BANGOR, Maine — Change comes with each new high school basketball season, which for players and teams around the state began Monday with the first day of tryouts.
For Jon McAllian, such change is merely a next logical career step given his passion for the sport.
Not long after the skies turned dark on this particular evening, the former Bangor High School and University of Maine player began his transition from on-court presence to sideline mentor as he conducted his first practice as the boys varsity basketball coach at Bangor Christian.
“Basketball has always been a big part of my life, and I always wanted to stay involved with it,” said McAllian.
McAllian replaces another UMaine basketball alumnus, Kevin Reed, who left the BC coaching post for family reasons. Reed, Bangor Christian’s athletic administrator and assistant principal, also became a father for the third time 10 months ago when his wife, Hannah, gave birth to daughter Jordyn to go with their 7-year-old son Jalen and 4-year-old son Rajon.
And Hannah Reed recently returned to college on a full-time basis, he said.
“I have a lot going on in my life right now,” Reed added.
McAllian, who graduated from the University of Maine with a physical education degree last spring and was married over the summer, learned of the coaching opening through the news bulletin at Bangor Baptist Church, which he attends and which is home to Bangor Christian School.
He also already knew Reed, with whom he did individual basketball workouts while at UMaine.
“It was a good opportunity for me to do something I knew I wanted to do,” McAllian said.
McAllian helped Bangor High School win the Class A state championship in 2007 and a second straight Eastern Maine title a year later.
The 6-foot-5-inch guard was a finalist for the state’s Mr. Basketball award as a senior in 2008 and earned All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first-team honors and Bangor Daily News All-Maine second-team status. He also was most valuable player of the 2008 Eastern A tournament.
McAllian earned a basketball scholarship from the University of Maine and gradually developed into a valuable role player for the Black Bears.
He plans to use his own high school experiences under former Bangor and Bangor Christian coach Roger Reed as the template for his own approach on the sidelines. Reed, now a state legislator, was one of Maine’s winningest high school coaches with 571 career victories, including a 457-101 record during 27 years at Bangor High School marked by eight Class A state championships and 10 Eastern Maine titles.
“I plan to use a lot of his philosophies, from defense to offense to discipline,” said McAllian, who works at J.A. Leonard Middle School in Old Town. “I always thought coach Reed did it right, and obviously it showed.”
This is McAllian’s first formal coaching job, though he worked numerous summer camps while in college and participated in a variety of individual skill-development workouts in addition to his Class A and NCAA Division I playing experiences.
“I want to use everything I’ve learned through the years,” he said. “I did a lot of individual workouts, and I want to take a lot of those drills and apply it to the program. There’s a lot of skill building there that’s good for any age.”
Bangor Christian finished 13-7 last winter. The Patriots were ranked seventh in the final Eastern Maine Class D Heal point ratings before defeating Fort Fairfield in the tournament’s preliminary round, and then nearly upset second-ranked Washburn before the Beavers advanced with a 70-69 quarterfinal victory.
This year’s team will have a nucleus of players who are coming off the school’s recent run to a fifth consecutive Class D state championship in boys soccer.
“I know I have a different background where basketball’s been my life and I know I can’t expect the mindset and athletic abilities of Division I players; I think that goes without saying,” McAllian said.
“But I want to inspire these kids and teach them about the game.”