After helping Lewiston High School build the foundation for a boys hockey dynasty as a player, Matt Poulin turned to the private sector to help people build for their future as a mortgage loan officer, home loan consultant and financial representative.
He never left the hockey world, playing a year of college hockey at Central Maine Community College and filling various coaching roles at the youth, high school and college levels.
Now, he is leaving the private sector to further his hockey and athletic leadership career at a private school. Poulin was recently hired to take over the girls hockey program at North Yarmouth Academy. He also will the school’s associate director of athletics. He replaces Mallory Michaeles — who left to become a women’s hockey assistant at Bowdoin College — in both roles.
“A number of factors brought me to NYA, but I felt the well-rounded environment that the school creates for its students and the opportunity to thrive in any path they discover was a major piece for me,” Poulin, a 2014 Lewiston graduate, said. “The coaching opportunity was attractive to me because of the competition level and the standard that is set for each student athlete at NYA. Being able to grow an entire program and set the standard for girls hockey in Maine and New England is something I am proud to have the opportunity for.”
Poulin has previous experience coaching girls hockey with the Auburn-based Maine Gladiators youth program. He coached both the U16 and U19 girls teams, as well as the U12 and U14 boys teams. His other coaching roles since graduating from Lewiston include a year leading the CMCC men’s team and five seasons assisting his high school coach, Jamie Belleau, and helping the Blue Devils win three of their four recent state championships. He has also hosted small-group, on-ice skill development training for boys and girls players ages 11-19.
“Both as a player and coach, Matt has a tremendous amount of hockey knowledge and is passionate about the game and coaching,” Belleau, who in June stepped down after 13 seasons as Lewiston’s head coach, said in an NYA news release announcing Poulin’s hiring. “He will bring a lot of energy to the school and particularly the girls hockey program. He understands the importance of building relationships with his players and is passionate about player development, both athletically and academically.
He will build a positive culture for the program through the excitement and commitment he will show to the players and the passion he puts into work every day.”
Poulin said he has gained not only experiences from his previous coaching jobs, “but also given me an understanding of today’s athlete.
“Coaching is not just about strategy and systems, and my previous roles have helped me understand the impact of forming positive relationships with players and how my role as their coach can help them in all areas of life, not just hockey.”
NYA Athletic Director Kelsey Ross said in the school’s release that Poulin’s “blend of competition and having fun” mirrors the foundation of the Panthers’ athletic programs.
“Coach Poulin brings with him a true passion and respect for the game of hockey, a specific desire to grow our NYA girls hockey program, and a truly educational-based, student-centered approach to coaching,” Ross said.
Bowdoin College men’s hockey coach Jamie Dumont — who, like Poulin, is a Lewiston native — said he has worked with Poulin at various times and been impressed by his coaching.
“His teams are tough, resilient, and always well prepared,” Dumont said in the NYA release. “Matt is a wonderful leader and a student of the game; his passion and enthusiasm is second-to-none. I’m excited to follow Matt and his program in the years to come.”
Poulin also used the terms “tough” and “resilient” to describe the way he coaches his teams to be, as well as making sure they do things “the right way.”
He said he has already met many of his players and will meet more next week when fall activities begin. He was able to watch some of NYA’s games last year when the Panthers played against Lewiston and Scarborough. He still hasn’t finalized his coaching staff, but said he hopes to do so before the academic year begins.
Poulin will be fully immersed at NYA by then, even though the hockey season is still months away. He said he is equally excited to be the associate athletic director as he is to be the girls hockey coach.
“The associate AD role was very important to me because it gives me the opportunity to be a part of the students’ every day lives,” Poulin said. “For a number of years as a coach, you only see your players at practices and games, and this position allows me to leave an impact on their lives outside of hockey, too. This role holds a number of tasks, including game day management/logistics, arranging sports teams’ travel, scheduling and more. I am thrilled that I will be working for NYA.”
He hopes his impact on girls hockey goes beyond the rink and dressing rooms at Travis Roy Arena on campus.
“We want to win games, but we also want to use our platform to set the standard for girls hockey and inspire younger girls to see what they can work for one day,” Poulin said. “I feel there is not clear enough guidance for youth hockey girls to progress up to college hockey and potentially more one day, and we have the opportunity to develop that.”