Coach Gavin Kane has his new team poised for a run in the Western Maine Class B Girls Tournament.
JAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Spruce Mountain Varsity Girl's Basketball Coach Gavin Kane wasn't quite sure what to expect when he returned to the ranks of high school hoops in Maine's Western Mountains.
Coach Kane won a record 11 straight Western Maine Championships and 6 gold balls as the head coach of the Dirigo Cougar girl's teams in nearby Dixfield in the late 1990's and early 2000's.
The past two seasons, he worked as an assistant coach under Cindy Blodgett at the University of Maine.
"It was a dream come true for me," said Kane, who admits his stay in Orono was shorter than he had hoped. "For many years, I had wanted to experience the college level."
When Blodgett was fired, Kane was let go, too.
While he worked at Maine, he commuted from his home in Wilton to campus, spending hours in his car away from his family. When the job at Spruce Mountain became available he decided to get back to doing what he loves most, teaching the fundamentals of basketball to kids.
His first challenge as coach, bring together players who have spent their entire lives competing for arch rival high school teams located just a few miles apart. Spruce Mountain formed when Jay and Livermore Falls combined their sports teams enroute to creating one high school to serve the two communities.
"If I didn't have any prior knowledge about the kids coming into the situation this year at Spruce Mountain," stated Kane. "I would never have known we had kids from two campuses."
It did not take him long to get the kids playing on the same page.
"We have outstanding chemistry, and to see that happen and occur in less than a year to me is unbelievable," he said. "The group has been a pleasure to coach, and that has been a big part of it."
Bringing his team together has not been the biggest challenge the legendary coach has faced this season. Cancer has.
"I am still currently going through bladder cancer treatments, with really no idea as to what the future may bring," explained Kane.
He says he is reminded of his illness everyday, but doesn't dwell on it.
"I really look at everything as a challenge," he said. "I've always been that way, and I actually look at this battle with cancer probably from the standpoint of an athlete and a coach. I mean, to me it's a fight. I despise losing."
Kane says being closer to home has helped him in this fight, and he appreciates the support he's received from his family and his new school community.
"Unless the good lord says differently," he exclaimed, "I don't plan on losing this battle with cancer."