HAMPDEN – Russell Bartlett, who last year coached the Hampden Academy boys junior varsity basketball team, was elevated to varsity head coach by the SAD 22 board of directors Wednesday night, according to Superintendent of Schools Rick Lyons.
Bartlett, 26, succeeds Andy Frace, who resigned from the boys basketball and soccer jobs earlier this spring.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity,” said Bartlett, who teaches K-5 physical education in the district. “I’ve always wanted to coach, and as it’s turned out, I get the chance to coach where I played.”
A native of Newburgh, Bartlett played two years of varsity basketball under coach Earl Anderson at Hampden Academy. In 1993-94, Bartlett’s junior year, the Broncos went 12-6 and qualified for tournament play before falling in the Eastern A quarterfinals to eventual state champion Lawrence of Fairfield. A year later, the Broncos finished 6-12.
Bartlett went on to graduate from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. He also began his high school coaching career in The County as a varsity assistant at Caribou for two years before returning to Hampden Academy, where he was the boys freshman coach for two years before leading the JV squad during the 2002-2003 campaign.
The Hampden varsity finished 7-11 last winter and returns only one senior next season. The Broncos will be led by 6-foot-9 sophomore Jordan Cook, who leads all returning Broncos in minutes played last season.
“We’re going to be very young,” said Bartlett. “We’ll be a team of primarily sophomores and juniors. It’s a great situation for me, really. I can go in and sell my philosophy to the kids as to what we want to stand for at Hampden Academy.
“We want to work harder than everyone else, play great man-to-man defense, and get great shots.”