach.”

Livingston had nothing but good things to say about his former coach.

“I think his winning percentage and record speaks for itself,” said Livingston. “You are not going to meet a more quality individual who cares about his program and kids. He certainly poured his entire being into his program.

“One of the things that impresses me most is his willingness to go above and beyond to do special things that the girls would not forget.”

Giordano often would take his players to Boston to watch college games at Boston College and Boston University. At Christmas he set up a Yankee swap with such prizes as iPods, iPad-minis and cameras.

“He was involved in everything,” said senior Danica Gleason, who played four years for Giordano. “He was a big part of our community and success.”

But Gleason also said problems have been evident for years. As a freshman, when she made the varsity, she said she was told by upperclassmen to transfer “if I wanted to become a better player.”

Giordano understands that “some of the kids thought I was old and tired.” But neither he nor Livingston anticipated the poor reviews.

Gleason, however, said “It didn’t surprise me at all.”

Giordano, 52, said he will continue to cherish the relationships he built with his players, many of whom have called to offer support. He hopes to return to the court someday.

“If the phone rings and people are interested in talking, I’m not done coaching,” he said. “I still love it, I still love working with kids. But I don’t have to rush into anything.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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