Saturday, February 28, 2015

Samantha Frank - a genuine inspiration to other young girls - By Stephanie Coffin

She was a 12-year-old girl who wanted to play football like her big brother, but was told she couldn’t by her father, so she turned her attention to another sport. Samantha stepped ‘out of the box’ and to a sport that would make her the young lady she is today, a sport that she would stand out in as a female, a sport that would help her focus her attention and energy on what would help define her.
Samantha Frank, a girl who is known to her friends and family as “Sam” started wrestling when she was in the seventh grade and continued up through to her senior year at Windham High School. During this time Sam has won multiple state championships, a New England Championship and also competed in the National tournament in California where she placed second in the country. School records were broken by Sam and she was first female captain of the Windham wrestling team. Years of self-discipline, strict diets, several practices a day and support from family and friends helped her become the person and the athlete she is today. 

Sam is now a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono where she is studying nursing. Along with focusing on her nursing major, Sam is part of the cheering team and the Welcome Committee for the Orono campus. Though she was offered scholarships from the University of Idaho and another from a college in Kansas, Sam had decided to give up on wrestling and focus on her nursing studies.

However, she could not retire her wrestling shoes just yet, she still has some competition in her that needs to be let out. The UMaine Coach approached Sam and asked her to be part of the wrestling team. After deciding that she missed the sport, Sam decided to join the team. “It feels great getting back at it, and I'm really glad that I didn't stop after nationals,” Sam admits. Upon returning to the mat, she participated in two only girls’ events in one day, the 2015 UNB Wrestling Invitational and the Eastern Canadian Championship in New Brunswick. Sam took home the gold in the Women’s 48 Kg event and went 7-0 with wins for the day.              

Back in the wrestling mode, Sam is planning to continue this sport and represent UMaine for the remainder of college. You can also find Sam working with the Southern Maine Trappers where she was offered and has accepted a job coaching girls who want to participate in the sport of wrestling. 

When asked how she felt about teaching the art of wrestling to incoming young girls, she stated, “It's honestly so humbling to be an inspiration to young girls in the sport. I know what it's like to have someone to look up to, and how highly I think of the people I look up to, so I'm really grateful and flattered that some girls do look up to me. It helps me to strive to be a better person, and not to give up when times get tough because I have so many people behind me who would be let down. It's pushed me through my high school career and it's definitely followed me through college, on and off the mat.”

“I like that people have expectations for me, because it gives me something to work at, and something to exceed. I like to go above and beyond and continue to surprise myself and others around me. I think that being offered the coaching position was really just a cherry on top of all of my busy work. I had always seen myself as a helper and a coach but never thought I would be getting into it so young. It's really an awesome experience and it will help me grow as a wrestler, and as a person. I am most excited to help them to set goals, and work hard every day at practice and in every match to reach their goals.”

“I think that it's really important to set goals because it's something to work for and it gives you a sense of worth once you reach them. It's a feeling that you can take with you in anything, not just wrestling. If you can set goals, and achieve them I think that it makes you realize how much you truly can accomplish if you just set your mind to it and work at it. Wrestling has definitely become a huge part of my life, and it's truly changed who I am as a person. My coaches have had a huge impact on me, and they're most of the reason I am who I am today. So being able to be that mentor, and leader that an athlete looks up to really is a huge complement and I hope to make a positive impact on all of them, as my coaches did for me.” 

It’s easy to see why and how this young lady has become an inspiration not only to young girls but to girls her own age. Sam is not only inspiring girls, she is inspiring the parents of those girls to make sure daughters are encouraged to aspire to their own potential and remember to “step out of the box” like Sam has. 

Windham boys varisity basketball hosts Bonny Eagle in the last game of the season - By Stephanie Coffin

In the last game of the season Windham hosted the Scots of Bonny Eagle. The last time the Eagles faced the Scots it was a high energy game that came down to the last quarter of the game in which the Eagles lost. This time the game came down to the last minute of play with the Scots winning by three.

The high energy of the game was similar to watching a tennis match as the audience moved their heads from side to side as possession of the ball changed hands continuously. The first quarter was led by Windham scoring 18 and Bonny Eagle 9, then the second quarter was led by Bonny Eagle scoring 17 and Windham 9, following up with the third and fourth quarters neck and neck in the points. 
Windham’s senior Kevin Weisser led the Eagles with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks and senior Ryan Gorman added 12 points for the team. Bonny Eagles Ben Malloy finished the game with his team’s high of 20 points to help the Scots win 63-60.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

WHS senior awarded largest football scholarship in the US - By Jim Beers

Last Saturday Windham High School football standout Zach Davis was honored by winning the Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive Lineman Award for this past season. In a luncheon ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center, Davis, a senior, along with senior Zordan Holman of Cheverus, both took home the awards as the top linemen in the state. Holman won for the defensive side.

Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors and son-in-law of Gaziano, presented the awards to Davis and Holman, along with a trophy, leather jacket and a $5,000 scholarship, which is the largest high school football scholarship in the country. 

