One of the more intriguing high school basketball coaching openings of the current offseason has been filled by a veteran presence.

Earl Anderson, whose varsity coaching career stretches back to the mid-1980’s, has been hired as the boys varsity basketball coach at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport.

Anderson replaces Ryan Martin, who stepped down this spring after six seasons when he was named the school’s new assistant principal.

The 64-year-old Anderson has spent most of his interscholastic basketball coaching career in the Newport-Pittsfield area, beginning with the boys team at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield from 1986 to 1990. He also coached boys basketball at Hampden Academy in 1994 and 1995 while still teaching at MCI.

Anderson is perhaps best known for coaching the Nokomis girls basketball program from 1995 to 2007, particularly a three-year stretch from 2001 through 2003 when his teams compiled a 61-5 record and won the 2001 Class A state championship, a second Eastern Maine crown in 2003 and reached a third regional final in 2002.

He subsequently served as athletic administrator at both MCI and Nokomis before retiring from a 33-year career in education in 2013. Anderson has worked since then as a sales representative for Wight’s Sporting Goods.

“It’s kind of the perfect storm,” said Anderson of his return to coaching. “I’ve always missed it. I’ve missed the collegiality among high school basketball coaches, officials, and most of all I’ve missed the practices. I love the preparation, and in the few times I’ve been in the gym with other teams I was always reminded of that adrenalin rush I don’t get from much else.”

The Nokomis job also appealed to Anderson because he lives in Newport and has many former colleagues who still work at the school, including principal Mary Nadeau.

“Nokomis is one of the few schools for me for a lot of reasons, not only because of location but because of my connections there,” he said. “There’s just a good culture there that I’ve stayed in touch with, and I’m really looking forward to being back.”

Another factor that made the Nokomis job attractive to several candidates was the young players in the system, particularly an incoming freshman class led by twins Cooper and Ace Flagg.

Cooper Flagg, a 6-foot-7 point forward, has earned national recognition within the travel basketball community, and he teamed with Ace Flagg, a 6-6 center, to lead their Maine United team to a Zero Gravity national championship in its age group earlier this year.

“There’s been a lot said about the young kids, but they’re good, solid kids, too, and that’s the most important part,” Anderson said. “I think they really want to be pushed, they really want to be challenged.”

Anderson has familiarized himself with both the returning Nokomis players and newcomers during the team’s summer schedule.

“We’re going to be very young and I know there are going to be some expectations and that’s fine,” he said. “We don’t care about other people’s expectations. We have our own expectations as a team and as a program and we’ve talked a lot this summer about that.

“But these kids love basketball and they’re anxious to start building the foundation of a winning culture. It’s started this summer and it’s going to take a lot of work and effort from everybody but I really think they’re up for the challenge.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...