Dick Barstow still plans to maintain contact with basketball next winter.
He’ ll follow his favorite college teams, including North Carolina, Duke, UCLA and his alma mater, Syracuse.
He also might help out at the local high school — but that won’ t be in the same town where he began coaching in 1960 and where that career concluded last winter.
Barstow, the winningest coach in Maine high school basketball history with more than 665 wins over 48 years, has decided not to attempt to keep his job at Katahdin of Stacyville after the local school board opted to seek new applicants after the 2007-08 season.
Instead, the 74-year-old member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame and New England Basketball Hall of Fame is selling his home in Sherman and moving to Dunedin, Fla.
“Last spring I thought about retiring from coaching after next season,” said Barstow, whose teams won four state championships and seven Eastern Maine titles. “I found a mobile home down there, but it was sold before I could buy it.
“I went back down around the Fourth of July, looked at three or four other units in the same park and bought one with the idea that if I didn’ t coach I’ d be down there and if I did coach it would still be there for me.”
Barstow’ s coaching future came into question this spring when despite receiving positive postseason evaluations from both Katahdin principal Rae Bates and athletic administrator Phil Faulkner, Bates recommended he not be rehired and Faulkner recommended he be rehired with reservations.
When that news became public, some friends and other community members suggested Barstow fight to keep his job, and while he considered reapplying the Worcester, Mass., native ultimately decided not to pursue the matter.
“Even if I did get the job back I’ d be working for a principal who didn’ t want me and an athletic director who was iffy about me,” said Barstow.
SAD 25 is expected to hire Barstow’ s replacement at its Aug. 13 board meeting.
A graduate of Dexter Regional High School and a football and baseball player at Syracuse, Barstow accepted his first teaching job at Sherman High School in March 1960, just after completing a two-year hitch in the Army.
He taught for the remainder of the academic year while living with the school principal and his wife, and enjoyed the experience enough to return the next fall.
“They gave me a $200 bonus and said they wanted me to come back, and I wanted to come back,” said Barstow.
The girls’ varsity basketball team also needed a coach for the 1960-61 season, and Barstow’ s acceptance of that job commenced a nearly five-decade career on the bench.
“Gerry Duffy was the boys’ coach at the time, and when I first got here we fished a lot together that spring,” said Barstow. “He helped get me started. He helped me with the kids that were coming back to Sherman the next year, and I hadn’ t coached any drills before and he helped me get started with that, too.”
Barstow took over at Katahdin when that school formed from the merger of Sherman and Patten high schools, and led the Cougars to the inaugural Class C girls state championship game in 1975, a battle Katahdin lost to Hall-Dale of Farmingdale 64-62 in triple overtime.
He later coached at Central Aroostook in Mars Hill, Waterville and Presque Isle before returning to Katahdin for the 1997-98 season. Barstow’ s teams won Class C state titles with Central Aroostook in 1981 and 1982 and Class A championships in 1990 and 1997 with Presque Isle. His teams also earned seven Eastern Maine titles, and at one time won 84 consecutive games.
Katahdin has not had a winning season since 2004 but advanced to the Eastern Maine Class D semifinals during Barstow’ s final campaign. The ninth-ranked Cougars edged No. 8 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook in overtime in the preliminary round, then defeated top-ranked Washburn in overtime in the quarterfinals before falling to Ashland in the semifinals to finish with a 9-12 record.
Barstow battled Lyme disease last winter but reports his health is much improved this summer.
Barstow plans to return to his camp on Moosehead Lake during the summer months in future years, but admits he may not spend much time in the Sherman area given the controversial end of his coaching career at Katahdin.
But rather than dwell on that, he’ s more intent on looking ahead to life in Florida, seeing friends and relatives, and perhaps helping out the basketball team at nearby Dunedin High School or maybe working as an usher at the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays.
And, of course, there are plenty of stirring memories from a record-setting coaching career to recall.
“I’ ll think mostly about some of the kids who performed well in high school and went on to play in college, or players who might not have played in college but had fine high school careers,” said Barstow. “It’ s been a lot of fun.”