Friday, September 17, 2021

Tales from the Outdoors: It’s a family affair

By Bob Chapin

David Ferris won first place and his brother
Dean won second place during the
Sebago Lake Anglers Association's Annual
Open Water Togue Derby on Sebago
Lake last weekend. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Brothers Ferris made it a family affair last weekend when they won both first and second place in the Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association’s (SLAA) Annual Open Water Togue (Lake Trout) Derby on Sebago Lake.

The brothers caught their fish deep (12 colors of lead core line) between the areas of the lake known as the Camel Pasture and the Shoals and they caught them on Flatfish lures. The weather was tough, particularly on Sunday, where high winds kicked up rollers of 3 and 4 feet with white caps blowing down wind. It took a substantial boat under you to maintain a steady heading. But, if you could get out of the wind, it was sunny and downright pleasant.

The brothers earned high praise for their catches from other fishermen and ladies and cold hard cash from SLAA. David earned First Place and $500. Dean won Second Place and $400. Further, because the fish were caught on Saturday and upheld through Sunday the largest fish earned an additional $100 making their haul an even $1000, pretty good wages for doing what they loved to do anyway. Their fish weighed 12.56 and 8.84 pounds respectively. 

Those fish placing 3rd through 10th earned as follows:

Charlie Miner, 7.56 lb. $300; Mike Donavan, 6.05 lb. $200; Bob Spindler, 5.73 lb. $175; John Sailhamel. 5.50 lb. $150; Caleb Judd, 4.92 lb. $125; Glenn Geisel, 4.79 lb. $100; Dana Direnzo, 4.75 lb. $75; Jay Lenane, 4.63 lb. $50.

In addition to the prizes won above there were prizes for three lottery drawings where fishermen were awarded one ticket for each Togue they legally caught and turned in. Those tickets were drawn at random out of a rotating bin. Finally, an award was given for the smallest Togue caught on hook and line. Those winners were as follows:

$100 lottery winners went to Ed Zeigler, Tyler Santero, and Glenn Geisel. Smallest togue $100 prize went to Tyler Santero.

This has been a difficult year for anglers fishing Sebago Lake and the catch rates reflect that. The numbers of fish caught and their weights have been down across all species from previous derbies. Local fishermen attribute the drop to loss of habitat, some due to invasive plant removal efforts; reductions in bait fish such as smelt, shiners, and alewives; and, predation by Togue on the more desirable fish such as salmon. Togue will even cannibalize their own young when they get hungry.

SLAA has been putting on these derbies for five years, having skipped last year for COVID concerns. They use the money to finance Club activities such as this derby, a Veterans’ Fishing Event in May, a Veteran’s Ice Fishing Hut on Long Lake during ice fishing season and various other community events such as Boy and Girl Scout fishing demonstrations, alternative school fishing events, and support to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. However, the bulk of the funds raised in this event goes towards purchasing State of Maine Youth Lifetime Fishing Licenses for Maine children. These licenses are good for the life of the child regardless of their age or adult state of residency. Parents can augment the funding provided by SLAA to procure companion lifetime licenses to hunt or trap.

SLAA has awarded more Youth Lifetime Licenses than any other organization in the state, including Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM).

This year’s sponsors included:

Brother Flecker’s Bar and Restaurant, Causeway Dairy Bar, Dag’s Bait Shop, Don Campbell Band, Finelines Collision and Glass Auto Body, Gorham Savings Bank, Great Northern Docks, Hancock Lumber, Jordan’s Store, Moody’s Collision Center, Moose Landing Marina, Naples Bait & Tackle, Norway Savings Bank, Point Sebago Resort, Port Harbor Marine, Q-Team Tree Service, R.J. Grondin Construction, R.N. Willey Excavation, and The Umbrella Factory Supermarket.

Children get their names in the lottery for a license by being nominated by a member of SLAA. Vendors whose names are on the back of the Derby T-shirts also earn the right to nominate a youth for the lottery. Drawings are held at the October meeting of the Club, at 6:30 PM the second Tuesday of the month at the United Church of Christ in Naples., public welcome.

For further information regarding the derby or SLAA contact Bob Chapin 571-217-1700 or 207 655-1028.

Lady Eagles’ field hockey teams grab big wins over Marshwood

Windham senior Ellie Miller charges toward the net before
scoring the winning goal in overtime and breaking a 2-2 tie
against Marshwood on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at Windham.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
By Matt Pascarella

After forging a tie with time running out in regulation play against Marshwood, Windham’s varsity field hockey forced overtime before senior Ellie Miller scored a late goal to secure a 3-2 come-from-behind win for the Lady Eagles.

During the JV game, Windham scored early and kept the goals coming one after another after another. At the final buzzer, they walked off the field with a 10-0 win over the Hawks.

When all was said and done, Windham’s junior varsity and varsity field hockey teams played two very impressive games at home against Marshwood on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Varsity

“We kind of had a shaky start [to the game] in terms of cohesively being together as a team,” said Windham varsity coach Cory DiDonato. “So, what the girls were able to do was to figure out the kinks on their own ... we just came off two losses and I think they were really hungry to turn it around.”

DiDonato added a player like Miller who is so hungry for a win and that hunger bleeds into the rest of the team and they all feel it. DiDonato was really excited and proud of the way Windham picked it up and played until the end.

Windham pressured early on. The Lady Eagles were passing nicely and had strong hits that moved the ball well. However, Windham wasn’t able to score until the end of the first half when freshman Zoe Dries put the ball between the posts. Marshwood led 2-1 at the half.

In the second half, Windham’s defense stopped Marshwood from scoring more goals. With 3:42 left in the game, Windham sophomore Emma Morrison tied the game at two. This sent the game into overtime.

There was less than 18 seconds left in overtime when Miller shot the ball from the corner of the field, and it had just enough space to roll into the net.

“I didn’t think it was going in, but it just squeezed in between the goalie and the side of the cage,” said Miller. “We all worked really well together in overtime and gave it our everything.”

Junior Varsity

Once Dries scored for Windham early on, their aggressiveness did not stop. Windham had excellent passing with strong defense.

Windham freshman Piper Chicoine scored next followed by Dries again. Windham led 3-0 at the half.

At the start of the second half, Chicoine scored twice. Windham’s aggressiveness increased as they headed toward the final buzzer. They went after and stayed with the ball, as they took shot after shot after shot on goal. Sophomore Elizabeth Gurney scored back-to-back goals, then again before the end of the game. Dries scored once more. Windham freshman Zocia LaWind pushed Windham’s score into double digits.

Gurney said Windham had good passes and communication. She added it felt good to score as much as she did but thought overall it was a good team effort.

