Retiring Cougar coach looks back on 18 years
DIXFIELD -- Every year presented a new challenge, so being able to make the proper adjustments provided a breath of inspiration that Art Chamberlin found rewarding as coach of the Dirigo girls' soccer team.
This fall, Chamberlin announced his retirement prior to completing 18 seasons at the helm of the Cougars program that achieved varsity status in 1995. Thoughout the years, Chamberlin has experienced countless memories, while learning the importance of what the girl's wanted to achieve.
"I found right away that the girls worked and played their hardest when they were having fun," said Chamberlin. "That first group of girls I had were highly motivated student athletes. Mary Gill, Rachel Drury, Nicki Dominiczak just to name a few. By providing them with a structure in which they could have fun and work hard, they bonded and formed a close and very successful team." The girls had a club team '93 and '94. Chamberlin's only brush with soccer was intramural in college and having served as boys JV with (current Mount Blue girls' coach) Fred Conlogue in 1993 and 1994.
This allowed Chamberlin to learn about soccer and coaching from Conlogue, who Chamberlin earned a tremendous respect from Conlogue's knowledge of the game. Chamberlin was intrigued about the position because he had been coaching girls tennis since 1981 and was interested in working with girls in a different sport.
"I was very lucky to have had two seasons to coach with and learn from Fred Conlogue," said Chamberlin. "I developed a good understanding of soccer and, more importantly, a greater appreciation for the organization, management and human relations skills necessary to run a successful program."
The Dirigo program was competitive right away, lost to North Yarmouth Academy in the western Maine Class C regional final in 1995.
A majority of starters were juniors and sophomores and that group went onto win states over Madawaska in Millinocket in '96.
Players from that team were Lisa Konopka in goal; Dominizack, mid; Gill, forward; Drury, forward; Jessica Porter, defense; Jenn ”the Rocket” Errington, striker; Breezy Verrill, stopper; Angie Phair, mid; Tiffany Wing; Cassie Turcotte; Monica Beck; Jill Fuller; Erica Beck; Erin Buck; Kristi Sayer; Critter Turcotte; Jenn Flynn; Jess Blackman; Erin Cox; Meagan Melcher and Beth Whytock.
Chamberlin had to adjust continuously over the years as the teams lose one group of seniors and gain a new group of freshman. The chemistry changes constantly. Creating that "magic" team chemistry that can make the difference between a good team and a great team.
"It is the part of my coaching that has been the biggest challenge," said Chamberlin. ''I have worked the hardest at and the part that has given me the most satisfaction. The state and conference titles were wonderful to win, but the best memories I have come from the fun my girls had together.''
Chamberlin's coaching totals 154-87-27; qualified for playoffs, 15 of 18 years; state champs in '96, regional runner up '95 and '04; MVC champs '95, '01, '04. There are numerous memories that stand out begining with annual “soccer party” that Chamberlin and his wife Anne hosted at their camp in Weld.
Meeting up with alumni and hearing their memories, too. Chamberlin will always be proud of the traditions that have lasted from early years; the team “psycho cheer,” the Pyscho Ball (all of the players have their names on it) and Twizzlers at halftime.
Chamberlin also plans on retiring from tennis as well, following the 2013 season. Tennis has been and continues to be a part of the family, siblings Megan and Matt have continued with tennis as adults. They have both coached themselves, and Matt who played at Bates, continues to play team and singles tournaments in throughout New England.