Dirigo varsity boys’ basketball coach Travis Magnusson talks to his team during a timeout at a home game in December 2017. Magnusson has resigned as head basketball coach. (Sun Journal file photo)

Travis Magnusson has stepped down from his position as Dirigo High School’s boys’ basketball coach after seven years at the helm.

Magnusson, 34, sent his letter of resignation to the athletic department early Thursday. 

He cited the difficulty of making the commute from his home in Readfield to the Dixfield school as one of the reasons he’s stepping aside, as well as trying to maintain the program’s success while raising a young family. He and his wife, Karen, who served as his assistant the past two years after serving as the Dirigo girls’ basketball head coach from 2014-2016, have two sons, ages four-and-a-half and one-and-a-half.

His father, Marty, also served as an assistant coach.

“It was really hard to make that decision. Coming to Dirigo is one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Travis Magnusson, who spent four years as boys’ basketball head coach at Livermore Falls High School before that school merged with Jay High School to become Spruce Mountain.

“We had so much success, but the biggest thing was the relationships I had with players and families were very valuable to my whole family,” he added.

At Dirigo, Magnusson compiled a 118-29 record, winning four Mountain Valley Conference titles, regional titles in 2012 and 2015, and the Class C state championship in 2012. The Cougars went undefeated at home in six of his seven seasons, winning 45 in a row at one point.

Last season, the Cougars finished 12-7, losing in the C South quarterfinals to Richmond.

Last season was also Dirigo’s first without a junior varsity team due to budget cuts, a source of frustration for Magnusson and other coaches in the district. 

Asked on Thursday if the lack of a feeder system played a part in his decision to leave, Magnusson said maintaining a strong program without one was “almost impossible.”

“I have so many good memories at Dirigo. I’m proud of the people that committed to the program and stayed with it, and I think they got better because of it. But some things have changed a little bit and that’s one of them,” he said. “It’s hard to get kids excited to play sports, and that coupled with me being a tough coach to play for and having an hour commute, it’s just going to be hard to maintain the program going forward.”

He said he believed Dirigo would be better served with a coach who lived in the community and/or had a history with Dirigo basketball. He also added that he plans to coach again, possibly as soon as next season.

Magnusson, who scored over 2,000 points for Georges Valley before the school merged with Rockland to become Oceanside, said he enjoyed the family atmosphere of the school while gaining some insight on what made one of his former rivals so successful.

“I’d put my players up against anybody as far as work ethic and character,” he said. “They worked so hard. Night in and night out, they were ready to play, whether it was the best player on the team or a role player. And I loved how intense our bench was. Other coaches commented on how our bench was so engaged in the game.”

“The last seven years kind of flew by,” he said. “I was there a little longer than I expected to be when I first took the job.”

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