Friday, December 30, 2022

WHS girls’ basketball hold off Edward Little in back-to-back games

By Matt Pascarella

Windham varsity and junior varsity girls’ basketball teams played Edward Little on Thursday, Dec. 22 in homes games where once Windham took the lead, they kept it and made it impossible for the Eddies to catch up.

Windham senior Elizabeth Levesque heads to the basket
during a girls' varsity basketball game against Edward
Little High School on Thursday, Dec. 22 at Windham
High School. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
In the varsity game, EL tied the score early on. Windham pulled ahead, and EL was not able to catch up, with Windham posting a 50-32 win.

Windham’s JV team took the lead early and Lady Eagle defense kept Edward Little to a single digit score for almost the entire game. Windham won 43-14.

Varsity

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming into tonight,” said Windham girls’ varsity basketball coach Brody Artes. “That’s the way Edward Little plays, high intensity, lot of pressure in the full court. We had to be composed, we had to be organized; I thought the kids came out and matched that intensity and did very well.”

Windham went hard after the ball. They had a small lead, and soon Edward Little tied the game at six. From that point on, Windham offense and defense held back EL as the Lady Eagle’s lead grew.

Artes said defense was good especially in the first half; the team had full court pressure. EL couldn’t get into anything offensively and that generated offense for Windham. Any turnover Windham got they tried to convert into an offensive bucket.

Windham led 23-10 at halftime.

In the second half, Windham defense remained strong, grabbing several turnovers to increase their lead.

Windham has been working on transitions, so anytime a team presses them, they have that opportunity in advantage situations to score, if they don’t, they pull it back and run their offense.

“I think our team chemistry always plays a huge factor with how the game turns out,” said Windham sophomore Stella Jarvais who put up 21 points. “We all knew coming into the game tonight that it was going to be physical and as a team we knew we had to hustle and work together which showed. I think our defensive intensity has been great as a whole. I was very proud of all of us.”

Junior Varsity

Windham began with excellent passing and pressured early. They quickly pulled away and defense kept EL scoreless the entire first quarter. Windham freshman Nealie Morey sunk a three-pointer.

Windham got several turnovers to increase their lead. Their intensity never declined. At the half Windham led 23-4.

“We work together really well,” said Windham freshman Kendra Eubanks, who scored 17 points. “We played really good defense, and we did really good on shooting and boxing out.”

In the second half, Windham increased their lead and capitalized on any EL mistakes. They snagged rebounds and did not let up until the final buzzer.

Windham girls’ JV basketball coach Gretchen Anderson said it’s the work they’re putting in at practice that led to such a big win. They push each other as teammates. The defensive intensity led to their offense. They set out to make defense their first priority and offense spilled into that. Also, being great teammates on the court and from the bench made a difference.<

Friday, December 16, 2022

Windham Scoreboard

EARLY SEASON RECAP


Compiled by Matt Pascarella

Boys’ basketball

Windham traveled to South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 13 where they lost to the Red Riots 66-46. Sophomore Creighty Dickson scored 15 points; junior Erik Bowen scored 12 for Windham.

Girls’ basketball


Windham played South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 13 and won their first home game of the season, 45-32.

Ice Hockey

Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle/Sacopee Valley Trailblazers hit the ice on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Bridgton Ice Arena against Fryeburg/Lake Region/Oxford Hills. The Trail Blazers won, 4-3, in overtime; Windham sophomore Philip Traina scored in the first period; Windham sophomore Sam Foley scored in the third period. Bonny Eagle freshman Darren Haskell scored in the third period. Traina scored again in overtime.

Swimming

Windham hosted Falmouth and Westbrook in its season opener on Friday, Dec. 9 at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Three swimmers qualified for states including senior Hannah Heanssler, sophomore Sarah Inman and junior Grace Theriault. Heanssler finished second in the 100-meter freestyle event with a time of 1:01.12 minutes and first in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:23.25. Inman finished second in the 100-meter Butterfly with a 1:11.64 time and second in the 100-meter Backstroke with a time of 1:12.55. Theriault finished first in the 500-meter Freestyle with a 6:08.92 time and third in the 200-meter Freestyle with a time of 2:16.48.

Indoor Track


Windham participated in its first indoor track meet of the season against Biddeford, Cheverus and Noble on Monday, Dec. 12 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

Girls

Windham sophomore Ava Gerrity finished first in the 55-meter dash junior division with a time of 7.87 seconds, first in the long jump with a distance of 16-00.75 feet and first in the triple jump with a distance of 32-09.00. Windham sophomore Tayla Pelletier finished first in the high jump with a height of 4-08.00. Junior Khalysa Hammith finished first in the 55-meter senior division with a time of 8.01.

Boys

Windham freshman Karl Longstretch finished first in the 55-meter with a time of 7.09 and first in the 200 with a time of 25.31. Freshman Nick Verrill finished first in the high jump with a height of 5-02.00. Senior Derrick Stephens finished second in the 400 with a 59.05 time and second in the hurdles with a time of 9.37. Senior Caleb Young finished fourth in the 800 with a time of 2:26.38.

Wrestling


The Windham/Westbrook/Gray New-Gloucester Wolfpack wrestling team faced York at York on Tuesday, Dec. 13 and got their second win of the season, 45-24. Sophomore Ayden Cofone, junior Gavin Tanner and senior Scott Ingalls all recorded big wins. <

Friday, December 9, 2022

Wolfpack wrestling begins season at Westlake Tournament

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Gray New Gloucester Wolfpack wrestling team kicked off the season by competing in the Westlake Memorial Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Bath Middle School, and it was a very strong start to the season.

The Windham/Westbrook/Gray New Gloucester Wolfpack
wrestling team were participants in the Westlake Memorial
Wrestling Tournament at Bath Middle School on Dec. 3.
PHOTO BY COREEN TANNER 
Windham sophomore Ayden Cofone placed first in the 120-weight class and was voted outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

“It was great seeing the team compete for the first time this year,” said Cofone. “I was proud of how the team did overall, but I still think we had a lot of areas that we need to improve on.”

Cofone said it felt good to take first, and he will use this win to push him toward another state championship.

In the 170-weight class Westbrook junior Gavin Tanner placed first. In the 182-weight class Windham senior Scott Ingalls placed first.

“I felt great,” said Tanner. “It's something I've worked really hard for. This is the first tournament I've ever [taken] first in and I hope to keep it going.”

Ingalls, who’s coming back from an injury said getting this win means he can still perform at a high level. The team winning shows the kind of program being built and how it can lead to success.

Westbrook junior Owen Pillsbury placed third in the 132-weight class. Windham junior Chris Harvey placed fourth in the 152-weight class. Windham junior Griffin Moreau placed third in the 285-weight class.

“We have been putting in a lot of hard work in the practice room, so it was great to get off to a strong start,” said Windham/Westbrook/Gray New Gloucester Wolfpack wrestling coach John Nicholas. “There were a lot of good teams at the tournament so it was nice to see we can compete with the best in the area. We are happy with winning the tournament, but we also know that it's a long season and we have to keep grinding to reach our ultimate goals.” <

Windham graduate’s love of soccer leads to impactful athletic career

By Matt Pascarella

Starting as early as Pee Wee soccer, 2016 Windham High School graduate Ciera Berthiaume began her athletic career. She is now a second-year grad student at the University of Southern Maine and is working toward her master’s degree in leadership studies.

