Two years of retirement was apparently enough for Gary Fifield, the legendary former head coach of the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball program.

Cheverus High announced in a press release on its website Thursday that Fifield was its girls’ basketball coach.

“I’m back coaching,” said Fifield in a phone interview. “This one will be a little less stressful. And a lot more fun.”

The 64-year-old Fifield retired in 2015 after 27 seasons as head coach of the Huskies women’s basketball team. He had a career record of 660-137 and led USM to five NCAA Division III Final Four appearances. USM appeared in three national championship games.

His 660 victories were sixth all-time among NCAA Division III coaches when he retired.

He had spent the the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, which is coached by Angel Elderkin, one of his former players at USM.

He did not coach last year but the pull of the basketball court was still there.

“During the winter it’s sometimes tough to find things to do here,” said Fifield. “I enjoy the coaching and teaching part, and I missed that and missed building relationships and helping young adults mature and grow.”

He had considered calling local high schools and offering to join their staffs as a volunteer. Then he got a call from a Cheverus alum, asking him if he would consider coaching the Stags. Fifield met with Athletic Director Gary Hoyt and soon had the job.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Al Bean, the athletic director at USM, wasn’t surprised at the news.

“Gary likes working with kids,” he said. “This gives him a chance to do what he likes best.”

Fifield already has met his players and is looking forward to working with them in the summer to learn what they can do. The Stags went 11-8 last winter, losing in the Class AA North quarterfinals.

Fifield last coached at the high school level in 1987, when he left South Royalton (Vermont) High to join USM. He knows there’ll be a difference in how he coaches the Stags from the Huskies.

“Certainly there will be differences in the complexity of what we are running,” he said. “And what kids can do at the college level from a skill or technical standpoint is different. The more skills they have the more things you can do. So there will be differences. But at the same time I’m going to push them to the limits to help them be the best players/team we can be.”

Fifield is a member of the USM Husky Hall of Fame, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. He will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in August.

“I hope the players enjoy the experience and have some fun,” he said. “At the same time, I’m going to teach them how to play the game and if we have some players with college potential, I can advise them in that direction. I have a little experience with that.”

Fifield replaces Steve Huntington, who coached the Stags for three seasons.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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