Coming off a winless season, the Searsport District High School girls basketball team is looking for a fresh start. And for this season’s Viking squad, that will begin with a new coach.

Mel Grant, a resident of Stockton Springs, is the new girls varsity basketball coach, according to athletic director Jim McGinn. Grant replaces Amanda Pullen, who coached the Vikings for two seasons and a 3-33 record.

“This is awesome,” said Grant. “This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time [to be a varsity coach]. I didn’t expect this opportunity, but it’s a great opportunity to get and I look forward to a challenging season, obviously. But we’ve got a good core of starters back and some athletic girls coming in, so we’re very excited.”

“I’m pleased that he’ll be our new coach,” said McGinn. “He’s coached at lower levels and he was our volunteer assistant last year. He’s very enthusiastic and he’s been involved in Searsport athletics for many years both as a player and as a parent and a community volunteer.”

This year’s Viking squad is young, boasting all freshmen and sophomores. One of those sophomores is Grant’s daughter Briana, who was Searsport’s top player last season and likely will reprise that role this year.

Grant has coached his son Barrett in both basketball and baseball over the years, but this will be his first real taste of coaching his daughter, though Briana said her father has coached her in “short tournaments” over the years.

“I’m really excited,” said the guard/forward. “I always go to him for help with anything, whether it’s school or sports or anything. He always has something to say and I know he’s not going to take it easy on me. It’s definitely going to be really tough.”

“This is something very new to us,” said Grant. “We’ve talked it over a lot and what my expectations are of her. Of course, I’m going to be a little tougher on my daughter than I normally would be [on other players]. She’s got to be the leader.”

Grant was a volunteer assistant coach last season with Pullen and hopes his more aggressive approach will prove to be beneficial to the Vikings in the win column.

“I let Ms. Pullen coach her style of basketball and obviously mine is a little different,” he said. “They know me well enough to know I’m very competitive and very aggressive. I don’t accept losing, period. So they know they’re going to have to really work, and practices so far have shown that.”

Grant said he’s had a lot of contact with the middle school players and those who play on travel teams and has expressed his expectations, hoping those players are striving to become integral parts of the varsity program in the coming years.

“My plan is to build a program,” he said. “I don’t want to be here for just one year, I want to be here for a lot of years.”

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.