STACYVILLE, Maine — Michael Susi was preparing to coach boys basketball at his alma mater next winter.
He had just guided the varsity squad at Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield through its summer program in anticipation of taking over the post from his father, Mike Susi, who led the Huskies for the previous two seasons.
There was just one problem. The younger Susi didn’t have a teaching job to go with that coaching opportunity.
He recently found the answer to that employment dilemma a couple of hours north, as Susi has been named both a social studies teacher and the new boys varsity basketball coach at Katahdin High School.
“I applied at Katahdin on a whim,” said Susi. “I didn’t even know the coaching job was open when I applied, but when I talked with them they looked at my resume and said, ‘You know, we need a boys basketball coach, too.’”
Susi replaces Cliff Urquhart in the basketball post, with Urquhart now the girls varsity basketball coach at neighboring Southern Aroostook Community School in Dyer Brook, which like Katahdin is part of RSU 50.
Susi played multiple sports at MCI before going on to the University of Maine-Farmington, where he initially played basketball before serving as a student assistant coach for two years under veteran Beavers head coach Dick Meader.
Susi later served as an assistant basketball coach at Thomas College in Waterville for one year before returning to his hometown, where he was the boys junior varsity basketball coach at MCI for two seasons before joining his father’s staff as a varsity assistant coach for the last two years.
Susi was named the Huskies’ interim boys varsity basketball coach in April.
“I was happy to get the coaching job, but times are tough there like they are everywhere else and there weren’t any teaching jobs so I had to look elsewhere,” he said.
Susi plans to employ a coaching style that blends his experiences as a player and coach in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, where MCI is a member, with the up-tempo style familiar to the Katahdin basketball program.
“This is a real interesting opportunity for me to get a different basketball perspective,” said Susi. “I’ve always been a KVAC guy, but this area has a great basketball tradition.”
Katahdin, a member of both the Penobscot Valley Conference and Aroostook League, finished last season with an 8-12 record. The Cougars placed 11th in the final Eastern Maine Class D Heal point ratings, then upset No. 6 Machias in the preliminary before falling to No. 3 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 67-56 in the regional quarterfinals.
Central Aroostook went on to win the 2013 Eastern D championship.
Susi has not yet met his prospective players, as classes at Katahdin do not begin next week, but only three of the 11 team members listed on last winter’s tournament roster graduated in June.