Russell to take over Central girls basketball post

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CORINTH — Jamie Russell has amassed over 340 victories in 32 seasons coaching boys high school basketball at Central High School of Corinth, Penobscot Valley High School in Howland and, most recently, Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

Now he will try his hand at coaching a girls basketball team. On May 22 Russell was approved by the RSU 64 Board of Directors as the coach at Central.

Russell, who is in his 29th year teaching physical education at Central, replaces Diane Rollins, who resigned after leading the Red Devils to over 200 wins in 16 seasons.

Russell’s only previous experience coaching girls was one season of soccer at Penobscot Valley.

He spent the last five winters coaching the PCHS boys. The Pirates went 9-9 and finished seventh in the Class C North Heal points last season.

Russell said there were several reasons to pursue the Central job.

“Reason one is that I work here,” said the 57-year-old Russell, who lives in LaGrange. “I have been traveling for 17 years. I would leave this place at 3 and head to Guilford or Howland. I don’t see that well at night. I was spending a lot of time in my vehicle and I don’t want to do that any more.”

Russell is a soccer referee and travels extensively during the fall.

He said his son Richie and daughter-in-law Rachel live in Old Town and are expecting a child in three weeks. It it will be his first grandchild.

He will be closer to them at Corinth, which is 23 miles from Old Town. Guilford was 47 miles from Old Town.

Russell noted that he will benefit, “from having contact with [his players] during the day. I know the kids.”

He thoroughly enjoyed coaching at PCHS where he did two stints, 2000-2008 and 2012-2017.

“I really felt like part of the community at PCHS. They were great to me. It was awesome,” said Russell, who pointed out that the new coach will inherit a good team led by standout senior guard Bryce Gilbert.

Russell doesn’t anticipate any major adjustments going from coaching boys to girls.

“If coaching is an extension of the classroom, I have been teaching girls every day for 34 years, 175 days a year. There won’t be any drastic changes. I may have a different tone of voice with girls,” he said.

Central went 13-5 last season and was the sixth seed for the Class B North tournament, losing in the quarterfinals. Guard Sydney Allen will be a senior and will headline a solid corps of returnees including her sister, Abigail, who will be a sophomore.

Russell coached their father, John, when he was at Central, which drops from Class B to Class C next fall.

“I’m not going to make any wholescale changes,” said Russell, who coached the 2001 PCHS boys to the Class C North championship and led another PCHS team and a Central club to regional title-game berths.

Bangor Daily News file photo Ashley L. Conti
HEADING TO CENTRAL — Jamie Russell, the boys basketball coach at Piscataquis Community High School for the last half decade, will be leading the girls program at Central High School in Corinth in 2017-18. Russell is in his 29th year teaching physical education at Central High School.

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