Windham High graduate Ciera Berthiaume keeps her focus
while playing for the University of Southern Maine
during the 2022 women's soccer season.
PHOTIO BY JAMES LIEBOWITZ
She eventually plans to go into teaching where she’ll be able to be involved in the community and still be active in the local soccer world. The youngest of three children, whether Berthiaume was playing in a game of her own, or watching one of her siblings, soccer has always been a big part of her life.

She took a break from the sport during her freshman and sophomore years of college. She started playing again because she missed it and its atmosphere.

During the 2022 season, Berthiaume helped lead the USM women’s soccer team to a Little East Conference (LEC) Championship win which advanced the team to the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.

“She is a remarkable mixture of athleticism and soccer technique,” said University of Southern Maine Women’s head soccer coach Seth Benjamin. “I don’t think you find many players that are as strong and as fast and as technical as Cici. She’s the all-time lead scorer for our program; I think people and teams have tended to underestimate her just thinking that she’s super strong and fast and she gets in really tight spots and gets double-teamed and she’s able to beat people on the dribble, keep the ball for us; she’s kind of the whole deal.”

She’s grown so much as a person and player in the USM program, Benjamin said. Her confidence and leadership skills have improved, and she has a great ability to bring people together and make them feel comfortable; everyone on the team looks to Berthiaume for her experience and guidance.

Benjamin says that he’s excited to see what's next for her.

"I grew up playing against siblings that never let me off the hook so when I decided to start playing again it was my determination that helped me get to where I am now,” said Berthiaume.

This season she got the opportunity to play with another Windham High graduate, Julia McKenna. They are a few years apart but were able to play together and contribute to a stellar season with the Huskies.

“I was in middle school when she was in high school playing,” said McKenna. “I do remember going

and watching her play at her high school games and thinking I wanted to be just like her. I will miss playing with her next year.”

During the 2022 USM Women’s Soccer season, Berthiaume set the University of Southern Maine women’s soccer career records with 43 goals, 20 assists and 106 overall points. Berthiaume’s also a four-time All-Little East Conference player, Second-Team player in 2018 and 2019 and First-Team player in 2021 and 2022.

Berthiaume said the accolades are something she tries not to think about. She is grateful for the second chance to play at USM and can’t wait to see where the program goes next.

When she began playing for USM in 2018, she had a goal to become LEC champions and playing for Windham taught her how to handle her nerves in high-stakes games.

She says the team plays because it’s fun and in high stakes situations it’s important to remember the foundation of why they are there. It’s been years of hard work and putting in time outside of the season to finally reach the finish line of becoming LEC champions this season.

Berthiaume likes to read and write in her free time and says she might have too many books she wants to read. She also enjoys walking her dogs and getting outside in the fresh air. <

Groundskeeping team makes a difference for RSU 14 athletic facilities

By Matt Pascarella

Whether you have attended a sporting event in the fall or spring anywhere on one of the RSU 14 campuses, you have seen the results of the work of Grounds Coordinator Michael DiDonato and his crew of Jacob Gardiner, Alan Hodgdon, Tom Gumble and Phil Swan.

They make sure the variety of playing surfaces within the district are ready when it comes time for the teams to hit the field.

Windham High School's stadium field is managed year-round
by RSU 14 Grounds Coordinator Michael DiDonato and his
team of groundskeepers. Even during the off-season, DiDonato
and the team ensures these fields are well cared for so that
when the outdoor sports start, the fields are ready for play.
PHOTO  BY PAT MOODY    
DiDonato enacts plans of what happens to the grounds at Windham High School, Windham Middle School, Windham Primary School, Raymond Elementary, Raymond’s Jordan-Small Middle School and the John Andrews building in South Windham.

In addition, DiDonato has painted the start and finish lines for the Beach to Beacon race, the field hockey logo at Boston College, and the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl.

“On the athletic field side of things my main focus is providing safe, aesthetically pleasing, and properly lined athletic fields,” said DiDonato. “When you're an athlete you do not see the behind the scenes work it takes to prepare a field for an athletic event. I have a whole new appreciation for the work that is done when no one is around.”

He works closely with RSU 14 Facilities Director, Property Services and Special Projects Bill Hansen to keep turf surfaces maintained while striping parking lots and roadways, snow removal, mowing, weed whacking, tree work and maintaining garden beds.

“It is great to have Mike part of the RSU 14 Facilities staff.” said Hansen. “He is an expert in ... turf maintenance, so the fields are always in great condition. He is a team player working alongside his staff in all types of weather conditions. The dedicated grounds staff consistently produces fields and grounds for the RSU that are in excellent condition and Mike's leadership is one reason why.”

A lot goes into rehabilitating the turf surfaces during the off seasons; aerating, slit seeding, mowing, fertilizing. DiDonato and his team are always working toward the next season while currently maintaining the turf in the present season. In late spring, they are working toward fall and in the fall, they are getting ready for spring.

In the winter, DiDonato and his team are responsible for clearing sidewalks and salting as needed. DiDonato also plans out field maintenance, provides the facilities director with a budget and meets with vendors they may need to line up for special projects during the summer, like refinishing the tennis courts or resurfacing and painting the track.

RSU 14 Grounds Assistant Jacob Gardiner said DiDonato’s knowledge makes a big difference when they’re setting up a field, or growing grass or aerating; DiDonato sees the big picture, is a top-notch guy

and they are lucky to have him on the team.

In 2000, DiDonato graduated from Westbrook High School. When he was home from college, he worked part-time as summer help maintaining the Westbrook athletic fields. It was here he fell in love with an outdoor office.

While he was in school for Exercise Physiology, he learned a lot from mentor Lance Tibbetts in the turf industry and decided that was his calling.

“I started working on my pesticide license, becoming part of associations, locally and nationally as well as taking courses in turf,” said DiDonato. “You learn a lot about the science of turf by doing than what you could ever learn from a book. Mother Nature has her own course, and we have to adapt every day, every season, every year.”

In 2004 he became a Sports Turf Manager for the city of Westbrook. In 2007, he became a Certified Sports Turf Manager. He took a position at Windham from 2007 to 2018 and later accepted a Sports Turf Specialties position in Massachusetts. He came back to Windham in 2020.

“If you go to other campuses around Southern Maine, you’re not going to find facilities that are ... maintained the way that ours are,” said RSU 14 Athletic Director Rich Drummond. “Mike and his crew take a lot of pride in putting in the time and the effort and the resources to make our facilities the best possible playing conditions for the kids. I’ve worked at three large schools and by far Mike is the best at his trade that I’ve seen. Mike and his team play a huge role in our teams and our successes.”

According to DiDonato, he is a family guy and enjoys spending time with his wife and son. His wife is Windham varsity field hockey coach Cory DiDonato; he enjoys going to her games. He said that he likes seeing his son excel in academics; be a good human and play sports. He also enjoys going to Windham football and soccer games.

When he’s not on a field, DiDonato enjoys hiking, working around the house, spending time with friends and golfing. <

Friday, December 2, 2022

Windham Police detectives run in Marine Corps Marathon

By Matt Pascarella

The weather may have been a little cold the morning of Oct. 30 before the start of the 47th annual Marine Corps Marathon which began in Arlington, Virginia but it soon warmed up to 65 degrees by the time it finished in the District of Columbia.