“The team really had a chance to work on our offense,” said Windham JV coach Lyndsay Stretch. “The forwards did really well with using their eliminations to get past the Marshwood defense. We were able to use strong passes successfully and keep the intensity and focus strong.” 

Stretch added the forward line stayed strong in the circle with many shots on goal and was able to be there for the rebound shot. Defensively they were able to hold back Marshwood and keep the pressure on with great teamwork.<

Windham coed golf teams make improvements in every match

Windham varsity golf's Logan Marden, a junior, stays focused
while making a nice putt during the Eagles' match against
Gorham on Monday, Sept. 13 at Riverside Golf Course
in Portland. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
By Matt Pascarella

It’s early in the season, and there is room for improvement with Windham’s young varsity and junior varsity golf teams. On Monday, Sept. 13 at Riverside Golf Course in Portland, Windham faced Gorham and showed off some of their improving skills.

On the Riverside North Course, a par 36, Windham sophomore Brady Harvie shot a 43; and Windham junior Logan Marden shot a 45.

On the JV team Windham freshman Addison Leger and sophomore Nathan Jordan defeated Gorham in the matches.

Gorham beat the varsity team with team totals of 204-244 strokes and a match total of 13-0.

The JV team lost to Gorham with a match total of 2-1.

Varsity

“The first two holes I tripled and doubled,” said Marden. “Then I started to lock in, I bogeyed the par three and followed that with a birdie on the par five. Then I’ve been playing par-bogey golf for the rest of the match.”

Marden said he was only a few strokes behind where he liked to be shooting. He added the season’s been going well. He’d like to fix up his short game, but other than that it’s going alright.

“This year is all about progressing as the season goes on,” said Windham varsity golf coach Adam Manzo. “We have 13 total kids between JV and varsity and eight of them are freshman. We’ve got a lot of young kids and this year is about making progress each match and getting better.”

Manzo said each match this season the scores are dropping. He added there is room for development.

Other scorers for Windham were freshmen Phillip Traina and Fiona Harmon who both shot 50s. Freshman Joseph Donnelly shot a 56 and freshman Addison Profenno shot a 58.

Junior Varsity

The junior varsity team played a two-man scramble during their matches where they were playing off each other’s shots.


Leger had a nice drive on one of the final holes.

“On this last hole I made sure to breathe when I got up and take my time and keep my eye on the ball to make sure that I had the best hit possible,” said Leger.

Leger said her drive went right up the middle of the fairway, near the green. The end result of that hole, a bogie, was better because of her drive.

Leger saw improvement as she progressed through the course.

“The kids worked hard today,” said Windham JV coach Brody Artes. “[Windham] is working on just improving each and every day. It’s a really, really good group of kids and were just out here having a lot of fun.”

Gorham defeated Windham sophomore Shamus Morrison and freshman Cole Heanssler.

Gorham defeated Windham freshmen Ben Shaw and Nolan Cyr.

Artes said the team is young and still learning various aspects of the game and are looking to get better individually and as a team. He added he definitely saw improvements during the match. <

Friday, September 10, 2021

Tales from the Outdoors: Fishing with Children

Bob Chapin's grandson, Paul, age
3 1/2, shows off a perch that he
caught recently on Thomas Pond
in Raymond. COURTESY PHOTO
By Bob Chapin

Sooner or later as the word gets out that you, as a sportsman or sportswoman, enjoy a day of fishing you will get a request from the family, a co-worker or neighbor to take a child or small group of kids fishing.

Before you say yes, there are a few considerations and preparations you should think about. Be honest with yourself and answer the question, “Will l want to fish too, or will this just be for the kids?”

If you accept you not only accept entertaining and educating the kids, but you are also accepting responsibility for their safety around the water and on the boat, their warmth when outdoors, sunscreen for their more sensitive skin, and of course the ever-popular snacks and plenty of them. If you take more than one child, consider not fishing yourself at all because they will need almost constant attention, even if you fish from shore.

Plan the outing to be, by your probable standards, short. That means no more than about two hours. The driving distance to the fishing should be short as well. Kids have a much shorter attention span than adults and that includes the drive out there. The “When are we going to get there?” questions will start almost before you clear your driveway!

Keep the fishing gear as simple as you can. Simply handing junior your shortest spinning rod is a formula for disaster. Consider, a closed face spinning reel similar to those found in the children’s toy section. There is a reason that Zebco has stayed in business so many years making simple-to-use push button reels, some of which are used very successfully by adults.

Keep the terminal tackle simple too. A snelled bait holder hook (#6) tied directly to the line coming out of the tip of the rod or to a snap swivel with a single split shot non-lead weight covers many fishing situations on brooks and rivers and only requires the addition of a small bobber for ponds, lakes and boat fishing where you anchor or drift.

Stick with worms for bait, best would be night crawlers available at most variety stores and Walmart. They are a source of entertainment for the kids and remarkably effective on fish. Check the regulations to be sure live bait is accepted at the location you plan to fish. Minnows are a great bait but not so much with small children. They entertain the kids, but the handling is rough on the fish, and some will end up belly up in your bait bucket.

At the fishing location there can be lots of distractions that may appear more interesting to the kids than what you want them to do. There may be other kids, a loose dog running along the shore, a stick on the ground, a caterpillar, or some other bug, it doesn’t take much.

Be patient. In fact, the whole outing may try your patience but remember you’re making memories for the children.

Prepare the children for a fish-less day. This starts by not building up their expectations too high when selling them on the idea in the first place. Fishing is a sport, and it can be quite a challenge. It is not catching necessarily. Certainly, celebrate any success they have, but remember the other kids may remain fish-less. 

I had a couple of reminders myself recently of how enjoyable fishing with children can be when my grandkids came for a visit. My 13-year-old grandson, who had on previous visits not expressed any interest, suddenly wanted Grandpa to take him fishing.

We fished for a couple of hours on Thomas Pond, and he caught enough white perch and bass to feed the family. My second reminder was my other grandson, only 3 ½-years-old. He kept pestering me to take him fishing and when I took him out in the boat, he also caught a limit of perch and a bass. 

I traveled with him back to Lander, Wyoming and we fished a reservoir and a small river catching Brook trout and grayling—what a joy! <

Eagles overpower Brunswick in prep football season opener

Senior Dylan Mathieson carries the American flag as the
Windham High School Eagles take the field for the first time
since 2019 before a crowded and cheering stadium. Windham
rolled to an impressive 47-8 win over Brunswick in the game.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
By Matt Pascarella

Tackle football is back, and a crowd cheered for their Windham High School Eagles in the first home game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 4. The last time Windham took the field in this capacity was back in 2019 and players, coaches and fans are happy to be back.

Windham started very strong as they scored four times in the first half alone and ended the game with an impressive 47-8 victory over the Brunswick High School Dragons.

