Friday, September 25, 2020

Windham Youth Football and Cheerleading begin their fall season

By Matt Pascarella

Jacob McPherson prepares to take the handoff from
quarterback Tyler Libby as teammates Caleb
Jordan-Gethers and Brayden Penney lead the way 
up the field during a previous Windham Youth
Football game. Windham Youth Football will start
as early as the first week of October and is open to
grades Kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Windham Youth Football board made the decision that whatever was decided by the Maine Principal’s Association in regard to high school football, Windham Youth Football would follow that decision. The MPA decision was to not allow tackle football during the fall season, so Windham Youth Football will allow flag football or seven on seven.

Windham Youth Football teams have opened their flag football and youth cheering programs which run through October. The programs are open to boys and girls kindergarten through eighth grade.

Windham Youth Football
will continue to offer an NFL flag football program for children in Kindergarten through Grade 2. They will also offer a flag football program modeled after USA Football’s flag football guidelines for grades 3 through 8.

The implementation of COVID-19 protocols will be a change for flag football. A more open style of play is encouraged in flag football. There will be no contact between players. Players that have traditionally been used to block or protect the passing quarterback will find him or herself the one who is being passed to or even doing the passing.

“Our flag football program will bring kids together for organized play that will be beneficial for them physically, mentally, socially and emotionally,” said Keith Boyle, vice president of Windham Youth Football and a seventh and eighth grade football coach for the program.

Spectators will be allowed, though they must follow the guidelines for prevention of COVID-19. This
means wearing a mask and social distancing.

Windham Youth Football is concerned for the safety and well-being of the children of the community. They believe participation in organized sport(s) is an essential experience.

Youth athletics provide reinforcement of concepts and fundamentals for success in life like goal setting, leadership, teamwork, dependability, perseverance, to name just a few. In these strange times the most important might be to provide an opportunity to be a kid, to play with friends and enjoy a carefree time,” said Boyle.

Director of Windham Youth Cheering, Christina Byther, said Windham Youth Cheering was something the community was missing. The Windham Youth Football board does a great job of setting up kids for success on the field, but she wanted to see some kids on the sidelines. The Windham Youth Football board was very supportive and approved a cheering team.

Participants will have a COVID-19 prescreen, wear a mask through their entire practice and practice social distancing. Their coaches will be COVID-19 trained and they are eliminating stunting this season to maintain appropriate space between athletes.

The Windham Youth Cheerleading program has
and will run through October. It is open to
grades Kindergarten through Grade 8 and coached 
by Julie Farley and McKenna Smart. Front from
left are Gabriella Wright, Rowan Cummings, Alyssa
Cooper and Isabella Albano. Back from left are
Brooklyn Boucher, Brooke Hanrahan, Rylee Keppner,
Monica Farley and Giada Girard.
“One of the jobs of a cheerleader is to spread joy and encouragement. Right now, our kids need to feel some extra encouragement and to feel excited about something,” said Byther. “Cheerleading is a very athletic sport. This is a great opportunity for kids to get their bodies moving and learn some new skills.” 

Byther’s hope is for kids to enjoy the fall weather, become stronger athletes and work on the fundamentals of cheerleading skills. “Additionally, this shows the awesome kids in this town that their ‘grown-ups’ are committed to showing them how to make the best out of a tough situation, work together, and enjoy the company of their peers...even from a distance.”

Windham Youth Football is a non-profit organization that is passionate about youth football, their cheering program and the well-being of the community’s youth. If you share that passion, please join in supporting their efforts. <grades kindergarten through eighth grade. 


Gorham Westbrook tri-match golf exhibition shows Windham ready for season

By Matt Pascarella

Drew Mathieu of Windham putts on the green
at Sunset Ridge during a boys' varsity golf
exhibition tri-match against Westbrook and
Gorham. Windham came in second with a team
total of 219. They beat Westbrook 11-2 and lost to 

A couple days before the start of their regular season, Windham’s varsity golf team traveled to Sunset Ridge, a par 35, in Westbrook to participate in a preseason exhibition tri-match between Westbrook and Gorham on Monday, Sept. 21.

Windham came in second with a team total of 219. In points, they beat Westbrook 11-2 and lost to Gorham 8-5.

Overall, Gorham was the winner of the three with a team total of 207 and Westbrook was third with 267.

The teams were broken into groups of three with each group consisting of a member from each team.

Individually, Drew Mathieu shot a 39 for Windham. Teammates Lukas Hradecky shot a 42; Ryan Silva shot a 43; Will Mannette shot a 48; Chase McPherson shot a 58 and Logan Marden shot a 47.

“I’m very optimistic; I’m glad we get to play. I’m just happy we get to be out here with my teammates again,” said senior and captain Drew Mathieu. “I’m hoping we play well, it’s a shortened season, but that doesn’t change anything. I’m hoping we go out there and play well the whole season.”

Windham Coach Adam Manzo has a goal of finishing the season. He said he knows that might sound silly, but he also knows he and his team are lucky to get a season and be able to compete for a state championship, as not every sport gets to do that this season.

“We have had some high scores on that course (Sunset Ridge) over the years, so to do what they did with less than a week of practice was decent,” said Manzo. <

After a solid effort, Windham can’t hold off GNG

By Matt Pascarella

CJ McDonald of the Windham Maroon team
crushes the ball during a Windham Little League
game against GNG at Ciccarone Field at Lowell
Farm in Windham on Sept. 20.

Although Windham Little League’s major division fall baseball team, the Windham Maroon, put in a great effort to turn things around, they weren’t able to hold off GNG and fell 7-3 on Sunday, Sept. 20 at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm in Windham.

