2012-05-18 / Community

South Portland teacher welcomes new challenge

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Over the course of a coaching career that has spanned more than 30 years, Tony DiBiase has helped hundreds of young men learn the basic fundamentals of baseball, basketball and football. Now DiBiase, a physical education teacher in South Portland, has an opportunity to bring that coaching tradition to another group of student athletes.

On May 8, the Scarborough Board of Education approved the hiring of DiBiase as the varsity basketball coach for the 2012-2013 school year. He takes over for Jim Johnson, who had coached the team for the past four years.

“We had a very good pool of qualified applicants and the interview committee agreed that Coach DiBiase was certainly the best candidate for the job,” Scarborough Athletic Director Michael LeGage said in press release announcing the hire. “Coach DiBiase joins an outstanding family of coaches here in Scarborough. His expertise will provide our student-athletes with the best opportunity to learn those important life skills essential for success on and off the court.”

DiBiase, who is currently coaching the Portland High School baseball team, said he is looking forward to the opportunity in Scarborough. For the past two years DiBiase was the basketball coach at Gray-New Gloucester High School. Since 1976, when he got his first coaching job at Machias High School, DiBiase has coached basketball at Gorham High School, Noble High School, Portland High School and South Portland High School, where in 17 seasons, he won more than 200 games. He coached Gorham to a state championship in 1982 and Portland to a state championship in 1986. In 1992, DiBiase led South Portland to a five-overtime 81-79 victory over Bangor in the state championship.

DiBiase’s teams qualified to plan in the basketball tournament 28 times and he was named the coach of the year four times. He also served as an assistant basketball coach briefly at St. Joseph’s College.

“Potentially it is a great place to coach,” DiBiase said of Scarborough. “It has a strong administration and kids that are championship-caliber athletes in a variety of sports and it has great teachers. There has been a strong commitment in elevating the basketball program from being competitive to another level. It just seems like a positive environment.”

With the hire of DiBiase, the Scarborough basketball program has two legendary coaches who have earned more than 400 wins each. Last fall, Scarborough hired Tom Maines, a longtime boys basketball coach in Maine, as the girls basketball coach. He led the team to a 19-2 season, which ended in a loss to McAuley High School in the Western Class A championship.

“Coach Maines and I have coached against each other a lot over the years. We had some great battles in the 1980s when I was at Portland High School and he was at Morse High School,” DiBiase said. Maines won three state titles with Morse High School from 1987 to 1989.

DiBiase played baseball, football and basketball at Westbrook High School prior to heading to the University of Maine, where he was a member of the 1976 College World Series baseball team. After his graduation in 1976, DiBiase began his coaching career at Machias High School, where he coached baseball, basketball and football and worked as the school’s athletic director.

Coaching, he said, was an extension of his life-long love of sports.

“I love to be involved with high school athletes. As I got more involved in Maine I realized that in the game of basketball, or whatever sport I am involved with, you don’t just coach. You are a teacher of winning and losing, sportsmanship, how to deal with success and failure and team and individual goals. There is so many more aspects to coaching than just winning and losing,” DiBiase said.

That attitude fits in well with the coaching philosophy in Scarborough.

“The Scarborough family of coaches is committed to being teachers first—as we believe that a dynamic program of athletics is a vital component of the educational development of students,” LeGage wrote in the release.

Gray-New Gloucester played against Scarborough last year in an exhibition game and DiBiase said he was impressed with the Red Storm’s athleticism.

“They are very athletic. There are a lot of good guards who can shoot and are very athletic,” DiBiase said. With this athleticism, DiBiase said the game plan would be to move the ball quickly and run the press.

Although the basketball season is still six months away, DiBiase said his work at Scarborough will begin at the end of the current school year when he begins working with the young basketball players in summer basketball leagues.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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