The Mount View varsity softball team may have a new coach this season, but luckily, for the sake of continuity, it is not a leader new to the Mustang spring program.

The Mustangs will be guided this season by Chris Downing, who has an extensive coaching resume, most notably being the Mount View jayvee softball coach the past three seasons.

Downing is the interim head coach pending school board approval. The next Regional School Unit 3 school board meeting is Monday, May 12.

Downing replaces longtime coach Mike Gagnon, who was placed on leave after being charged with gross sexual assault of a student while employed as an automotive instructor at Waldo County Technical Center. Gagnon guided the team 12 seasons.

The 60-year-old Downing, a Pittsfield resident, said he was happy to be named the new Mustang coach, albeit under difficult circumstances.

“I'm excited to be working with the girls again,” said Downing. “And putting a little bit of my coaching philosophy into the game itself.”

Downing, whose team lost to Waldo County-rival Belfast 16-13 in a season-opening slugfest on Thursday, April 24 on cold, blustery Larrabee Field in Knox, said he “did not hesitate for a moment” after Mount View athletic director Chuck Karter asked him about taking the job.

“These are a great bunch of girls and I enjoy coaching them and being part of their program,” Downing said. “The returning veterans that we do have there's a definite leadership quality that these girls have taken on.”

Downing is a 1972 graduate of Haverill High School in Haverill, Mass, where he played football, baseball and ice hockey. He went on to graduate with a bachelor's degree in physical education with a speciality in athletic training (now known as sports medicine) from Northerastern University in 1978.

In addition to being the jayvee softball coach at Mount View the past three seasons, Downing recently completed his second season as the girls varsity ice hockey coach at Winslow High School, where the Black Raiders won the Maine Principals' Association sportsmanship award for Class B East. He also coached the Nokomis of Newport baseball team 13 years from the 1980s into the early-1990s.

He also has been the director of the Waldo County Technical Center the past five years and is in his 36th year as an educator.

Downing's overall coaching philosophy revolves around preparedness and for athletes to dedicate themselves completely in both practices and games.

“You prepare in practice and that's why practice is so important,” he said. “You play the way you practice.”

If they can do that, Downing firmly believes the Mustangs can make a few marks in the win column this season, which is something the team failed to do last year.

“They're a great bunch of girls and they play as hard as they can,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say the other team was better. And hopefully this year we'll have some folks tipping their hat at us and saying we were the better team that day. And we'll move to the next [game].”