It was clear from the way Windham took the field as well as their energy from the sidelines, these Eagles had missed this and were ready to play.

Brunswick won the toss and elected to receive. Windham’s defense didn’t let them get far before it was first and 10 Windham. The Eagles advanced quickly, and it wasn’t long before Windham senior Tate Chork crossed into the end zone.

Windham junior Alex Yeaton recovered the ball after a blocked punt from Brunswick and ran the ball in for a touchdown and successful extra point which gave Windham a 14-point lead.

“We’ve been preaching it and coaching it, trying to have the players understand [that] anyone can be used at any time, we may need you,” said Windham varsity football coach Matt Perkins. “We had guys coming off the bench and jumping in and just living in the moment and getting after it; it was awesome.”

The Dragons scored a touchdown in the second quarter, but not before Windham sophomore Ezra Foster scored before the end of the first half.

Also before the end of the first half, sophomore Tobias Perkins intercepted a pass intended for Brunswick. Windham ran the ball right up the goal line and Chork got the touchdown. At the half, Windham led 35-8.

In the second half, Windham’s defense would hold Brunswick to their eight points. Windham’s offense would not be stopped as they kept adding to the scoreboard. Windham was at the 47-yard line when senior Nick Garrison ran the ball in for a touchdown.

It was first down on the 48-yard line and Windham senior quarterback Robert “Will” Ledbetter made a pass to Yeaton who scored again.

“We were just really motivated,” said Yeaton. “We haven’t been out there in two years, and we got it done ... today.”

At the 14-yard line, Windham sophomore Erik Bowen made it into the end zone for the Eagle’s final touchdown.

“We played tough no doubt about it. During the week we focused heavily on a ‘next play’ mentality,” said Ledbetter. “Always looking forward, not in the past on good or bad plays. A positive attitude among the team really helped us get this win.”

Windham junior Jordan Bridge went 5 for 7 for extra points. Chork charged for 81 yards during the game. Five of Ledbetter’s eight passes were completed for 140 yards. < 


Windham High volleyball squads showcase skills against Scarborough

By Matt Pascarella

In their first games of the regular fall season, Windham High’s varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams took on Scarborough Friday, Sept. 3 at Scarborough High School and showcased determination and great improvement. Although the Lady Eagles fell 3-0 to the Red Storm, Windham set the tone that this season will be one where they will give a strong effort every game.

Windham High's Victoria Lin, a junior, taps the ball just enough
to get it over the net during the Lady Eagles' season opener
for varsity volleyball  against Scarborough High on
Sept. 3. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
Windham’s JV squad fell 2-0, but not before they showed Scarborough that they had hustle during every game in the match.

Varsity

The teams played a match of the best of three games, with Windham coming together nicely in Game One. Scarborough took an early lead, but soon the game was tied.

The Lady Eagles had good communication and made several smart plays to add points to the scoreboard. Windham was not far behind Scarborough. Windham junior Scarlette Sawyer had a nice spike as the Lady Eagles closed the gap. After a great effort by Windham, Scarborough got this one 25-12.

In game two, Scarborough took an early lead, but Windham was quick to put themselves on the scoreboard. Windham had several serves Scarborough just couldn’t return. Windham sophomore Savannah Heanssler dove for a ball and returned a serve; senior Samantha Murphy did the same as Windham showed Scarborough what they were capable of. While Windham played hard, Scarborough won 25-5.

Game Three brought no lack of intensity from the Lady Eagles. The Red Storm had a lead, but Windham wasn’t far behind. Windham continued to play smart until the very end. Scarborough won 25-12.

“I think as a team we played really well together,” said Murphy. “I feel like we really bonded this year; we could have done better, we can always do better, but there’s always next game.”

Murphy said she thought this season was going to be a lot better than last, because they are making a better connection and have a more positive outlook.

Windham varsity volleyball coach Chuck Fleck said he knew Scarborough was going to come at Windham hard. They could have done a little bit better, but he is confident they’ll end up on top throughout the season.

JV

The games are best of three and in game one, Windham put themselves on the board early. They were returning serves and working well together with nice volleying. The Lady Eagles had a great effort, but Scarborough won 25-5.

In game two, Windham scored early and pulled ahead. When Scarborough got a lead, Windham was not far behind. Windham freshman McKenzie Keeney had a solid serve coupled with several volleys that Scarborough eventually couldn’t return. Windham kept adding points to their score.

Windham sophomore Lilly McLean had an awesome serve that helped the Lady Eagles bridge the gap after Scarborough had begun to pull away. So did Windham sophomore Jocelynn McFarlane. After a tough game, Windham lost 25-17.

“They came out ready to play,” said Windham JV volleyball coach Megan Fleck. She added that Windham had some nerves which were definitely a part of it but were able to shake them off and showed they could play.

McLean said she thought they did really well and wishes everyone could have seen them at practice to see how well they pulled together. She said that she thinks Windham will be able to pull together and win a lot of their future games. <

Friday, September 3, 2021

Windham High boys’ soccer shows promise for upcoming season

Junior Tyler Johnsen, drives the hall for Windham's varsity
boys soccer team toward the goal during a preseason match
against Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 31. Johnsen scored which
tied the match at 2-2. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
By Matt Pascarella

The varsity and junior varsity boys’ soccer teams took on Freeport, at Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 31 in a preseason game before the start of the regular season next week and both teams showed the potential to enjoy solid seasons this fall.

Windham gave strong efforts against the Falcons and Windham’s varsity and JV teams each walked off the field with 2-2 tie games as their final results in the preseason matches.

Varsity

Freeport took control early and scored. Windham worked to be first to the ball.

Freshman Luke Cunniffe put Windham on the scoreboard when he scored to tie the game. Windham moved the ball nicely. Freeport pulled ahead 2-1 before the end of the half.

In the second half Windham continued to go strong and took multiple shots on goal. Windham freshman goalie Lukas Hammond did not let the ball get by him the entire half.

At one point, the ball got away from the Freeport goalie and

Windham junior Tyler Johnsen capitalized on this error to score and tied the game at 2-2, where it stayed until the final buzzer.

“I think we did ok,” said Cunniffe. “I think we could have possessed the ball better; we also could have made less mistakes on defense. Overall, I think it was okay.”

Cunniffe said a couple things that went well were the team’s cross passes and when Windham got the ball wide and gained possession in the final third of the game to tie it up.

“I thought we were pretty flat,” said Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Ben Schulz. “I have higher expectations than what we showed on the field. If our effort doesn’t pick up, it’s going to be a long season.”

Schulz is confident the team’s effort will pick up and they are going to have a good week of practice leading up to the start of the season. He also said several younger players rose to the challenge and delivered needed efforts.

