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Mount Abe boys’ hoop coach opts to step down

BRISTOL — Citing increasing job commitments and the long winter basketball season, Mount Abraham Union High School boys’ basketball coach Mike Estey has decided to step down after three seasons.
Estey’s tenure was not marked by great win-loss records, but Mount Abe Co-Athletic Director Jeff Stetson said the results were largely beyond the coach’s control.
Stetson called Estey’s work successful in other regards.
“I thought Mike did a great job in really working with the kids that we had in trying to push them and develop them into the best players they could be,” Stetson said. “The way he ran the program was something the community could be proud of, in that he ran it with class and tried to instill some pride and hard work in the kids.”
Estey fulfilled important goals during his three years, Stetson said, such as teaching student-athletes things that “we like sports to teach when winning and losing is coming up on the short end of stick. They learned a lot of life lessons about how to move onto the next thing and setting small goals and trying to get better at things. And I think all the kids had an enjoyable experience playing for him.”
Estey, who plans to continue to coach the American Legion baseball team he has led to one state championship and eight playoff berths in nine years, said it was not an easy decision to step down from the basketball job.
“It was very tough. I thought about it for quite a while,” he said.
The biggest factors may have been the increasing demands of his job as St. Michael’s College’s facilities supervisor and the hours of Vermont’s basketball season, which runs from December to February.
“It came down to the long season, and the commitment to work, it just seems to be getting more and more here every year,” said Estey, adding, “I have great flexibility, but some nights stuff is going on, and it’s hard to just get up and walk away.”
Coaching, he said, means “six days a week, and then you’re thinking about it on Sundays,” plus weekday bus trips to away games on nights before he must be on the job at 5 a.m.
Estey had also been assisted for the past three winters by his son Chad, a member of the Eagles’ 2007 Division II championship team. But Chad Estey has taken a new job in Burlington that his father said means he cannot work with the basketball program this winter.   
“It would have been almost impossible for him to help out, so that was kind of a big part of it,” Estey said. “I enjoyed working with him, and he did a great job.”
Finally, Estey said he believes his successor — he hopes JV Coach Martin Clark will be considered for the post — will be in a position to begin to turn things around.
“I think things are changing. We’ve got a good nucleus of juniors coming in, and a (good) sophomore class and freshman class,” he said. “So it just seemed like the right time.”
Estey said he enjoyed working with Clark, freshman coaches Ernie Senecal and Eric Wedge, and Co-Athletic Directors Jeff and Mary Stetson.
He said he also appreciated his time “interacting with the kids, that part with it. The competitiveness of it, the high school sports part of it, that whole thing of being involved, just trying to help kids out. It was a privilege to do it.”
Estey said he will look back on the past three winters at Mount Abe with no regrets.
“I enjoyed it immensely. I had a great time,” Estey said. “I enjoyed the kids. I enjoyed the whole experience.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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