SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — In basketball, sometimes those on the bench can be the difference makers.
For the South Portland high school boys' basketball team, one of those on the bench is not a player, but a coach.
Volunteer assistant Coach Nick Costigan has been with the South Portland team for 13 years. He played on the team when he attended SPHS from 1999-2003.
"This is my home -- where I played basketball," said Costigan.
The name Costigan hangs in the proverbial rafters of basketball lore in Maine. Nick's father Daniel was a high school standout at Cheverus High School in Portland, played at the University of Maine, and then coached for 10 years at Scarborough High School, eight years at the University of Southern Maine, and 13 years at Cheverus. He won state titles in 1981 and 1982 as a player, and in 2008 and 2010 as a coach.
"Everything you've worked for comes down to a game," said Dan. "As a coach you know how hard it is to get there. As a player you think you're going every year."
Despite his success, Daniel said his son Nick is an even better coach.
"He just has the ability to connect with everyone, and that's a tough part coaching," said Daniel.
South Portland's head coach Kevin Millington said Nick was the first person he called when became the coach two years ago.
"He's always upbeat, always focused on doing better as a team -- he is South Portland to me," said Millington. "Sometimes they're frustrated that they came out. Sometimes they're frustrated that something happened on the court and Nick is so laid back and so positive -- by the time they go back in, they're ready to compete."
The players credit Costigan's ability to keep them loose in stressful games.
"Obviously he's a coach, but to us he's more one of the guys. He likes being around us. We like being around him and just having the experience with him -- it's a great time," said junior Riley Hasson.
"I say, 'don't throw up an air ball,'" said Costigan.
Even on the state's biggest stage, Nick did his job, cheering on his team even in a 60-38 loss in the state title game to Portland -- a team that beat them by one basket in double overtime in last year's championship.
It's not a job he gets paid for, but a job he loves: win or lose.
"Most teams don't have the opportunity to get here," said Costigan. "Portland's a good team, but we'll be back next year with this group of kids."
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