Guerin Going, Gone

  • Hartford Head Coach Troy Guerin applauds the defense during the third quarter against Woodstock. Hartford beat Woodstock at home on Monday night, January 9, 2017, with a final score of 43-19 bringing their season record to 3 wins, 2 losses thus far. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School girls varsity coach Troy Guerin talks to his players during their first practice of the season on Nov. 27, 2017 in Hartford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, June 30, 2018

White River Junction — Hartford High School is looking for a new varsity girls basketball coach for the seventh time in eight years.

Troy Guerin, the Hurricanes’ head coach for the last two winters, informed the school’s athletic department that he was stepping down earlier this month. The move caught Hartford athletic director Jeff Moreno by surprise.

Guerin called the resignation a difference of opinion.

“I enjoyed what I was doing,” Guerin said on Tuesday in a phone interview. “I love coaching. I loved working with the kids. But I felt like there was not enough of an emphasis on building skill than there was on winning games.”

Hartford’s succession of coaches began following the 2011-12 season when Steve Landon took over the Canes’ boys program. Ed Kehoe joined up for the 2012-13 season but was diagnosed with cancer and stepped down to concentrate on treatments. Kehoe was replaced by Bill Soule in 2013-14, then Chris Cook in 2014-15 before Guerin was hired in 2015. Dave Davis served as an interim coach during the 2015-16 season while Guerin tended to his ailing father.

Hiring Guerin was supposed to bring the Hartford program consistency at the top while marking the end of a years-long coaching carousel. Guerin, who cut his teeth with Lebanon High’s basketball program, led Hartford to a 19-24 record, including a .500 campaign (11-11) this past winter that included a home postseason contest for the first time since 2013.

The Canes eventually fell to Fair Haven in the VPA Division II quarterfinals. They last made a state semifinal in 2013, a loss to Mount Abraham one year after beating the Eagles in the D-II final for the Hartford’s only state girls basketball championship, according to VPA records.

“Hosting our first home playoff game and winning a playoff game … I can’t recall the last time Hartford hosted a playoff game before that,” said Guerin. “I thought we were making strides, moving forward. But one thing that lacks in the Upper Valley, with the exception of places like Lebanon and Hanover girls, is a lot of skill. Youth programs are more about winning than they are about skill.”

Moreno on Thursday refuted the notion that his department put any kind of emphasis on winning or losing over the growth of student-athletes.

“If that’s the impression he got from me, than that falls on my part,” he said. “First and foremost, we’re educators. We teach life lessons. We obviously want to win games, but we would never sacrifice sportsmanship in order to do so.”

Moreno added that it’s common for Hartford coaches to have different opinions on how to build their respective programs.

“I don’t know a single coach that is completely in line with what I have for ideas of developing a program,” he said. “That’s a huge part of my job is to engage in that conversation, connect with the youth program and their coaches and get our coaches interacting with the future talent coming up. … It’s ultimately the coach’s call. I’m fine with that.”

Guerin said a new coach is inheriting a team with plenty of potential. Jasmine Jenkins, last year’s freshman point guard, impressed Guerin in her inaugural season with the Canes. She averaged 5.4 points per game this winter.

“I think they’re going to be young,” Guerin said. “(Jenkins) did a heck of a job. She’s a great player, could play for any school, anywhere around here, and she’d fit right in. She’s also a really good point guard. For a new coach, that’s one less thing to worry about.”

Hartford lost five seniors to graduation, including top scorer Morgan White, who finished the season averaging 9.3 points per game. Megan Bushway (7.9), Corey Leiberman (7.6), Michaela Ricker (6.1) and Madison Druge (2.5) also graduated.

Moreno said the job has already been posted in-house and has gained some interest. He added that he’d like to have a new coach in place before the fall sports season begins in September.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.