Junior Varsity

Windham freshman Sam Rogers scored less than five minutes into the game. Windham passed nicely and went hard after the ball. The game was tied at one at the half.

Windham pressured in the second half after Freeport scored early on. Windham’s defense did a nice job of holding Freeport at two.

With a little over five minutes left, Windham was down by one. Rogers rocketed the ball between the posts again and tied the game. As the clock wound down, Windham continued to take shot after shot on goal.

Rogers thought Windham did pretty well. He said they could work on distributing the ball. Rogers added shooting and short passes went well. His goal is to improve as a team and get to know other kids and how they play in the upcoming season.

“I think they did well,” said Windham JV boys’ coach Mitch Hodge. “Their best moment was the last 10 minutes. We tied it up, but then didn’t quit, didn’t leave our half. They finished strong and that’s nothing but promising.”

Hodge said he’s positive about the upcoming season. <

Windham High cross country squads on course for a great season

Windham senior Isabelle Dionne, right, passes an opponent
during the Lake Region Invitational preseason meet held
at Lake Region High School on Saturday, Aug. 28. Dionne
finished first for Windham and was third overall among girls
competing in the event. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
By Matt Pascarella

The Windham cross country team traveled to Lake Region High School on Saturday, Aug. 28 for preseason meet number two, The Lake Region Invitational, and it was their first 5K race of the season.

In a meet that featured Fryeburg Academy, Gray-New Gloucester, Lake Region, Old Orchard Beach, Poland, and Sacopee Valley, Windham turned in a great showing.

Every Windham runner made improvements from their first preseason race and it showed they were ready to give it their all in the upcoming season.

Windham senior and captain Isabelle Dionne and junior Elise Schultz finished third and fourth overall among the girls in The Lake Region Invitational. In the boys’ race, Windham sophomore Graden Joly finished seventh overall.

As a team, Windham girls placed first with a score of 36 and Windham boys placed fourth with a score of 94.

Boys

Sophomore and assistant captain Graden Joly came in first for Windham and seventh overall with a time of 20:02.00 minutes.

Windham Junior Roman Thomas placed 13th with a time of 20:32.00. Freshman Andrew Young came in 18th with a time of 21.16:00.

“My team did great today,” said Joly. “We’ve all been pushing each other really good at practice.”

Joly said that he would not be where he is if it weren’t for his coach and teammates pushing him. As the season progresses, he hopes to do better and bring his team with him, making it into the top five.

Girls

Senior Isabelle Dionne finished third overall and first among her team with a time of 23:35.00. Windham junior Elise Schultz was right behind her with a time of 23:45.00.

“I think it went really good,” said Dionne. “The hills definitely brought a challenge because [our first race] was really flat. I think we did really good; it’s a lot of fun just running again.”

Dionne said while it was nice to finish first among her team, she loves having her teammates in front of her, supporting her so she can challenge herself.

Sophomore Elizabeth Bearce finished 13th with a time of 25:35.00. Participating Team Manager and senior sprinter Monica Agneta ran her first 5K race ever and finished in the top 30 with a time of 29.15.00. 

“We were very excited about the team’s results in our first 5K (of the season), both boys and girls,” said Windham cross-country coach Jeff Riddle. “It’s tough to do two meets in one week, but these kids have been working hard ... and there is not a single person that did not showcase progression over the last two weeks.”

Riddle said the runners all have baselines and data to continue the battle toward team goals. <

Friday, August 27, 2021

Windham varsity field hockey shows strength and unity during Play Day

By Matt Pascarella

Windham’s varsity field hockey team hit the field against Cheverus and Scarborough during Play Day, held at Cape Elizabeth High School on Monday Aug. 23 and it was an opportunity for teams to practice skills and come together before the start of the regular season next week.

Windham junior Hannah Heanssler runs with the
ball to the Cheverus goal during a varsity field
hockey game on Monday, Aug. 23 at Cape Elizabeth
High School. The game was one of many during
Play Day, where teams worked on their skills 
before the regular season opens.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
Windham had already beaten Greely 2-0, Fryeburg 4-0 and South Portland 2-0 earlier in the day and the Lady Eagles continued to show their strength when they beat Cheverus 6-1 before falling to Scarborough 3-1.

Cheverus

Windham was aggressive right out of the gate. They moved the ball well and did a nice job of staying with the ball. Windham’s defense was strong as they only let Cheverus put one in the net the entire game.

Windham pressured. Moments later Windham put the ball in the net. Windham gave the Cheverus’ goalie a workout. From that point on, the Lady Eagles could not be stopped, as they scored goal after goal.

Windham junior Hannah Heanssler put two in the net; so, did Windham senior Ellie Miller. Windham senior Ellie Wilson also scored.

“Today gave [the team] a chance to practice trusting each other,” said Windham varsity coach Cory DiDonato. “We lost quite a few seniors last year, so there’s a lot of new kids in new positions.”

One of the things DiDonato was trying to figure out was who’s going to play where and fit best.

“I think there’s like a pocket of kids that have been used to working together for so long, that they’re learning to trust other kids in those spots,” she said.

DiDonato added it was really good for Windham to know they can come back as a team after Cheverus was first to score.

Scarborough

Scarborough scored early, but that did not deter Windham. They fought hard with a lot of hustle. Windham took several shots on goal as the game progressed. Windham stayed with Scarborough and prevented them from getting too many in the net.

Windham pushed through any tiredness they may have felt. Windham junior Emma Morrison scored halfway into the game.

“I think we’re really learning how to mesh well with each other ... communicate and know where we need each other on the field,” said Miller.

Miller said they are passing well and moving the ball nicely down the field between teammates.

She said she is very excited for the upcoming season. <

Varsity, JV girls’ soccer claim win against Thornton Academy

Windham varsity girls' soccer junior Abbey
Thornton gets by her opponent before scoring a
goal during the Lady Eagles' preseason match
at home against Thornton Academy on Tuesday,
Aug. 24. Windham won, 4-1.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School’s varsity and junior varsity girls’ soccer teams owned the field in back-to-back preseason games against Thornton Academy at home on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

During a very, very hot afternoon both teams took control of the field early on and scored multiple times. Windham’s defense made it close to impossible for TA to come back and grabbed the lead, with the varsity eventually emerging with a 4-1 win over the Trojans, while Windham’s JV turned back TA, 2-0.

Varsity

The Lady Eagles were aggressive right away and did not let the heat affect the start of their game. Windham took several shots on goal and junior Ashley Clark scored early on. Windham’s defense held off TA and prevented them from making much progress in the first half.

As the sun bore down, Windham pressured. The Trojans did manage to get one in the net, but that’s as far as the Lady Eagles would allow them to go.

