Presque Isle coach Terry Cummings reacts to a play during the Class B North quarterfinal on Feb. 19. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — After 11 years of coaching Wildcat basketball at Presque Isle High School, Terry Cummings has decided to hang up his whistle.

He becomes the second varsity basketball coach to step down this spring. Last week, longtime girls coach Jeff Hudson announced he was retiring from the post after 23 seasons.

Cummings has coached boys varsity basketball for 11 years and has been the varsity softball coach for nine years at Presque Isle High School. Over those years, he accumulated a record of 109-96 in basketball and 68-70 in softball.

He began a stellar career on the court as a guard at Houlton High School, being named a Bangor Daily third-team selection in 1987. He scored more than 2,000 career points for the University of Maine at Presque Isle Owls basketball team while studying recreational therapy. He was inducted into the UMPI Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.

Cummings served as athletic director at Greater Houlton Christian Academy from 2003 to 2008, coaching both boys and girls basketball. He returned to his alma mater to coach the Shire boys for three years, and in 2011 he took over boys varsity basketball in Presque Isle, replacing Tim Prescott, who had coached the ’Cats for 26 years.

In 2012, after a successful basketball season and taking his team to the Class B semifinals, Cummings also became Presque Isle High School’s softball coach, taking over for Alan Curtis, who coached for 11 years.

Cummings successfully led the Wildcats to the basketball semifinals three times, and to the softball quarterfinals four times. But with his son Malachi entering his senior year of high school, Cummings said now is the time to be a fan instead of a coach.

“My son is a junior, and plays sports all three seasons at Presque Isle — soccer, basketball and track and field,” Cummings said. “As the spring sports get ever closer and you start looking at the softball and track schedule, you are going to miss a lot. As a dad, I had to miss a lot of events last year and you can’t get that time back.”

Presque Isle softball coach Terry Cummings, left, gives instructions to Rebecca Rider at third base during an April 30, 2019, game at Houlton. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

One of Cumming’s fondest basketball coaching memories goes back to his initial year at Presque Isle in 2011. He was a new coach with a new team, and expectations were low — but he blew those assumptions out of the water.

“I was very, very nervous back in 2011, taking over for Coach Prescott,” Cummings said. “We only returned one starter from the previous year, so the expectations were not extremely high, but we ended up going 13-5 that year and going all the way to the semifinals. To be able to do that year one was something I will always remember.”

He was glad to have Presque Isle host softball playoff games between 2014 and 2017, which was an ongoing goal. Starting around the first of June, seniors have busy schedules, but Cummings and staff felt it was important for both seniors and underclassmen to have home playoffs.

Longtime SAD 1 coach Tim McCue will take over as softball coach, a decision Cummings says is only natural.

“You want the least disruption to the team as possible,” Cummings said. “He has been my assistant coach for softball and I have filled in for him a couple of times as assistant coach in soccer. We have similar coaching styles and philosophies so that is an easy transition.”

After making his announcement, Cummings said the response from the community, coaches and former players has been overwhelmingly positive.

“When you walk away from something, you hope that you had the greatest impact you can have,” Cummings said. “It’s awesome to see that everything you try to pour into athletics has had a positive response, and that is what has impressed me the most.”

SAD 1 Athletic Director Mark White thanked Cummings for all he has done for the PIHS athletic department, and wished him nothing but the best.

White said the district will soon begin looking for a new boys varsity basketball coach.

While he may be stepping down from coaching, Cummings will continue as junior class adviser at Presque Isle High School and will work with the alternative education program for SAD 1 along with Laura Roope. But he hasn’t ruled out returning to the sidelines.

“I’m 53, and I have been involved with athletics all my life,” Cummings said. “You always leave the door open.”

David DiMinno

David grew up in New York, and moved to Maine to study political science at the University of Maine. In his spare time, he loves hiking, playing tennis and skiing.