Windham Police detectives Eugene Gallant,
left, and Brandon Ladd pause for a photo
during activities surrounding the Marine
Corps Marathon in the District of Columbia
on Sunday, Oct. 30. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
A group from Windham Police Department consisting of Detective Eugene Gallant, Detective Brandon Ladd, Sergeant Jason Burke, and Officer Seth Fournier visited Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Oct. 27. That Sunday, Gallant and Ladd ran in the marathon for the first time.

Every year, individuals from the United States and over 50 countries in the world participate in the Marine Corps Marathon. People run for loved ones, a friend or family member who was killed in active duty or just because they want to run in a beautiful part of the country.

The Marine Corps Marathon is a 26.2 mile run from Arlington, Virginia and ends in front of the Marine Corps Memorial.

Gallant signed up in March 2022 thinking he would get on a wait list but was surprised when he got in right away. Gallant made a pitch to Ladd encouraging him to sign up. Ladd did so and got right in.

According to Gallant, the Marine Corps Marathon was phenomenal. He’d run in a few other marathons before – Maine, Quebec and Boston – and the Marine Corps Marathon blew the others away. The people and the support were incredible.

Ladd said it was amazing.

Both runners finished in a little over five hours. Gallant’s time was 5:04.32 hours and Ladd finished with a time of 5:10.43.

Around the 12- or 13-mile marker is an area called “The Blue Mile” where the road is lined with pictures of fallen service people every five to 10 feet. It gave them goosebumps.

“The Marine Corps Marathon offers a chance for people for a lifetime experience on an iconic course while having a connection with our U.S. Marines,” said Marine Corps Marathon Public Relations Coordinator Kristen Loflin. “Participants of the Marine Corps Marathon are able to interact with Marines while learning that they can truly accomplish the physical and mental mission that they set for themselves through dedication to their training, resiliency and perseverance to push through any obstacles that may happen before and on event day. Their strength has pushed them to succeed in accomplishing a lifetime goal. We are honored and blessed to be able to showcase the organizational skills of Marines by bringing this amazing event to so many.”

Ladd said running the race was all about the ‘why.’ He said your body wants to stop way before the finish line. And you have to get your mind right. It was determination that made Ladd want to push through. He said he has a weird association with marathons; he loves that they make him train but hates the way his body feels after completing a marathon.

According to Gallant it’s a no-quit thing. When he looks at the Marine Corps Marathon, there are people who would like to run it, but are unable to, or may have run it and are no longer able to still do so. It’s about fallen service members and their families. Gallant knows there are people who would really like to run this marathon but cannot. He’s not going to give up for them.

“The Iwo Jima memorial is pretty breathtaking ... so to finish there and have that as your backdrop is incredible,” said Gallant.

Ladd saw people with backpacks that said “running for” either a friend or family member.

“It’s hard to not get caught up in that,” said Ladd. “It’s pretty sobering; it just adds to the [mentality to] keep going, keep going, keep going. That amount of support was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

They both agreed they would do it again. They have at least one more Marine Corps Marathon on deck as Ladd’s sister had to back out from one for health reasons. She’s better now and whenever she decides to run the marathon again, Ladd and Gallant will be right beside her.

Both Gallant and Ladd have been with the Windham Police Department for over 15 years. They said it’s an interesting line of work that never feels like work and where no two days are the same. <

Windham grad McKenna continues success in first year at USM

By Matt Pascarella

In her first year playing on a college soccer team, 2021 Windham graduate Julia McKenna was the second leading goal-scorer for the University of Southern Maine this season, All Little East Conference (LEC) Rookie of the Year and a First Team All-Conference player. In the LEC championship game, it was her goal that secured the Huskies’ 2022 LEC Championship win. The Huskies made it to the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.

University of Southern Maine sophomore and Windham High
graduate Julia McKenna races after the ball during a game
in Gorham on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Hannaford Field
in Gorham. PHOTO BY KASSI GATCHELL    
McKenna recently transferred to USM as a sophomore and is majoring in communications. She has an interest in broadcast journalism and would like to pursue something in that field after college. She plans to play lacrosse as well.

“Coming this far and winning our conference has been so much fun,” said McKenna. “I am beyond proud of my team. We are all just showing up and doing what we do best every day. Putting in the work and staying committed.”

When she was 3 years old, she began playing soccer. She loved the game right from the start.

This season, McKenna was on the Huskies team with another Windham grad, Ceria Berthiaume, who graduated high school a few years ahead of her. They both took breaks from playing college soccer, and while they were never in high school at the same time, the two began playing college soccer together last spring.

“It’s been fun having someone else from the Windham community on the team,” said Berthiaume. “It really shows how much the youth leagues have had a lasting impact for both of us to continue playing at the collegiate level while remaining close to home.”

According to McKenna, the awards she received this season pushed her to continue to better her game. Also, it was her amazing teammates who helped her to achieve these awards.

“Getting noticed is nice, but it is vital to always keep pushing to get better,” said McKenna.

Mental toughness is what McKenna believes has taken to get to this point in her athletic career. Just like any aspect of life, it has ups and downs, but it takes love and devotion of the sport – or any sport – to have and continue to be successful.

“Her ability to read the game this season was excellent,” said USM Women’s Soccer Head Coach Seth Benjamin. “Her runs off the ball got her in such dangerous spots that’s how she scored a number of her goals. As a center midfielder ... she involved everyone on the team. Off the field, her personality ... she’s a really friendly kid. Being a first-year player, she interacted with everyone and made a connection with all of her teammates.”

Benjamin said it speaks volumes to the player she is because after taking a year off, McKenna went from high school and club teams to play at the college level and had a very successful season.

Off the field, McKenna likes to be outdoors, hiking or skiing. She goes to the gym often and likes to unwind with a good romance book.<

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Windham’s Thornton to play college soccer for UMaine-Orono

By Matt Pascarella

In front of friends, family, teachers, coaches, and other supporters, senior Abbey Thornton signed a letter of intent at Windham High School on Nov. 18 to attend the University of Maine Orono on a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer for the Black Bears and major in nursing.

Thornton recently broke Windham High School’s record when she scored 34 goals in a season. With all the success she has had over her high school soccer career, you might never know it as Thornton is very humble.

Jill Thornton, left, Troy Thornton and Tyler Thornton
watch as Windham High senior Abbey Thornton signs
her letter of intent on Nov. 18 to play Division 1 women's
soccer for the University of Maine-Orono.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA   
She made the All-State team, was the Southern Maine Activities Association’s Offensive Player of the Year, All-New England team and the Class A Player of the Year, just to name a few of her accomplishments during her time playing for the Windham High School varsity girls’ soccer team.

It felt really good for Thornton to sign her national letter of intent. It was satisfying and rewarding for her with all the hard work she’s put into the sport, she’s happy to have reached this point.

Like many athletes, she began playing soccer when she was very little. Her brother and her cousin already played, so Thornton followed their lead. She began at the recreation level and from there a passion was ignited which made soccer a part of Thornton’s life and one which she is excited to continue to pursue.

“Abbey would never tell you ‘I am the best soccer player.’ She’s been a standout since her freshman year,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “She’s been playing center midfield – the strongest position – and really led our team to states last year and a really great season this year.”

