Ben Raymond is the head coach of the Cape Elizabeth High boys’ lacrosse, boys’ soccer and boys’ and girls’ swimming teams. He is also a special education teacher at the school. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

For a coach who has had plenty of success, Ben Raymond doesn’t dwell on his win-loss record.

It could be that he doesn’t have the time, given his busy schedule. For more than a decade, Raymond has been the head coach of three varsity sports – boys’ soccer, swimming (both boys and girls) and boys’ lacrosse – at Cape Elizabeth High, the same sports he participated in while a student at Cape (Class of 1988).

“Three varsity sports, there aren’t many (coaches) doing that any more,” said Falmouth boys’ soccer and basketball Coach David Halligan, who was one of Raymond’s former soccer coaches at Cape Elizabeth. “It’s the time constraint. They’re all really full-time jobs when you put in the summer programs and the offseason training.”

In 22 seasons as the Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse coach, Raymond has won 11 state titles. His swim teams have won six state championships. He’s been head coach of the swim teams and the boys’ soccer team since 2006.

“Obviously (winning) is one of our goals each and every season,” Raymond said, “but I think – and usually if we’re doing things the right way what happens is – the winning comes because of what we’re doing in practice. If your goal is solely to win a game, it’s harder to win the games that way.”

In southern Maine, the vast majority of the few three-sport head varsity coaches are in charge of  cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams, including Jorma Kurry at Falmouth, Ted Hutch at York, Chris Mazzurco at North Yarmouth Academy and Diane Fournier at Mt. Ararat.

“Three seasons of running coaching is more common. It’s a little easier because our offseasons are more low-key,” Kurry said. “And, for us, it’s more or less the same kids year-round.”

Raymond, 50, is working with three very different sports and, in the case of swimming, both genders.

“The amount of time he puts in to stay up to date in all three sports and to actually be out ahead of it at times, is just an incredible feat,” said Jeff Thoreck, Cape Elizabeth’s athletic director.

Cape Elizabeth coach Ben Raymond smiles from the sidelines during the 2017 Class B boys’ lacrosse state championship game. His lacrosse teams have won 11 state titles. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

According to Michael Hoffer of The Forecaster, Raymond’s boys’ soccer teams have gone 125-77-28 since 2006. His lacrosse teams are a combined 282-48, with the most recent of the 11 state titles coming in 2017. As Cape’s swim coach, Raymond has directed the girls’ program to five state titles, including three straight Class B crowns from 2017-2019. The Cape boys swam to the Class B title in 2015.

“I still really enjoy the coaching,” said Raymond. “I still really enjoy whether I’m on the field or on the (pool) deck with the kids. The challenges of all three sports are really different so that keeps me having to focus a lot on each of them.”

In each endeavor, Raymond is able to connect with his athletes – both the standouts and those who might be new to the sport, according to David Croft, a 2003 Cape Elizabeth graduate who is now Raymond’s assistant coach in all three sports.

“When he talks I think the kids really listen to what he says. He does a really good job of explaining it,” Croft said. “An interesting part he does, which not all coaches do, is he really seeks input from his players.”

Thoreck, who grew up with Raymond in Cape Elizabeth, judges success in other ways. He sees the strong participation year after year.

“He just has such a positive impact. The swim team, this year it can’t be as large (because of the pandemic) but usually it’s anywhere from 70-90 swimmers. Boys’ lacrosse is generally 60 boys and about 50 in our soccer program in the fall,” Thoreck said.

Then there is Raymond’s equally significant role as a special education teacher and trusted adult at the high school.

“Ben is so well liked and respected, often he’ll be the person that kids will seek out for support,” Thoreck said. “There’s just the compassion there and the trust that they have for him. The general caring for kids comes out in everything he does.”

“He knows there’s more to life outside of sports, being a mentor, always being someone you can talk to. He helped me a lot. He was someone I could go to with a question,” said Phillip Tarling, a 2019 Cape grad and a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. Tarling played soccer and lacrosse for Raymond. “He was my favorite part of high school and definitely my favorite teacher.”

Tarling first met Raymond prior to attending the high school because of Raymond’s work with Tarling’s older brother Peter, who has Down syndrome. Peter Tarling, swam for Cape and was the team manager for boys’ lacrosse who gradually was worked into playing the game.

“My freshman year I got to play with (Peter) on the team, so that was just a good moment for us. Coach Raymond made my brother feel included in the whole sports season so I’m very grateful for that,” Tarling said. “Coach just puts others before himself. He just wants everyone to reach their potential and be the best they can be.”

For the past two years, one way Raymond tries to encourage students to succeed is by making sure he’s at the front entrance when the school day starts, offering hellos and good mornings to students. Raymond said he’s simply keeping up a tradition started by former math teacher Tony Ghidoni.

“He was amazing. He’d say good morning to every kid coming in. He knew the majority of the names and if he didn’t know, he would make up a name, and he would ask them about their games and what they were doing. It just added a lot to the attitude of the school,” Raymond said. “When he retired it just seemed something was missing about the school, so I decided to start doing what he was doing.”

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and schools were closed, Raymond starred in a series of videos to say, “Good morning,” to Cape’s students. Filmed by his daughter Gabrielle, 22, who was home completing her senior year of college and featuring cameos from son Finn, 20, a 2018 Cape grad, the videos are a window into Raymond’s eclectic fashion and design sense and his humor.

At the end of each he reminds the Cape students of important tasks that need to be completed and to remember, “it’s always a great day to achieve.”

“It was just trying to have some fun and keep kids positive at a time when things weren’t all that great,” Raymond said.

The start to Raymond’s high school coaching career was modest and even a bit coincidental. Raymond had finished up his college course work at Springfield College in “1992-ish. I still had a weird art credit to finish.” His first coaching job was as a middle school soccer coach. At about the same time, he got a job working as an ed tech in the special education department.

In either 1993 or 1994 – Raymond’s unsure – boys’ lacrosse coach Charlie Burch was looking for a new assistant coach after Don Glover left to be the head coach at Wiscasset High. Glover would go on to become the first, and currently only, 300-win coach in Maine lacrosse history, with most of the wins at Brunswick.

“Coach Burch knew I was around. My mom, she worked at the school. She was the secretary in the main office, so I was easy to find. I think that’s why I got the job. I was easy to find,” Raymond said.

In 1994, Raymond become the JV soccer coach working with Andy Strout and an assistant swim coach for Kerry Kertes.

When Burch left prior to the 1998 season, Raymond succeeded his former coach. It was the first year the Maine Principals’ Association held a state tournament. Cape won the 1998 title and five of the first six championships when lacrosse was a single-class tournament.

In 2006, Raymond moved into the head coaching jobs in both boys’ soccer and swimming, replacing Strout and Kertes, respectively.

While the demands are great, Raymond actually has more time than he once had. Back in the early 2000s, he coached both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse in the same season. From 2004-06, Raymond squeezed in being the men’s lacrosse coach at the University of Southern Maine between the swim and high school lacrosse seasons. For many years, he delivered the Portland Press Herald while teaching and coaching three sports.

“Now that was a job,” Raymond said of his delivery route.

There’s no reason to slow down now, Raymond said, especially now that his own kids are grown and he still has the support of his wife Caroline Raymond.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without her support,” Raymond said.

“I feel like I still can do a pretty good job,” Raymond said. “I think the kids still benefit from being on the teams I’m coaching.”


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