Double duty: Cooper guides both Hawk hoop programsVeteran coach takes reins of island girls, boys basketball teams
North Haven — If Roman Cooper was not considered the face of North Haven Community School basketball before, he certainly is now.
Cooper, embarking on his 14th season coaching the girls hoop program on the island, is now working double duty for the Hawks, coaching both the boys and girls basketball programs this winter.
Cooper, 44, takes over for Ryan Lantange, who guided the boys the previous four seasons. The Hawks made the Western Class D playoffs last year, but Lantagne stepped down prior to the team's quarterfinal game, citing personal reasons. Cooper stepped up and coached the sixth-seeded Hawks in that playoff game, a 54-34 loss to No. 3 Valley of Bingham.
Cooper said the boys coaching job was advertised over the summer and, after no acceptable candidates came forward, NHCS athletic director Ken Jones asked Cooper to toss his name in the hat.
When asked if he would be interested in coaching both programs, Cooper could not turn down the job.
"[Ken Jones] approached me and said, 'I know it'd be tough, [but can you do it]?' " said Cooper. "And I told him I'd think about it and talked to my wife about it for quite a while [and decided to do it]."
Being a small Class D school, the boys and girls teams travel together on ferry boat trips across Penobscot Bay and then on long bus rides to mainland schools and are together for home games, making the arrangement possible.
Cooper, a 1986 North Haven graduate and the all-time school career scoring leader with 1,485 points, said his coaching stipend would be doubled due to his expanding duties.
The Hawk girls currently have only six players, while the Hawk boys have 10.
North Haven, a kindergarten through grade 12 school, has only 62 students enrolled in classes. Given their typically low enrollment, island schools are permitted to have eighth-graders play on their varsity teams.
Thus, North Haven has seven girls currently enrolled in grades 8-12, six of whom are on the team. Concurrently, 10 of the 12 boys enrolled in grades 8-12 are also playing basketball.
Through the first two days of practice, Roman said everything has run like clockwork.
"I start the girls [practice] at 4 p.m. and go with them until about 5:30, then the boys go from 5:30 until about quarter past seven," he said. "It makes for a long day."
Cooper has two children, Brittany and Erin, both of whom have gone onto college, so the North Haven resident now has more time available to devote to the school's two hoop programs.
"I was at the gym for two and a half hours a night anyway," Cooper said. "By the time I was done with my [girls] practice I'd stick around and help out the boys doing stuff anyway, so the amount of time I'm there isn't that much more. But it's a commitment."
Cooper also owns a business on North Haven, Cooper Construction, along with his brother, Shaun. Cooper's father, David, also was a longtime coach of the island boys basketball team and Roman has been involved in both island hoop programs, in one way or another, for decades.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.