University of Maine women’s basketball head coach Amy Vachon has announced the addition of legendary University of Southern Maine head coach, Gary Fifield, to her staff. Fifield will serve as a temporary assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.
“I am very excited to announce the addition of Gary Fifield to our staff,” Vachon said. “Coach Fifield’s coaching resume speaks for itself. He is a proven teacher, mentor and coach. In our conversations about the possibility, it became very clear to me that he would be a perfect addition to our staff. His experience coaching at all levels of basketball will add a level of expertise that will benefit our entire program. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Fifield and his wife, Mary, to our Black Bear family.”
Fifield has been connected to the state of Maine basketball circuit for many years, serving 27 seasons as the head coach of the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball team. While at USM, Fifield guided his teams to a 660-137 record, earning 20 shared or outright Little East Conference regular season titles and 18 LEC tournament championships along the way. Fifield’s teams competed in postseason play in all 27 seasons in which he was at the helm.
“I am very excited to join Coach Vachon, her staff and players for the 2018-19 season,” Fifield said. “Coach Vachon has shown that she is one of the top young head coaches in Division I women’s basketball. When meeting with Amy, I could sense that her energy, positive personality and work ethic are contagious. UMaine women’s basketball has a rich tradition and wonderful support from a loyal fan base. I look forward to being a part of this program”
Out of his 27 years at USM, Fifield guided his teams to 23 NCAA National Tournament bids, advancing to the Sweet 16 fifteen times and to the Elite 8 nine times while making Final Four appearances in 1988, 1998, 2000, 2005 and 2006. Three of his Final Four teams (1998, 2000, 2006) went on to earn a spot in the National Championship Game.
Individually, Fifield was named the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2005. Fifield has earned numerous Hall of Fame honors. In 2003, Fifield was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame before being named to the Little East Conference Hall of Fame in 2012. Fifield, a 14 time Little Each Conference Coach of the Year recipient, rounded out his Hall of Fame selections with inductions to the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Fifield’s service and dedication to basketball in the state of Maine is second to none. For his efforts, he was honored with the 2007 Contributor of the Year Award by the Maine Basketball Coaches Association for outstanding service to the game of basketball in the Pine Tree State. In 2006, Fifield was honored by the Maine Sports Hall of Fame with the Presidents’ Award given for outstanding achievement and leadership in sports in the State of Maine.
Fifield compiled a stunning 83-percent winning percentage during his time at USM. Over his stints at USM, Fifield mentored two National Player of the Year honorees, had five players named WBCA/Kodak All-Americans and guided 14 different players to WBCA/Kodak Regional All-American status.
“Having a staff opening in late August is very difficult timing,” added Vachon. It was extremely important to me that we bring in the right person for our players and our program and not feel rushed in filling that void. In my conversations with Coach Fifield, it was clear that he could add a lot of value to our program this season. Although this hire will only be for one year, it will allow our players and coaches to work with and learn from one of the best in the game.”
One of the most distinguished individual honors of his coaching career came in 1993 when he was the lone Division III women’s coach selected to serve on the staff for the West team at the Olympic Festival in San Antonio.
Following his 27 years at USM, which came in two stints (1987-2008; 2009-15), Fifield joined the Appalachian State staff as an assistant to the head women’s basketball coach. After a year at Appalachian State, Fifield returned to Maine where he guided the Cheverus high school varsity girls’ team during the 2017-18 campaign.
Fifield began his coaching career at Canaan Memorial high school in Canaan, Vt. where he guided the varsity boys’ team from 1974-77. He moved on to South Royalton high school (Vermont) as the varsity boys’ coach from 1977-82, and again in 1986-87, compiling a 74-34 mark. In between his time at South Royalton, Fifield served as an assistant men’s coach at Dartmouth College and the men’s head coach at Vermont Technical College for three seasons.
A 1974 graduated of the University of Vermont with a B.S. in physical education, Fifield also earned his master’s in educational administration in 1982 from Vermont.
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