Dave Cousins takes the next step as he is named coach of the Yarmouth girls’ basketball team.

Dave Cousins has always wanted to be a head basketball coach.

Now, at age 56, he’s finally got the title. Cousins, the former South Portland High star, was named the new girls’ basketball head coach at Yarmouth High on Tuesday.

Cousins had been a junior varsity boys’ basketball coach at South Portland the last six years. He’s also coached the Maine Firecrackers 15-and-under regional girls’ team the last three years. But he never had a program to call his own.

“I’ve always had a passion for basketball,” said Cousins, who helped the Red Riots win back-to-back Class A boys’ basketball state titles in 1979 and 1980. “And it’s always been there, the desire to coach. When this came along, I felt it was a perfect fit. Girls’ basketball is on the upswing and the level of play is improving. And I enjoy coaching girls. It all worked out.”

Cousins is replacing Christina Strong, who left after five seasons as the Clippers’ girls’ coach with a record of 37-55. She twice led the team to the playoffs, each time advancing to the quarterfinals.

Yarmouth actually opened the position twice, with Cousins emerging as the choice the second time.

“Clearly he knows basketball,” said Yarmouth Athletic Director Susan Robbins. “But what struck the interview committee the most was his great personality. You can see he cares about kids and trying to develop solid basketball players who are as passionate as he is.

“For us, it was all about finding the right fit. We had a number of candidates both times (the position was posted). And we got a completely different pool the second time. I’m glad we were able to find the right fit for Yarmouth basketball.”

The Clippers went 5-13 last year, but had a young squad with only two seniors. Cousins is planning on joining the summer league program immediately “so I can get to know them over the summer.”

He favors an up-tempo game with a motion offense and harassing full-court defense. He said he had a great role model in his high school coach, the legendary Bob Brown.

“He was a great mentor and role model when it comes to basketball,” said Cousins. “He was a pretty straightforward and direct guy and you knew where you stood with him, which all of us players appreciated. I still remember some of the things we did back in the day that I still implement with my teams.”

After graduating from South Portland (where he averaged 20 points a game as a senior), Cousins played basketball at Bentley University. He then began a marketing career in the newspaper business, working at Central Maine Newspapers first and then the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus in Vermont.

He said he coached his son and daughter over the years in youth sports, but stopped when they got older. But the coaching itch never left him. That’s why when he and his wife Jean returned to Maine he got into it. At first he was the junior varsity boys’ coach at Scarborough for a year. Then he joined South Portland, and later the Firecrackers.

“I wanted to stick my toe in the water,” he said. “I know enough about the game and I’m still passionate about it. I stuck with it. Everything has been positive. And I’ve had the luxury of coaching both boys and girls, which has taught me a lot.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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