Mount View High School athletics has added a new face to their winter mix. Erica Gabbianelli joins the coaching staff as she takes over for five-year coach John Donato.

Donato, a teacher at Lawrence High School in Fairfield since 2001, stepped down from the Mustang position and now is the girls varsity basketball coach for the Bulldogs.

“I’m very excited about this position,” said the 32 year-old Gabbianelli. “It is a great opportunity for me to work at an excellent school with supportive administration, and I’m looking forward to the start of the regular season. I’m also looking forward to watching the growth and progress of the team throughout the season.”

Even though she attended Nokomis Regional High in Newport, where she played basketball, Gabbianelli is no stranger to Mustang sports. She has been watching Mount View basketball games since she was a child and understands ‘Stang pride.

“I know the school has a rich basketball tradition and I would like to build a program that continues on with the tradition,” she said.

This year, Gabbianelli also had a chance to coach the Mount View girls during a summer program. There, Chuck Karter, the school’s athletic director, saw what she could do.

“You know, it just looked like a real good fit,” Karter said. “I saw the foundation and the core values in what Erica brought to the program. I think that is something that is really paramount when I’m hiring a coach and that’s that they have good core values, they are focused on what they are trying to do but still being able to see the broader picture of these girls as individuals.”

Karter said the coach looks promising for not only making the student-athletes better ballplayers, but helping them grow as young women . Karter said the school is trying to improve the students and prepare them for the future.

“That’s really what I think Erika is going to do,” he said. “She is going to connect with them and she is going to be able to not only teach them those things they need to be successful on the floor, but hopefully give them those skills they need to be successful in life.”

Gabbianelli attended Saint Joseph’s College in Standish where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and then a master’s degree in education from the University of Maine. She now uses that degree to teach fifth grade at Caravel Middle School in Carmel.

This is Gabbianelli’s fifth year at Caravel, where she was a coach and the athletic director four years. She also coached the girls jayvee hoop team at John Bapst in Bangor for two years and two years in a recreation department in Melrose, Mass.

“My favorite aspect of the sport is defense,” she said about basketball. “I think it takes a lot of guts and grit to play good defense. Defensive intensity is something that I stress every day with the girls.”

Gabbianelli also added that she thinks teamwork is key. “I definitely take the team approach with the girls,” she said. “If we are all working together as one unit then good things will happen.”

With the new season right around the corner — it begins Friday, Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Camden Hills Regional High School — Gabbianelli hopes for the best.

“This season my hope is that our team will go out and compete to the very best of their ability every night,” she said. “We will work hard and we will work as a team to accomplish our goals.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.