High school field hockey

Keeping it in family: Holmes-Jackson replaces father as BAHS coach

Dad retired in fall after 40 years, daughter coached Windjammers 17 seasons
By Mark Haskell | Feb 12, 2013
Photo by: Mark Haskell Allen Holmes, left, and his daughter, Jan Holmes-Jackson, the new varsity field hockey coach at Belfast Area High School. Allen retired after 40 years leading the Lions. Now, Jan, who played for BAHS and her dad, takes the reins of the team.

Belfast — Jan Holmes-Jackson has watched her father, Allen Holmes, coach the Belfast Area High School field hockey team for literally her entire life.

When Holmes stepped down in November after 40 years coaching the Lions to incredible success, curiously in the same week Holmes-Jackson resigned her field hockey post of 17 years with the Windjammers (Camden Hills and Camden-Rockport), that led many to draw their own conclusions on where her next coaching job might be.

They were right.

Holmes-Jackson officially was approved by the school board as the new Lion leader on Feb. 12, becoming only the second field hockey coach in BAHS history.

The 39-year-old Holmes-Jackson, a Swanville resident and 1992 graduate of BAHS, compiled a 107-127-17 record during her 17 years guiding the Windjammers.

She also played field hockey for her father, helping the Lions win the 1989 state Class B championship.

It was one of seven state titles Holmes brought to the school, along with 13 regional championships, during his tenure. Holmes ended his coaching career with a 433-162-43 career record, guiding the Lions to the state Class B championship game in his final season.

"I'm very pleased to get the job," said Holmes-Jackson. "I didn't think it would just be a given, because there were a lot of people who applied for it. But I'm very excited to be back and to be part of Belfast field hockey."

"I think she's going to be a wonderful addition to the coaching staff," said Belfast athletic director Mark Babin. "She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in 17 years as a varsity coach to our program and that's a good thing.

"She should be able to continue the tradition we've had here at Belfast for the last 40 years and be able to move the program forward."

Holmes-Jackson also will take over the youth field hockey programs, which she had been involved with over the years due to her father being the high school coach and her daughter, Cassie, being a player in the program.

Holmes-Jackson's first phone call after hearing the news from Babin was to her father.

"As a father I'm very pleased," said Holmes. "And as a coach stepping down from a program that I started, I'm also pleased. There were some very good applicants."

Holmes will continue to coach the fall youth travel team for his daughter, which consists of players in grades 3-5.

"I'm going to do my thing down in the lower grades and do what I can to keep Belfast a dominant field hockey contender," he said.

While Holmes-Jackson is happy to be coaching at her alma mater, she conceded there will be "a lot of pressure there" for her to succeed, given the success of the program and who she is replacing.

Holmes, however, seemed less worried for his daughter.

"I think the fact that she has worked with us in the summer and winter whenever she could with the younger girls, that will definitely help the transition," he said. "Of course, the older girls know her as the Camden [Hills] coach. And know that especially last year, how competitive they were against us. I think that's going to reinforce their acceptance for her stepping in."

Camden Hills and Belfast played only once last season — a 3-2 overtime win for Belfast Sept. 11 in Rockport — a game that the Holmes-Jackson-led Windjammers led 2-0 in the first half.

Holmes-Jackson knows many of the student-athletes on the Lion team, whether it is through competition at the high school level during her days at Camden Hills or through her help with the Belfast youth program, which should only help the changeover process.

"Tryouts and things will be similar," she said. "I'm not going to go in there and make huge changes. I want to make the transition as easy as I can on the girls, as well as myself."

"She certainly knows where the field is," Holmes said of his daughter and the longtime Lion playing/practice area.

Holmes-Jackson's move back to Belfast also could impact the annual preseason Coastal Play Day field hockey championship tournament, which was started at Belfast Area High School by Holmes and later moved to Camden Hills Regional High School under the tutelage of Holmes-Jackson.

The tourney was moved to CHRHS when the new school was built due to the fact Rockport was a more central location for all the participating schools.

"I'll have to talk to [Camden Hills athletic director] Steve [Alex] and Mark [Babin] and see how that would all work out," Holmes-Jackson said.

Despite the changing of the guard at the helm of the program, Holmes-Jackson does not anticipate any changes from the youth program up to the varsity.

"I'm hoping that I'll continue to get lots of little girls through the feeder program," she said. "The earlier they start, the better they are."

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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