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Concord’s Nick Whitmore’s basketball journey led him from New England to the west coast and back again.

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Monitor staff
Sunday, June 19, 2016

He was born a coach’s son and raised on basketball. He started teaching the sport when he was still a teenager. He built his college life around the game. He’s grabbed every rung of the coaching ladder with two enthusiastic hands.

Now, at age 31, Nick Whitmore is the head coach for one of the elite boys’ prep basketball programs in the country, and it just happens to be up the road from his hometown of Concord. After serving as an assistant at New Hampton School for the last two seasons, Whitmore was named the head coach of the boys’ basketball team in late May.

“Taking over our varsity basketball program means he’s going to have to deal with college coaches and them coming to our campus and recruiting our kids, and he’s going to have to help place those kids in the right colleges, and for that you need someone who is invested, who is knowledgeable about the game and who understands all the other aspects that go along it at with this level,” said New Hampton School Athletic Director Jamie Arsenault said. “Nick fits all those bills. Plus, he’s a great guy.”

Whitmore grew up in Concord, played basketball for the Crimson Tide and graduated from Concord High in 2002. But he was born in Vermont because that’s where his dad, former Concord High AD Bill Whitmore, was coaching at the time.

Bill coached high school basketball in New York from 1973-77. He was an assistant coach for the men’s team at the University of Vermont from 1977-81 and was the head man for the Catamounts from 1981-86. He was also an assistant at St. Bonaventure from 1986-89 before moving his family to New Hampshire.

“Nick, along with his brother Aaron and sister Natalie, realized at a young age what the world of college basketball and high school athletics was all about. They lived it first hand,” Bill said. “For Nick to make his own path in teaching and coaching is very special and my wife, Jill, and I are thrilled for him. Nick understands it’s not an easy profession, but one that can be very rewarding.”

Bill ran summer basketball camps in Concord when Nick was growing up, and “I started working there as soon as I was too old to go to camp, when I was 15 or 16, and that’s where it started,” Nick said.

“My dad was definitely the big influence early on, and then certainly Ron DeCarli, who was the head coach at St. Bonaventure when my dad was there and a good family friend,” Nick said. “And then the people I worked with in college were instrumental, I kind of created my college experience around that.”

Whitmore considered extending his playing days at a Division III college, but instead he decided to follow the coaching path and went to the University of Rhode Island. He was a student assistant at URI under Jim Baron, another friend of his father.

“(Baron) gave me full access to the coaching side of things,” Whitmore said. “I was in drills, I got to help with the scouting reports and the video stuff. So I did all that for two years, which was great for me. It was one of those things that was hard at the time, but I really learned a lot.”

Even then Whitmore was looking to diversify his life resume, so after two years at URI he transferred to Boise State.

“I wanted to try something different, so I went out west just to experience a different part of the country,” Whitmore said. “And they had a smaller staff (at Boise State), so I was in charge of all the video exchange, I got to do a lot with the scouting and helping out the coaches, and it was a different kind of basketball, too. (I was) coming from New England and playing at Concord High where it’s 95 percent defense, and then I went to Boise State and we tried to outscore everybody and be the first team to get to 100, so getting to see that was fun.”

After graduating from Boise State he kept moving west and landed in San Francisco. He interviewed for a job as a summer camp basketball director at the city’s Jewish Community Center and wound up getting a full-time job running the Center’s entire youth sports program.

After a year there he went to the independent Drew School in San Francisco where he was the head coach for the boys’ basketball team, taught English and was an assistant director of admissions. At the same time he also started an AAU basketball program with his friend Matt Durell, Bay City Basketball, a program that is still thriving today.

As if he wasn’t already cramming enough basketball into his life, Whitmore also struck up a relationship with Rex Walters, then the head men’s basketball coach at the University of San Francisco at the time, and began spending time with the Dons. Whitmore would go to USF practices in the early morning, work on the AAU program during the day around his teaching schedule and then coach the high school team at night.

It proved to be time well spent. He was hired as the USF director of basketball operations in 2012 and spent two years in that job mastering the technical details of running a major basketball program.

Then, in the summer of 2014, he applied to New Hampton “just to test my resume with those types of jobs, to be honest with you, to see if it was something I wanted to pursue in a year’s time, because I wasn’t planning on leaving USF.”

But when he went to New Hampton with his fiancee (now wife), B Cornog, they fell in love with the school – the academics, the athletics, the setting, the value structure, and, most of all, the people. So he accepted a job as an English teacher and assistant boys’ basketball coach under Pete Hutchins. Cornog, who is from Keene, was also hired to teach English at New Hampton (she’s also an assistant field hockey coach at the school) and the two moved back to New Hampshire.

“(Hutchins) was awesome from day one,” Whitmore said. “He wanted me to be heavily involved and he gave me tons of opportunities to make mistakes and experiment and learn.”

The people at New Hampton thought Whitmore was pretty awesome from day one, too, because when Hutchins left this spring for an assistant coaching position at Dartmouth College, there was little doubt who the next head coach would be.

“We didn’t have an open hiring process because we knew we had the right guy,” Arsenault said. “We kind of knew when we hired Nick that he would be a great guy if Pete was ever going to step down, and when that happened Nick had already proven himself above and beyond what we needed to see. So we didn’t need to look anywhere further. We knew we had the right guy.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)