When an opportunity comes your way that you have been waiting a long time for, how do you not step out on that limb and go for it. That’s exactly what Coach Kevin Millington did when he heard they would be hiring for a new varsity basketball coach in South Portland. South Portland is Kevin’s home; it’s where he grew up, went to school and currently lives with his wife. Millington is very excited for this opportunity.
Some of his earliest memories are watching the 1979 South Portland state championship team. He remembers delivering newspapers with his brother, “I was not even seven years old when we delivered the paper to Bob and Bonnie Brown's house, their son Brett was in the garage going through an intense ball handling workout. My brother and I were so scared we would just throw the paper and leave quickly.”
Brett has gone on to do some great things in his life, he is the currently the 76ers coach.
“I fell in love with the game back then, basketball was king there. All I ever wanted to do was play for South Portland when I was older,” Millington said. “I think that is a passion that has driven me to stay in the game all of these years. When I took the Windham job in 1997, I figured I would someday go to South Portland, but after a while, I fell in love with Windham. But South Portland is home, has been and probably always will be.”
Coach Millington just finished his 18th season as the varsity boys basketball coach for Windham; hired in April of 1997. Millington was initially the Windham seventh grade basketball coach in 1994, and then the ninth grade coach in 1995 and 1996.
Coach Millington listed some of his favorite memories from coaching the boys teams and with so many years under his belt there were a few moments that stood out to him, here are his top seven:
1. “ I guess the first moment would be my first year as the seventh grade coach when Windham came back from 13 points down with two minutes left in the game to beat Scarborough. Pat McDonough tossed in a three-quarter court shot to win the game. We also won the league championship.”
2. Coach Millington’s stated his first varsity win was special. “We trailed by 16 at the start of the fourth, Jeff Duarte had 16 points in the fourth to win the game.”
3. “The night of my father’s wake Windham faced Deering and won the game by four points. The whole night was surreal. That is where I was given a plaque with a quote from my Dad, all of the guys on the team came to the funeral. I will never forget that.”
4. The night Mike Floyd scored his 50th point in the 2003 season. “We decided to see if Mike could win the league scoring title for a season. He needed every one of those points that night.” The game was against Bonny Eagle. His teammates really bought in to this and so did the crowd.
5. Another moment was at the Gorham game in 2010. The majority of the crowd along with both teams and their coaches were wearing the tie dye shirts that were created to support Jackson Taylor's Dad. Mr. Taylor was heading down south for some experimental treatment for ALS. The family didn't have much money or a place to stay and he was going to be there for one month. “Our staff wanted to help so I sent an email to parents asking if they could donate $10 or what they were able in order to purchase a Visa gift card to allow Mr. Taylor to get gas and food.” That email spiraled out of control. “We ended up getting the family close to $14,000 (which they needed every penny as they had exhausted it all in the flight). “The donations were so outstanding that another plane ticket was donated so that Jackson could go down and spend time with his dad. A condo was donated for them to stay. I think that was when I realized how special of a community Windham is.”
6. Another great moment was when James Blanchard won the team MVP (voted on by his teammates), the Gary Randall Award and the Spirit of the Game Award. James is autistic. “He taught us so much about the joy of basketball. I think of James all the time. The team had lost Nolan Allen who had won the league MVP the year before to a torn ACL. The team didn't have a great record at the end of the season but it was one of the most enjoyable seasons as a coach to me because of James.”
7. “Certainly having my last game of this past season with Andrew Tanguay when he stole the show with a steal and a 3-point shot at the end of the game was a moment I will always remember. Andrew also has special needs but having a player bring the entire expo to a standing ovation is pretty special.”
Coach Millington would like to be remembered in the Windham community as someone who really cared about his players. There is nothing he cherishes more than the relationship he has with former players. Millington said “he hears from them all the time.” Some have coached with him, some live away but always stop by school or his house to say hello when they are home. Many often text or reach out to check in with him. Last winter Millington went to Shawn Warren's 30th birthday party where he was able to chat and catch up with a bunch of former players and they told and shared stories all night.
We had over 40 former players come back for an alumni game a few years ago, that was a great memory to have been a part of.
When asked what he feels that he has learned from the kids he has coached and will be taking with him, his response was: “To be honest. I think over the years that is what the kids have wanted the most.” When Milling heard of the opportunity at South Portland and knew he would be applying, he said, “I tried to be honest with the current guys when the South Portland job came up. I hope they understand because these guys mean a lot to me.” Millington believes that playing basketball should be a positive experience regardless of the outcome of the games. He knows not every kid who ever played for Windham has had a positive experience but it is always his goal.
Besides the idea of coaching for his home team another key factor in Millington’s decision was his home life. Millington and his wife are adopting a boy and being closer to home is important to them. This child has brought more joy than they could ever have thought possible.
When Coach Millington faces Windham this coming season as the new coach for South Portland, he said, “It will be weird, especially if the game is at Windham.”
Millington will continue as a teacher in the Windham School Department where he will still interact with the guys from the team. “It will be hard to compete against a group of guys that you absolutely want to see succeed at the highest level possible. I will be rooting for them all season long.” Coach Millington is also very grateful for the support the school, parents, and the community has given him over the years.
Millington is glad he is leaving the coaching position on good terms all around and that he can come back, see and talk to the people that he considers friends.