As a veteran coach for the past 14 years, Chris Bartlett has been synonymous with Belfast Area High School softball.

That chapter closed for Bartlett after the team’s 5-1 Class B North quarterfinal playoff loss to No. 3 Hermon in the Class B North playoffs on Thursday, June 6 as he officially stepped down as the team’s head coach.

Bartlett’s complete coaching record was not available; however, the past 12 years, he sported a record of 70-133 with six regional playoff appearances.

This season, the No. 11 Lions knocked off No. 6 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft 4-0 in the prelim round before falling to the third-ranked Hawks.

Bartlett also was the school’s football coach for nine years before stepping down prior to the start of the 2018 season. On the gridiron, he amassed a 33-48 record. He has been a physical education teacher at BAHS 18 years.

“It feels really strange to be stepping down,” said the 43-year-old Bartlett. “I find myself walking around looking at the girls we have coming back and the holes that need to be filled and start running through my mind possible lineups, I start to get excited because of the talent we have coming back and the girls we have coming up, then I realize it's over.”

Bartlett and his family will move to Florida, a move put in motion when the family of Bartlett’s wife moved to The Sunshine State.

“We are tired of the long winters and cold and ready for the warmer climate," he said.

“It is sad, but with [my daughter and pitcher] Gia [Davila] graduating it is a good time for me to move on and spend time with my wife Melinda and my son Jacoby,” he said.

However, when one door closes, another usually opens. And for Bartlett, he can now focus on another dream of his as he has plans to captain his own charter boat. Bartlett has been an avid fisherman for years “and take people out all the time, [so I] decided why not make some money while having fun and meet new people.”

“Life is too short not to go after your dreams and goals,” he said. “You can always come home.”

To become a captain, Bartlett must get certified by the United States Coast Guard, which he plans to do once he gets to Florida.

Bartlett said while he is a ‘94 Hampden Academy graduate and originally from Newburgh, “I feel like I am a Belfast native.”

“The community and kids have been unreal and I am going to miss them a lot,” he said. “The kids that are in school now are the hardest to leave, especially ‘My Girls’ the softball team. A number of them I worked with since they were six or seven years old. It is hard leaving them but hope the things I have taught them over the years they use to be successful.”

Bartlett said, “I had teams that finished in the top of the league and we played for [Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B] championships and I have had teams that we struggled and only won a couple games, but yet each team was different and created special moments.”

He pointed out his team’s run in 2009 when, as the 14th and final seed in the region, upset heavy favorite No. 3 Winslow 6-5 in the prelims.

That game was highlighted by a steal of home plate with the score tied 5-5 in the sixth inning, when Lion runner Caroline Carr got a big lead at third base and motored to the plate as the Black Raider catcher threw the ball back to the pitching circle.

“That was definitely a highlight,” Bartlett said. “This season was very similar to that, but the little added piece to it was that my daughter was [in the pitching circle] and she was a huge asset to our success and run at the end of the year to get into the playoffs and then to beat Foxcroft Academy. The other special piece about this season was that the girls bet me that if they got to the second round of the playoffs this year I had to get a tattoo.”

Bartlett said his players “have drawn up a nice piece so I don’t forget where I came from and where my heart has been for 18 years.”

“It's been a long run and a great one and wouldn't trade it for anything.”