Lebel said Thornton will bring a strong work ethic to UMO. She’s quiet but will be a consistent hard worker every day and someone who is super talented, can play all over the field and should be able to score some goals for them.

Lebel is excited she’s staying in Maine because there are many little girls in the community who are excited to see a Windham athlete play at the Division 1 level.

The atmosphere at UMO is what drew Thornton to the school. She likes the program the women’s soccer head coach Scott Atherley has created; it’s just like a family.

Windham senior and teammate Ashley Clark has played with Thornton since they were 10. They’ve played both travel soccer and high school soccer together.

“She’s selfless on the field, a great friend and a great teammate,” said Clark. “Obviously she’s incredibly skilled, she finishes, she passes well; she’s amazing.”

Thornton would like to thank everyone in her life who helped her reach this accomplishment.

Windham High School gave Thornton the chance to play with her best friends and taught her that in the end, soccer is all about having fun. She says that she’s looking forward to continuing to play a game she loves so much. <

WHS graduate uses sports background to prepare others for athletics

By Matt Pascarella

For Windham High graduate Jackson Taylor, sports have always been an integral part of his life. After his graduation from high school, his involvement and love of sports led him to become a physical therapist and start his own company, Golf Strong USA, located in Florida, which properly conditions golfers and athletes.

Windham High graduate Jackson Taylor served as the 
graduation speaker at his graduate school graduation
ceremony at the University of St. Augustine in Florida
in 2018 and for Windham High School in 2022.
PHOTO BY KENDALL RAYMER 
Taylor left quite a mark upon Windham High School. He helped lead Windham football to a state championship in 2009 and was honored as WHS Student-Athlete of the Year, finished as runner-up in the triple jump and was on All-Academic Team from 2008 to 2010. He would go on to play four years of college football.

Most recently, Taylor served as the commencement speaker for Windham High School’s Class of 2022 and says being asked to do this was one of his greatest honors.

Since he can remember, Taylor has had a ball in his hand. He was fortunate to have watched his dad coach and was coached by him in basketball and baseball.

“Sports is one of the greatest teachers of life,” said Taylor. “It provides invaluable lessons about handling loss, suffering the unfortunate bounces, dealing with others and the importance of perseverance.”

He remains in contact with his high school coaches and some of his closest friends that he played football with. His high school javelin and basketball coach, George McCrillis, has become a lifelong friend and mentor.

“George has been one of the few constants in my life beyond my godparents and close friends,” said Taylor. “He has offered me guidance, lended his ear, and given me more laughs than I can account for; we talk nearly every day.”

McCrillis has been there for Taylor through good and bad times. He was there when Taylor hoisted the state championship trophy, when Taylor struggled with college, when Taylor’s father passed away, when he graduated from physical therapy school, and when Taylor proposed to his now fiancĂ©. Taylor will never forget the unending hug and consoling words McCrillis gave him at Taylor’s father’s wake. Taylor thanks God for McCrillis every day.

What stood out to McCrillis upon first meeting Taylor as a high school sophomore was his maturity and focus as well as his athletic ability. He spoke to McCrillis like an adult and showed an interest in McCrillis’s life.

“It’s hard for me to put into words the positive effect that Jackson has made in my life,” said McCrillis. He and I would ... get together when was home from college. He is a part of my family and always will be. I am super proud of him and what he has done with his life, and he will continue to do.”

On many occasions Taylor would return to Windham High School and speak to football or basketball teams before big games.

While Taylor was in college, his father’s health was deteriorating from ALS. McCrillis said what Taylor’s father went through had a major influence on Taylor earning a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy.

After graduate school, Taylor became the executive director of the Police Athletic League (PAL) an after-school program through the Sheriff’s Office in St. Johns County, Florida that provides affordable sports programs and creates an environment where police and young people can interact.

“PAL provided the benefits of learning how to compete, fail and overcome adversity,” said Taylor. “I am proud of my time there and to say I was involved in ... that program means a great deal to me.”

Taylor worked for a couple years as a standard physical therapist but wanted to do more to fulfill the lives of others.

Taylor had been golfing and noticed proper performance training was missing from the sport; golfers weren’t aware of how to train or there was a lot of misinformation online about how to train effectively.

Taylor had been a strength trainer and coach for 10 years and now with his doctorate as a physical therapist, he felt he could really do some good for golfers and athletes everywhere. Golf Strong USA was born.



The goal of Golf Strong USA is for you to become the best version of yourself on and off the course. This goes for athletes of all sports or someone looking to improve through rehabilitation, strength training or nutrition.

“Jackson is great to work with,” said co-worker Dr. Tim Rivotto. “He is super passionate about what he does and that comes through in his great communication skills. His driving principles come through in every project he participates in, whether that is training his clients, providing a seminar to a group of community members, participating in charity events, or volunteering his time.”

Taylor’s advice to aspiring high school athletes who wish to play at the college level is direct – do it. One of the biggest regrets he hears from people is they did not play a sport in college. He says sports provide something to be responsible for and something to be a part of and it’s also an avenue in which you can meet new friends.

“The best version of yourself is built through having to apply greater pressure to yourself,” said Taylor. “Show up, work hard and only look at failure as an opportunity to get better.” <

Friday, November 18, 2022

WHS sophomore Fiona Harmon solid at New England Golf Championships

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High sophomore Fiona Harmon turned in a solid performance in the New England High School Golf Championships at Mohegan Sun Golf Club, a par 69 course in Connecticut on Monday, Oct. 31.

Windham sophomore Fiona Harmon turned in a solid showing
at the New England High School Golf Championships at the
Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Connecticut on Oct. 31. She
shot an 88 at the event and will be a key player for Windham
in the next few years. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
  
Harmon qualified for the New England Championship when she finished in the top 10 during the Class A Individual Schoolgirl Championships on Oct. 7 at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, where she placed third.

In the New England High School Golf Championships only 12 girls and 12 boys were allowed to compete from each state.

Harmon set a goal to shoot a 90 going into the New England Golf Championship for the day and at the end of the day, shot an 88.

The day began a bit cold, at around 35 degrees, but while it took Harmon a little time to feel her fingers and toes, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful days ever.

“Competing in this championship was a big step for me,” said Harmon. It was the biggest tournament I had ever played in. I played fairly well, and it was a great experience and I hope to go back next year and do even better.”

One of Harmon’s goals for the day was to have fun while getting the chance to play with other skilled female golfers from all over New England. Harmon had another goal to keep a good mindset and play well. She accomplished both goals and had an amazing day.

“Fiona did an outstanding job representing our team and school down there,” said Windham varsity golf coach Adam Manzo. “She was able to get off the tee, she struck her irons well, and had very few three putts on the day on fast, difficult greens. Perhaps even more important, she genuinely looked to thoroughly enjoy herself and was appreciative to be where she was.”

According to James Davis, the Executive Director of the Council of New England Secondary School Principals’ Association, playing in a high caliber tournament where you see the best interscholastic golfers, can only improve a golfer’s game. When an underclassman competes in this tournament, it serves as a goal to reach and return every year to the New England Championships.

“What most people don’t see is the time, energy and effort that these athletes put in, to be able to compete at this high level and do it consistently. Their dedication and commitment is a true testament to the player they have become thus far and is vital to their continued development and growth,” said Davis.