In the first inning, Ronin Rotaru singled; in the second inning, Brayden Dunn got a base hit and in the third inning, CJ McDonald singled for Windham.

In the fourth inning, Rotaru got on base, stole second and just kept going until he landed at home plate and scored Windham’s first run of the game.

Windham rallied in the fifth inning as Liam Kalakowsky doubled and scored. Alex Pastore hit a double to left field and later scored. Ethan Clapp also doubled.

“We’ve been mixing up pitchers and positions, pushing boys out of their comfort zone,” said Windham coach Dustin Bartz. “Our team has a really good vibe and that will strengthen throughout this short season. They are having fun, which is a big key to their progress, and we’ll see some amazing moments. Obviously, improvements always need to be made but that doesn’t overshadow how amazing these boys are right now; they impress me constantly.”

Although GNG pulled ahead, Windham had strong defense from the start. In the first inning, Windham threw a runner out at home and catcher Kalakowsky tagged a runner out on his way to home.

“I really wanted to pitch,” said Windham pitcher Clapp, who pitched the sixth inning and helped Windham as they let only one run by in GNG’s final at-bat. In regard to pitching, Clapp said he gave his pitches some variation, but also wanted to throw heat.

“We did good, we were all having fun and were trying,” he said. <

Friday, September 18, 2020

MPA greenlights most prep fall sports deemed as ‘low risk’

By Matt Pascarella

After weeks of discussions between the Maine Principals Association (MPA), Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ office and the Maine Superintendents School Association (MSSA), the MPA has given the green light for a fall season for all sports except football and volleyball.

Both of those sports will be moved to late winter or early spring, although the MPA did give the okay for seven-on-seven touch football and outdoor volleyball.

RSU 14 is looking at some outside skills and drills for the volleyball team. Football will hopefully participate in seven-on-seven strength and conditioning and team building. The school district is also awaiting further guidance on cheerleading but is looking at some skills sand drills for them.

The Windham girls' soccer team warms up during
one of the first practices of the season in
preparation for the team's opening game on
The Maine Guidelines for Community Based Sports classified golf and cross country as low risk and soccer and field hockey as moderate risk.

Practices for those sports began Tuesday, Sept. 14. The regular season for fall prep sports opens on Sept. 25, except for prep golf which begins Sept. 23.

There will be noticeable changes this season. In soccer, you will see less players in the goal box, and in field hockey there will be less substitute players; cross country will have staggered starts. Unfortunately, spectators will not be allowed during home games during the season.

Because of a low-risk factor, only cross country and golf have been cleared to participate in a post-season this fall. No other prep sports will have playoffs in Maine.

While waiting on Windham High School’s field hockey turf, senior Carissa O’Connell said that she sees the upcoming season as “an opportunity for athletes to come together and show sports are good for the community.”

Even though the season is not what they were expecting, they can turn it into something positive.

Players on the Windham girls’ soccer team are extremely excited to be back playing, especially after the cancellation of the spring season.

“RSU 14 Athletic Director Rich Drummond and Athletic Trainer Casey Sinclair have done a tremendous job preparing us on how to safely run practices and games,” said Windham girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “You can expect to see a very competitive team on the field this fall.”

In the document released by the MPA, state officials and other agencies said players, coaches, staff, officials and spectators are required to wear a face covering when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Face coverings must be worn when not engaged in vigorous activities. Face coverings are not currently recommended for players during play, though they may wear one if they choose.

“This past month with all the uncertainty has been quite difficult, as we kept being delayed and pushed back,” said Windham golf coach Adam Manzo. “I am excited and relieved to have a definitive answer. Even though we won’t have a full season, I think it is incredibly important for the social and emotional well-being of all our athletes to be given an opportunity to play.”

For Windham girls’ soccer senior Riley Beem, it’s great to be back any way she can. She said that she’s excited to start playing games and competing.

Beem’s teammate, senior Emma Yale, said that she’s glad to be able to get to be with her team in a safe, fun way.

Drummond said safety is a priority for all Windham athletes this fall.

“My outlook and focus is for a safe return to play and for people to see the value athletics bring to a school and community,” Drummond said. “For this season to be successful, we need all participants, fans, coaches and all individuals to be involved and adhere to the guidelines laid out by our state. If we deviate from any of this, it could jeopardize the ability for kids to participate.” <

Windham Little League softball cruises by Freeport in fall opener

By Matt Pascarella

Windham's Evelyn Anderson smashes an inside-
the-park home run during the fourth inning of
a Windham Little League softball game against
Freeport at Arlington Field on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Windham Little League’s softball major division team played Freeport on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at

Arlington Field during the start of Windham’s Fall Ball season and they came away a winner, 15-8.

Windham took an early lead and raced to victory with runs scored in every inning. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Evelyn Anderson swatted a ball flying into the outfield, and didn’t stop running until her cleats touched home plate for a home run.

“I usually don’t hit it (that) far and I wanted to make it home,” said Anderson.

She went on to say it felt good to get such a great hit.

While Windham scored in every inning they played, it was the fifth inning where they showed they know how to really swing the bats. Leah Storey and Kaylee Napolitano got base hits and they both scored. Yani Kostopoulos crushed the ball for a double, Ava Cole got a base hit and Kostopoulos scored. Then following another double, Cole scored. Windham also pushed across another run before the inning was through.

We have been working on having selective short-term memory loss,” said Windham Coach Stephen Napolitano. “We learn from our mistakes but don't carry being down into the next plays. We still made some errors tonight, but our girls never got shaken.”

Windham certainly wasn’t shaken as they came out ready to put runs on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Kaylee Napolitano bunted for a base hit. Kostopoulos also got a base hit and scored and Napolitano scored and Cole doubled.

