The coaching carousel has spun mightily this summer at Belfast Area High School, with five Lion vacancies filled — four of which will see athletic leaders debut with their new teams in the coming days as practices begin for the fall sports seasons.

On the gridiron, Gregg Bouchard is the new varsity football coach. Bouchard replaces Chris Bartlett, who led the Lions for nine years and a 33-48 record.

“I’m excited to be here, to earn the respect of the community and do my best,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard, 39, is a 1997 Belfast Area High School graduate and was a captain on the 1996 state Class B championship team. Bouchard played running back and linebacker for the Lions.

He went on to play both football and baseball at Bridgewater State University, but was plagued by injuries — notably a neck injury on the gridiron — before he graduated with a degree in exercised physiology.

After living in Massachusetts for about two decades, coupled with his desire to live closer to family and friends and the opening of the varsity football post at his alma mater, the timing was right for Bouchard to make the move back to Waldo County.

Bouchard has worked as a sports performance and strength coach at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Mass. and also has been self-employed training athletes for years.

His primary role on the team at CMHS was strength and conditioning and injury prevention, but also was an assistant varsity coach and helped with the freshmen and junior varsity teams in coaching capacities as well.

He recently earned his master’s degree in liberal arts at the Harvard Extension School in Cambridge, Mass. and is employed at Regional School Union 71 as an education technician at BCOPE, which is a community-based alternative education program.

Bouchard said he wants to give the Lions “a positive football experience” and “is heavy on producing great kids.”

He added that the appeal of taking the job as the Lion head coach is his personal connection to the school. “I didn’t want to coach for some random school in Massachusetts,” he said.

“My priority is making a positive contribution, benefiting these kids and giving them the same experience that I had as a kid. Teach them the love of the game, teach them to be great teammates, teach them how to be hard workers and all those things that are fundamental to life.”

On the pitch, Brian Beaulieu, has been named the girls varsity soccer coach. Beaulieu, who has been the girls junior varsity coach for the past several seasons, replaces Chris Lavalle, who led the Lion girls varsity for 12 seasons.

“I’m confident that Brian will do a great job with the girls,” said Lavalle. “He brings a lot of knowledge, passion and energy to the team and I know that the change will not be too drastic for the girls, allowing for some continuity in the program. It’s hard to walk away, but it’s a lot easier knowing that the girls are in extremely capable hands.”

Beaulieu and his wife, Dawn, who reside in Northport, have four children — Christopher, Ashley, Faith and Amber — who have played athletics for BAHS.

The 52-year-old is a 1985 Brewer High School graduate and went on to graduate from the University of Maine in Orono in 1990 with a degree in business administration. He is currently a financial advisor at Allen Insurance and Financial.

Beaulieu said he is “excited bout the prospect of really ramping up and getting this program going.”

“I think that the program has a lot of potential,” he said. “I’ve got an assistant who is as excited as I am. Not only are we excited about the prospects at the high school, but really getting a better feeder system going to get the numbers growing up through.”

While this is Beaulieu’s first varsity coaching gig, he has assisted on several other teams, including most recently the girls varsity team with Lavalle and previously with Don Hoenig and the Belfast boys years ago with former coach Carl Violette.

Beaulieu has, in addition, been the girls junior varsity coach for the past two years, as well as being “kind of an unofficial coach on the track team” as he and track coach Dale Nealey were on the track team together at UMO as pole vaulters.

Beaulieu made the decision to become the girls varsity soccer coach after several conversations with his wife. He said his love for the game, coupled with “empty nest syndrome” as all four of the Beaulieu children have graduated high school, impacted his decision.

“I think my wife is excited to have me on the field and not moping around the house," he said.

Beaulieu is confident in his abilities as a coach and reiterated that building and maintaining a strong feeder system will be paramount to the long-term success of the program.

“I’ve been involved in this game for over 30 years,” he said. “I have some ideas. Do I think there’s going to be some magic pill this year for this group? No. But I think we can start to see some steady growth.”

On the links, Scott Benzie, who is a teacher at BAHS, has been tabbed to guide the golf team. Benzie replaces Charles “Chip” Lagerbom, who led the Lions 23 seasons.

“I’m obviously happy to be in that position,” said Benzie. “I’ve been a member at Northport [Golf Course] for four years and I’ve been on the board of directors for two years. And I run the junior program there, so I’ve been interested in getting to this position for a few years. I’m really happy to be taking it over.”

Lagerbom was named Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Coastal Division coach of the year last season, while Lavalle was named the KVAC Class B North coach of the year.

In addition, Benzie also has been named the Belfast girls varsity basketball coach. Benzie replaces Tina Cook, who guided the team one season.

“I’ve had a number of people that have talked to me about getting back into the girls program,” he said. “I worked with them as a volunteer a few years ago and they’re a great bunch of kids and they’re intelligent people. They work really hard and they’ve got some athleticism. So if we put some basketball skills in there, they’re going to be able to find some success.”

Benzie now a three-sport coach at BAHS as he also is the coach of the boys varsity tennis team (he was league coach of the year in the spring). The 1974 Orono High School graduate has had many varsity coaching jobs over his 32-year coaching career, most recently as the boys varsity basketball coach at BAHS until 2014.

Earlier this summer, Howard Fogg was tabbed as the school’s new varsity boys soccer coach, as he replaced Kevin Coombs. A separate story on Fogg appeared previously.

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