BRUNSWICK — A new yet familiar face will lead the Brunswick High School boys basketball program this season.

Former Brunswick assistant coach Ben Clark, 41, will take over the program for Todd Hanson, who announced in April he was retiring after 25 years with the program.

“This is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” said Clark, who is also a social studies teacher at Brunswick High. “To teach and coach in the community you live in is an incredible opportunity and I’m genuinely grateful and excited to get going.”

Ben Clark, middle, draws up a play during a timeout while coaching the Brunswick junior varsity boys basketball team. Clark is the new varsity head coach at Brunswick. Photo provided by Ben Clark

Clark, a Skowhegan native, had been an assistant under Hanson for the last three seasons.

Clark was a member of the 1998 Skowhegan boys basketball team that won the 1998 Class A state championship, the only Gold Ball in the program history. He went on to play football and basketball at Norwich University in Norwich, Vermont.

“I think that playing at the next level helped me see the game differently,” Clark said.

Since then, he’s been coaching at the high school level at different stops throughout northern New England.

“I’ve been coaching ever since I graduated from Norwich with a year or two off here and there,” said Clark, who resides in Brunswick with his wife and two children.

Clark started off coaching the junior varsity boys team at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, Vermont before moving to Maine. He coached the Wiscasset girls program for six seasons before joining Hanson’s staff in Brunswick.

“Coach (Hanson) is a mentor and a real friend. I feel lucky to have been with him for his final seasons,” said Clark. “To be able to learn from someone who is so good at what they do for so long, I feel very fortunate to have been in that situation.”

Ben Clark watches the action during a 2019-20 Brunswick junior varsity game against Biddeford. Clark is the new varsity boys coach at Brunswick. Photo provided by Ben Clark

Brunswick High assistant principal Tim Gagnon, who led the hiring committee, said Clark stood out for a variety of reasons.

“A lot of it was his interaction with the students; he wants to be around them and they want to be around him,” said Gagnon. “I like that connectivity, and he has a good relationship with the community, too.”

The experience under Hanson helped, too.

“Absolutely,” said Gagnon. “He knows the kids and knows the program, something that was appealing to me.”

Clark says that he will implement his own philosophies, but that he and Hanson are a lot alike.

“We’re more alike than we’re not,” said Clark. “It’s hard to go away from something that’s been successful for so long, so we’ll keep some of that (Hanson’s ideas) in the program.”

Hanson was known for his calm yet engaging demeanor while roaming the sidelines. Clark says he can’t promise he’ll be as poised as Hanson showed.

Brunswick junior varsity boys basketball coach Ben Clark talks with a player during a 2019-20 game Clark is the new boys basketball coach at Brunswick High School. Photo provided by Ben Clark

“I think his ability to be poised under pressure-filled moments has rubbed off on myself and the players who have come through the program,” said Clark. “I try to emulate that, but it’s an emotional game and I’m an emotional person. I’m sure I’ll find a happy medium.”

Though the Dragons graduated seven seniors, Clark said numbers are great as he navigates through his first summer league directing the team.

“This is a good opportunity for me to figure out some things and for the players to get better,” he said. “It’ll be an adjustment for everyone involved but it’s been great thus far.”

Clark added that he knows help is available if needed.

“He’s (Hanson) always a phone call away,” he said. “The program is in a great spot (and) everyone is ready for what’s to come this winter.”

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