At the end of the championships, Harmon tied for 27th place with two other golfers from a group of around 50 girls from all over New England.

“She absolutely crushed it this year, as she saw her scoring average drop by six strokes and improved drastically in every statistic we record. She is a highly coachable kid, tireless worker, and fierce competitor who should be, by all accounts, competing to win the Individual Schoolgirl Championships the next two seasons,” said Manzo. <

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Windham field hockey goes furthest in program history

By Matt Pascarella

A Windham High School varsity field hockey team has never made it to a regional final playoff game until this year. The team surpassed previous season records when they beat No. 3 Scarborough and No. 2 Gorham to advance to the Class A South regional final at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford on Wednesday, Nov. 2 where they fought until the end, but Cheverus won 6-0.

Windham Field Hockey finished the season as the Class A
South regional runner-up, the farthest a Windham field hockey
team has ever advanced into the post-season playoffs.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
“I knew that nothing is impossible and as a team we’ve grown so much this season, we could do anything we set our minds to,” said senior goalie Emma Theriault, who had 15 saves throughout the game. “We started out strong, we may have faltered a little bit, but we held our own.”

Theriault said communication and teamwork went well. They never once got mad at another person on the team; they stuck together. They knew it was their game and they had to give it everything they had.

Windham began the game with strong defense. Windham Sophomore Zoe Dries had a shot at goal in the first quarter.

“I think we played really good; [Cheverus] had one good player that was dominating, so I think we put up a good fight,” said Dries.

The mindset going into the regional final was they can do it; it’s the playoffs and anything can happen.

Windham offense pressured in the first half.

Cheverus, seeded No. 1, scored twice in the first quarter. And once more early in the second quarter. Windham, a sixth seed, kept up the intensity, Cheverus led 3-0 at the half.

“We were down 3-0 in our Falmouth game earlier this season and we came back and won so the girls knew they could still pull it out if they buckled down and gave it their best shot,” said Windham varsity field hockey coach Cory DiDonato. “They were never out of the fight. They have come from behind numerous times and have incredible grit, so I knew they had more to give.”

In the second half, Windham stayed in it, but Cheverus scored three more times before the clock ran out.

“Everyone did amazing tonight and I’m so proud of everybody,” said Windham sophomore Ava Gerrity.

Looking back on the season, Windham senior Hannah Heanssler said all of the playoff wins were incredible, overcoming adversity was a standout moment and the team bonded a lot which was probably the best part. Heanssler said the team dug deep, played their hearts out and that’s all that mattered, whether it was a win or a loss. Heanssler set a school record for assists with 25.

“I think they’ve been working on their mental game ... and getting to the point where they know they can win,” said DiDonato. “Communication went well, and their passes looked good. We've been working on getting the ball first and cutting off passes. There's a lot of kids that really are hungry for the ball and they cut off a lot of passes, which frustrates other teams, so they did awesome with that. I’ve never had a more gifted and determined team.”

For DiDonato, this group of seniors is really special because when she began teaching at Windham in 2016, she had many of them as students. It means a lot to her to see how they’ve improved. One of the most special parts is seeing how mentally tough they’ve become, realizing how they are as a team, knowing they are a force to be reckoned with and owning it.<

Windham Under-14 girls’ soccer defeats Yarmouth for state title

By Matt Pascarella

In a season that started slowly for the Windham Youth Soccer Association’s Under-14 girls’ soccer team, it quickly evolved into a team seeded No. 2 going into Soccer Maine’s State Championship game against No. 1 Yarmouth on Sunday, Nov. 6. And at the final whistle, Windham secured the title with a 1-0 victory.

Windham eighth-grader Cassidy Streifel races to be first
to the ball in the Soccer Maine State Championship game
against Yarmouth at Falmouth on Sunday, Nov. 6.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
In the second half of the game, Windham eighth-grader Maya Dries took a direct kick that was a perfect arch, up and over the Yarmouth goalie’s head to give Windham a 1-0 lead.

As the clock was winding down, Windham defense made sure Yarmouth’s offense was unable to score and held on to win Soccer Maine’s Under-14 Girls’ Champions Cup.

“I was pretty nervous because I knew it could have been the game-winning goal. I was so happy when it went in,” said Dries. “We’ve always been a second-half team and we’ve played them before, and we always know in the second half we have to come out so much stronger.”

Dries said passing for Windham went well against Yarmouth, but she also gave credit to the team’s goalie, eighth-grader Elizabeth Hartwell, who had many saves during the game and almost 50 saves throughout the season while not allowing a single goal during the playoffs.

Hartwell said she was nervous going into the matchup against Yarmouth. She said she had to stay on her toes and play as if Windham was losing, because she plays better when the team is behind. She said teamwork, communication and just having fun were all positives during this game.

In the first half of the game, Windham came out a little flat. Yarmouth pressured hard and controlled the field for much of the first half. However, Windham’s defense did not allow Yarmouth on the scoreboard and the game was scoreless at halftime.

“We started off a little slow,” said the Windham Youth Soccer Association U14 girls’ soccer coach Brian Dries. “We realized that defensively we needed to tighten up a little bit more, so we moved some kids around and found that sweet spot for kids where they ... were contributing the most to the team and from that point on we never looked back.”


He said Windham kept their heads about them. They got a little nervous but adapted and realized they could win. The coach said that many Windham kids played positions they don’t normally play, and they had to adapt to Yarmouth’s style of play but the Windham players in those positions really stepped up.

Windham eighth-grader Denali Momot said they had more determination to win, and it feels great.

In the second half, the wind and sun were not directly in Windham’s faces. Windham was going strong after the ball and their defense limited Yarmouth’s scoring opportunities.

When Maya Dries scored you could see that the momentum had shifted. Windham’s offense worked to increase their lead and Windham’s defense held off Yarmouth’s attack.

“After Maya’s goal we had to contain and not take too many risks,” said Windham eighth-grader Mackenzie Delewski. “We were playing more defensively. We’re a second half team and ... we kind of had to get into our flow.”

Coach Dries said it was Windham’s defense that enabled them to go from a team with a slower start to the season to becoming state champions. <

Friday, November 4, 2022

Eagles fall in football quarterfinals against Lawrence

By Matt Pascarella

After an impressive season which started with three consecutive wins and shutouts early on of Noble and Brunswick, No. 3 Windham fell to No. 6 Lawrence, 35-20, in the Class B North quarterfinal playoff football game at home on Friday, Oct. 28.

Haddon Boyle of Windham, left, races past a Lawrence
defender during the Class B North football quarterfinal at
Windham High School on Friday, Oct. 28.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 

The Eagles finished their regular season 5-3 and that also included a shutout over Falmouth heading into the playoffs.

“We definitely didn’t expect it to end up like that,” said Windham senior Alex Yeaton, who had 29 yards receiving against Lawrence. “We knew coming in you can’t look over anyone; we didn’t, but it just didn’t end up in our favor. “In the last two minutes, down by two touchdowns ... team morale did not go down until the final buzzer.”

Yeaton said he loves this team. It’s his final season and said that he’s going to miss all the players and coaches.

In the first quarter, Windham took a 7-6 lead when senior Haddon Boyle crossed the goal line, and the extra point was good.

