I was fortunate as a young teacher and coach to be surrounded by some great educators, none better than Arthur “Skip” Hanson.
Skip is best known in these parts of the world as the former high school boys basketball coach at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, a place that is remembered for a superb team in 1975, a title year for Skip’s Class B Ponies.
Led by hoop giants such as Kevin Nelson, the three-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine center; David Ingraham, Kenny Burtchell, Jeff Dunn and Dickie Hatt, this team would rank right up there with the great high school basketball teams this state has produced.
I had the good fortune to work under Skip when he served as principal of Piscataquis Community High School in the early 1980s.
I felt blessed to be surrounded by so many gifted educators as I made the transition from coaching basketball in the Continental Basketball Association to the joys of teaching high school English and coaching boys varsity basketball at the high school level.
Skip was a very supportive principal and, combined with Dave Gaw’s efforts as athletic director, the PCHS position was a great job for a young coach.
Gaw was best known as an outstanding AD and baseball coach, and Skip and Dave were the only two administrators I’ve worked for who never missed an athletic contest on the road or at home.
In fact, Hanson seldom missed any extracurricular event at the high school.
Teachers and coaches were blessed to have such a support staff.
I have many fond memories of my time in Guilford, none better than the many hours we played pickup basketball after school with the staff. What great fun it was to lock horns with the likes of Paul Draper, the late Dennis Mason, the late Pete Myrick, the late Rusty Sweeney, Paul Stearns, current SAD 4 superintendent, and yours truly in some real tough matches.
I would rank Draper’s hoop expertise right up there in PCHS’ hoop history with the likes of Mark Lovell, Mike Hall, Buddy Leavitt Jr., and Mike Graf as having hall of fame status at the Piscataquis County school.
My, those were great times.
I also had the good fortune of having Skip’s son Todd on one of my PCHS teams.
Todd was a leader, even then, and he would go on to take the Waterville Panthers to a Class A state title as a senior after Skip moved to Waterville to take a new principal’s job.
Todd would advance as a player to the University of Maine, where he played for head coach Rudy Keeling.
Presently, Todd teaches math and coaches boys varsity basketball at Brunswick High School. His Dragons won a Class A hoop crown in 2002.
I have many fond memories of my days working under Arthur “Skip” Hanson. I was a lucky young man, and I learned many lessons from the quiet, caring gentleman.
30-Second Time Out
After all of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame coverage — a tip of the hat to BDN sportswriter Andrew Neff for the job he did putting it all together for this newspaper — I came away with one memory of this year’s inductees that I will never forget.
I remember the day that Portland’s Channel 6 Billy Green and I made our way to Orono on our bikes from our Bangor homes when we were kids to purchase UMaine baseball coach Jack Butterfield’s recently published book. What a day that was.
Coach Butterfield gave us each a copy of the large book and charged us only a $1 apiece for them. (I often wondered what it really sold for.)
Anyone out there who doesn’t think adults can have an influence on kids should rethink that notion. As Billy and I approach age 60, both of us are still active in the sports game.