Bangor shows confidence in change with second chance for Carl Parker as coach

Second chances are often success stories, and that may occur for Carl Parker in his second stint as the Bangor High School boys basketball coach after being fired from the job 30 years ago after two seasons.

Parker’s hiring on Thursday shows that the Bangor School Committee and athletic director Steve Vanidestine believe Parker has changed since losing his job over two incidents when he was issued technical fouls as the Bangor coach during the 1984-85 season. At the time, Bangor High principal Dr. John Fahey did not comment on those incidents, which Parker described during a two-hour school committee meeting in which the public voiced its support for the coach.

In a Bangor Daily News story on April 23, 1985, by Mike Dowd, Parker explained the two incidents that occurred that led to reprimands by Fahey.

The first incident involved a near fight between a Bangor and Nokomis player during a game on Jan. 12, when the Bangor player was ejected from the game but the Nokomis player was not ejected as the first half ended. A technical foul was called on the Bangor player, and Parker lost his temper. He tossed an official’s warmup jacket from the scorer’s table and carried a bench chair into the locker room at halftime.

“I know I was wrong. I admit that,” Parker told the audience in the story. “I discussed the incident with Dr. Fahey. I admitted I was wrong and told him such a thing would not happen again. And I thought that was the end of the incident.”

The second incident occurred after Fahey was upset that the WABI-TV cameras focused on Parker after he was called for a technical foul during a Bangor-Brewer tourney game.

“I can’t fathom how I can be held accountable on why channel 5 put the camera on me in the tournament,” Parker said in the story. “I know in the game a couple of incidents happened. I don’t think anything should have had the ramifications [for his job] that it obviously has had.”

When then asked to give reasons for Parker’s dismissal, Bangor Superintendent Dr. Arthur Pierce, declined to comment in the story.

However, during the meeting, school committee chairwoman Judy Guay did address the public when about two dozen members voiced their support for Parker.

“Carl is not facing nonrenewal for no cause,” Guay said in the story. “I told Carl on the phone I feel he is a fantastic coach, but as far as children learning by representation, or by what they see, I do not feel he sets a good example. I would not want my children learning from his example. We as a body feel the decision of our administration is a decision we will abide by.”

At the time, the Bangor administration and school committee apparently felt that Parker could not change despite his assurances that he could and despite the support of many community members.

Other school committees and administrations, however, felt Parker could do so, and he went on to serve as the head coach of boys varsity basketball teams at Foxcroft Academy, Maine Central Institute and Nokomis. He also became a school administrator, serving as athletic director at Nokomis.

Parents outside of high school teams also showed their confidence in Parker as he coached numerous AAU basketball squads.

It’s reasonable, however, to understand Bangor’s decision at that time not to rehire Parker, and Guay’s assessment hits close to home for any parents who have children participating in athletics.

The decision led to the hiring of Roger Reed as the next Bangor boys basketball coach, and it’s hard to argue with the success he brought to the program during his 27 years. It also led to many new opportunities for Parker, who told the BDN Thursday he was able to develop a body of work, and he looked at the positive side of what occurred after leaving Bangor, rather than the negative.

That body of work certainly showed that he did change, and Bangor agrees, given its decision Thursday.

Parker said Friday that he has benefited from “life experiences” and knows how to better handle situations.

He added that he will leave it up to others to judge on how much he has changed, but he said he does not get very many technical fouls and realizes there are parts of the game he cannot control.

As a coach, he said he has the “same passion and energy” for the job, but he believes he has benefited from the added perspectives of watching his children compete in athletics, his work as an athletic director and his years as an AAU coach, where parents are more actively involved.

That interaction also is beneficial, he added, as people judge him for his total personality and not just from his sideline coaching personality.

Parker realizes he has a challenging job ahead, but he believes his experience will help him formulate an effective plan. He also has the support of his athletic director.

“Over 30 years ago, Carl and I coached on the same football staff with coach Gabby Price,” Vanidestine said Thursday. “Carl was one of the best coaches then, and he’s one of the best coaches now.

“The difference, in my opinion, is that Carl has been honest with himself, he’s changed a lot in 30 years, and I think he’s put all the good things he has as a coach in a place where he can use them effectively, and he realizes that there’s a mission here he wants to be part of at this point of his life,” he said.

It’s a mission and a second chance. Using the past 30 years as a guide, it’s a safe bet that Parker will diligently tackle the mission and second chance.

Note: This blog has been updated with Friday comments from Carl Parker.

Joe McLaughlin

About Joe McLaughlin

McLaughlin (right) is a Stearns High School and University of Maine graduate who worked for three years at the Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou as a reporter and editor. He has worked on the BDN sports desk for 30 years, the last 18 as sports editor. McLaughlin and his wife, Kathy Schwigan, live in Brewer and have three adult children: Ryan, Matthew and Tess.