With the start of the 2010 high school softball season mere weeks away, the two-time defending Eastern Class B champions are in search of a new coach.

Medomak Valley coach Glenn Barbour, who helped guide the Panthers to two straight regional titles the last two seasons, stepped down last month as the team’s mentor after five seasons.

That will mean both Medomak Valley’s baseball and softball teams will have new coaches this season, as longtime Rockland baseball coach Richie Oliver is the Panthers’ new baseball coach replacing Rodney Genthner.

A new Panther softball coach has not yet been hired.

The 48-year-old Barbour compiled a 64-31 record over his five seasons as varsity softball coach, including bringing home regional titles in his final two seasons.

Barbour said that his decision to leave the team was “incredibly difficult.”

“You don’t want to bail out on [the kids], but there’s never an easy time to do it really,” he said. “But as far as winning [regional] championships and everything, that’s always been a bonus to me. The three months that we get to work with the kids is always just a lot of fun and that’s what we do it for. No matter what, we’ve always had a good time.”

Perhaps more impressively than the two regional titles is the fact that Barbour guided both Panther teams to the state finals from the No. 8 seed in the region, upending top-seeded Hermon 5-2 in the 2008 quarterfinals and No. 1 Mattanawcook Academy 4-3 in 11 innings this past season.

Medomak Valley defeated Winslow and Erskine Academy of South China in 2008 and 2009 in the Eastern Class B championship games, before falling to favored Fryeburg Academy in both state finals.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Glenn,” said Medomak Valley athletic director Matt Lash. “He did it for the right reasons and put the kids first. He always gave of his time and would even go above and beyond to work on the facilities, among other things. I know this decision was very difficult for Glenn. He cared a lot about these kids. Glenn, his staff, and the girls worked very hard to accomplish what they did. You will not find another team that went in the No. 8 seed two years in a row and made it to the state championship game.”

Barbour has been coaching in the Waldoboro area for more than 20 years and has been a head coach in the Waldoboro Little League, as well as assistant coach for the former A.D. Gray Middle School (Waldoboro) softball team and was an assistant to then high school varsity softball coach Todd Sanders before taking over for Sanders in 2005.

Barbour’s first year on the job the Panthers played in Class A, where he led Medomak Valley to a 9-7 mark before seeing them it fall to Cony of Augusta in the Eastern Class A preliminary playoffs. The next four years in Class B saw steady play from the Panthers, finishing with a regular-season record of 11-5 in the first three seasons and a record of 12-4 in his final season.

He added that he left the Panther squad “on real good terms” and did not rule out returning to coaching down the road.

Barbour, who is self-employed, cited that as his number one reason for stepping down as Medomak Valley’s coach.

“I’m self-employed and I’m not a self-employed [guy] that has guys working underneath him,” he said. “When I stop, the money stops. And every single day, no matter what, I have to get done at noon or 1 o’clock to do the [coaching] job.”

On top of being the varsity coach, Barbour’s responsibilities trickled right down to Little League, holding clinics and working with the middle school players, which can be time consuming.

Barbour has many jobs that bring in his annual income, such as carpentry, clamming and chopping wood, depending on the season.

He said it took him eight or nine months of wrestling with the decision to stop coaching before bringing his decision to Lash.

Barbour still plans to attend plenty of Panther softball games this season, and hopes the situation could possibly arise where he could “pop into a practice or two” from time to time and work on some things with the student-athletes.

“I wouldn’t want to infringe on anyone else’s coaching capacity without them wanting me there,” he said. “But it’d be nice to be able to think that I could go out a day here or a day there and throw some bunting stations or go do some throwing if I could help out.”

However, according to Barbour, his leaving the program certainly does not mean Medomak Valley’s reign as two-time defending Eastern Class B champions will come to an end.

“They can go just as far this year, I believe,” he said. “If those girls want to go as far as they’ve gone in the last two years, they can do it again this year as far as I’m concerned. Every year we’ve seemed to fill those spots that we’ve lost, whether it’s positions or bats or whatever. Somehow we always seem to fill somebody else’s shoes.”

And now, someone will have to fill Barbour’s shoes. According to Lash, no decision on Barbour’s replacement has yet been made, but Lash hopes to fill the position in the coming weeks.

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