Windham sophomore Ashlee Sawyer scored before the end of the first half. At halftime, Windham led 2-1.

“Playing TA in the past has been kind of difficult; we know how they play,” said Windham senior Sarah Talon. “They’ve always been great competition and I can’t wait to play them again.”

Talon said there are some new faces on the team this season which she said was really awesome.

Windham was more aggressive in the second half than they were in the first. They took repeated shots on goal and junior Abbey Thornton scored. Then Clark scored again.

“That’s a good preseason game,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I really feel like we’re starting to come together well; we’ve got a really strong junior class. We had some spots to fill, but we’ve had some freshmen step up and fill in really nicely.”

Junior Varsity

Windham’s JV started strong and kept that strength going through the entire game. They moved the ball well between each other and communicated early on. The Lady Eagle’s defense had control of TA and prevented scoring opportunities. Windham’s offense kept the Trojans’ goalie busy.

Windham sophomore Abby Llyod scored in the first half, followed by freshman Caitlyn Marsh. At the half, Windham led 2-0.

“I think we played really well,” said Llyod. “It was one of our first times playing with the incoming freshmen and I think ... we played really well as a team and we’re going to have a great season.”

Windham continued to command in the second half, being first to the ball in many instances and did not let up. They held off TA.

“[Windham] definitely commanded the field and the positive thing about this group ... is that they’re really just working to figure out their roles on the team and I think they’re doing a fantastic job,” said Windham JV girls’ soccer coach Lisa Anderson.

Anderson said that she has a very positive outlook for the upcoming season. <

Tales from the Outdoors: The Lowly Earthworm

By Bob Chapin

For thousands of years, man has been collecting earthworms and using them to catch fish. They still work! Despite the money I have invested in fishing lures and tackle, I still rely upon earthworms to put fish in the live well. 

I have friends that wouldn’t be caught dead with “Garden Hackle” in their possession, especially in pursuit of our various trout species. Somehow that is looked upon as cheating…it is just too easy. In fact, among some of the sport’s purist even the suggestion of “sweetening” one of your feathered offerings with a piece of earthworm is a heresy.

Most of us began our angling careers using worms starting with cane poles and bobbers. Nothing stoked the anticipation of a day of fishing like scouring the backyard with a flashlight after dark the night before looking for the telltale shine of a couple of nightcrawlers trying to start a family.

If you were stealthy and quick, you could catch them extended out of their burrows and they were easy to collect. However, if you were heavy footed or slow to pounce, it was amazing how quickly they could return to their underground lairs. 

We would sometimes aid the dew less nights with a light sprinkling from the garden hose about a half hour before to get them moving on top. A casual perusal of available U-Tube videos will give you a selection of electrical contraptions that are guaranteed to produce crawlers literally shooting up out of the soil and some of them actually do work.

Today the average fishermen is not so involved and simply buy theirs from one of the many convenience stores or bait shops along Route 302 and other convenient locations.

One tip: always open the lid on the shallow plastic tubs and make sure the container you are buying holds live robust worms. They often sit in these locations for weeks waiting to be purchased. If you see a web of fine tentacles across the black dirt, that usually means the worms have expired. More than once I have arrived at a remote location and opened the container to discover a putrid mass of expired worms.

During our walleye trip out to Ohio last year, the captains we chartered used earthworms exclusively. They used a bait box for Canadian nightcrawler that was designed to keep them cool throughout the day.

They lasted longer and were livelier than any I had seen before. They are a great leap from the cylindrical container we used to carry on our belts as a kid.

I bought one of the bait boxes and have used it religiously ever since. It has a central compartment where the worms reside, but then around the perimeter are smaller compartments designed to hold cool packs or simply ice cubes…they work great.  I don’t know where they get the dirt they pack worms in, but it is quite black and was forever getting all over my boat and was a pain to clean.

Now, when I get a tub of worms, I pluck them out of the containers and drop them into an old cottage cheese container three-quarters full of cold clean water. It rinses them clean and makes them much easier and cleaner to handle. A clean wet rag gives them some cover and is all you need to keep them happy and alive for several weeks if you put the whole container in the reefer when you get home from a day trip.

Kids love fishing with worms. After they get over their initial squeamishness, they enjoy playing with the worms. Yes, you will get some questions from them about whether the hook hurts them, but that is soon forgotten once the first sunny comes into the boat or onto the dock. I use a #6 or #8 bait holder hook when fishing worms. Occasionally, when I know there are larger prey around, I will go to a #4.

Even through the ice, a worm will catch them most of the time. I am partial to a nightcrawler as they offer a hearty meal to most of the species we concentrate on and the style of fishing—trolling—we practice most. However, when fishing for trout on smaller streams and rivers where you will be tumbling a bait down through the current and around the rocks, we often lighten up to red wrigglers or straight trout worms, not necessarily night crawlers.

There are other terrestrial baits that you can use such as grasshoppers, hellgrammites, beetles, and ants, but nothing tops a worm for just about any species including catfish, any of the trout species, and even salmon. If you haven’t tried worm fishing lately, get in touch with your childhood adventures and give it a go. <

Friday, August 20, 2021

Cody Dube: From high school to professional baseball and back

Windham High graduate Cody Dube pitches for the Aberdeen
 IronBirds, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, during a minor
league baseball game. Dube spent two seasons pitching in the
minors for the Orioles after playing college baseball. He is now
the varsity baseball coach at Windham high School.  
COURTESY PHOTO
By Matt Pascarella

After Windham High varsity baseball coach and WHS graduate Cody Dube graduated in 2012, he attended Keene State in New Hampshire and as a pitcher, he caught the attention of several Major League Baseball scouts. After college, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles at age 22 and would go on to play for their affiliate teams, the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Delmarva Shorebirds. Dube spent two years in the minors before he made the personal decision to give up professional baseball.

During his college senior year, Dube was in touch with the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics. While Dube had communicated with many teams, he was picked by the Orioles as a 10th round draft pick in 2016.

Dube’s ultimate goal when he entered the Minor leagues was to see where he could end up.

“I didn't want to end my baseball career with any regrets or thinking that I could've (or) should've done something differently,” said Dube.

He added it took commitment from all aspects of life; you need to train, eat, sleep, practice, repeat. You have to be the best you can be.

During his time, Dube had some of the most memorable experiences he will ever have. He’s played in front of anywhere from 3,000 to 12,000 fans in beautiful stadiums and got to hang out with great athletes from all over the world.

“I will always remember the major leaguers who rehabbed with us, the guys we played against who are now in the big leagues, the teammates who are now in the big leagues (and) talking to the guys from other countries about what their home life is like,” said Dube.

