BANGOR, Maine — Clark Noonan had an infectious personality that warmed virtually everyone around him whether in the heat of athletic competition or a more relaxed setting, his friends say.
One of those friends, former Bangor High School soccer and basketball teammate Luke Hettermann, is working to keep alive such memories of Noonan, who died earlier this year in a car accident at age 20.
Hettermann, who just completed his freshman year at the University of Maine, has organized the first Noonan-Nation Basketball Tournament to be held this Friday through Sunday at the University of Maine Student Recreation and Fitness Center in Orono.
“Clark had a real passion for the game,” said Hettermann, “and I thought a basketball tournament in his name would mean a lot to him.”
Noonan was a passenger in a Mazda 626 automobile traveling north on Route 35 in Standish near Saint Joseph’s College in the early morning hours of April 12 when the car veered off the road, rolled over several times and became entangled in a chain-link fence.
Noonan, a sophomore business management major at Saint Joseph’s and member of the school’s basketball team, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Before attending Saint Joseph’s, Noonan was a two-year varsity basketball player at Bangor High School, where as a senior in 2010 he earned Bangor Daily News third-team All-Maine recognition as well as All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first-team, all-defensive and all-academic honors.
He also helped the Bangor boys soccer team advance to the Eastern A championship match during his senior year and was named to the KVAC and Maine Soccer Coaches Association all-star teams.
The double-elimination, five-on-five tournament being organized in his honor has galvanized much of the state’s basketball community, with many of the top players of recent vintage — including teammates and opponents of Noonan on the high school, AAU and college levels — committed to participate in the 24-team field.
“A lot of people know what happened, a lot of them know of Clark and what basketball meant to him, and a lot of guys are interested in playing some really competitive basketball,” said Hettermann.
Several teams will be made up of former Bangor High School players, including the 2011 Class A state championship squad, while other entries include players from Saint Joseph’s College, a team of Edward Little of Auburn alumni including former University of Maine standout Troy Barnies, a team of recent Camden Hills of Rockport players including 2011 Mr. Basketball Tyler McFarland, fellow All-Maine honoree Keegan Pieri and 2011 Mr. Basketball finalist Graham Safford, who split his high school career between the Windjammers and Hampden Academy.
Another recent Hampden Academy alumnus, 2012 Mr. Basketball Christian McCue, also is leading a team in the tournament.
“I’m hoping that this tournament will be a way to celebrate the amazing life of my dear friend that ended too soon, and to bring us all together once a year to remember what an impact he had on our lives while doing something that Clark would have absolutely loved,” said Hettermann.
Forty-six games are scheduled beginning late Friday afternoon, with the championship game slated for 4 p.m. Sunday. Each game will have two 20-minute halves with running time except for the final two minutes of each half. Members of the Eastern Maine Board (111) of Approved Basketball Officials will be volunteering their time to handle the officiating duties.
Admission is $3 per day, and fans are encouraged to bring their own chairs.
Hettermann plans for the proceeds from the event to be donated to the Bangor High School All Sports Boosters in Noonan’s memory.
“He was the greatest teammate, a great friend and an inspiration to have around,” said Hettermann. “For Clark it was always about how he could get the spirits of everyone around him lifted and make the best of every situation.”