ROCKPORT — A face familiar to the Knox County high school girls basketball scene is taking over the varsity girls basketball program at Camden Hills Regional High School.
Samantha Bragg (née Wiley), a Class of 2005 graduate of the Rockport high school and former head coach of the Oceanside High School varsity girls basketball team, will be the new Windjammers head coach in her return to coaching since stepping down in the fall of 2019 from Oceanside.
“Being in that gym brings back a flood of high school memories for me and I am excited to create a few new ones as a head coach,” said Bragg, in a Wednesday afternoon interview. She noted she is excited and honored to be returning to the Camden Hills basketball program in a new capacity.
The Windjammers are coming off a 4-9 season in what was a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Windjammers earned one playoff win and suffered one playoff loss in a playoff format different than usual that invited all teams to participate in regional-focused playoffs.
In five seasons atop the Oceanside girls basketball program, Bragg posted a 46-51 record with the Mariners, guiding the team to the regional playoffs each season.
Before leading the Mariners varsity program, she spent time coaching the Oceanside junior varsity and freshman squads, the Lincolnville Central School boys and girls basketball teams, and as an assistant for the Camden Hills girls basketball team.
After her high school playing days concluded, the Lincolnville native spent four years as a player on the women’s basketball team at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Kim Kuhn, the departing Camden Hills coach, posted a 28-58 record with traditional playoff appearances in 2016 and 2018 in her five seasons leading the program.
Bragg plans to bring back an attitude that her players feel they can step on the court any night, against any opponent, and be competitive.
“That doesn't necessarily mean that we will win every game but I want them to have that notion that they can win any game on any given night,” she said. “Our goal is to compete, every game is different and I want these girls to feel they can compete and are prepared to be on the floor with any team we play. I want them to feel good about how we played as a team regardless of the final outcome. I also want to commit our girls to showing up for each other, not worrying about who gets the credit, whose scoring, etc.”
She also wants to boost attendance rates at girls basketball games to show her players they have the backing of their school and communities, which will be part of the team’s successes.
“I would like to try and get people back in the stands because the girls are fun to watch, and they play with a fire in them that is contagious,” Bragg said. “The community support for high school sports does amazing things for a high school player's confidence, to know that people want to watch them play is important to them.”
The girls, she continued, need to be supported no matter how many wins or losses they have in a given season. Packing the stands at home contests this winter will give the team the so-called home court advantage, and making trips to road games, when possible, will continue to show the girls they have the support of their community.
Asked what she is most looking forward to as the new leader of the program she once played in, Bragg noted she is eager to share her passion with those that have the same deep love for the game she does.
“I played in a lot of gyms, a lot of games, with different coaches, teammates and fans but if I had to give you my top ten memories, half of them are basketball related and some of the best friends I have came from playing ball,” she said. “I had a great experience here and I want others to have that. Nothing compares to playing high school sports, not college, not AAU. This experience is like no other and I want to help these girls have that.”