Jim Senecal won seven Class B volleyball state championships during his 16 years at Yarmouth High. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Jim Senecal, one of the most successful volleyball coaches in Maine high school history, has resigned after 16 seasons as the head coach at Yarmouth High.

Senecal, 63, said Thursday that he decided to step away because of the need to focus on his health. He is recovering from triple-bypass surgery last week.

“I delayed the surgery through the season and I’m still in the hospital recovering from that, hoping to be discharged today,” Senecal said. “I’m hoping to fully recover, but I have decided to retire from coaching to focus on my health.”

This season, Yarmouth won its fourth straight Class B championship, sweeping previously unbeaten Gardiner in three sets before a large crowd at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Overall, the Clippers won seven Class B championships under Senecal, the first coming in 2011.

Senecal retires with a record of 182-59, coaching during a time when the sport grew dramatically in popularity in Maine. He says he knew little about volleyball and even less about coaching it when he was asked to take over the program.

At the time, he was also Yarmouth’s varsity softball coach.

“I got a call in the summer of 2007 when I was camping on a remote island,” Senecal said. He was told the struggling program had eight players and no coach for the rapidly approaching season, “and if you don’t take the job, we’re going to cancel the program. I bought a few books, started building slowly and picked up a few alpha kids (from softball). That was the beginning of the growth and consistency and success of Yarmouth volleyball.”

Senecal said he knows he’ll miss coaching and his team, but realizes his focus needs to be “on getting healthy. And on grandkids.”

“He will definitely be missed. He’s coached here for 25-plus years at various levels and various sports,” said Yarmouth Athletic Director Sarah Holmes. “He’s a great student of whatever sport he’s working with. He gets in and learns all the little niches of a sport. And he’s a great teacher. He’s not a teacher by trade, but he is a great teacher of sport. He’s well organized and really personal and just makes a great atmosphere to learn your sport.”

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