He got to go play against some baseball greats like Pablo Sandoval, Pete Alonso, Juan Soto, and Bobby Dalbec; and even Tim Tebow. It brings back good memories for Dube when he sees them today on TV.

Dube also got to play with current Orioles like Alexander Wells, Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna and Hunter Harvey. Of each player, Dube said they were very talented and hard-working individuals. Wells was Dube’s spring training roommate. Dube described him as an awesome, laid-back Australian with a love of the game.

Playing in the minor leagues required a lot of hard work. Some aspects might not be so fun: sleeping on a bus, eating gas station food, being away from friends and family, the day-to-day workouts, coupled with practices can be taxing, Dube said.

They started in Florida in February and returned home after Labor Day Weekend and throughout that time, Dube said they might have maybe 14 days off total during that span.

One of the most impressive ballplayers Dube met was former Orioles’ pitcher Zach Britton who spent a couple games in the bullpen with Dube’s team. Dube said he was a great teammate and one of the coolest guys he played with. Dube got to warm up in the bullpen with Britton and got pointers from him.

Dube also got to play with retired Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and also met former Orioles’ star Brian Roberts and Hall of Fame legend Cal Ripken Jr.

One of the hardest decisions Dube ever had to make was when he decided to forego his professional baseball career. The day before he was to report for 2018 spring training, Dube told the Baltimore Orioles he was done.

“I enjoyed playing when I was on the mound, there was nothing better than competing like that,” said Dube. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision (to leave), like realistic probabilities of being promoted, spending too much time waiting to pitch; we had 14-plus pitchers for nine innings a day. You experience many highs and lows on a daily basis.”

Once he left minor league baseball, he did not have much interest in playing again. Dube said does not plan to return to the minors.

To anyone who is pursuing a career in baseball, Dube says you should work harder each day so that you can say you gave it everything you had once you reach the end. It can end so quickly and you will never have another chance.

When Dube became Windham’s varsity baseball coach he said it was a cool opportunity to coach where he grew up. Since Dube had Rich Drummond as his Athletic Director in high school, it made the transition to coaching easy.

Dube has a lot of nice memories from the Windham program. It’s been cool for Dube to now experience the game from the coaching side.

He is a Project Engineer for Langford and Low Construction in Portland and enjoys snowmobiling and skiing in the winter, hanging out around Sebago, playing softball, and chasing his new puppy Revvy in the summertime. <

Windham’s Talon wins one-on-one title for second year in a row

Windham senior Sarah Talon plays defense during 
the one-on-one championship game at the Maine
Invite Only Top 30 Skills Basketball Camp held
at XL Sports World in Saco on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.
PHOTO BY ALLISON TALON
By Matt Pascarella

If you’ve ever seen Windham’s Sarah Talon play during a varsity basketball game, it’s not hard to see why she was picked for Maine’s Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp. She is definitely one of those players that leaves it all on the court and works very hard to continue to improve her game. During the camp, the invitees compete in a one-on-one “Queen of the Court” championship game. On the weekend of Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 at XL Sports World in Saco, Talon won the one-on-one “Queen of the Court” championship for her second year in a row.

Talon began working with her trainer and now the organizer of the Maine Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp, Ben Teer, when she began high school. Teer started and now runs the Top 30 Skills Camp.

Talon got her first invite to the camp from Teer when she was in ninth grade. Talon knew from the start “Queen of the Court” was something she enjoyed very much. She considers one-on-one a specialty of hers and often succeeds at it.

Teer said Talon is a true competitor and one of the most athletic and unstoppable guards in Maine. She has tangibles to take over the game whenever she wants.

“Which is why she’s such a good one-on-one player,” said Teer. “Her athleticism, style of play, and skillset sets her apart in one-on-one. She has a killer instinct and is cutthroat; attacking you over and over and over.”

Athletes are selected to Maine’s Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp by several ways. Teer reaches out to coaches and Amateur Athletic Union directors asking them who they think are top players in each class. Teer hosts online nominations where anyone can nominate who they think deserves it.

He also travels the entire state and watches thousands of athletes compete. He looks at statewide rankings, newspaper all-state teams and conference top awards. Social media also allows Teer to follow the journeys of many of these athletes.

During the weekend, some of the skills Talon worked on was being aggressive on the court and learning ways to never back down from any competition.

When it came to the one-on-one championship, Talon knew if she had won last year, she was capable of winning again this year.

She said her athleticism and confidence played a big role in winning this competition. She knew what her advantages were and used her athleticism wisely.

“It was very nerve racking ... (winning the one-on-one championship) in front of the entire camp. I knew I had a lot of pressure because of last year’s ‘Queen of the Court’ win.” Talon said her experience this year was amazing.

In order to prepare for the Top 30 Camp and the championship one-on-one game, Talon has been working out in the basketball gym, taking hundreds of shots and repetitions every day. She’s also been playing and practicing with her Amateur Athletic Union team, named Attraction.

“This summer has been very important to me in preparation for this winter. I’m hoping for a very fun and successful winter season,” said Talon. <

Friday, August 13, 2021

Windham Park’s new basketball courts draw attention

The new basketball courts by the Windham Public Safety
Building on Gray Road have been a big hit. The courts are
Phase Two of the larger Windham Community Park project
which also includes sand volleyball courts, scheduled to be 
installed by this fall. PHOTO BY PAT MOODY   
By Matt Pascarella

If you’ve driven by the Windham Public Safety building on Gray Road, you’ve probably noticed the new basketball courts in Windham Park. The bright blue courts are usually occupied by many players from Windham or members of adjoining towns who are very excited about the new facility.

In addition to the basketball courts, there is also a sand volleyball court which is projected to be ready soon. The basketball courts, which are open from dawn to dusk are Phase Two of Windham’s Community Park Project.

The goal of the new courts is to provide a safe and accessible location for people of any age to take part in an activity that is fun and healthy. The vision for the Community Park is to provide something for everyone.

Along with the courts, Phase Two included stormwater management infrastructure, installation of the electrical conduits for eventual installation of lighting and sand volleyball court installation. The final cost of Phase Two was $160,783.

“The department is thrilled to see all of the activity and hear the positive responses to the new courts,” said Windham Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks. “We are grateful for those who are already stepping forward to be good stewards of the property by picking up trash and bottles.”

The basketball courts will soon have four benches that Home Depot will donate. Eventually, the plan is to have the court fenced in with surrounding lights installed. At the moment there is no time frame on when those pieces of the phase will be completed.

In addition to being lined for basketball, the courts are also lined for pickleball. Windham’s Department of Parks and Recreation does have portable nets on order that they will keep at the court for those who would like to play pickleball.

Another part of Phase Two is the sand volleyball courts. The Department of Parks and Recreation are waiting for a few parts to be delivered and will soon be installing the volleyball net. Construction of the nets will hopefully be completed for use this fall. 

