Dirigo coach Travis Magnusson psychs up his team during a timeout at a game against Lisbon in December. Magnusson left Dirigo last week and Thursday was announced as the next boys’ basketball coach at Mt. Blue in Farmington. (Sun Journal File Photo)

Hiring Travis Magnusson as the new Mt. Blue boys’ basketball coach was an easy sell for athletic director Chad Brackett.

Magnusson, who until last week was the boys’ basketball coach at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, will begin his duties immediately.

“(Travis) is a proven coach. He’s had success on and off the court where ever he has been,” Brackett said. “He is just a fantastic coach and his reputation speaks for itself.

“At Livermore (prior to coaching at Dirigo), I know his built their program up on his first stop and turned Dirigo into a perennial winner.

“Beyond his record, he is known as a person who has high expectations, but knows that students first and athletes second. We were just really excited when he was interested in our job.”

The new Mt. Blue coach said there were two reasons why he is moving.

“The travel is a little bit far,” Magnusson, who lives in Readfield, said. “I was traveling an hour and I did it for seven years. With two little kids, especially now, I wanted something closer.

“I was looking at anything with a half hour…and Mt. Blue was in a half hour, so it shortened up my drive a lot. That was the first thing.

“And when I looked at the facilities, I thought it was one of the best gyms in the state. Great place to play, new school facilities,  so I was definitely excited about that as well. Those are the two big things.”

Magnusson is already looking to running a summer camp at the high school.

“It is a great place to run a camp. It is one of the premiere spots,” Magnusson said. 

Magnusson is aware that prosperity has eluded the Cougars the past several years.

“I think Charlie (Castonguay) did a lot of good things,” Magnusson said. “He really got into the youth program a little bit. I think he put in a good foundation for next year.

“I know it is going to be a lot of work. It is not going to happen over night and the players are going to have to be ready and willing to work if we are going to turn it around. But I am excited for the opportunity. Mt. Blue has had a great history.”

Magnusson replaces Castonguay, who resigned for health reasons after coaching for one season.

“I am certainly going to miss coaching and working with the players,” Castonguay said. “The administration was great to work with and we took a big step in the right direction even though the record would not indicate it.”

Brackett said he immediately liked Magnusson for his strong confidence and his high expectations for his student athletes.

“I like that in this particular situation he is realistic about our program right now but optimistic about where the program can go,” Brackett said. “There is a mixture of being realistic with being optimistic, something that myself and the interviewing committee found very appealing about Travis.

“Travis’s job will be made quite a bit easier with some of things Charlie started in one year. Charlie’s mark on the program is going to be here for a long time.”

On May 17, Magnusson, 34, announced he was leaving Dirigo after seven seasons, citing the commute from Readfield, his family and also the school’s decision to eliminate the junior varsity team, saying maintaining a strong program was “almost impossible” without one.

“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 told the Sun Journal. “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.”

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.

Staff Writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this story.

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