Cromwell girls basketball coach Kelly Maher steps down as after 15 years

Cromwell High School girls varsity head coach Kelly Maher is stepping down to concentrate on her soon-to-be full-time athletic director duties.

Cromwell High School girls varsity head coach Kelly Maher is stepping down to concentrate on her soon-to-be full-time athletic director duties.

Emily J. Reynolds / For Hearst Connecticut Media

After 15 years at the helm of one of the state’s most successful programs, Kelly Maher is stepping down as the girls basketball coach at Cromwell.

Maher led Cromwell to five state title games, winning three CIAC championships in 2013, 2016 and 2019.

She leaves after winning more than 300 career games and eight Shoreline Conference championships, including four straight from 2016-19.

Maher said the sustained championship-level of success at the school is all about the players.

“All the success we have had here is due to the kids hard work and effort,” Maher said. “Each group that came in wanted to see the following group succeed. There was always a determination and drive to get better. One thing that never mattered was who scored the most points, it was always all about the team. I think that was the key to all of our success.”

Maher has been Cromwell’s athletic director since 2016 and next school year that job is being turned into a full-time position, leaving her unable to commit the time needed to continue coaching.

“It is nice to have the athletic director’s job becoming full-time,” Maher said. “It gives you extra time in the summer to get all the paperwork done and organize all the things you need to be ready each fall. It was not an easy decision to step away from coaching but the timing was right with the AD job becoming full-time and you can’t do everything. The job of an AD has changed in recent years and requires more time now. And coaching also requires more time than just in season with off-season training and weight-lifting and helping players look at colleges.”

Maher won her 300th career game in December when the Panthers defeated Pomperaug 54-35 and steps down with a lifetime record of 315-65.

In her 15 years, players have graduated college and moved into the real world with jobs and families.

For Maher, seeing her players develop into well-rounded adults brings joy.

“That will be one of the hardest things, not having that same connection with the players. I will still be around but when you coach somebody you develop a bond with them,” Maher said. “I love seeing where they go after high school and have stayed in touch with a lot of former players. I love getting to know them as people after high school and see them succeed in their lives.”

The Panthers finished the season 19-6, falling in this year’s Class M quarterfinals to Bacon Academy.

Maher, who played basketball at Cromwell and graduated in 1995, took over as head coach in 2007, going 15-11 in her initial campaign. Her teams would not lose 11 games in a single season again and twice (2013, 2016) went unbeaten.

“When I think about the success we have had, no one team stands out. To pick championships or teams is impossible because each team was special in their own way,” Maher said. “With so many different groups of kids, what we have been able to accomplish over 15 years speaks to the type of kids we have had at this school and in this program.”; @EricsonSports