When Jimmy Graffam asked Medomak Valley boys basketball coach Nick DePatsy if he could volunteer with the Panther program, DePatsy jumped at the chance.
“Anyone who would say no needs to have their head examined. Some coaches would feel threatened by him, but not me. The more eyes and brains the better,” DePatsy said.
A member of the Waldoboro High School Class of 1968, Graffam moved back to Waldoboro from Joplin, Mo. to help care for his 93-year-old mother, Lois. “She still lives by herself and still drives. She pretty much takes care of me,” Graffam said.
“I am really thankful that Nicky has given me this opportunity. This is a great community to coach in. I helped out this summer and had a ball,” Graffam said.
When Graffam graduated from high school, all he wanted to do was enlist, become an Army Ranger, and go to Vietnam. The Waldoboro Exxon station took up a collection for him and sent him to the University of Southern Maine for a year. He ended up staying all four years and getting a degree.
“My best friend was killed in Vietnam. I owe the community for helping me. They probably saved my life,” Graffam said.
He started his coaching career at Medomak Valley in 1974, where he coached freshman ball for one year and JV for two under Art Dyer. “We won the first Medomak Valley state championship the last year I was there,” he said.
He was head boys basketball coach at Bonny Eagle for four years before being recruited at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. He was the head baseball coach and assistant boys basketball coach, among other duties at the college.
He then became the new athletic director and head basketball coach for Westbrook College, where he stayed for six years before it merged with the University of New England. From there he went to the University of Maine at Fort Kent for seven years, Green Mountain College in Vermont for three years, and College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vt. for three years before returning to Maine.
He coached the postgraduates at Lee Academy for two years. “They were prep players trying to get to (Division I). It was a lot of fun,” he said. He was an assistant coach at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire for a year before moving to Missouri, where he was a volunteer coach at a high school.
“He coached JV when I was a little kid in the peewee program. I liked him as a coach then, when I was in fourth or fifth grade,” DePatsy said.
Graffam approached DePatsy last summer and asked if he could volunteer as a coach. “I jumped on it immediately,” DePatsy said.
“He brings a lot of experience and brings a different element and enthusiasm,” DePatsy said. “He relates very well with the kids. During a game, I don’t have much time. He offers good guidance when the kids come off the floor.”
“We have a mutual respect for each other,” DePatsy added. “He is energized and ready to go. He brings experience and a different dimension to the coaching staff. He is a good person. He cares about kids and that is one of the most important things to me.”
“He loves coaching,” DePatsy said. “He reffed a peewee game with me last week. He is going to help at all levels. He will do anything, even rebound for the kids during a drill. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
“He is upbeat. It will be fun working with him. Hopefully he will keep me calm,” DePatsy added.