The first time he coached at Rangeley Lakes Regional High School, Matt Clark didn’t quite have the pedigree he has now.

After spending nearly a decade learning from one of the legendary coaches in Maine, Clark is ready to return to his hometown and pass on what he’s gleaned.

Clark, the varsity girls coach at Rangeley in the mid-to-late 1990s, will return to coach boys’ varsity basketball in November, pending school board approval next week. 

Clark, 51, replaces Tom Philbrick, who stepped down to become varsity girls’ basketball coach at Mt. Blue. Philbrook, who will remain at Rangeley as assistant principal and athletic director, compiled a 44-51 record in five seasons coaching the Lakers.

“I was kind of on my own the first time around,” said Clark, who led the Lakers to a 47-57 record between 1995 and 2000. “I started in junior high and moved up to the varsity ranks, so I didn’t really have a tutor that I worked under. I was doing it on my own.”

Immediately after leaving Rangeley, Clark became an assistant to
Gavin Kane with both the Dirigo boys and girls basketball teams. He
helped fellow assistant Rebecca Fletcher coach the Cougars’ summer
program after Kane left to become an assistant women’s basketball coach
at the University of Maine.

At Rangeley, he hopes to build the success he
helped breed at Dirigo, where the Cougars won six regional titles and
three state championships during his time there. To do that, he said,
it will have to start with defense.

“I’m going to build on defense. Offensively, I’m not sure what
we have because of not seeing all the kids yet, but I feel that any kid
definitely can play defense,” he said. “The way we played at Dirigo,
I’m just going to carry that tradition on to the Rangeley program.”

“Working
under coach Kane, coach Fletcher, was a tremendous learning
experience,” he said. “So I feel like what I can bring to the plate in
Rangeley is how to build a good, solid program. If the kids are willing
to work and put the time and effort in that we expected in the Dirigo
program, then Rangeley will definitely benefit from that.”

Rangeley finished 4-14 last season and out of the Western Class D tournament for the first time in four years. The Lakers graduated just two seniors and bring back their entire frontcourt this year, and Clark will still inherit one of the youngest teams in Western Class D, with one senior, five juniors and seven sophomores.

“I haven’t seen very much of them,”said Clark, who lives in Dallas Plantation. “I watched a couple of open gyms that they had. Part of the team was there and a good part of them were off for the baseball and whatever, so they didn’t really have a good summer program set up for them.”

Fortunately for Clark, his brother Tony served as an assistant during Philbrick’s entire tenure and will be able to help him become familiar with the players.

“That will help with the adjustment period, definitely,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he added. “I’m grateful to Rangeley for giving me this opportunity to get back to my hometown.”


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