In the second inning, Windham’s Chloe Delewski walked and later scored. Anderson got a base hit, and

she scored. And in the third inning, hits from Storey, Napolitano and Kostopoulos boosted Windham’s lead to 6-1 over Freeport.

Windham’s defense was great against Freeport too. Windham made several solid plays where they got the ball quickly to first base or threw a runner out on their way around the diamond. <

Soccer official Robert Wassick enjoys staying involved with a game he loves

By Matt Pascarella

Official Robert Wassick has been officiating soccer for roughly 17 years. He coached his kids in travel recreational soccer leagues, but once his kids left the leagues, he still wanted to remain connected to the sport.

Wassick who is honored as this week’s “Official of the Week,” says for him it’s a great way to stay in shape and he really enjoys watching a good game that is played fairly, where everyone plays hard, but clean.

Robert Wassick of Windham is being
honored as this week's 'Official of the
Week' by The Windham Eagle. He has
been officiating soccer games for 17
years and currently officiates games
at the prep varsity level but is certified
to officiate games from the rec level
through middle school up to varsity. 
He said that he became an official to stay involved with soccer after he stopped coaching. He became an official through the Western Maine Board of Approved Soccer Officials (WMBASO). Their website describes the organization as a group that provides officials for high school and junior high soccer games in Southern Maine. WMBASO has a training program for new officials that runs every year.

Wassick does more Windham games now that his kids aren’t in the schools. He does officiate mostly varsity, but depending on where he is needed, he can officiate games from middle school on up.

“I really love the game and it keeps me involved at a level where I can still help the players learn the rules of the game a little better which makes them better players. It also keeps me active from a physical standpoint. I can't just go for a run as it bores me; but doing a varsity game, I get plenty of running in without thinking about it, maybe three to four miles ... depending on the quality of the teams,” he said.

Since he’s been an official for a little while, he’s been able to tune out any criticism that might happen during a game. Sometimes, complaints are going to come in no matter what.

Wassick enjoys watching the competition and watching the kids play a solid game.

“Besides being involved in a good competitive game which I don't have to pay to watch and get paid to
do,” he said. “I enjoy the physical activity I get from doing games and also to see quality players who at times I have seen (play) since middle school days.” 

With the start of the season on the horizon, Wassick is not overly concerned about COVID-19. For the athletes, as long as they limit the amount of high fives, don’t share drinks, keep their mouthpieces in as much as possible and keep their distance from other players when not in the game they should be okay.

He said it will affect him based on the amount of games played as the season is going to be at least four games shorter at the varsity level. “Monitor (athlete’s) temperatures daily, (wear) a face covering as much as possible, coaches especially, only one person per seat on the bus and to be aware of what can happen to their family members (who are at) high risk.”

Wassick has been married for 33-plus years and has four children. He is a graduate of the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science in Wood Science.

He is a Safety and Training Administrator for Portland Public Works after retiring from the Portland Fire Department as Deputy Chief, a job he performed for 31 years. Aside from officiating, he enjoys mountain biking in Maine’s many wooded areas. <

Friday, September 11, 2020

The fall season: A reporter's perspective

The Windham High School volleyball team gathers
before a match last season. The start of a new fall
sports season could begin soon if hurdles with
state agencies are overcome and health and
safety measures are implemented.
By Matt Pascarella
The Maine Principals Association (MPA) and the state are going back and forth over whether or not there should be a fall sports season and how to safely accomplish this during a pandemic. The MPA released a statement Wednesday, Sept. 9 and by the time this is read a decision will hopefully have been made and we can all stop waiting. The preseason has been postponed a few times and it is now set to begin on Sept. 14. As a reporter, who will be entering his fourth season reporting Windham and Raymond sports, I’d like to share with you my feelings on the possibility of a season. 
You might think as a sports reporter I’d be all in for a season, but it’s not a simple ‘yes or no.’ Of course, I want to get back out there, report on games and watch the kids play again. Like many, I miss it. The coronavirus has brought up some real concerns when it comes to coverage. I worry about coming in close contact and am no longer able to interview players and coaches the same way I use to. I won’t be able to stand close to the team while photographing and will have to be cognizant of my distance when I’m close(r) to a player on the field or court. When it comes to coronavirus, nothing is as easy as it used to be., while I have concerns and even some anxiety about covering fall sports, there is an aspect of having all seasons that I hadn’t considered and that’s the mental health of the athletes. Sports are an outlet for many kids and a way to learn values, skills, make friends and understand the importance of teamwork. This ‘new normal’ (which is not at all normal) will be a big adjustment and probably
will require some retooling and rethinking along the way.
So, where do I stand on the fall season? Well, like I said, I’m nervous about getting back out there, because this is a contagious virus that could be easily caught, even if you’re doing all the right things. Ultimately though, I think there should be a season. Sports are about the kids. It’s important for the student athletes, who already missed out on spring season, to get the chance to play in the fall. Like I wrote in my last update on the status of the season, this is completely uncharted territory. At the very least, the season should be given a chance, if it turns out it won’t work, then at least we know.
As long as athletes and coaches are smart about their interactions and they follow the guidelines set by the state and the Maine Center for Disease Control, it’s beneficial for student athletes to get back out there.
Hopefully, they get that opportunity. <

