Portland High girls’ basketball coach Abby Hasson, left, and her mom, South Portland girls’ basketball coach Lynne Hasson, in the gym at South Portland High on Friday. They are likely the only mother and daughter to coach against each other in the history of Maine high school basketball. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In terms of wins and losses, it’s been a tough year for Portland High girls’ basketball coach Abby Hasson. The team has just two wins and the regular season is almost over.

But even the losses can’t dampen Hasson’s passion for coaching girls. If anything, this season has only reaffirmed that being a role model does matter – that she can make a positive impression on young women.

That hit home during the holiday tournament at the Portland Expo in December, when some of her former players returned from college and made a point of saying hello.

Abby Hasson looks for an outlet pass after pulling down a rebound while playing for South Portland in 2010. She later played at the University of Southern Maine and UMaine-Farmington. Press Herald file photo

“And I cried my heart out because they asked, ‘Hey Coach, how are you?’ ” Hasson said. “That’s what you do it for. That’s why we want to coach females and why we want to be a role model for these kids. Because it means something.”

Hasson, 30, now in her fourth year as Portland’s varsity coach, grew up in a basketball family. Her mother, Lynne Hasson, was a standout basketball player at South Portland High who went on to play at the University of Maine (1983-87) and now is in her 11th season as the varsity coach of the South Portland girls’ team.

They are likely the only mother and daughter to coach against each other in the history of Maine high school basketball. More importantly, they are serving as mentors at a time when female coaches are outnumbered by male coaches for girls’ high school basketball teams across the state. And this comes when participation in girls’ sports is declining faster than in boys’ sports at Maine high schools.


Both Lynne and Abby Hasson had strong female role models, as well as top male coaches, in their formative athletic years. There were older, standout players they could emulate, and adult women who could offer guidance.

Lynne Hasson was the South Portland junior varsity coach when Abby was playing high school basketball there. Abby later played at the University of Southern Maine and at UMaine-Farmington. Her father is a former high school coach. Younger sister Maddie was the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year at Bowdoin College in 2020. The family can trace its girls’ basketball lineage all the way back to the 1920s, when Lynne’s great aunt Mabel “Belle” Robinson played for South Portland High.


Wednesday marks National Girls and Women in Sports Day, established in 1987 by the Women’s Sports Foundation. The organization was formed in 1974 by tennis great Billie Jean King with the purpose of advancing the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity.

Many events to mark the celebration are being held throughout early February. On Saturday, there is a sports clinic at Colby College, and the University of Maine is hosting an interactive sports fair in Memorial Gym, starting at noon and leading into the 2 p.m. women’s basketball game against New Hampshire.

Both Hassons are educators. Lynne Hasson, 59, is in her 37th year teaching, working currently as a seventh-grade math teacher in South Portland. This is Abby’s third year as a physical education teacher at Portland High. They recognize the responsibility that comes with being a varsity coach, particularly in Maine where participation in girls’ sports – basketball in particular – has declined sharply in the past decade.


“I think we need female role models. I think we need female coaches,” Lynne Hasson said. “And I think (athletic directors) are aware of that and they’re working on it. And part of it is qualified females have to apply.”

Increasing the number of female coaches is of particular interest to Lynne Hasson, one of six panelists when University of Maine women’s basketball coach Amy Vachon held a zoom workshop in the summer of 2020 to encourage and promote more women to become high school basketball coaches in Maine. In the 2019-20 season, only 21% of the girls’ varsity basketball teams in Maine were coached by women.

This season in southern Maine, 18 of the 42 girls’ basketball teams – 43% – are coached by women. Lynne Hasson was one of two women coaching a Class AA girls’ basketball team in 2019-20. This season, five of the 15 Class AA teams are coached by women, including her daughter at Portland.

South Portland High girls’ basketball coach Lynne Hasson works with players at a practice in November 2017. She is in her 11th season as head coach of the team. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

While the situation has improved, the coaching gender gap illustrates why it is important to have events like National Girls and Women in Sports Day. It helps keep key issues involving girls’ sports on the front burner, Lynne Hasson said.

“It’s a different relationship with girls and female coaches,” she said. “I’m not saying there aren’t great male coaches. There are. But if (there is) the opportunity to put a female as the coach on a girls’ team, I think there’s a ton of benefit from doing it. It gives (players) someone like them and they can learn different life lessons. I think we need to keep pushing for that. The inequity between men and women coaches on girls’ high school basketball is something we need to keep on the forefront.”



South Portland junior Emma Travis, a guard on the basketball team, said having women as coaches is important to her.

“I think they’re role models for us whether they realize it or not,” Travis said. “Being a female athlete is not easy and it comes with a lot of challenges that I don’t think a lot of men understand.”

Both Travis and her sophomore teammate Caleigh Corcoran, the daughter of former Portland girls’ coach Gerry Corcoran, said women coaches are more attuned to their players’ concerns.

“I think they understand the game of basketball from a women’s point of view,” Corcoran said. “Because I think men’s basketball and women’s basketball is a totally different game. And women, it’s constantly a mental battle because we don’t have the same confidence out there that men have, so it’s nice to have female coaches that know.”

One of the primary goals for any coach of a girls’ sport is to find ways to increase participation. The issue is acute in basketball and the Hassons’ programs are no exception. Neither Portland nor South Portland has a freshman. South Portland has a 14-3 varsity record with 13 straight wins, but barely has enough players for a full junior varsity squad.

The number of girls playing basketball in Maine decreased 27% from 2012-13 to 2022-23. Overall participation in all girls’ championship sports offered by the Maine Principals’ Association dropped 19% over the same period. There also are fewer boys playing sports in Maine, but the 13% decrease in boys’ basketball is less than the 17% overall decline in boys’ participation.


Both girls’ and boys’ basketball saw sharp one-year declines of about 6% in 2022-23.

Those figures trouble the Hassons because they firmly believe sports have valuable lessons to teach.

“Businesses and corporations look for women who played sports because they know they have a unique ability to work together for a common goal,” Lynne Hasson said.

“Athletics taught me a lot about how strong I am and how to lean on other people,” her daughter said. “That’s the beauty of sport. It can teach you both.”


So what’s it like for mother to coach against daughter, or vice versa? Well, it’s the Hassons, so it is competitive.


Their teams have met four times. Portland won the first two. South Portland has won the past two seasons, including a 48-37 victory in December.

Portland’s 52-49 win in February 2022, featuring a 3-point basket by Eliza Stein as time expired, is the game that most often comes up.

“We had a boy-girl doubleheader and that was the best crowd I’ve seen in years. Yes, we won,” Abby Hasson says.

Mom interrupts: “Buzzer-beater. We won’t relive that one.”

“Oh, I’d be happy to. Absolutely,” her daughter laughs.

What both mother and daughter agree on is that nights like that are what make high school sports memorable.

“Being in a gym on a Friday night that’s packed and having all these people out. And that energy you get. You can’t get it anywhere else,” Abby Hasson said. “Maine high school sports are so special and that’s part of what makes me so sad about a lot of these kids not playing. They don’t get to feel that. They don’t get to feel Maine high school sports.”

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