Houlton High School spring athletes will have new coaches on their sidelines as the season opens. Mark Faulkingham, third-year softball coach, and Shawn Graham, seven-year varsity baseball coach, have resigned their positions.
RSU 29 school board hired James Castner to replace Graham, while they also approved Travis Gentle to the varsity girl’s softball position.
Hired in March, Gentle is a veteran coach of about 20 years. He has volunteered from recreational to the junior high and junior varsity levels. He completes the cycle as varsity coach in soccer, basketball and baseball/softball.
“I enjoy coaching,” he said. “I saw the varsity softball job as another opportunity to continue coaching. I view any coaching job as a challenge, not only for myself, but for the team I coach. The challenge is ‘can I teach them the tools and techniques they will need to be successful and make us a better team.’”
Though Gentle has practiced about one week with the girls, he feels it is still too early to determine strengths and areas of improvement.
“So far, I am happy that they put the bat on the ball and are making good contact this early in the year,” he said. “However, everything is different when we get outside. As far as improvements, everywhere. We can always improve in every aspect of the game.”
Gentle is a 1991 Houlton High School graduate. He is employed by the U.S. Border Patrol as a Border Patrol agent in Houlton.
As the season gets under way, Gentle will be looking for his squad to play team ball.
“No one player is more important than the other,” he explained. “Each person has a job and if each person does their job, we will be successful. I also want them to play to win. They are here to win every game we play. And, we will play hard until the last out no matter what the score is.”
The Houlton varsity softball girls play their first game of the season, if the weather cooperates, on Tuesday, April 23 at 4 p.m. when Presque Isle comes to town. They will follow that game with two more home contests on Monday, April 29, with Mattanawcook Academy and Tuesday, April 30, against Caribou. Both games begin at 4 p.m.
“I am really looking forward to the season starting to see how we will do,” said Gentle. “I believe we have a good bunch of girls who really want to be here to play and are willing to work and learn.”