The scholarship and awards program for Maine senior high school football linemen was created in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, founder of National Distributors and a former college All American and professional football player with a lifelong passion for local sports. Funding for the $14,000 in scholarships is provided by National Distributors in South Portland, the company founded by the late Gaziano. During the five years of the Gaziano Awards, $54,000 has been awarded by National Distributors to Maine students.

Windham also had a runner up for the award, senior defensive lineman Hunter Bowen, who received a trophy, leather jacket and a $1,000 scholarship in being recognized for his play on the field this season.
Davis not only leads on the field, but in the classroom and community as well. Davis has been on the honor roll in each of his four years at Windham High School and a National Honor Society Selection in 2013 and 2014. In addition to his academic success, he was a first team all-conference selection in 2013 and 2014. He was also the most valuable player and Fitzpatrick Award semi-finalist in his senior year. Off the field, he was involved in the SMAA Leadership Summit in 2013 and was a member of the Windham High School Football Leadership Council for the past two seasons. His charitable contributions include coaching Windham youth football and lacrosse programs and volunteering at the local soup kitchen, plus helping with fundraising efforts for Neighbors Helping Neighbors program.

"To win an award like this is an unbelievable honor. There were so many great players and great kids nominated, so for me to have won is truly an honor and a blessing," said Davis. Davis certainly has worked hard to get to this point and understands the help he's received along the way. "Attending and competing at WHS (Windham High School), is a great privilege. I have grown and developed as a student and as an athlete. The staff at WHS really cares, without my coaches and teachers I wouldn't be where I am today," he said.

Davis has played in many big games in his career at Windham, but this senior season may have been his biggest and brightest. Leading the Eagles to the Eastern Maine Title, Davis cleared the way for Windham's running game and protected his quarterback all season long, while racking up awards and nominations along the way. The Eagles eventually fell in the State Championship game, but that didn't take away from Davis' accomplishments.

"Having played four years of football at WHS, I have had so many great memories. However, the Eastern Maine final this past season is one that seems to stand out. It was such a great game and everyone really came together in order to win. So many guys on our team stepped up when they needed to, it was a great day for our team and especially the Town of Windham," said Davis. 

Along with his efforts on the field and in the classroom, Davis knows the importance of giving back to those coming up behind him. 

"I've always enjoyed being able to give back to the younger players in the community. I remember looking up to the guys before me and wanting to be just like them. It's really important to show them how to do things the right way," added Davis. 

Davis plans to continue his education and football career after the summer. "Next fall I plan on attending Maine Maritime Academy. I intend to study M.T.O., (Marine Transportation Operations).  I also plan on playing football at MMA," said Davis.


PIC 1: Zach Davis receives the Frank J. Gaziano award and scholarship, presented by Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors. Submitted

Swimmers wrap up season with wins against Bonny Eagle - By Stephanie Coffin

Both the Windham boys and girls swim teams wrapped up the regular season with a dual meet versus Bonny Eagle. Both the boys and girl were victorious in their meet. The boys ended the season with a 7-1 record while the girls ended with a 4-4 record. Both teams are getting ready for Southwesterns, which will be held on February 6th for the boys and February 7th for the girls at Cape Elizabeth High School.
If you haven't had a chance to watch a swim meet this season, this is the one to attend.  There will be some of the fastest swims that you will see all year. It will be very energizing, according to coach Pete Small. 

The kids have worked very hard all year and it is paying off in the swims that they have had to date, said Small. Windham has 11 kids that have qualified for the state meet right now and are hoping to get a couple of more to qualify by this weekend. The state meets are February 16th for the boys and February 17th for the girls and both will be held at Bowdoin College. Both the boys and girls teams are primed to have some fast swims in the next two weeks.

Girls basketball celebrates its seniors and a win - By Stephanie Coffin

It was senior night for the Windham Lady Eagles basketball team. Bittersweet as these girls played their last home game of the season. The Lady Eagles hosted the Westbrook Blue Blazes in what ended up being a close game.

The Lady Eagles started the game strong as they lead the game 22-13 at half time. The Blue Blazes fought back and brought the game back to with a four point game throughout the third and fourth periods. At this point the game could have gone to either team. 

Sadie Nelson led the Eagles with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Westbrook's Lexi Redmond lead her team with 14 points. It came down to the last minute of play and the Eagles passed the ball around court counting down the clock and at the buzzer sophomore Mya Mannette hit a baseline jump shot that won the game.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Athlete of the Week - Mary Brackett

The Windham Eagle athlete of the week is Mary Brackett, a junior from Windham High School. Mary, daughter of Bryan and Deb Brackett, is on the soccer and alpine ski teams. 

“Mary has gone above and beyond acting as a leader on the team this winter. She leads by example and has improved from being a top 30 skier last season to a top 10 this winter, said alpine ski coach Gavin Glider.
She likes to unwind after competition “by talking with my teammates about how we did and listening to music.

In the future, she knows the wants to attend college, but at this point she’s not sure which career path to pursue, she said.