In 1966, Carl Parker was a tough, hard-nosed player for Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln when I was coaching the Orono Red Riots boys basketball team.
Parker’s work ethic, hustle and desire were admirable. He never took an offensive or defensive play off, even if he was outmatched by size and ability.
His best high school games were played against Orono football teams and his approach was more intense than similar basketball efforts.
He took his great attitude and football skills to the University of Maine where he was an outstanding lineman.
In 1979, when I was Bangor High’s athletic director, I became Carl’s boss when he was the line coach for head coach Gabby Price’s outstanding football program, winning two state titles. Carl taught and coached at Garland Street Junior High.
The late Ron Geagan resigned the Bangor High boys basketball coaching job in spring of 1983. I was a lame-duck AD after resigning in December, effective at the end of the school year, but was still responsible for hiring a new coach. There were no teaching positions available, so a decision was reached to hire from within.
Carl applied. I’d watched his junior high teams compete and also remembered his high school style of play under Bill Fletcher, who was an excellent and fundamentally sound coach. Carl was great with kids, especially teaching the life lessons that could not be taught in the classroom.
His only weakness was no experience as a varsity basketball coach, but I hired him. He did an excellent job his first season, going 8-8 and just missing the tournament, finishing ninth.
The next season, Bangor went 14-4 and lost in semifinals to Waterville, the eventual Class A state champs. Bangor beat Waterville in the regular season, giving the Panthers their only loss.
However, after some controversy over his coaching style, he wasn’t rehired the next year. Not being AD, I had no say in that decision.
He went to Foxcroft Academy where the Ponies got to the Class B semifinals and went on to several posts. We coached against each other when he was at MCI and I was at John Bapst. Again, he was impressive.
He also coached the Lee Academy prep team and was a top coach in the AAU ranks. He became AD and varsity basketball coach at Nokomis Regional High School. He still found time to coach AAU and had much success in the 17-and-under age group on the state and national levels.
He has coached more prospective prep school, Division I, II and III college players than any high school or AAU coach in Maine’s history. I officiated over 100 games that he coached at all levels and it reinforced that he was an outstanding coach who also still taught life lessons.
This season, he is back as Bangor High’s boys varsity basketball coach and he brings 30 years of experience to the post.
Regardless of how Bangor does this year with an inexperienced team, Carl will have them playing in his hard-nosed team-oriented style while giving 100 percent effort. They should be fun to watch.
Now that Bangor is the only North AA school in the Greater Bangor area, it could make the school very attractive to attend for those student-athletes in towns that don’t have a high school.
It will be interesting to watch the program’s development under Carl and it was a wise decision by Bangor Superintendent Betsy Webb and Athletic Director Steve Vanidestine to bring him back to Bangor.