BAR HARBOR — Chris McGuire’s first game coaching the Mount Desert Island High School freshman boys’ basketball team was one he’ll never forget.
In MDI’s opening game against Brewer, McGuire and the Trojans found themselves in a predicament. Trailing by 12 inside the first 10 minutes, it was far from the start McGuire had wanted.
Yet after a called timeout to draw up a few new plays, his team bounced back and did so in style. MDI took a two-point lead at halftime and ended up winning the game by 15.
“It was the best moment I’ve had in nine years of coaching,” McGuire said. “The way we made adjustments and how they responded to that was so much fun, and it set us up for what we were able to do the rest of the year.”
For an MDI team that has had a lot of successful seasons in the past, the win was a start of another. The Trojans couldn’t quite match last year’s undefeated freshman season, but they came close by finishing with a 17-2 record.
That record came as a result of the team’s development throughout the season. Because players can only play one season at the freshman level, McGuire, who took over after former Coach Kyle McKim was selected to lead the JV team, had another task on his hands.
“You want to succeed, but the biggest pressure comes with getting them prepared,” McGuire said. “You want to make sure that the coaches at the JV and varsity levels are getting players who are ready and that they don’t have to do any backfilling once they get to the next two levels.”
McGuire had previously coached the girls’ team at Connors Emerson School, but coaching at the high school level proved to be a different experience for him. Throughout the first few games and practices, the differences in play became very apparent.
“The first thing I noticed was the speed of the high school players,” McGuire said. “You obviously know it’s going to be different, but you don’t fully see or experience it until you’re coaching them up close.”
Seeing that firsthand, McGuire said, gave him flashbacks to his own teenage years. The switch to coaching high school was an adjustment, but it was one he’s glad to have made in the long run.
“I think our record and what we did speaks for itself,” McGuire said. “They had great chemistry on and off the court, and I felt like there was really no limit to what they could do.”