When Travis Carter became the boys basketball coach at Easton High School five years ago, the Bears had barely enough players for a varsity team and no established summer program.
Today, there’s not only a varsity team but a junior varsity program at the school, as well as an active summer basketball program.
Such additional resources have paid off on the court, where Easton — with its enrollment of fewer than 80 students — has made four trips to postseason play in those five years, including a trip to the Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium in 2008.
Carter, who came to the high school after five years as a middle school coach, thinks there’s more room for growth in the program but will leave it for someone else to lead after recently announcing his resignation from the varsity post.
“I think the kids are better than I can make them at this point,” said Carter. “I think there’s still a step left for them to take. It’s not about me, it’s about the program.”
Carter cited several reasons for his decision, among them family and job considerations as well as the time involved in building and maintaining a successful high school program.
“My job is pretty stressful,” said Carter, who works in the trucking industry and also coaches middle school soccer in Easton. “I’ve always thought of coaching basketball and soccer as a release, but when it becomes more stressful … you can only have so much stress.”
“It was kind of a family decision,” he added. “It’s very time consuming.”
Carter led Easton to a 55-40 overall record during his tenure. The Bears went 11-8 last winter and advanced to the Eastern D preliminary round before dropping a 53-45 victory at Deer Isle-Stonington.
He was selected to coach in the 2011 McDonald’s East-West Senior All-Star Game.
“Travis has coached here for 10 years, and he’s done a real good job,” said Easton superintendent of schools Frank Keenan. “He spent five years with the junior high program and did a great job of getting a lot of kids out for basketball, enough so we were able to re-institute the junior varsity team at the high school.
“At the high school he did the same thing. A lot of kids played and had a positive experience playing for Travis.”
While no one had applied for the opening during the initial days after it was first advertised, Carter said the program is in good shape and ripe for continued improvement — four starters from the 2010-11 team are expected to be among the returning players next winter.
“I really think they can get a great coach because they’re one step away from really peaking,” he said.
Carter likely won’t be too far removed from the Easton basketball scene. His 13-year-old daughter Kylee will be a freshman at the high school in the fall, and both she and Carter’s 8-year-old son Kody are active in basketball and other sports.
He also has coached in the local rec basketball program over the years, and Keenan is hopeful Carter will continue to coach the sport somewhere within the school system.
“We’re going to try to keep him involved,” Keenan said, “maybe at a lower level.”