Jessica Witham, who coached the Orono High School girls basketball team to 128 wins in nine seasons and led them to three Eastern Maine Class C basketball championship game appearances in the last five years, has resigned.
Witham would not discuss the reasons for her resignation.
“I would rather not comment on it at this time,” said Witham, who submitted her resignation to RSU 26 Superintendent Joanne C. Harriman on Wednesday morning.
Orono High School athletic director Mike Archer said he learned of her resignation Wednesday morning and will begin the search for a coach in the near future.
Witham’s last eight Orono teams qualified for postseason play and six of them made it at least as far as the quarterfinals.
Her sixth-seeded Red Riots were 13-5 during the regular season last winter to earn the sixth seed but were upset by No. 11 Washington Academy of East Machias 43-37 in their preliminary game.
Orono had reached the Eastern Maine title game in the two previous seasons but lost to Calais each year.
Witham’s resignation came as a surprise to rival coaches.
“I’m very surprised,” said Central of Corinth coach Diane Rollins. “She did a great job with that program. She also put in a lot of work with them during the summer.”
“She put a lot of time and effort into the program,” said Houlton coach Shawn Graham. “She did a very good job and was very successful.
“Orono was always a top contender,” added Graham.
Witham and husband Ryan, one of her assistant coaches, have two daughters: Katelyn, who turns 3 next month, and 2-month-old Raegan. Ryan’s daughter Emily was a freshman for the Red Riots.
The former Jessica Libby was elected to the Orono High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 after being a three-sport standout. She helped lead Orono to state Class B championships in 1996 and 1998 and was a finalist for the state’s Miss Basketball Award.
She went on to the University of Southern Maine in Gorham where she played four years of basketball and two years of softball. She played in the 2000 NCAA Division III basketball championship game and was an All-Little East first-team choice as a senior.
Witham ranked in the top 25 in six different basketball statistical categories at USM when she graduated in 2003 with a degree in sociology.
Witham spent two years as an assistant at USM under Gary Fifield before returning to Orono where she became the physical education teacher at the middle school.
She was the JV basketball coach at Orono for one year and was also an assistant soccer coach before succeeding Tim Baude as the varsity basketball coach.
The new coach will inherit an Orono team that will graduate just three seniors and will return several seasoned veterans.