Once approved, phase three of the Community Park Project could include a playground, walking path, exercise stations, lighting for the courts and stormwater draining. Brooks said the Department of Parks and Recreation would be seeking potential grant money for some of these items in order to expedite the completion of this multi-phase project.

“It’s nice to have an outside facility to be able to come out to, especially during Covid when a lot of the indoor stuff was shut down,” said Windham resident Michael O’Donnell.  “It’s newer and you can tell they did a good job with it. (The surface is) nice and bouncy ... it’s not as hard on our knees and shins.”

O’Donnell said the courts are good for the town because it provides another area for kids to play. It gets people together and keeps kids out of trouble. He said the more stuff like this that can be brought to the town the better.

“Windham is a growing town with hundreds of youths and adults actively participating in organized basketball and volleyball. This new space gives our growing community access to quality facilities to grow their skills and love of the game,” said former Windham Youth Basketball (WYBA) President and current Board Member Pat Moody.

WYBA and the Windham High School coaches have begun discussing plans for how to best make use of the basketball courts for clinics, tournaments, and potential leagues.

“The Rising Eagles Basketball program will be the first organized program to utilize the courts later this month when Coach Chad Pulkkinen and Coach Geoff Grigsby conduct free training to middle school players interested in skill development and gaining a better understanding of the fundamentals of the game,” said Moody.

Incoming Windham High School senior Nathan Fitzgerald said he’s been to the court several times and likes it because it’s easy to get to and it’s a good way to get outside and get some activity in.

“Instead of people ... going up to Manchester (School), they can just come here. It’s near town center. It’s going to get a lot of people outside and a lot of people active,” said Fitzgerald, who is also excited for more phases of the Community Park Project.

If you would like to donate to the Community Park Project, please call the Windham Department of Parks and Recreation at 892-1905. <

Windham High fall sports season ready to move forward

Tryouts begin later this month for Windham High School's
fall sports teams. A full fall season of prep sports will be 
underway by September and fans will be allowed to
attend games this year. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
By Matt Pascarella

The 2021 Windham High School fall sports season is a go. At this point in time, all sports will be able to play – including football – with this season looking very similar to the spring season, meaning minimal COVID-19 restrictions.

Fans will be allowed at all games and no masks are required if you are outside. The prep sports preseason will begin on Monday, Aug. 16 with tryouts and scrimmages, and the official fall season will start in late August and early September.

As far as the Maine Principal’s Association is concerned, there may be some modifications down the line, but right now the season is looking really good, officials say.

The Windham School Board recently met to discuss what the start of school will look like. Will masks be required or not? Depending on what was decided, athletes playing the only indoor fall sport, volleyball, may or may not be masked.

Windham Middle School and Raymond’s Jordan-Small Middle School will have regular seasons, with the Windham Middle School season beginning in mid-to-late September. Jordan-Small Middle School’s season will begin in early September.

Windham High school Athletic Director Rich Drummond is approaching this season as if it were pre-pandemic times.  He said that the Athletic Department is moving forward and is very excited for the start of the fall prep season.

“I’m very much prepping like it’s the fall of 2019,” said Drummond.

Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Ben Schulz feels pretty good about the group he has returning this season. He said it’s a nice mix of senior leadership and talented young guys. This combination gives the team optimism that returning to the Southern Maine Activities Association playoffs is a realistic goal.

“As we have learned over the past year and a half, things can change pretty quickly,” said Schulz. “If we stay healthy and work hard, I suspect we definitely have the ability to field a team that our community will be proud of.” 

Drummond went on to say that it is proven at this point, kids can participate safely in athletics. It may look a little different at times, but Drummond said they made it work last fall and for the winter and spring seasons. He added he thought athletics can happen not only in Windham, but statewide.

“I think we are going to be strong this year, said Windham varsity field hockey coach Cory DiDonato. The girls are coming in with determination and have done the work this summer to be in a good place when preseason starts. They have been together and know how each other works which is an asset.”

DiDonato said that seniors Sarah Hare, Ellie Wilson and Ellie Miller are going to be key returners. They know what it takes to get it done and how to do so. The rest of the returning teammates are also playing crucial roles for the team too. DiDonato has high hopes and is excited for the season.

This season will add a new sport to the schedule, Esports, or electronic sports. Windham coach Seth Fournier described it as video gaming at another level through organized, strict competitive gameplay. This activity has really grown throughout the state. This will be a varsity sport representing Windham High School.

Fournier said the Esports will work on skills such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and creative problem solving. There will also be a physical component as well. It will not be 100 percent in front of a screen.

Fournier wants to shake the stereotype that you can’t do other things and play video games.

“You can play video games and still be a functioning adult. You can still do what you want and play video games,” said Fournier.

E-sports is going to open up an activity to another population of students who may not normally be involved in the athletic program. Their season will begin in late September.

“(This is) one of the more anticipated exciting falls I’ve been looking forward to in a long time,” said Drummond. “I think we’re going to have great teams and we’ve got great athletes. I think we’re going to have a great fall and it’s a good way to kick off the school year.” <

Tales from the Outdoors: The Worst Hunt Ever?

By Bob Chapin

People often ask me, “What was the worst hunt you were ever on?” You would expect it would be a hunt where I was injured, or where an airplane taking us in crashed on the way out, or simply where we did not get the quarry we were after.  While my last horseback elk hunt in Idaho was no picnic (three broken ribs, knee wrenched and back injury when the horse fell on top of me) it was still a good hunt in beautiful terrain with good companions, and we heard and saw elk though did not shoot at any.

A contender for the worst hunt started out with such promise. There were four of us who were flying in via float plane to a secluded peninsula down in Prince William Sound, Alaska for Black Bear. We flew in on a De Haviland Beaver, the work horse of the north. The plane is capable of carrying a tremendous amount of gear and passengers—as they say you ‘cube it out before you gross it out’ meaning you can’t load any more into it before you reach the gross take-off weight limitation. We took what we thought was going to be a comfortable camp for 6 days in the wilderness—tents, food, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, clothes, and rain gear.  The weather the day we flew in was spectacular—sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, no wind and temps in the 70s—not bad for an Alaskan May.

About the time we got to our campsite and got the tent set up the clouds formed then parted and it started raining like a Southeast Asian Typhoon. It didn’t let up for five days!  We made the best of it we could and hunted hard the first three days. By the fourth day it turned into a survival trek. Everything we owned was wet—all our clothes, our food, our bedding, everything in the tent was wet and so were we.  We even dug a trench under the edge of the tent and bailed water out of it with cooking pots in an effort to find a dry spot. Tempers flared. A normally convivial bunch of guys who all got along well on a normal day, were suddenly at each other. To make matters worse, the promised land of Black Bears was suddenly devoid of game. One guy saw a bear, got a shot …and missed. I don’t know why but we all hated him for missing, like if he made the shot, we all would have somehow felt vindicated. That hunt could not have ended soon enough. Fortunately, the clouds parted the morning of the pick-up day and our air taxi operator showed up as promised. It was a quiet ride out.