Windham Little League's Fall Ball season approaching

Kaylee Napolitano rushes up the first base line
during a Windham Little League softball game
earlier this summer. A new fall season for Windham
Little League starts soon.
By Matt Pascarella
Windham Little League is gearing up for its fall ball season. It will be very similar to the summer season, with the exception of fewer teams in the league and more playing of teams from other towns.
Although registration has ended for the season, here’s a quick look at what the season will look like.
The delaying of the season for high school fall sports hasn’t affected Windham Little League’s fall ball season. Baseball is in the ‘moderate risk’ section from the state. The league will continue to use the safety plan that worked well during the summer and keep it going into the fall.
When they aren’t on the field, players will remain along the first and third base lines and one on-deck batter and one other batter will be in the traditional dugout.
One thing different about the fall season is in addition to hosting games, Windham teams will travel to a few surrounding towns for away games. Windham will be playing Gorham, Gray New Gloucester, Freeport, Falmouth, and Cumberland North Yarmouth in both divisions – baseball and softball.
Of the 70 kids who registered, there will be six teams: a softball majors division team, two baseball majors division teams, a baseball minors division player-pitch team and a baseball minors division coach-pitch coed team. are not required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) unless they are coming in close contact with a player or umpire. There will still be base coaches, but the coach’s area will be larger. 
Hand sanitizer will be available; it is required for players as they enter the facility and coming on and
off the field. Water will not be provided, and sunflowers seeds are prohibited.
There will be designated fan spots behind the outfield fence for spectator attendance and will be limited to 100 people. Spectators should use social distancing practices and wear a face mask; avoiding direct contact with individuals not from their household. 
The season will hopefully go until mid-October, depending on the weather.
Windham Little League President Caleb Davenport said he does not have concerns for the upcoming season.
“Coming off a successful summer season, I feel we created a safe plan and environment for the kids to keep playing,” he said. <

Officiating a lifelong passion for Windham’s Bill Dineen

Bill Dineen of Windham  is being honored as
this week's 'Official of the Week' by
The Windham Eagle. His favorite sport to
officiate is football and he will be
entering his 19th year of doing that this fall.
By Matt Pascarella
Official Bill Dineen has been involved with sports his entire life. He was a three-sport athlete in high school. His interest in officiating started when his boys played Little League Baseball. He then became a certified basketball official where he calls games from recreation through varsity.
Dineen, who is honored as this week’s “Official of the Week” for The Windham Eagle, says that his favorite sport to officiate is football and he will be entering his 19th year this season. He had the privilege of being an official for one of Windham’s state championship football games. For Dineen, being an official is truly a passion.
When his boys finished Little League, he volunteered with the league to be a home plate umpire. He did that for eight seasons. He found it very rewarding and knew the importance of calling a good game.
This will be his 28th year as a member of Board 21 International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO). 
According to their website, this organization has 200 local boards of officials in over 38 states and 11 foreign countries. For Dineen, he cannot imagine his winters without basketball games.
In the fall Dineen said, “There is nothing like being on the field for a good football game no matter what the level.” was chosen to be the white hat, who basically manages the game and all rulings. He feels a lot of pride when he’s chosen for a championship or specialty game.
“It is a rewarding feeling to be chosen for such a large role in a great game. I have been chosen four times and also have worked the prestigious Lobster Bowl,” he said.
Something people might not realize is officials meet every Tuesday night during the season to stay
fresh and talk about game situations. Over the years, he has met some wonderful friends through sports and officiating.
Dineen tries not to get involved in the drama that may happen off the court or field during a game. The majority of fans he’s met are respectful. He does it for the athletes, not the fans. There are times when he says you need a thick skin, though.
When it comes to COVID-19 precautions, Dineen thinks as long as we continue to practice what the Center for Disease Control has been telling us, we should be all right. “Sports are such a big part of the student athlete’s lives and we create so many friendships along the way,” he said. He respects whatever decisions are ultimately made by the Maine Principals Association. Dineen knows there will be a learning curve during the season and says Maine has done a great job to get us into this position.
“If mask(s) are necessary, then mask(s) will be worn. I plan on giving my games more breaks if needed along with good hydration. I am sure all  area coaches will be on board with whatever is necessary to make it a good experience for all.”
He is a father of two sons and his wife has been at the high school education level for 31 years. They have five grandchildren who are their pride and joy and feel very blessed. He also has two fantastic daughters-in-law who have been involved in sports through cheering and their own sports.
“Enjoy the ride,” he says. “It flies by.” <

Friday, September 4, 2020

For Amy Prescott, being an official is being part of the solution

Amy Prescott has been
officiating games in
Windham for 13 years
and is being honored
as this week's 'Official
of the Week' by The
Windham Eagle newspaper.
By Matt Pascarella
Amy Prescott has been officiating games in Windham for 13 years and she became an official because she was a frustrated parent.
Prescott, who is honored as The Windham Eagle’s Official of the Week,” said that she feels if you’re going to complain, be part of the solution. She felt she could bring the quality of Maine officials up in both the areas of game quality and to help eliminate racism and be a role model for young women.
She started out officiating basketball. One of her town police officers helped her become an official. At the time, volleyball was one of the fastest growing girls’ sports and was also a whistle sport, so she asked to become a volleyball official. Currently, she only officiates high school and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) volleyball.
Prescott is certified to call games at all schools and colleges in the state of Maine.
Officials can be criticized for certain calls or try to be persuaded by coaches to see it their way.
“We honestly have no pony in the game and so the outcome or the winner is of no consequence to us. My goal is to be there for the athletes, their safety, fairness and giving them the best game that I possibly can. That is paramount for me,” said Prescott.
Since the pandemic began, she hasn’t officiated any games.
“I am very concerned,” says Prescott. “We will see what works and what doesn’t work.”
Prescott has questions and expects there will be more guidelines as gameday gets closer. She has purchased masks and electronic whistles. She will be having a discussion with her board members. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has put out a video for officials to prepare them as we head into the Fall season.
For Prescott, safety is the biggest reason she is an official. They have guidelines to follow just like the schools do.“We have changed our protocols to accommodate, keeping social distancing from the teams where possible. The balls will be sanitized, between service changes, we will not be swapping sides unless one side has a distinct advantage, and common sense among other things.”
Her advice to athletes playing during this time is to wear a mask, hand sanitize and wash your hands when you can. Her advice to coaches is to keep the team positive. It’s important they play safe and have patience while everyone figures out how to work through the season.
Prescott’s favorite thing about being an official is she gets to hang out with athletes a bit, enjoy their
accomplishments and she gets excited for them. She also feels their disappointment when they miss a hard-fought rally.
“It's a great sport; for me it's all about the athletes.” She encourages anyone to become an official to be part of the solution.
Prescott has two boys who are both athletes. She played sports in high school, primarily softball. She’s also played wallyball, softball and volleyball in several adult leagues.
She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and currently works as a system server engineer. Obviously she has a deep love of sports. <

