Scott Pelletier’s time as a basketball player at Fort Kent Community High School admittedly was short-lived.
“I wasn’t good enough to start,” said Pelletier, a 1994 graduate of the school who eventually left the team.
Despite that lack of individual success Pelletier maintained his love of the sport, and that love as well as some personal perseverance has led the Fort Kent native back to the school’s basketball program as the new boys varsity coach.
Pelletier, who spent the last four years as the boys varsity basketball coach at Wisdom of Saint Agatha, replaces Andrew Clavette, who stepped down after last season, his fourth with the Warriors.
“They made it to the [Eastern Class C] prelims last year, and the nucleus of that team is coming back for their senior year,” said Pelletier. “I feel the pieces are there, it’s just a matter of taking it to a higher level.”
Pelletier, who teaches middle-school physical education in Fort Kent, has a decade of basketball coaching experience, initially at the middle school and subvarsity levels in his home town.
During that time he twice applied for the boys varsity job only to be turned down, first in favor of Tim Farrar — now the head coach at Lewiston — and then Clavette, a former University of Maine at Fort Kent basketball standout.
“After the second time, I inquired at Wisdom about whether they had any coaching openings,” Pelletier said, “and they did, so rather than sulk over not getting the [Fort Kent] job I took the Wisdom job and was able to gain a lot of experience.”
Pelletier took over a Wisdom program that had won just five games during the previous seven seasons and experienced gradual improvement culminating in an 8-9 record in 2011 — the Pioneers’ best season since going 9-9 in 2001.
“It was a challenge trying to change the culture there,” said Pelletier, “but I like to think we did it last year.”
Fort Kent made its most recent trip to the Eastern C quarterfinals at the Bangor Auditorium during Clavette’s first season in 2008.
The Warriors went 9-9 last winter to place ninth in the final Heal point rankings before falling to No. 8 Madawaska in the preliminary round of the playoffs.
Fort Kent has revised its regular-season schedule for next winter, limiting travel to within Aroostook County after last season’s schedule included a weekend trip Down East for back-to-back games at Sumner of East Sullivan and George Stevens of Blue Hill.
Next season, the team’s most distant opponent will be Houlton, and the Warriors have picked up games against defending Class D state champion Central Aroostook of Mars Hill as well as fellow Class D contenders Washburn and Fort Fairfield.
“The strength of schedule is there,” said Pelletier, “but we won’t be traveling as much unless we go to Bangor.”
And that longest of road trips is one of several goals held by Pelletier as he takes over the basketball program at his alma mater.
“I wasn’t a star athlete but I loved the sport, I watched a lot of basketball and I wanted to stay with it in some way,” he said. “Now what I dreamed of doing as a player I have a chance to do as a coach, teaching the game and teaching the love for the game and working together toward a common goal. It’s worked out well for me so far, and hopefully it will continue at Fort Kent.”