It's had to believe, but Eugene Hunter, better known as Gene, isn't through coaching just yet.
He is 85, one of the legendary high school basketball coaches in state history, and he still feels he has more to give.
Hunter, who won state championships at Morse High in Bath and South Portland (and at Portsmouth, NH, as well), is teaching Scarborough Middle Schoolers how to play the game these days.
And he enjoys it as much now as he ever did. "I was destined to be a coach and I still enjoy it," he told the Portland Press Herald's Tom Chard. "I feel I still have something to offer. I'm probably a better coach than I was 30 years ago. I know I'm wiser and mellower."
Hunter was an outstanding basketball and baseball player at both Presque Isle High School and Colby College, where he played for Lee Williams. In fact, he captained both the baseball and basketball teams at Colby.
His coaching career began at Houlton in 1948 where his team went 6-16. Then it was on to Wilton where he began to build his impressive coaching resume. He stayed there until 1953 and one of the team's biggest victories came against Class L Waterville. His first team won seven games, his last two 18 each.
He went to Morse in 1953 and won a state championship in 1956, beating Bangor 52-33. The team went 24-2 that year and finished third in the New England tournament, beating Connecticut and New Hampshire. His teams qualified for the tournament six times in seven years and won two Western Maine titles.
From Bath, Maine, he went to Portsmouth, NH in 1960. His team won the 1961 Class L state title. His three-year total was 48-14.
He returned to Maine in 1963, taking over at South Portland. In 1971, his team won the state championship. Hunter retired from coaching in 1974, taking over as athletic director at South Portland, but continued to work in basketball, particularly at the middle school levels.
He not only teaches his players the same skills and drills that he was taught as a player - in other words, he's strict and demands discipline, like making his players tuck in their shirts - but also teaches them life-long lessons.
Those were the same lessons he taught his young men at his various high schools. In a tribute to him in 1995, Dave Carmody, who played for Hunter at South Portland, is quoted as saying, "Gene taught us the fundamentals and the principle of playing as a unit, and did it well. More importantly, as I discovered later, he taught us how to be adults by his example."
Hunter has never worried about his age being a problem with the younger players. He likes to point out that he has 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Hunter and his wife, Mary, live in Scarborough. They have seven children: Mark, Allen, Marcia, George, Paul, Stephanie, and Dawn, and, as noted, plenty of younger children running around.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.