Coach Dustin Bartz wants to give everything he can to boost his players

Dustin Bartz is this week's recipient of
'Coach of the Week' honors for
The Windham Eagle and has been
coaching in the Windham Little
League for three years.
By Matt Pascarella
Dustin Bartz got into coaching for the same reason many other parents do, he wanted to share the experience with his kid.
Bartz, who is this week’s recipient of “Coach of the Week” honors for The Windham Eagle, has been coaching in the Windham Little League for three years. This year, he felt fortunate to be able to coach and watch the kids play when so many little league teams didn’t get that opportunity.
‘Give 110 percent’ is a common phrase often said to his players and Bartz wants to give back more than that as a coach.
He continually educates himself, talks with other coaches, keeps an open mind and adjusts his coaching style when needed. He’s big on fundamentals and mechanics but doesn’t believe there is one way of doing things.
Bartz said he likes to take the one-on-one approach, putting more time in on areas where a player might struggle.
Every kid is different and Bartz says he has found that if he adjusts to their style, but keeps the mechanics, they progress faster.
This year was Bartz’s first time coaching a team of players ages 6 and 7. The pandemic also added a layer of guidelines and restrictions that produced some uncertainty, but once the season started, things began falling into place.
According to Bartz, he really wants to make sure the kids develop a love of the game. Bartz thinks it’s important to keep it fun and give them their moments, because that is what Little League is all about.“They earn nicknames and get a kick when announcer Bill Ciccarone introduces them with their nickname at Ciccarone Field,” said Bartz.
Bartz plays music during pregame warmups, which creates a positive vibe with players and parents.
He has also been known to have a secret stash of Twinkies.
It’s common for a kid to be disappointed when they strike out, miss a catch or make a bad throw but I focus on did you try?” he said. “It’s important to keep pushing and to keep trying. Nobody remembers the bad plays, but they remember the great ones. At the end of the season I want them to be smiling, skilled, confident, have created friendships, stayed unique and to know I’m their biggest fan.”
Bartz enjoys chess, 80s rock music, Big Fin Pok√©, and arguing why ‘Die Hard’ is definitely a Christmas movie. <

MPA says fall sports will happen, however ball now in state’s court

The Maine Principal's Association has given the
'ok' for high schools to move forward with a
fall sports season, but RSU 14 sports teams, such
as the Windham High football team, are awaiting
the recommendations of state agencies and
other guidance. The preseason for football is
supposed to start Sept. 8 and the regular schedule
was slated to open Sept. 18.

 Add caption
By Matt Pascarella
It’s been some stressful few weeks for student-athletes and their parents as they waited for the Maine Principal's Association to make a decision regarding the fall sports season.
The MPA pushed back the preseason which now begins on Sept. 8. The fall regular season begins no sooner than Sept. 18. On Thursday Aug. 27, the MPA voted unanimously for Maine schools to have a fall sports season.

The next step is waiting for guidance and input from state agencies like the Maine Department of Education (DOE), Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Governor Janet Mills’ office (just to name a few).
Beginning on Sept. 8, high school players and coaches will have their first face-to-face interaction since March. All sports were given the “okay” to play. Golf and cross country were classified as low risk for COVID-19. Soccer and field hockey were classified as moderate risk.
Football was classified as a high-risk sport by the state of Maine’s community sports guidelines and by the National Federation of High School Sports.
In an email sent from the MPA Office to MPA Schools it said, “the recommendation to move forward with the sport of football, which remains classified as a high risk activity, will be very closely monitored throughout the entire season.”
https://www.schoolspring.comWindham varsity football coach Matt Perkins said he and the team have their fingers crossed and are hopeful there will be a season. They are all waiting to hear what comes out. It’s important for Perkins to stay positive and be a role model for the kids. The team is hoping to get a chance to play.
In that same email the MPA Office gave clarification regarding fall cheering saying they hoped to include it but needed to find a way with the mass gathering order that was currently in place.
“Maine CDC will need to approve or modify the recommendations that were made by the MPA,” said RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell. “The state will ultimately make the final decisions about whether or not the recommendations made by (the) MPA will meet what has already been put into place in the state.”
RSU 14 does not want to send mixed messages to students or the community regarding safety precautions by having different guidelines for in and out of the classroom. Howell said It would be helpful for RSU 14 to have consistent guidelines for school sponsored activities that take place during and after school.
“We’re doing the best we can to give kids and families the best directions as to what lies next, but it’s a slow, slow process,” said RSU14 Athletic Director Rich Drummond. “There is a still a lot up in the air as each district does their best to navigate this completely uncharted territory.”
As for spectators, the MPA email also said, “Organizers of community sports activities are responsible for limiting the number of individuals that can gather in a shared space in accordance with the Governor's Executive Order.”
Coaches, players, cheerleaders, officials, volunteers and spectators count toward those amounts.
The email also said, face coverings should always be worn by coaches, staff, and spectators and “if a space cannot accommodate the gathering limit without complying with the three to six foot distancing requirement, occupancy in that space must be limited to allow for such compliance.”
Anything is subject to change as the state reviews the guidelines for a fall sports season. <

Friday, August 28, 2020

Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team honored for academic excellence

Windham High graduate Nick Curtis
averaged 26 points per game for
the Saint Joseph College Monks
men's basketball team during
the 2019-2020 season.
 KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has announced the eighth annual Team Academic Excellence Awards, created by the NABC Committee on Academics, and Saint Joseph's College is one of 313 teams from around the nation to earn the honor.