Lawrence edged out ahead in the second quarter. Windham answered with seconds left in the first half when a completed pass to Yeaton in the end zone gave Windham a 13-12 lead at the half.

Boyle scored another TD in the beginning of the second half. The kick was good, and Windham led at that point, 20-12. In total, Boyle had 79 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards in the playoff game.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have,” said Boyle. “We tried to leave everything out there, but it didn’t turn out our way.”

Boyle said they fought for each other and did well at having each other’s backs. The team has had a strong brotherhood all season.

Lawrence tied the game at 20-20, scored another TD with a successful two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, and then added another score to win the game.

Windham quarterback and junior Landon Buzulchuck, who had 123 passing yards and six completed passes against Lawrence, said the team played well, but not to their full potential. He said Windham’s passing game went well, but it wasn’t their game defensively; they couldn’t stop Lawrence’s run.

What stood out to Buzulchuck over the season was all the hard work, dedication and practice the team put in and he said that although the Eagles sustained a lot of injuries, they overcame struggles together.

“In a tight game a couple turnovers here and there will get you. Some costly penalties at a bad time catches up to you,” said Windham Varsity Football Coach Matt Perkins.

Perkins said the kids played their tails off and were a real tough, gritty group. He said that he’s proud of these seniors that battled all year long and he’s proud for them to be in the program and what they represent and who they are as people.

“Windham had guys that continued to battle, work, showed up every day and gave everything they could,” Perkins said. <

Windham boys’ cross-country ends season on high note

By Matt Pascarella

It was a nice wrap-up to the season on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Twin Brook Recreation Area, a 5K course in Cumberland as the Windham boys’ cross-country team competed in the Class A State Championship.

Windham junior Graden Joly keeps up a good pace as he
nears the end of the race in the Class A cross country state 
championships on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Twin Brook
Recreation Area in Cumberland.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
Windham placed eighth at the Class A South Regional Championship and the top nine teams won the right to move on to the State Championship.

The Class A State Championship featured runners from all over Maine and the Windham boys’ team placed 12th in the state.

“We have been trying to progress this team back to varsity level, varsity expectations and today and last week they exceeded it,” said Windham varsity boys’ cross-country coach Jeff Riddle. “For a lot of teams it’s hard to perform two weeks in a row and Windham did not look like that in any way. They met and exceeded expectations both as a team and individually.”

Sophomore Andrew Young finished first for Windham with a time of 18:39.85 minutes. Senior Caleb Young finished second with a time of 19:07.15. Windham junior Graden Joly finished third for the Eagles with a time of 19:17.03.

Andrew Young said the course was a lot wetter and more difficult than the previous week, but it’s still the same amount of fun. Young said the team ran really well. As Young looks to the future he said things will only improve.

Windham senior Roman Thomas wanted to go hard and really get into it for his last race. He wanted to make sure he was up there with the top couple runners and with them until the end.

Thomas said that he felt like he achieved what he wanted. Thomas finished fourth for Windham with a time of 19.22.46. <

“We were looking to come out here and show people what Windham can do,” said senior Caleb Young. “We were a team people weren’t expecting to see and when we came out of that start, people were surprised to see Windham up front. What stands out to me the most is our progression from the seniors ... to the freshman. The improvement we’ve had throughout the season is unmatched.”

According to Riddle, Windham’s capacity to perform and not have to learn lessons in the race went well. It was about team; they prepared, talked it over and Riddle thinks that was the biggest thing. They came in with a mission, they kept it important, they kept it composed and performed for Windham. He couldn’t ask for anything more.

“Everybody ran their hardest, we did pretty good,” said Windham senior Derrick Stephens, who finished with a time of 22:18.43.

“We all pushed each other and I’m proud of everybody,” said Stephens. <

WHS boys’ soccer and field hockey teams reach regional finals, girls' soccer falls in semifinals

By Matt Pascarella

Boys’ Soccer

In the quarterfinal boys’ soccer playoff, No. 6 Windham knocked out No. 3 Marshwood 1-0 on Oct. 26 at Marshwood in triple overtime that ended in penalty kicks. Windham eliminated No. 2 Deering 1-0 at Portland on Oct. 28 in the semifinal game when junior Nick Marion scored early.

The Eagles played No. 1 Scarborough at Sanford and Windham battled for two halves plus an overtime, but Scarborough won 2-1.

Windham sophomore Sam Rogers runs by a Scarborough
defender before passing to a teammate during the Class A
boys' soccer South Regional final on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at
Sanford High School. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
Both defenses made it difficult for the other team. Windham offense had a few solid shots at goal in the first half. Scarborough took a 1-0 lead at the half.

Sophomore goalie Lukas Hammond, who had 18 saves said everybody brought it and he couldn’t ask for better people to play with.

With 2:57 left in regulation play, Windham sophomore Sam Rogers scored from a corner kick and tied the game 1-1 which sent it into overtime.

“It means a lot to go far with this team, because they are my friends and I love them all. We worked hard; it was amazing,” said Rogers.

Windham, hungry, fired a shot off the top of Scarborough’s crossbar during overtime. The period was almost over when Scarborough scored.

“We weren’t intimidated by the No. 1 team in the conference,” said Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Jeff Neal. “We pushed a good team to the brink and didn’t give up down by one – that’s the mark of a great team, even if they come up short.”

Neal said player grittiness went well. Windham proved they belong in the upper echelon of teams this year. Neal couldn’t ask for anything more.

Girls’ soccer

No. 3 Windham fought hard in the Class A South semifinal against No. 2 Gorham at Gorham on Saturday, Oct. 29. The game was scoreless after one half. Windham kept up the intensity, but with five minutes left, Gorham scored and won 1-0. Windham ends their season 13-3.

Field Hockey

After upsetting No. 3 Scarborough 3-2 at Scarborough on Oct. 27 in the Class A South quarterfinals, No. 6 Windham returned home on Oct. 29 to face No. 7 Gorham in the Class A South semifinals where they won 3-1.

“We do a good job at bouncing back when we’re down, because we really believe in being able to come back,” said Windham senior Ella Wilcox who scored the tie-breaking goal in the Scarborough game.

In the Gorham game, Windham pressured and stayed with the ball. Sophomore Zoe Dries put the Lady Eagles on the scoreboard. Senior Emma Morrison scored a short time later. Windham defense blocked any Gorham scoring opportunities. At the half, Windham led 2-0.

“This was the most confident the girls have come into the game this season,” said Windham varsity field hockey coach Cory DiDonato. “We were a completely different team when we played Gorham third game into the season. [Gorham] dominated that game and we were still working out the kinks. [Today], every single one of these [Windham] kids came onto the field believing they would win; no one had a doubt and they pulled it off. I'm so excited.”

Gorham scored at the start of the fourth quarter. Windham sophomore Grace Joly scored from close range and Windham did not let up until the buzzer.

“It's really amazing; we've worked hard all season and we've come together,” said Windham senior Emma Morrison. “We wanted to bring the intensity and ... get in front of them with the ball and we did that, we executed it well.” <

Friday, October 28, 2022

Girls’ soccer advances with quarterfinal win over Thornton Academy

By Matt Pascarella

A thick fog surrounded the field and a very, very faint mist was coming down during the Class A South quarterfinal girls’ soccer playoff game at Windham High on Tuesday, Oct. 25 against Thornton Academy.  No. 3 Windham did not let the fact that No. 6 Thornton Academy jumped to a 1-0 lead early in the game diminish their hunger for a win as the Lady Eagles banded together and came back to tie the game, then passed the Trojans and won 6-2 after the final buzzer.

