February 22, 2013

EASTERN A GIRLS BASKETBALL: Coaches set an example

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — The fact that both coaches in Friday night’s Eastern Maine Class A championship game are pregnant may have been the worst kept secret at the Augusta Civic Center.

Bangor’s Katie Herbine is 23 weeks along and visibly showing her pregnancy while Cony’s Karen Magnusson is 17 weeks in and, although she looks close to the shape she was in during her playing days, she has made no secret of it. Their conditions have had little effect on their coaching, although Magnusson admitted to a little exhaustion early on.

Both were outstanding players, Herbine as Katie Clark at Bangor and Magnusson as Karen Sirois at Cony. They became friends when Clark was an assistant coach at the University of Maine at Farmington where Sirois was the team’s point guard. In addition to basketball, they’ve discussed their pregnancies with one another. Both already know the gender.

“We talked a little bit about our sons,” Magnusson said. “We joke around they’re going to play AAU together.”

The larger issue is that two women were coaching in the Eastern Maine Class A final, perhaps a first. When you include Mt. Ararat’s Kelly LaFountain, three of the four coaches in the semifinals were women.

“It’s pretty impressive how far it’s come where it used to be all male coaches,” said Sirois, who last season coached her Rams to an Eastern Maine championship.

Female coaches are still a rarity among teams, Herbine, LaFountain and Magnusson are the only three among 14 teams in Eastern Maine Class A. But today’s Western Maine Class D championship also features two female head coaches in Rangeley’s Heidi Deery and Richmond’s Molly Bishop.

Their participation is sure to inspire others.

“I think it’s important to have female role models,” Magnusson said.

As far as coaching goes, their pregnancies have had minimal effect on practices. But there have been a couple of moments here and there. Both are still close enough to their playing days where they’ll jump into a drill or a scrimmage to get across a point.

“I did have one moment a week ago on defense where I tried to demonstrate getting into the passing lane and I almost hurt myself,” Herbine said. “But other than that no.”

Magnusson plays against her players all the time, but she does believe her condition affects their attitude toward her although she has suffered no ill effects.

“I think my girls were a little nervous playing against me because they didn’t want to hurt me,” Magnusson said. “I don’t think that affected anything that we did in practices.”

Both coaches were especially proud of the teams Friday night, Magnusson because her Rams overachieved and reached an Eastern Maine final when five weeks ago it appeared they wouldn’t make the tournament. Herbine because it was Bangor’s first Eastern Maine title since 1982.

Just as important was how their teams were proud of their coaches.

“I think Katie Clark said it (best),” Magnusson said. “She’s proud to be able to show her girls that you can do it all. She’s pregnant, she’s coaching, she’s working, showing that women can do it too.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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