BANGOR — Coach Chris Casavant didn’t have to look far when choosing an assistant for his Caribou High School boys basketball team.
With 27 years of coaching under his belt, the obvious choice was his father, Bill Casavant.
The father-son coaching duo recently completed its fourth season together as the Vikings suffered a Class B quarterfinal loss to top-seeded Camden Hills at the Bangor Auditorium.
“It’s really been a dream come true, because his basketball knowledge has made our program better,” Chris Casavant said. “He brings to the table things that not a lot of assistant coaches are going to bring.”
Bill Casavant has been a fixture in Aroostook County since his undergraduate days at the then-Aroostook State Teachers College (now the University of Maine-Presque Isle). He got an early start, handling ASTC’s freshman squad as a senior.
Bill then served as the JV coach at Caribou High under the late Gerry Duffy for one season before coaching seven years at Limestone High. He then moved to UMPI for four seasons and eventually led the men’s squad at Northern Maine Community College for 15 years.
It was during those years Chris attended his dad’s practices, sat on the bench during games and began unwittingly absorbing basketball wisdom.
“He and I are very much alike in a lot of ways,” Bil said. “He sat on my bench a lot growing up. He heard a lot of stuff, so I’m sure he syphons out what he thought was crap and what he thought was good.”
Chris also excelled on the court at Presque Isle High (Class of 1990) and UMPI, where he and Bill are both members of the UMPI Athletic Hall of Fame.
There is no power struggle between son and father. Chris is the head coach, but they share the responsibilities.
Bill and Chris consult with each other on practice plans and game strategies. Bill handles most of the game substitutions, although occasionally not quickly enough.
“For 25 years of my life he was able to yell at me. Now, It gives me a chance to yell at him every once in a while,” Chris joked.
He said the best part of the arrangement is simply being able to spend quality time with his father and share their passion for basketball, especially now that he is busy teaching health and phys ed at Caribou while raising a family of his own.
The two work well together within an atmosphere of mutual respect.
“He doesn’t impose his wisdom on me by any stretch of the imagination,” Chris said.
Bill explained he is comfortable with his role as an assistant because his input is valued and because the Caribou players are eager to draw on his experience and knowledge.
“The kids are very good about. When I talk, they listen,” he said. “There’s no question in their minds that Chris is the head guy, but they’re very accepting.”
Bill also can be a buffer between Chris and the players in the heat of challenging game situations.
“I’m sort of the ‘good cop’ a lot,” said Bill, who admits there has been one difficult challenge being an assistant coach.
“You want to know the hardest thing, not standing up,” he explained. “As an assistant coach, you’ve got to sit.”
However, he’s pleased to maintain his seat alongside his son — even though his stipend was cut out of the budget this season.
Bill also has served as a baseball umpire for 40 years and has worked some regional and state championship games with Chris, himself a 20-year umpiring veteran.
“I’ve had a great time,” Bill said.
McCann hits milestone at Auditorium
Mike McCann had a bit of extra pressure last Saturday when he and the Winslow boys basketball team played in the Class B quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium.
The senior center was on the verge of scoring his 1,000th career point with the Black Raiders’ season also on the line.
“I’ve been trying not to think about it all this year, but it kind of crept up on me,” McCann said. “I would have liked to have gotten it before this game, just so I didn’t have to get it in this game.”
McCann accomplished the feat during the fourth quarter of Winslow’s 64-58 victory over Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.
“It was nice to get it here,” said McCann, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“The win was definitely first and foremost what we were going for and if we won and I didn’t get it, I’d be just as happy right now,” McCann added. “It’s just the cherry on top.”