Andrew Novick says the 100-mile drive from Falmouth to Plymouth, New Hampshire, isn’t as far as it sounds.
Novick, the head men’s basketball coach at Plymouth State University, makes the 200-mile round trip six days a week during the season. Such is life for the Deering High School alum who pursues his passion while remaining dedicated to his family in southern Maine.
“By the time you reach the season you’re so locked in in terms of preparation and what you have to do every day,” Novick said. “I find driving to be a good relaxer for me, especially after practice.”
Novick, 44, spends his driving time wisely. He makes recruiting calls to high school athletes and coaches, and talks to coaching staff and players. He’s had plenty of meals in his car, too.
The basketball season runs from Oct. 15 until the last week of February, notwithstanding a two- or three-week winter break. Outside the season, Novick commutes to Plymouth State a couple times a week for academic advising and mentorship. There’s a minimal summer commitment.
“In the offseason, the ride can be a little bit longer than during the season,” Novick said.
His passion for coaching began with Saturday mornings spent leading clinics during his high school days. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1999, and worked during college summers with Portland’s YES! youth basketball program. While in a postgraduate job on Wall Street, Novick felt drawn again to coaching and the opportunity to work with young people and teach not just basketball but life skills learned through sports.
His coaching career started with a year as an assistant at Cheverus High School. From there, a graduate assistantship at the University of Maryland. He then spent five years as an assistant coach at Tulane University in Louisiana – and another year at Cheverus – before taking the Plymouth State job in 2011.
He didn’t necessarily see Plymouth State as a long-term fit when he accepted the job, but that’s what it’s become. At the time, Novick weighed other offers, including a Division I opportunity.
“(Plymouth State) gave me a chance to run my own program and see what Division III was all about,” Novick said. “One year led to 11 years and I’m still doing it. I really enjoy it.”
While Novick focuses much of his recruiting attention on New Hampshire students, he’s also had some Mainers on his roster. Liam Densmore, a 2015 Portland High School graduate (who transferred from Deering his senior year), was in the Class of 2019; Boothbay’s Ben Pearce is a freshman on the Plymouth State squad.
Novick’s family owns Hub Furniture Co., a Portland and Westbrook institution since 1913. He even was the business’ operations manager until stepping down last November to pursue other projects in addition to coaching.
In his nearly dozen years at Plymouth State, Novick has canceled just a single practice due to inclement weather. He has slept in his office once or twice, but that’s rare. Novick said he would rather take it slow to the gym both ways – even if it takes nearly five hours one way – because it’s important to be home in the mornings with his wife, Sabrina, to get their 13- and 10-year-old boys off to school.
“When you’re in the season and trying to win games and meet the expectations of yourself and your team,” Novick said, “you just do things to make sure that you get done what you want to get done.”
Greg Levinsky is a Portland native and follower of local sports. He is an alumnus of Deering High School and Boston University whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, and several Maine newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].