Basketball hall-of-fame coach shoots in as Vinalhaven athletic directorNelson dribbles in as new director for athletes for island schools
Vinalhaven — One would be hard-pressed to find someone more qualified for a school athletic director's job than Sandy Nelson of Vinahaven.
The 64-year-old Nelson recently was named the high school and middle school athletic director, replacing Alan Lazaro, who resigned at the conclusion of the last last school year.
Lazaro will continue to coach the high school's girls varsity basketball team.
Nelson lived the majority of her life in Massachusetts, but has significant ties to the island.
“I grew up on Vinalhaven,” she said. “My father is from here, we grew up here and we moved from here in 1962, but we came back every summer.”
While she grew up on the island, her family eventually moved as she graduated from Marion High School in Worcester, Mass. in 1968. She went on to graduate from Worcester State College (now Worcester State University) in 1972 with a degree in history.
Nelson taught physical education and coached for “about 38 years” at David Prouty High School in Spencer, Mass., including coaching the 1999 girls basketball team to a state championship. She also coached at Leicester High School in Leicester, Mass. prior to her going to David Prouty.
She also is a 2013 inductee to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach for her contributions at David Prouty High School, and was inducted into the Worcester State University Hall of Fame and the Leicester Hall of Fame, the latter as a contributor.
Quite a résumé for an athletic director at schools on a Penobscot Bay island.
“I've been in athletics my whole life,” said Nelson. “I played basketball and softball in high school and college, and then after college for a while, but of course you get too old for that.”
She admitted that adjusting to the harsh winters on the island was difficult.
“When I retired, they hired me back to teach at the high school and I did the high school part-time for a little bit,” she said. “Since then I've just been up here. Last winter was the first winter I spent up here since 1962 and, holy smokes, did I forget what the wind was like.”
Despite the sometimes bitter temperatures in Maine, on the island and travel across the water by ferry boat, Nelson said she could not imagine a better situation than the one that played out when she was offered the position as athletic director.
“Vinalhaven has great kids, and it's a pleasure to work with them,” she said. “They're really absolutely wonderful. The opportunity came up and I said, 'Why not? I have the time.' So I threw my name in the ring and I got the job.”