ELLSWORTH — Until this week, Katye Lacasse didn’t realize just how much Ellsworth soccer gear she had.
As she was packing up some items in her office at Ellsworth High School, Lacasse, the school’s head girls’ soccer coach of nine seasons, found herself overwhelmed with items that had accumulated in her decade at the school. From old clothing to team posters, Lacasse found herself digging through a sea of maroon and white items.
“It was a lot,” Lacasse said. “You go through everything, and all the years of stuff really makes you look back. It was a hard thing to have to do.”
Lacasse, who is moving to Tennessee this summer, still has a few weeks left as a health teacher before she walks out the doors of Ellsworth High School for the last time. Yet when the girls’ soccer team resumes activities this summer, it will have a new leader at the helm after Lacasse announced her resignation from the position Thursday.
An experienced player at both the high school level at George Stevens Academy and the college level at St. Joseph’s College, Lacasse began her coaching career as the head coach of the Deering girls’ team from 1997-2001. She would join Ellsworth’s program as the junior varsity coach in 2011 before making the step back to the varsity level a year later.
Almost immediately, Lacasse’s pedigree produced success for the Ellsworth program. The Eagles went 11-5 and beat Foxcroft 3-0 in their playoff game as part of a 2012 campaign in which they came back from a 2-0 deficit to claim a 3-2 victory over eventual Eastern Maine champion Hermon.
“Ellsworth had never beaten Hermon before, and we haven’t beaten them since,” Lacasse said. “It was such a big win for us that you would have thought we had just won states. I remember thinking then that I was so honored that [then-Athletic Director Jay Brown] picked me.”
Recently, Lacasse’s Ellsworth teams had improved bit by bit with each passing season. After going winless in 2016, the Eagles won three games in 2017, broke a six-year playoff drought in 2018, won their first playoff game in seven years in 2019 and produced a winning record of 5-3-1 this past season against a daunting schedule.
COVID-19 made navigating the 2020 season a challenge for Lacasse and a roster that was Ellsworth’s most experienced in years. Yet even with the added difficulties associated with playing during a pandemic, a senior class of 12 players helped make a season that would be their coach’s last a memorable one on the pitch.
“I think we really took a step back and learned to enjoy the opportunity more and to enjoy each other more,” Lacasse said. “It was great to be competitive, but it was even better to know we left everything we had and gave it all just to make the season happen.”
Lacasse has been involved in sports and the community at large not only in Ellsworth but in Blue Hill, where she lives with her husband, Jim, and sons Colin, Colby and Cohen. Lacasse and her husband, Jim, founded Blue Hill Soccer Club in 2007 and also works as a Realtor and as Blue Hill’s town recreation director.
In recent years, the younger members of the Lacasse family have made their own marks on Ellsworth’s soccer programs. Lacasse’s niece, Julie Mattson, had played for the outgoing coach’s varsity squad for the past three seasons, and her eldest son, Colin, was the top scorer for the boys’ team this past season as a senior.
“You look at how old those kids have gotten, and it’s one of those things where you can’t believe how the time has flown by,” Lacasse said. “I feel like just yesterday that Colin and [my youngest son] Colby were ball boys, and now they’re graduating, and Julie is almost a senior. It’s amazing just how fast it’s gone.”
Ellsworth Athletic Director Josh Frost announced the news of Lacasse’s resignation Thursday, the day an official job posting was made regarding the position. He added that the school “[hopes] to have someone in place to work with the girls for summer soccer.”
Lacasse said she still plans to host one last Ignite Soccer skills camp with Down East Family YMCA Youth Sports Director Shane Lowell before she leaves this summer. As for her time at Ellsworth High School, she feels nothing but grateful.
“I’ve had two athletic directors, Jay and now Josh, who were tremendous supporters of girls’ athletics, and I’ve had a great job in the Ellsworth School Department,” Lacasse said. “All I can say is that I’ve been lucky.”