Windham senior Abbey Thornton takes a shot at the goal
during the first half of the Class A South quarterfinal 
girls' soccer playoff match on Tuesday, Oct. 25 against
Thornton Academy at Windham High School.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA 
“We came out flat,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I think that one goal [which tied the game 1-1] gave us a little motivation. Once we started connecting with each other and that’s when we’ve said good things happen ... when we connect, it’s really hard to defend and I feel like that’s when we got things going.”

Windham varsity girls’ soccer assistant coach Jim Stewart said they played with an incredible confidence. When those connections are made, then it goes together like mad, Windham had three goals in just a few minutes during the first half.

Both Lebel and Stewart said there are many players contributing, not just the ones who scored goals. Players like sophomore Stella Jarvais, freshman Nola Bryant and senior Liz Levesque – just to name a few. This team is in a great place, wants to play and have made large improvements since the start of the season.

Halfway through the first half, Windham senior Liz Talbot tied the game 1-1 assisted by Levesque. After that, Windham showed they would not be caught this game.

Not 10 minutes later, senior Abbey Thornton scored assisted by senior Ashley Clark. Talbot scored again. Windham continued to pressure and at the half, led 3-1.

“I was really pumped for the first playoff game,” said Talbot. “I think we started kind of slow, but ... [the first goal] motivated us to push forward, because we all really wanted it. Our energy levels did go up a lot and we did good playing off in the back and moving it forward, we got a lot of good crosses and one-two passes in.”

Windham continued to pressure in the second half and Lady Eagle defense kept Thornton Academy’s goals to a minimum. Windham senior goalie Reilly Russell had a total of eight saves. Abbey Thornton would score twice in the second half, once assisted by sophomore Kyla Harvie and once assisted by Talbot. Harvie fired a shot at net and when Thornton Academy defense tried to stop it, they knocked it into their own goal.

Thornton Academy did score with about a minute left in the game, but it was too late for them; by then Windham had made it impossible for the Trojans to catch up.

“It was one of the last times we will play on this [home] field as seniors, so I just enjoyed this moment with my best friends and play soccer,” said Thornton.

Thornton said the team is resilient and did not get down after that first goal. Thornton plans to keep playing her hardest as Windham moves onto the semifinals.

Windham will play No. 2 Gorham in the Class A semifinal at Gorham High School on Friday, Oct. 28.

Lebel said they are much better than the first time they played the Rams; they’ve made a few adjustments and they are going to see that come out. <

WMS Field Hockey team experiences memorable season

By Carrie Colby
Special to The Windham Eagle


I was excited to see 14 fresh faces when we started our Windham Middle School field hockey season this September. This was my second season coaching at this level and I knew our journey would be an exciting one.

Members of the 2022 Windham Middle School Field Hockey
Team included, front left to right, Anica Messer, Maria
Rossetti, Mirabelle Kri, Ella Klimko, Peyton Archibald,
Lucy Stretch, Chloe Inzerillo, Hayley Johnsen, Olivia
Byther, and Lexie Beach. Back left to right are Brenna
Small, Natalie Hayes, Evelyn Robinson and Ella Pasquini.
SUBMITTED PHOTO 
The previous year we only had a team of 10 girls. With the limited schedule of just practicing and no actual games in 2020 due to COVID protocols, a lot of the players had lost interest in middle school field hockey. So, 2021 was much more exciting for the team. We had a winning season despite a low number of players and as a smaller team, the girls really got a lot of playing time.

I believe that this is how the team’s numbers increased this year. The program is run by the JV and Varsity coaches and players on Saturdays for younger players and it contributed to more players as well.

I was especially pleased that five players from the previous year returned to play again this year. Three of the eighth-grade middle school players from last year went on to play at the JV and varsity level.

We were fortunate to have Jodi Carroll help us with the team this year. She has many years of field hockey experience and was a great asset bringing her enthusiasm and love of the game.

“One of the most wonderful things about our team this year was observing their success in skill development and seeing the confidence that brought to not only the player but to the team overall as a side effect leading them to many victories on and off the field,” Carroll said.

Another way the players learned about the game and positioning was watching the Windham High varsity team play on several occasions. We were able to see how the game is played from a different perspective and discuss different plays and calls by the referees.

The team topped the season off by joining the Windham JV and varsity teams to watch some World Cup matches. We followed it up with a pizza party with lots of laughs by the whole team.

”This season has been great,” said WMS seventh-grader Lexie Beach. “We worked together as a team and got better and better each time, it was a great year.”

JSMS six grader Anica Messer agreed.

“This year’s field hockey team was fun and a rewarding experience,” Messer said. “It was great to be outside playing against other schools. We made a lot of progress throughout the season. I really appreciated the skills our coaches taught us.”

The coaching team welcomes any players new or experienced to join the team in the future to expand their skills as an athlete in general or to try something new for next season.

The Windham Middle School Field Hockey Program welcomes all sixth, seventh and eighth graders in RSU 14. If anyone would like more information about playing next year send an email to me at cmcolby1777@gmail.com <

Windham volleyball gives maximum effort in preliminary playoff match

By Matt Pascarella

The No. 12 Windham Lady Eagles volleyball squad met No. 5 Sanford in a preliminary playoff round match on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Sanford High School and although Sanford won 3-0, Windham put up a very good fight and did not make it easy for the Spartans.

Windham High junior Lilly McLean leaps to return the ball
over the net at Sanford High School during a preliminary
Class A volleyball playoff match against Sanford on
Thursday, Oct. 20. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA
Windham’s scores have improved steadily since earlier in the month when they played Sanford during the regular season schedule.

“We’ve come a really long way,” said Windham senior and captain Odessa Files, who had 10 digs and four kills. “I think it was a really good game; I’m sad we lost, but it was a good loss – I’m happy with how it went. We played competitively and it was just good volleyball. We were talking a lot better; we had more attacks, and our serves were pretty good.”

In set one, Sanford took a small lead, but Windham was not far behind. Windham had come back from a seven-point deficit to trail Sanford 18-16. After Windham senior Scarlette Sawyer hit the ball, Windham is one point away from the lead. It remained close up until the end when Sanford took the set 25-21.

“I feel like that was our best game all season,” said Sawyer, who scored seven points, had four kills and three aces. “We all went into it having a positive mindset ... we stayed motivated the whole game and I thought it was a good way to end the season. Our communication was better than it's been all year.”

Set two brought more intensity from Windham as they put themselves on the scoreboard immediately. Sanford jumped to a five-point lead, but Windham fought back and closed that points gap. Windham kept in close proximity to Sanford. The Spartans pulled away and won this set 25-18.

Windham’s high energy kept them going early on in set three. The game was tied. With Windham junior Lilly McLean serving, Windham volleyed well and took the lead for the first time in the match. Sanford tied the game at seven. Then, Windham tied the game at 13; Windham took back the lead. Sanford gradually increased their points. Sanford won set three 25-17.

