Girls basketball: Kristina Blais brings ‘basketball IQ’ and a new voice to Edward Little head coaching job

Kristina Blais’ basketball IQ immediately stood out to the Edward Little hiring committee.

The 23-year-old two-time national champion at Central Maine Community College and owner of the Maine Basketball Club in Lewiston has had a meteoric rise over the last few years since graduating from Lewiston High School in 2016.

Kristina Blais poses for a photo at the Maine Basketball club recently. Submitted photo

Now, Blais has been hired as the girls varsity basketball coach at Edward Little.

“If you told me five to 10 years ago I’d be coaching Edward Little, I would’ve told you you were crazy,” Blais said. “The community has been nothing but great to me so I am super, super excited.”

Edward Little athletic director Todd Sampson was blown away by Blais’ knowledge and passion for the game.

“There were two things right away,” Sampson said of the interview process. “First, the second the interview started the entire committee saw her passion. Passion for basketball, for life and she’s a very energetic person. That really spoke to us. The second piece was she’s young, and as we got into it and talking to some of her references, her basketball IQ was through the roof.”

Blais will be replacing Chris Cifelli, who has held the head coaching role since the 2017-18 season, and he was an assistant to Craig Jipson before that. Cifelli decided to step away to spend some more time with his kids, among other reasons.

“I think the biggest part was reflecting on having coaching with Craig Jipson, being with the program for 17 years, I had been somewhere on that staff,” Cifelli said. “It seems like this season, especially, a new voice for the kids is needed. We had some end roads we were making and positive gains, but it felt like we needed someone that had a new way of looking at things and getting the program back in the direction we were used to.”

Cifelli was excited that Blais was taking over.

“I think there are a lot of female coaches that have a lot to offer and we need more of them in there, so I think this is a plus for the girls,” Cifelli added. “They got a great person and I am really happy for Kristina.”

Sampson thanked Cifelli for his time as head coach, including his championship-winning season with the Red Eddies in 2018.

For Blais, basketball has been her life for as long as she can remember. It’s made her mature quickly.

“I feel very blessed,” Blais said. “I have so many good people around me and I think in a lot of situations throughout life, my maturity in general, with having older brothers, made me grow up a little faster. While I was still playing, I was already giving back to kids in the community. Once I stopped playing, I instantly started coaching. When you have all these kids that look up to you and that you’re their role model to, you have to grow up quickly. There’s no way around it.

Kristina Blais holding an award she recently earned on National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Submitted photo

“I spent my early 20s and late-teens giving back. My main driven focus was giving what I needed as a kid. I was constantly trying to get into a gym but never had a gym to get into. I would be outside and my hands would be purple from the cold, so that’s my main driver. Giving these kids what they need, high-level coaching from an early age. I feel truly blessed.”

Blais owns MBC and coaches current Edward Little players on AAU teams. With Maine Principals’ Association rules, Blais knows she has to hand offseason coaching duties off to other coaches that she has recently hired at MBC. Blais said “no lines will be blurred,” when it comes to coaching at MBC and at Edward Little.

Blais is excited to get going and has spoken with some players already about Edward Little’s summer program.

“We are focused on development this summer and instilling confidence in the girls,” Blais said. “Just building from the ground up. The main point of this summer is to empower the girls into a more confident way of thinking and learning my offensive and defensive principles.”

“I am so excited to be coaching next to Mike Adams and to be a part of the history at Edward Little.”


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