These awards recognize outstanding academic achievement by a college men’s basketball team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better for the 2019-20 season.
To earn an NABC Team Academic Excellence Award, institutions in the NCAA (all three divisions), NAIA and NJCAA must count the grade point averages of all men's student-athletes who competed during the 2019-20 season. The honor marks the third-consecutive year in which Saint Joseph's has claimed the national academic accolade.
Saint Joseph's is one of two teams from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) to earn the academic accolade as Suffolk University joins the Monks on the distinguished list.

Also, St. Joe's is one of just four Maine institutions – along with Bates College, Maine Maritime Academy, and UMaine-Farmington - to claim academic honors this summer.
Under the watch of 17th-year Head Coach Rob Sanicola (Saint Joseph’s Class of 1999) this past winter, the Monks went 12-14 with a 6-5 GNAC record while en route to claiming the #5 seed in the conference tournament.
The Monks suffered a season-ending GNAC Quarterfinal loss at #4 Anna Maria College on Feb. 25. <

Show of unity reinforces need for athletes to compete

From left, Windham High School athletes
Julia McKenna, her mother Dana McKenna
and Daniella Yale and her daughter Emma
Yale are shown at the 'Let them play' rally
in Augusta on Monday. PHOTO BY
By Matt Pascarella
If you’ve been on Facebook in the last few months, you’ve probably seen photos of student-athletes with the hashtag ‘let them play’ in response to the possibility of the Maine Principal’s Association canceling the fall sports season because of COVID-19.
On Monday, a rally was held along the sidewalks of the Blaine House in Augusta where parents, athletes and supporters held up signs and wore their school colors and masks, while marching to stress the importance of a fall sports season.
The goal was to have the voices of prep athletes heard and their school colors be seen.
As athletes held up their signs, their message was clear “Let us play.” Usually competitors, these student-athletes and their families stood together in unity to show the MPA they needed a fall sports season.
Many passing vehicles honked in encouragement. resident and rally organizer, Amy Michaud Bourget said that she was hoping to appeal to the MPA, the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Education on behalf of prep sports. She wants them to know there is an overwhelming need for sports for all student athletes.
She said that mental health is also a big factor as sports are an outlet for some who might not have a lot at home.
“I think it’s so important that these kids get to play fall sports,” said Bourget. “My son is a three-sport athlete and has already missed baseball in the spring. This has been super hard on him. He works hard to keep his grades up for sports and hopes to be able to play college ball. As a junior this year, it’s the most important year for scouting.”
Bourget wants athletes to show they are willing to do what it takes to play this season.
“I want to play this season because I miss the game so much,” said Windham senior Julia McKenna. “I miss the excitement of game day, winning and the team bonding.” said that she has watched seniors before her honored at Senior Night and McKenna can’t imagine not getting to experience that moment.
McKenna said that she wears a mask and practices safe social distancing. She thinks they can have a safe season as long as they follow reasonable guidelines.
I think it’s important to play fall sports this season because of the value it holds for my daughter and other athletes,” said Julia’s mother, Dana McKenna. “They are in their time of life when things like sports hold a lot of weight with how they will do in other aspects of their life.”
Dana McKenna said sports teach life lessons like learning to deal with success and failure.
As a mother, Dana McKenna, said it was important to attend the rally because of how much the season means to her daughter. She said that she has respectfully tweeted and emailed the officials who are charged with making the decision to play or not.
She said that she wanted to stand behind her words and be a presence at the rally in hopes that her voice will be heard.
Dana McKenna does have concerns regarding COVID, but she also has concerns when her daughter gets injured or has a bad flu.
“I do find that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to my daughter playing.  Her mental health is just as important as her physical health.”
The MPA is expected to announce its decision regarding fall prep sports in early September. <

Friday, August 21, 2020

Still kicking: Raymond Youth Soccer registration opens

Raymond Youth Soccer is tentatively scheduled to
start on Sept. 12 and will run for seven weeks.
A link to register online is now available by visiting
their website. FILE PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce
The season for Raymond Youth Soccer is nearing once again and registration is now open for players.
According to Mark Anderson, Raymond Youth Soccer director, grade groupings for players will be reorganized this year and COVID-19 precautions will be used for safety.
“We are reorganizing the grade groupings,” Anderson said. “The new grade groupings will help to align soccer with other sport grade groupings, match our groups with surrounding towns, help even out size and maturity among players, and keep elementary school and middle school kids together.”
He said that Raymond Youth Soccer will follow national recommendations for soccer play, including extra hand washing stations provided.
“When registering please select "pay by check," Anderson said. “Once we are able to confirm that the season will proceed as planned then you will be able to log back in and pay by credit card or send a check.”
Age divisions include Pre-K and Kindergarten (coed); Grades 1 and 2 (coed); Grades 3 and 4 (boys and girls teams); and Grades 5 and 6 (boys and girls teams). cost to play is $30 to $40 plus a shirt if needed. Players may reuse shirts from previous season.
“The season is scheduled to start Sept. 12 and runs for seven weeks,” Anderson said. “Pre-K through Grade 2 teams practice and play on Saturday mornings. Teams from Grade 3 to 6 play on Saturday mornings with one or two practices during the week.”
Anderson said teams in Pre-K through Grade 2 will play at the Agawam fields off Route 85. Grades 3 to 6 teams will alternate between playing at Agawam and the Lake's Region school fields on Kansas Road.
“Anyone can sign-up and scholarships are available for families in need,” he said. “There is no cost difference for out-of-town families.”
He said that that Raymond Youth Soccer has many coaching and volunteering opportunities available in coaching, field painting, concession stand, uniforms, and administration.
“All our programs are run by volunteers, many have been with us for years and are stepping down because their kids aged out,” Anderson said. “We need the next generation of parents to step up and fill these roles so that we can keep programs running.”
If you have questions about the soccer registration, please send an email to <