Whether it was a win or a loss, for Windham senior Bella Lorenzatti it was an honor to play in the playoffs. During the match, Lorenzatti had 18 assists and three aces.

She said the team worked really hard on finding mismatches between the teams and how Windham could use that to their advantage. She is thankful for being on the team and will carry those memories going forward.

“We played much better than when we saw them earlier in the season,” said Windham volleyball coach Chuck Fleck. “If a loss could be good, it was a good loss – we fought. Serving was well executed and [Windham] were able to dig a lot of hits, probably the most we’ve gotten in a match; and quite a few blocks and block touches, that’s something we haven’t been able to get to. There was a lot more communication, a lot more chemistry on the court. We knew what [Sanford] were kind of going to do so we could counteract it to a certain extent; I’m proud of all of them.” <

Friday, October 21, 2022

Golf more than a game, it's a passion for Windham graduate Drew Mathieu

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School alumnus Drew Mathieu recently finished his second year on the golf team at St. Joseph’s College and his hard work and commitment have begun to pay off early during his collegiate athletic career.

Windham High graduate Drew Mathieu, now a sophomore
at St. Joseph's College, observes his ball placement before
putting at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference 
Championship on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Biddeford-Saco
Country Club in Saco.
PHOTO BY DAVID BATES PHOTOGRAPHY  
In his freshman year on the St. Joseph’s College team, he was the first golfer in St. Joseph’s College history to win the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Player of the Year and the second to win GNAC Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore he won GNAC Player of the Year again.

Mathieu also helped the Monks win the 2022 Southern Maine Cup for the first time since 2015.

“Drew is a leader and a competitor,” said St. Joseph’s College golf coach Jason Riley. “He leads by example - always shows up on time ready to work and is proof that with hard work you can achieve anything. He pushes himself and his teammates to improve every single day. He is hungry to succeed both on the course and in the classroom.”

Currently a double major in both finance and accounting, Mathieu is on an accelerated program to finish his undergraduate coursework by the end of his junior year. He will complete a graduate program in accounting during his senior year and will graduate with both a bachelor’s in finance and accounting and a master’s in accounting.

He is interested in working for a financial accounting firm with hopes to one day potentially become a chief financial officer.

In middle school, Mathieu was a cross-country runner. However, in the summer between eighth grade and the start of his freshman year of high school, he fractured his ankle.

Although unable to train for the high school cross-country team, he still wanted to play a sport come fall of his freshman year. With his ankle in a cast and using a chair for support, Mathieu took up golf, brought some golf clubs into his back yard and practiced hitting balls.

“This initial time when I began to play golf took off into a passion and a love for the sport,” said Mathieu.

He went from barely being able to hit the ball 150 yards with a driver to being a very solid player in his final two years of high school.

Mathieu says his accomplishments in his freshman year on the St. Joseph’s College team are a result of his dedication. He had confidence in himself which ultimately, allowed him to end his freshman year with great success.

Winning awards like GNAC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year are nice validation for him towards the hard work he’s put into the sport but are also a building block to understand where he can take his game next.

“Each day you wake up is an opportunity to improve whether it be as a person or as a player,” said Mathieu.

He’s already accomplished a lot in his collegiate athletic career, and Mathieu knows there is always room to improve. He would like to lead his team to two more GNAC Championships, and to also garner medals in both those championships. He would also like to place at Nationals in spring 2023.

“Drew always brings his best to practice and always keeps everyone positive and energetic,” said teammate and St. Joseph’s College sophomore Alex Beecher. “Drew is a very competitive person so it's always fun to practice with him; he helps push you to play better. The team can rely on him because he consistently posts good scores. He brings a lot of life to the team and ... a good attitude to any occasion.”

According to Mathieu, his biggest piece of advice to an aspiring high school golfer is to overcome the mental challenges the game brings. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up on a round, but if you want to play at the college level, one shot can be the difference between a win and a second-place finish.

Windham High School’s golf program allowed Mathieu to elevate his game to where he could compete collegiately. He would like to thank Windham varsity golf coach Adam Manzo and Windham junior varsity golf coach Brody Artes for their continued efforts in the program. Mathieu would also like to thank head golf pro Nick Glicos at Martindale Country Club in Auburn for the years he helped improve his game. Mathieu would like to thank his dad, mom, little brother, and whole family for their continued support over the years.

When Mathieu is not on the green, he likes to ski, hike and spend time outdoors. He also enjoys spending time with family and friends. As he continues to add to his collegiate success, he will always be rooting for all Windham athletics. <

Windham High School volleyball fundraiser brings community together

By Matt Pascarella

It was a day of fun and community. Students, alumni and members from Windham and surrounding communities came out for a day of volleyball and for the first time in four years, the Windham High School volleyball program held a fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Windham High School, with all money raised going to WHS volleyball program.

The adult/college-age team Big Dig Energy of Windham
alumni Megan Fleck, left, and Cassie Fleck, Chad Mason of
Gorham, Camden and Chloe Marble of South Portland and
Lucas Pongratz of Raymond, display their prizes after
coming in first during Windham High School's volleyball
fundraiser at Windham High School on Oct. 15.
PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
The day began with seven teams and ended with one champion. In the morning the teams played two sets to 25; then were reseeded and, in the afternoon, played a single elimination tournament with sets to 15. It was Big Dig Energy who took home the gold, or in this case a $10 gift card to Dunkin. Big Dig Energy beat One-Hit Wonders 2-0 in the finals.

While the day featured a lot of competition, it was in a low pressure setting that was focused more on fun, playing the game of volleyball and spending time with friends and neighbors.

“The turnout was really great,” said Windham resident and Windham High School alumna Cassie Fleck, who enjoyed competing in the tournament. “Seeing the community come together; I know the parent’s teams had a lot of fun; it was really good to see the parents being a volleyball family.”

Gorham resident and Big Dig Energy team member Chad Mason said he’d never really played volleyball before, and the day was a great way to gain exposure; it was good.

“Volleyball is a very important sport to me. Today, I wanted to play, but I wanted to be with my friends,” said Windham sophomore Ethan Nguyen, who played on the team Volleyball Killers. “It was mostly a community ball thing; this is definitely something I would do again.”

Windham freshman Sydney Harmon, whose team were the Freshies, made up entirely of freshman said the day was a good way to help the community and raise money for the volleyball program at Windham High School.

Windham varsity volleyball coach Chuck Fleck said the goal was to have fun and play volleyball.

“Now that things are getting back to pre-COVID situations, I hope we will have more enthusiasm for the sport,” said Chuck Fleck.

Coach Fleck who has been running the Windham Middle School volleyball program for 12 years and has been coaching volleyball at Windham High School for three seasons said they need more volunteers for each program. He’d love to see a more formalized league at Windham Middle School. Coaches are needed at Windham High School as well.

“I hope that their experience with volleyball transfers over to real life situations and they can be better members of society because of it,” said Chuck Fleck. “Volleyball is very much a mental game, and it forces those that play to be able to concentrate for longer periods of time and develop skills that should help with adulting. Like other sports, volleyball gives a player a sense of being a part of a community. This year’s team is a tight knit one and I truly feel that they have each other’s back both on and off the court.”

If you are interested in getting involved, contact Chuck Fleck at WYVBA.Maine@yahoo.com or CoachChuck.WHS@gmail.com.<