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IAM Local S6 Secretary-Treasurer Stephen Stewart Hired as Morse Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach

Andy O’Brien
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Machinists Local S6 Secretary Treasurer Stephen Stewart has just been hired as the new Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach at Morse High School in Bath.

"Coach Stewart is bringing a different perspective to our Boys Basketball program,” said Morse Athletic Director Andrew Pelletier in a press release. “Stephen has been coaching for the past 20+ years in both the High School and AAU levels so he will bring a different approach to our program. We had a very deep applicant pool and Stephen stood above the rest. His ideas to grow basketball in our community are very impressive. I am excited for Coach Stewart to lead our program and be a great role model for our young men.”

Stewart is a 1998 graduate of Lake Region High School where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He was a two-year starter for Lake Region basketball, where he played on two Western Maine Finalist teams and earned All-Conference recognition and Western Maine Conference Senior All-Star. He said he found his passion for coaching younger players while coaching at Lake Region Summer basketball camp. He has previously served as a Varsity Assistant Coach and JV Freshman Boys Basketball Coach for Lake Region High School as well as varsity Assistant Coach at Portland High School under Maine Basketball Hall of Fame coach Joe Russo.

After taking a full-time position at Bath Iron Works as a maintenance mechanic in 2011, Stewart began coaching on the AAU circuit in Maine and has developed a reputation for coaching some of the top teams in the state, including Southern Maine Sting and XLP in Portland. Over the past 10 years, his teams have won multiple state championships, Northern New England championships, a Zero G National Championship and most recently the 2023 GymRat Challenge Platinum division championship in Albany, NY.

Stewart says there are a lot of similarities between coaching and leading a union of workers because it’s all about communication and "people work.”

The team camaraderie in our union is very similar to sports,” he said. “Being able to work with people from other backgrounds, nationalities and religions. Whether it’s in sports or in the union world, if we don’t stand together, we don’t have each other’s backs and don’t do a little extra heavy lifting when other members need it, we’re not going to meet the goals we want to accomplish.”

He said he is encouraged by the younger generation because they work well collaboratively and stick together.

“I think a lot of young people are looking for equality,” said Stewart. “They grew up in an era where it was okay to push for equal rights and better benefits at your job. These kids are willing to dig their heals in and fight for it.”

Mentoring young people has also allowed Stewart to introduce them to union career opportunities.

"When I was kid I didn’t know that Bath Iron Works was an option for me,” he said. “I tell my AAU director all the time that if there’s a kid you think wants to work with his hands or has an interest in shipbuilding, we can get him involved and in the union. Not only can they can get involved with the company, but the whole union fight.”

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in local interest in youth basketball, which Stewart attributes to a number of prominent basketball stars including  former Nokomis Regional High School star Cooper Flagg of Newport, WNBA player MacKenzie Holmes of Gorham,  Fighting Irish guard Anna DeWolfe, University of Tennessee center J.P. Estrella of South Portland and Howard University forward Dominic Campbell.

“All of these players are proving to our kids that it’s not just a dream anymore,” said Stewart. “We can go to the biggest stages and compete with anybody. That’s huge for Maine kids because for a long time we kind of thought, “Well, we’re from Maine. We’re never going to beat those kids from Massachusetts because they’re city kids and have more access to everything.’”

He said when he takes his AAU team out of state to compete, the crowds love the Maine kids because the team represents some of the state’s best players who can compete on a national level with larger states. Stewart said the summer training for Morse High School players will run from June 17 to August, then break for a few months until the season starts in November. He noted that students used to just pick it up during the regular school season, but now they’re much more focused on training year round.

“They want to win and they’re willing to put in the extra work in the off season during the spring and summer," he said. "I had a great coach who said ‘Championships are won in the winter, but champions are made in the summer.’”

Meanwhile, Stewart is finishing up the AAU season with his 7th graders, but his son Steve Jr. will soon graduate high school so his father is hoping to hand him some of his coaching responsibilities.