High school basketball

Court pivot: Coach Breen switches gears, decides to lead Mariner girls

He guided Rockland District High School, Oceanside boys in past, replaces Bragg as head of girls program
By Mark Haskell | Oct 11, 2019
Courtesy of: Breen family Matt Breen.

Rockland — After 15 years coaching high school boys varsity basketball in the Midcoast, Matt Breen stood at a fork in the road.

And Breen, who was a 1,000-point scorer at Rockland District High School and Husson University in Bangor, did what he has done thousands of times before on the hardwood:

He pivoted.

After many days of consideration, Breen resigned his position as Oceanside High School’s boys varsity basketball coach, and accepted the position as the school’s girls varsity basketball coach.

“It was a difficult decision,” said the 40-year-old Breen, who began coaching at 24 years old. “I mean, I’ve got 15 years of my life into the boys basketball program. That’s over a third of my life. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into that and enjoyed all the years I’ve spent coaching with the boys. And I would have still enjoyed that moving forward, but the opportunity opened up.”

In 15 years of coaching boys varsity basketball, Breen amassed a record of 176-115 with multiple Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships and one Class A North regional title.

In his eight years at Oceanside and seven years prior at Rockland District High School (before RDHS and Georges Valley High School combined to form Oceanside), Breen’s teams qualified for the regional playoffs in 11 of those 15, including all eight at Oceanside.

The opportunity opened up days prior when former Oceanside girls varsity coach Sam Bragg resigned her position on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

And, off in the distance, Breen has two daughters, ages 12 and 9. Daughters who are heavily involved in basketball, and daughters he thoroughly wanted to be there for once their times come at the high school level.

Breen said “it seemed like perfect timing to step in and apply for the job.”

“I was having a conversation with my wife and she made a comment something to the affect of my daughter [Bailey] only has six more years before she’s out of the house,” he said. “And that really put in perspective for me the thought of ... I really don’t want to miss her high school career. And I really don’t want to give up coaching. And this was the best opportunity to be able to see her play and for me to be able to continue to work with kids and develop them as basketball players.”

Breen added the decision was not made because he had aspirations to coach his daughter, but rather due to the fact he did not want to miss out on the many moments as a father.

Traditionally, in high school basketball, when a boys team is at home, the girls team travels on the road, and vice versa. High school doubleheaders do happen from time to time, but they are not the norm.

“I sit around with my dad, and he never missed a game," Breen said. "We’re at a sporting event or watching TV and he’ll say, ‘Remember that game [you played]?’ And we’ll start talking about something that happened in the game. I don’t want to not be part of all that. I was coming to grips with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to chip in on those stories. Or when they’re telling them to Bailey’s kids down the road I’d have it all secondhand from text messages or whatever. I want to be there for highs and lows. I want to be there for all of it.”

However, Breen, with his deeply competitive nature, wants to win. “I wouldn’t have made the move if I didn’t think it was the right situation and that the girls don’t have a ton of potential.”

The veteran coach had hoped to have the opportunity to sit down with his boys players and share the news, but with the long holiday weekend — and given the fact it would have put OHS more days behind beginning its search for Breen’s successor, that was not possible.

“If this was a normal day, I’d have met with them right after school,” he said. “I really enjoyed the time I spent with the boys program. I’m going to be moving on, but a lot of the kids I coached are still going to be there and I want them to have success and a good experience moving forward.”

While this will be Breen’s first stint coaching a girls varsity program, he does not anticipate a learning curve switching from the boys. “It’s just basketball,” he said.

“You’re still teaching fundamentals and execution, adjustments and stuff like that,” he said. “That’s how I see it moving forward with the varsity girls. It’s going to be basketball. Xs and Os and coming together as a team to achieve a goal.”

Oceanside athletic director Molly Bishop said a new boys basketball coach will be hired “as soon as a suitable applicant is found.”

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