I should preface this column by stating that I’ve known Lynn and Mike Coutts virtually my entire life. Mike’s cousin, Steve (known in FTS circles as the “Godfather of Fill the Steins”), is married to my oldest sister. From the time I was a young boy, I’d see Lynn and Mike at birthday parties, other family functions and, of course, at UMaine football tailgates.
Even though I was pretty young and only saw them a few times a year, it was hard not to associate Lynn and Mike with UMaine athletics. Mike was a member of UMaine baseball teams that reached the College World Series and was the program’s Associate Head Coach under the legendary John Winkin. Lynn was, unquestionably, the greatest pitcher in the history of UMaine softball. She held every major pitching record and has rightly been enshrined in the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame.
Over the last several years, I’d lost touch with Lynn and Mike as I moved out of state and they moved on to other athletic-based ventures, including youth instruction and high school coaching. In their hearts, however, they are always and forever Black Bears. That’s why, in 2011, Lynn was selected to coach the team she once led as a player and, one year later, why she brought her husband, Mike, into the fold as her full-time assistant. It was time to bring Black Bear pride, a legacy of winning, and a sense of family to the UMaine softball program.
“We’ve got seven new players coming in this year and we’re two years ahead on recruiting,” Lynn told me when I had the chance to chat with her at this past Monday’s UMaine Softball golf fundraiser at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. “Mike and I alternate (recruiting) weekends. It gives us a chance to each spend time with (our) kids and also see what each other thinks of new players.”
It just goes to show that UMaine athletics is a family affair for Mr. & Mrs. Coutts. To further illustrate that point, Lynn remarked to Monday’s golf participants, a group of over 50 donors comprised largely of Mike’s friends and former baseball teammates, that one recruit is choosing UMaine Softball because of the “father figure” presence Mike provides.
It’s a perfect example of why this husband and wife coaching duo is going to work: Mike has no problem playing second fiddle to his wife (something a lot of husbands wouldn’t do) and Lynn has no problem turning to Mike’s baseball friends to build support for the softball program. Lynn and Mike don’t care about their egos. They don’t care who gets the credit. They only care about the kids, the program and, in Lynn’s words at the post-tournament banquet, bringing “the same level of prestige to UMaine Softball that the Baseball program has.”
Despite a frustrating 2012-2013 campaign that saw Lynn and Mike finish their first season as a coaching duo with a record of 8-39, I left Monday’s golf event excited and optimistic about the future of UMaine Softball. Lynn and Mike understand this is a process and building something from the ground up takes time, energy, and passion. Take my word for it, the Coutts coaching duo has all three of those characteristics in spades. Something special is getting set to happen with UMaine Softball. If you have a chance, take in a game this season. Support the team. You’ll be supporting a winner. It may not happen right away, but it’s going to happen. I’ve known Lynn and Mike almost my entire life. I’ve always known them as winners. I wouldn’t dare start betting against them now.
News & Notes from the UMaine Softball Golf Outing:
*Prizes were awarded to, among others, the foursomes with the low gross and net scores in Monday’s tournament. Low gross winners were Frank Jordan, Mike Williams, Mark Plummer and Billy Brewster. Low net winners were Seth Woodcock, Craig Jarvis, Ed Pickett and Joe Alvarez.
*In addition to the money raised for UMaine Softball from over 50 registration fees, there was a post-tournament banquet auction, where items like a baseball signed by Curt Schilling, New England Patriots tickets, and a photo of Ted Williams and Rocky Marciano at Fenway Park were sold to the highest bidder, with all proceeds going to the softball program.
*Monday’s tournament was hosted by Martindale Country Club in Auburn, which hosts the annual Shawn Walsh Memorial Golf Classic and also holds a special place in the hearts of Lynn and Mike Coutts. “This is where Mike and I got married 25 years ago,” Lynn told me during our mid-round conversation.
From left to right, “The Godfather of Fill The Steins” Steve Coutts, “The Commissioner of Fun” Glen Reed, Scarborough HS head baseball coach Ryan Jones, and Colby College head baseball coach Dale Plummer enjoy the day and the view from the picturesque 9th tee at Martindale Country Club.