Another bust hunt was an elk hunt in western Colorado. This hunt had everything going for it. We had a guy on the ground in Monument who was our liaison, he knew the lay of the land, had hunted this area in the past, was going to get and pre-package all the groceries for our drop hunt and lined up a packer he knew with horses to get us and our gear into the public hunt zone. We had driven out from Virginia for this hunt and were eager to get started. The first indication of trouble was when we arrived at the trailhead to find several horse and camping trailers already there—not good! We pressed on as the packer was confident that this was the entry to a vast area and we would soon out distance the other guys. We used a camp the packer had used before, it was a couple of wall tents and a horse corral. Normally, the wrangler would have ridden out with the horses but two of us elected to hire him as a guide for the first day.

Our guy on the ground and his buddy from Colorado left camp at daybreak and proceeded to fan out on the mountain opposing our camp. The wrangler took two of us up to a saddle in the mountains where, “the elk just pour through here” according to him. We were not 20 minutes out of camp when we heard shooting coming from camp’s direction and we secretly rejoiced for our friends. Shortly, as we approached the saddle we stumbled upon another occupied camp, clearly positioned to intercept the elk as they came through. The area was not large enough to support both our parties, so we returned to camp planning on helping our buds recover their elk.

When we rendezvoused with our buds, we couldn’t believe the stories we heard. The buddy from Colorado shot at a bull but could not describe where he was standing when he shot, where the bull was when he shot, what the reaction of the bull was when hit, or what direction he went once shot. Upon further questioning it was discovered this was his first hunt…for anything, it was a borrowed rifle, he had never fired the rifle on the range, and had no idea where it would hit at 100 yards! We spent two hours looking in vain for any sign of a hit. This guy should never have been in the woods.

Our buddy’s story was even more bizarre. He is an accomplished hunter and should have known better than to leave a novice alone on the hillside. Our buddy shot a cow elk about the same time his buddy shot but rather than stick with it, he elected to go look for his buddy to see if he needed any help…nice thought but not the correct response. Unfortunately, after he heard his buddy’s saga, he was unable to locate his cow. Again, we used valuable hunting time looking for a cow that should have been recovered instantly. Those were the only living elk seen that trip.

Two days later I was hunting in the same general area, and I could smell a dead animal. I started a search pattern across the hillside and had not gone far when I discovered a deceased cow elk under a blown-down tree. In just a couple of days it had been found and fed on by coyotes and a black bear. The shooter walked up as I examined the cow and harvested only the eye teeth as jewelry as the meat was spoiled.

These were two hunts I’d like to forget! <

Friday, August 6, 2021

Windham's Brady Afthim and Emma Yale win National USA Today High School Sports Award

Windham High graduating senior Brady
Afthim has been honored by USA Today
as 2021 Male Athlete of the Year for
Maine and also as Maine 2021
Baseball Player of the Year.
PHOTO BY HEATHER SEAVEY
By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School graduating seniors Brady Afthim and Emma Yale ended their spring seasons on very high notes. They both won several awards recognizing them for their hard work over their high school athletic careers and last month each were honored as winners of the National USA Today High School Player of the Year award.

Yale was recognized as Maine’s “Female Lacrosse Player of the Year” and Afthim was recognized as Maine’s “Baseball Player of the Year” and “Male Athlete of the Year.”

USA Today High School Sports Awards has 105 local and statewide award programs and is the largest high school athletic recognition program in the country. The best athletes from many individual sports are selected each year.

Top athletes from statewide levels advance to the national USA Today High School Sports Awards where the best of the best is selected. The selection process is not through application, but rather USA Today has their own selectors that pick athletes through “statistical analysis, game coverage and coach/athletic director feedback.”

Afthim and Yale were part of the virtual national awards show which streamed on Thursday, Aug. 5 and was hosted by Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski.

Afthim, who will attend the University of Connecticut on a baseball scholarship, recently won the Winkin Award, Gatorade Player of the Year and Varsity Maine Player of the Year among other honors. By the end of the season, he had struck out 128 batters in 53 and 1/3 innings pitched. He also had three homeruns over the course of the prep season and also threw a no-hitter.

Tufts-bound Yale set a new Windham High School record of 145 goals scored over a high school athletic career after the end of the 2021 season. She was also one of Windham’s “Female Athlete of the Year” for 2020-2021.  

Yale won the WMTW News channel 8’s Travy Award and was voted the number one player in the state by Maineiax Lacrosse Club. She was a top 10 student of her graduating class at Windham High School and will play college lacrosse for Tufts University.

Afthim said he feels really good about having had a very successful final high school season. As he looks ahead to a collegiate sports career, ending his senior year so well has given him confidence for the next level.

“It’s always cool getting recognition for success,” said Afthim of being chosen for the National USA Today High School Sports Award. He said he did not apply for the honor but was notified a few days prior to being named as the male winner for the state.

He said the awards are a nice confirmation of the work he is putting in.

Recently, Afthim turned down an offer to be drafted to play professional baseball by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“[It was] a little bit scary but also really exciting to even have the opportunity. I turned it down just because I know that I’m not ready for that step right now and I think I’ll be more successful going to the University of Connecticut first,” he said.

As if being a master on the mound wasn’t enough, Afthim also has taken up another sport, bowling. He said it might just be a phase, but he goes bowling a lot and bought his own ball. While it may just be a hobby, he’s competitive and takes everything super seriously.

Windham varsity baseball coach Cody Dube said he was not surprised when Afthim was chosen for this USA Today award. Dube said it was well-deserved as Afthim is a hardworking, committed athlete who loves what he does.

Yale said she was unaware this award existed too until Windham’s Athletic Director Rich Drummond notified her about her being chosen for the USA Today honor.

“It took me by surprise, but it is something I really appreciate, as it recognizes everything I've been able to accomplish and all of the hard work I have put into the sport,” said Yale.

The awards are a nice confirmation for her that she is on the right path. They inspire her to do more as she knows she can achieve bigger goals in the future. Yale is excited to see what she is capable of accomplishing at Tufts.

Before she heads to college, Yale said she’ll be camping with her family as well as some other fun things with family and friends.

Windham girls’ varsity lacrosse coach Matt Perkins said of Yale earlier in the season, “she puts the time in, and she does the extra things. Yes, [Emma] is very gifted, but she works extremely hard.” <