Tom Hanscom Credit: Courtesy of Tom Hanscom

Tom Hanscom was the video coordinator for the University of Maine football team, but when the fall season was canceled and moved to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was without a job.

Orono High School athletic director Mike Archer needed a golf coach after Matt Murray left and Archer knew Hanscom and his passion for the sport.

Archer hired Hanscom, who, shortly afterward, also landed a job as a full-time substitute teacher at Orono High.

The 23-year-old Hanscom guided the Red Riots to the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C championship, and they are one of the favorites Saturday to win the program’s first state title at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

The Class A state championships were held Friday. Class B also is scheduled for Saturday at Natanis and will tee off on the Tomahawk Course. Class C will play the Arrowhead layout.

Orono, which finished second to Kents Hill by 10 shots last season, returns five of its top six players from 2019. That group includes seniors Franc Fowler, who finished second with a 4-over-par 76, and Zack Dill, who was third with an 80.

Hanscom, an Orrington native, didn’t play high school golf until his senior year at John Bapst High School in Bangor.

“It’s exciting to see young golfers who are eager to learn taking instructions as well as they have,” Hanscom said. “They’ll make mistakes and correct them.

“They’re eager to play well. It’s very cool to see. It has been a thrill,” he said.

Hanscom said he has been trying to instill the importance of the mental aspect of the game, course management and the short game.

“He’s really patient and he works with all of us,” Fowler said.

“He is so enthusiastic about golf and he is really level-headed. He has a calm demeanor,” Archer said.

Hanscom pointed out that he has learned a lot in his first coaching venture.

“You have to understand [golf] in order to teach it. When they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to, I’ll look it up,” he said. “I want to have an answer for them.

“We have progressed as a team and I have progressed myself as well,” he said. “It has been a real good season especially considering COVID-19 and a shortened season.”

Hanscom, who would like to become a teaching professional someday, said he tries to keep it fun for the players.

Orono also returns seniors Jordan Cota and Jason Desisto, who finished tied for 41st and tied for 54th, respectively, in last year’s state tournament, and sophomore Ellis Spaulding (tied for 66th).

Junior Clarice Bell was the medalist for the girls at the PVC Class C championships with a 99 at Jato Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln. And senior Alyssa Labelle is also a seasoned veteran.

Fowler was second overall in the boys division behind Brandon Savage of Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln.

“I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to [inherit] a team with five seniors who resurrected the program,” said Hanscom, who added that his team has exceptional depth with all of his top five players all being able to post low scores.

Hanscom and Fowler said the key to playing well at the Arrowhead course is to keep their drives in the fairway.

Mt. Ararat of Topsham and York are the defending state champs in Classes A and B, respectively.

Mattanawcook Academy, state champs in 2015, ’16 and ’17, and 2018 state titlist Houlton also qualified for the state championship tournaments from the PVC in Class C.

Hermon, John Bapst and Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor are the league’s “B” qualifiers and Hampden Academy is the only “A” representative because only three teams participated with Bangor and Brewer being the others.