Windham’s Summer Rec Track and Field readies emerging athletes for future competition

Paris Knight walks on air while competing
in the long jump during a Windham
Parks and Recreation Summer Rec
Track Meet.
By Matt Pascarella
Windham Parks and Recreation Summer track program looked a little different this year. But their goal was the same: to teach kids the basics and get them interested and excited about track and field. Athletes were given the opportunity to develop their skills in running as well as some field events (javelin, shot put, long jump and discus).
Summer track is associated with the USA Track and Field (USATF) organization. Although athletes, ages 5 to 14 could not compete against other towns, USATF held a virtual track meet during the summer. USATF’s virtual track meet was a competition against athletes on the Windham team.
Coaches got times and distances from events and those scores were sent to USATF to rank and score them against other towns.
Here are some highlights from Windham’s virtual meet:
Andrew Young took first place in the 13/14 year old 400-meter race, the 800, and the 1500. Jalen Stephens won the 9/10 boy's shot put. Karl Longstreth won the 11/12 boy's shot put. Marek Slomczynski won the 11/12 boy's discus and the 11/12 boy's javelin.
Naia Varney won the eight and under girl's long jump. Hanna Miele won the 9/10 girl's long jump. Noah Saucier won the 11/12 boy's long jump. Caitlyn Marsh won the 13/14 girl's javelin and the 13/14 girl’s 400. Mason Bragdon won the 11/12 boy's 3000. Kayo Longstreth won the eight and under boy's javelin throw.
Marin Miele won the 8 and under girls race/walk. Paris Knight won the 11/12 boy's race/walk.
Zach Noonan won the 13/14 boy's 100. Taylor Lucas won the 9/10 girl's 1500 and the 800. Dylan Crockett won the boy's 11/12 200 and Renner Gerrity won the 9/10 boy's long jump.
Windham High graduate and Parks and Recreation coach Hannah Langstaff coached the program this year and last year and has participated in Windham’s Summer Parks and Recreation track since she was 5.“I still remember the coaches that were there and how much of an impact they had on me, so I just hope that I can do that for these kids. I also hope that the summer track program gets kids to continue track into middle school and high school to grow those programs as well.”
She said that her favorite part about being a coach is definitely seeing the kids get excited to run or do field events.
“It’s really awesome to see them so invested in the sport.”
Windham Parks and Recreation made sure participants were being as safe as possible in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
“It took a lot of careful planning for each part of practice to make sure social distancing and other
guidelines were being followed,” said coach Phil Jackson.
When athletes arrived, their temperature was taken, and they used hand sanitizer.
Each coach worked with a small group of athletes so being socially distant was easier. Throwing implements were sanitized after each practice and not shared between athletes.
“We had to wear masks, sanitize, and stay social distanced, although after the first practice I think we had a pretty good system down. Coach Jackson used cones to separate the kids whenever they were not running, so at field events or during stretches,” said Langstaff.
They had close to 80 athletes participate this summer.
“Even during the pandemic, our numbers were still higher than last year. I think given that so many sporting events were cancelled this spring and summer, there was an increased interest for children to be involved in something that allowed for socializing and physical activity,” said Jackson. <

Friday, August 14, 2020

‘Strike Force’ student bowling team dazzles on lanes

The 'Strike Force' bowling team gathers at Bayside Bowl
in Portland in January. From left are Jason McCarthy, Camden
Gendron, Zach Bernier and Lucas Littlefield.
 By Matt Pascarella
In the summer of 2012, Windham student Lucas Littlefield was bowling with his family at Bayside Bowl in Portland.
There was a flier running a promotion that promised a bowling ball if you joined their eight-week bowling program for kids. Littlefield joined and became hooked and this was just the beginning. Years later, Littlefield and three of his friends Camden Gendron, Zach Bernier and Jason McCarthy started their bowling league “Strike Force” and would go on to compete in tournaments all over the state.
They have already begun practicing and preparing for tournaments taking place in 2021.
When he was 6 or 7, Littlefield was looking for a new activity after his karate teacher retired. A flier he saw promising a free bowling ball got him to join the Peewee bowling division for kids ages 3 to 8.
Eventually, he did get his bowling ball and although it was of lesser quality it was a driving factor in the forming of the “Strike Force” team years later.
Littlefield was already into the sport in elementary school when he met Zach Bernier, who joined the team in 2015. Bernier’s been interested in bowling for as long as he can remember.
The two then got Camden Gendron involved and a year later, he joined the team. Gendron’s grandmother introduced him to bowling and it took off from there.
Littlefield enjoyed bowling more and more and became immersed in the competition, his favorite part. Bernier said bowling always been something he’s looked forward to.
In 2019, their friend from Westbrook, Jason McCarthy joined and although they had never thought about being a team, they realized they could join tournaments because they had four people. “Strike Force” was officially formed.“While on a team, you are competing against not only yourself, but your teammates and other opponents,” said Littlefield. “This allows you to have more motivation to do your best and try to better yourself for the next time you play together.”
Gendron said he wanted to join the league because it was something fun to do with friends on
My favorite part is just being able to spend time with my friends outside of school,” said Bernier.
The tournaments they’ve played in are very welcoming to all skill levels and feature bowlers from all age groups. Pre-COVID, they competed in travel tournaments once a month.
“The tournaments bring in kids from different bowling leagues all across southern Maine. The winner gets some scholarship money, a medal, and bragging rights,” said Bernier.
As they begin to start practicing, the pandemic will have an effect on play. They will have to wear face coverings and social distance. They will also have to monitor their health while playing.
They are planning to compete in the US Youth Open and Junior Gold tournaments in 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, all this hinge on what the virus does.
They are ready start bowling again.
“I am excited to get back to bowling‘s) a fun sport,” said Littlefield.
Gendron said they are excited to get back out there.
“I'm itching to get back out there,” said Bernier.
The boys are raising money to get to the tournaments in Indiana. They have an account at Patman's Redemption for those who would like to donate their returnable money. This fundraiser goes until July 1, 2021.  <

