Derrick Cooper, who coached the Fort Kent boys varsity basketball team to five postseason appearances in the last six seasons, has stepped down from that post.
Cooper cited personal reasons for his decision, Fort Kent athletic administrator Eric Werntgen said.
He will continue to serve as a special education teacher at the high school, according to Valley Unified Superintendent Ben Sirois.
Before taking the high school job, Cooper helped rebuild the Fort Kent basketball program at the middle-school level and then restored the junior varsity team during his first year at the high school coach.
Cooper led the Fort Kent varsity squad to a 67-48 record over the next six winters.
“Coach Cooper brought a great passion and a wealth of knowledge to the program,” Werntgen said. “He truly coached for the kids and worked hard to build positive relationships on and off the court. For coach Cooper it was more about teaching life lessons than anything else.”
In 2016, he guided the Warriors to their first regional quarterfinal appearance in 16 years. Cooper then led Fort Kent to the Class C North semifinals two years later. In both instances Fort Kent was eliminated by George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, which went on to win the state championship in each of those seasons.
Fort Kent finished sixth in Class C North last winter with a 14-4 regular-season record before falling to Calais 53-48 in the tournament’s preliminary round.
Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School booster club president Suzie Paradis, whose son Eden Paradis is a senior on the team, said she appreciates the efforts Cooper put into coaching.
“Derrick has coached over 100 high school athletes (over the) years, and has had an amazing influence on these athletes,” Paradis said. “As booster club president and the parent of an athlete, I thank you for the years you have dedicated to your team and to my son.”
Cooper was a standout soccer and basketball player at Madawaska High School who went on to star in both sports at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. There, he captained the basketball and soccer teams as a senior.
He went on to serve as an assistant basketball coach under Werntgen at UMFK before beginning his coaching stint at Fort Kent.
Werntgen said a search for Cooper’s replacement will begin immediately. Interested candidates may apply through the sad27.org website or by contacting Werntgen at 834-5540 or at email@example.com.
Reporter Jessica Potila of the St. John Valley Times contributed to this report.