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Wells’ girls’ basketball coach Abbott resigns after 16 seasons

Wells High girls’ basketball Coach Don Abbott talks with his players during a practice in February 2020. The Warriors won the Class B state title that season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Don Abbott, who led Wells High to the 2020 Class B girls’ basketball state championship and created a program that has raised nearly $300,000 for breast cancer patients, is stepping down as team’s coach after 16 years.

“I just felt the time was right, personally and professionally. We know the program is in a good place,” said Abbott, 48, who is in his first year as an assistant principal at Wells Junior High, where he taught fifth-graders for 23 years.

Abbott’s teams reached the Class B tournament in 13 of 15 seasons (no tournament was held in 2021) and reached the regional final twice (2014 and 2020). This winter, Wells went 18-2 and was the top seed in the Class B South tournament, where it was upset by York in the semifinal.

The 2020 team beat Yarmouth in the regional final and then beat Hermon, 34-26, to win the state title. It is the school’s only state championship in a girls’ sport.

“That was a very hard working and special group,” Abbott said. “For those girls to accomplish that that was fantastic. Being the first was something the girls were cognizant of and we were happy to be able to be part of it as coaches.”

On Friday, Abbott and varsity assistant coach Pierce Cole told players they planned to resign. Abbott, Cole and Kevin Fox, Wells’ softball coach, have been together on the Wells’ basketball staff since Abbott took over in 2006. Laney Yeomelakis joined the staff about five years ago.

Abbott’s resignation is expected to be made official at the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District board meeting on Wednesday, said Wells Athletic Director Pat Moody.

“When he took over the program, if you made the tournament it was a successful season,” said Moody. “Then it progressed to not just making the tournament but win a game, and now it’s a contender almost every single year for a state championship. He’s really elevated the program from where it was to where it is.”

Paul True, the girls’ basketball coach at Lake Region, said Abbott “has built that program from the grassroots up. What he’s done with the community and in his program he goes far beyond the wins and losses. ”

While building Wells into a consistent contender was a goal, Abbott said he is most proud of creating Shootin’ for a Cure, a fundraiser involving girls from elementary school through the varsity team. In its first 10 years the program raised over $270,000. In 2019, York Hospital dedicated the renovated Wells Breast Care Center in the team’s honor.

The 2020 event raised an additional $23,000. Because of pandemic restrictions and safety concerns, Shootin’ for a Cure was not held the past two seasons.

“I was in eighth grade when it started. It was such a wonderful experience” said Nicki Moody, 26, a senior point guard on the 2014 regional runner-up squad and now a nurse at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Coach Abbott – he’ll always been Coach Abbott to me – he cared about us as athletes but he always cared about our personal growth, our academics, and being part of the community and giving back.”

Moody, meanwhile, confirmed Monday he will not return for a second season as Wells’ athletic director. A 1983 Wells High graduate, he is a former boys’ basketball and golf coach at Kennebunk High, and a math teacher, Moody is in his first year as an athletic director.

“That’s official, as of last month,” Moody said. “I’m just going back to the classroom. It wasn’t a great job for me.”

Moody said he has no plans to return to high school coaching.

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