GNG defeats Jet Ski Guy in final game of Windham Little League season

Jet Ski Guy pitcher Justin Tom winds up to throw
a pitch during a Windham Little League Minors
division game on Aug. 7.
By Matt Pascarella
The final game of the season for Windham Little League Minors division teams Gray New Gloucester (GNG) and Windham’s Jet Ski Guy took place on Friday, Aug. 7 at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm.  While it turned out to be a blowout, there were many exciting plays.
Jet Ski Guy put runners on base and took an early 3-0 lead, but unfortunately, GNG pulled ahead after one inning and kept adding to their lead and won easily, 19-4.
In the top of the first inning, Jet Ski Guy’s Patrick Davenport and Jacob Burke were both hit by pitches. Jordan Tom then swatted a hit and Davenport scored. Burke scored on Ethan Clapp’s base hit and he also scored for Jet Ski Guy later in the inning. the third inning, Nappi walked.  He quickly stole his way around the bases and scored on a passed ball.  At that point, the score was 10-4, GNG.
Jet Ski Guy had a couple of noteworthy defensive plays when they threw a runner out at home early in the game and threw a runner out at third in the third inning.
The game started with Jet Ski Guy’s Justin Tom on the mound followed by Andrew Hinse, Myles
Karantza and Sullivan Nappi who closed out the game. Each of them did a great job and were awarded game balls at the end of the game.
Hinse said when he was up on the mound, he was trying to throw strikes, get his team to win and have fun. His favorite thing about this season was being able to pitch.
“The season went as well as expected,” said coach David Langway. “We had a few first-year players and we were a very young team. Most of the time they paid attention and listened intently to the coaches. I believe we'll have a good nucleus for next year, but we'll still have to see what baseball will look like next year.” <

Coach Stephen Napolitano pays it forward to Windham Little League

Windham's Stephen Napolitano has been honored
as 'Coach of the Week' by The Windham Eagle. He
has coached both baseball and softball and is
currently coaching his daughter's softball team.
By Matt Pascarella
Little League has always been a part of Coach Stephen Napolitano’s life. He played it as a child and when he had children of his own, he jumped in and coached their baseball or softball teams. Napolitano is now in his 15th year as a coach. Aside from coaching his daughter’s softball team, he is just finishing his first year coaching travel softball with the Southern Maine River Rats.
His mother passed away when he was 7 and during that difficult time, Little League was there for him and became a source of some of his fondest childhood memories. When he was an adult with children of his own, he wanted to be there to grow along with his kids and serve others as former Little League parents had done for him when he was younger.
A graduate of Windham High School and the University of Maine at Orono, Napolitano’s family has run the Dairy Queen in North Windham for 42 years. During these years, Dairy Queen has sponsored many youth programs and Little League teams. As a coach, he has made so many incredible friendships within the community that will last a lifetime. Napolitano wants everyone to know that all types of volunteers matter. 2006, he offered to help as an assistant coach for his oldest daughter, Abby’s team. During his season as the head coach for his son Brady’s Little League baseball team, his youngest daughter, Kaylee’s softball team lost their head coach after the first game. So, Napolitano volunteered to coach on her softball team too. He started coaching softball exclusively in 2017. 
This year has been an adjustment. Napolitano has had to remind players to use hand sanitizer between innings and maintain the appropriate social distance. He said he misses giving high fives and shaking his opponents’ hands.
After the three months of lockdown, it was a huge blessing for our girls to be around each other again. I witnessed much needed smiles and joy,” he said.
It’s very important for his young players to see themselves improve their skills and gain confidence in themselves and their teammates. Napolitano’s goal is to have a group of players who commit to improving from game one to the final game of the season.
Last year, his 9- and 10-year-old girls All Star team reached the district finals. He was an assistant coach on that team with Nick Caiazzo and Ronnie Higgins. He says it was an incredible experience for his girls and coaches alike. Look out for that same group of girls to make a solid run next year.
“Teaching kids work ethic and fun can go together,” said Napolitano. “It is especially gratifying to witness those players get a hit off a tough pitcher, squeeze in a stolen base or catch a hard hit ball. Once they smile, it is all worth it! It’s not about winning, it’s about achieving.”
He grew up in Raymond and started his family there. That’s also where he began coaching. He relocated to Windham in 2012 and lives here with his son Brady and daughter, Kaylee. <