Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ultimate Frisbee, an overlooked sport that's all about the fun and flow - By Michelle Libby

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that has been around for a long time, but is gaining popularity every year. In Windham, its popularity is mostly due to Zach Bailey, a 2015 graduate of Windham High School and a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team. 
In 2012, Bailey and Zoe Hall decided to see if they could get a team together. The next year they did some fundraising and got field time. The team then became an official club sport, which allows the team to use Windham’s name on their jerseys. However, the school provides no funding. 

The cost of the sport is only for team registration, league play, insurance and jerseys. The first team is $200 per season, the second team is $100. To play in the state tournament the cost is $200 per team. Each player is asked to pay the $30 for USA Ultimate insurance, which also freezes the roster and makes the team official. Others can still join, Bailey said. The team does fundraisers to pay the team fees each year. 

The game is a self-refereed game that is played seven against seven. The goal of the game is to catch the Frisbee in the in zone for a point. You can’t run with the Frisbee and if it hits the ground, goes out of bounds or a defender catches it, the Frisbee goes to the other team. Bailey likened it to a cross between football and soccer. The first team to 13 points wins. Half-time is when the first team reaches seven points. An average game lasts about an hour and 25 minutes. 

This year the team started with 22 players. Most times the team played with between 10 and 15 players, due to injuries like broken wrists, broken toes, dislocated fingers and bronchitis, as well as other commitments. 
As some of the players had to stop playing, the team went from six wins and no losses to 6-6.
“We have a few very key players,” Bailey said. Half of the team were sophomores this year, meaning that next year could be a stronger year for the team. 

“There are a number of exceptional athletes playing the sport from all schools and Windham is doing remarkably well this season,” said team parent Lisa Amundson.

The spring, co-ed sport is played at the Cumberland Fairgrounds and Wainwright Field in South Portland, both are rented out by Maine Ultimate for the league play. 

Players of ultimate Frisbee come from all backgrounds. Bailey played soccer growing up and once he reached high school, decided that he wanted something different. Playing Ultimate is all about the drive and the companionship. Bailey thought nothing of flying through the air to make a catch and losing skin from his hip in the process. Other players come from the lacrosse team, track team and the baseball team, or from athletes that don’t normally play a spring sport. 

“We cheer for the other team or shake hands. The spirit is good,” he said. “There are no angry players yelling at one another. It’s a happy sport.”

The athletes come from all social groups, Bailey said. “We’re very laid back group of people that enjoy the time together. It’s for fun.” 

The team is coached by Paul Amundson and Sonja Florman is the administrator.

After the state tournament Windham players received a letter from Matt Bates from Ultimate Maine. “Congrats to Windham for winning the Boys B team title over Cape Elizabeth!

Thanks to all the teams who participated this weekend, especially the teams that braved the elements and played in some tough rain and wind today!  In spite of the conditions, we played the entire event, the fields held up, there were no serious injuries, and a lot of great ultimate was played by all the teams competing!” 

Bailey encourages anyone who wants to try it out, to come out for the team next spring. Watch for signs and listen for announcements about Ultimate Frisbee. Bailey recommends seeking out Trevor Rogers, who has the opportunity to be captain next year.
“We are always recruiting,” Bailey said. “Anyone can pick up a disk and be fine.” Skills are not a requirement Bailey said. Some players come to practice not knowing how to throw a Frisbee. The team encourages those who are tall and/or fast to play with them.

Dream job becomes available for varsity basketball coach - By Stephanie Coffin

When an opportunity comes your way that you have been waiting a long time for, how do you not step out on that limb and go for it. That’s exactly what Coach Kevin Millington did when he heard they would be hiring for a new varsity basketball coach in South Portland. South Portland is Kevin’s home; it’s where he grew up, went to school and currently lives with his wife. Millington is very excited for this opportunity.
Some of his earliest memories are watching the 1979 South Portland state championship team. He remembers delivering newspapers with his brother, “I was not even seven years old when we delivered the paper to Bob and Bonnie Brown's house, their son Brett was in the garage going through an intense ball handling workout. My brother and I were so scared we would just throw the paper and leave quickly.” 
Brett has gone on to do some great things in his life, he is the currently the 76ers coach. 

 “I fell in love with the game back then, basketball was king there. All I ever wanted to do was play for South Portland when I was older,” Millington said. “I think that is a passion that has driven me to stay in the game all of these years. When I took the Windham job in 1997, I figured I would someday go to South Portland, but after a while, I fell in love with Windham. But South Portland is home, has been and probably always will be.”

Coach Millington just finished his 18th season as the varsity boys basketball coach for Windham; hired in April of 1997. Millington was initially the Windham seventh grade basketball coach in 1994, and then the ninth grade coach in 1995 and 1996.

Coach Millington listed some of his favorite memories from coaching the boys teams and with so many years under his belt there were a few moments that stood out to him, here are his top seven:

1. “ I guess the first moment would be my first year as the seventh grade coach when Windham came back from 13 points down with two minutes left in the game to beat Scarborough. Pat McDonough tossed in a three-quarter court shot to win the game. We also won the league championship.” 

2. Coach Millington’s stated his first varsity win was special. “We trailed by 16 at the start of the fourth, Jeff Duarte had 16 points in the fourth to win the game.”

3. “The night of my father’s wake Windham faced Deering and won the game by four points. The whole night was surreal. That is where I was given a plaque with a quote from my Dad, all of the guys on the team came to the funeral. I will never forget that.”

4. The night Mike Floyd scored his 50th point in the 2003 season. “We decided to see if Mike could win the league scoring title for a season. He needed every one of those points that night.” The game was against Bonny Eagle. His teammates really bought in to this and so did the crowd.

5. Another moment was at the Gorham game in 2010. The majority of the crowd along with both teams and their coaches were wearing the tie dye shirts that were created to support Jackson Taylor's Dad. Mr. Taylor was heading down south for some experimental treatment for ALS. The family didn't have much money or a place to stay and he was going to be there for one month. “Our staff wanted to help so I sent an email to parents asking if they could donate $10 or what they were able in order to purchase a Visa gift card to allow Mr. Taylor to get gas and food.” That email spiraled out of control. “We ended up getting the family close to $14,000 (which they needed every penny as they had exhausted it all in the flight). “The donations were so outstanding that another plane ticket was donated so that Jackson could go down and spend time with his dad. A condo was donated for them to stay. I think that was when I realized how special of a community Windham is.” 

6. Another great moment was when James Blanchard won the team MVP (voted on by his teammates), the Gary Randall Award and the Spirit of the Game Award. James is autistic. “He taught us so much about the joy of basketball. I think of James all the time.  The team had lost Nolan Allen who had won the league MVP the year before to a torn ACL. The team didn't have a great record at the end of the season but it was one of the most enjoyable seasons as a coach to me because of James.”

7. “Certainly having my last game of this past season with Andrew Tanguay when he stole the show with a steal and a 3-point shot at the end of the game was a moment I will always remember. Andrew also has special needs but having a player bring the entire expo to a standing ovation is pretty special.”

Coach Millington would like to be remembered in the Windham community as someone who really cared about his players. There is nothing he cherishes more than the relationship he has with former players. Millington said “he hears from them all the time.” Some have coached with him, some live away but always stop by school or his house to say hello when they are home. Many often text or reach out to check in with him. Last winter Millington went to Shawn Warren's 30th birthday party where he was able to chat and catch up with a bunch of former players and they told and shared stories all night. 

We had over 40 former players come back for an alumni game a few years ago, that was a great memory to have been a part of.

When asked what he feels that he has learned from the kids he has coached and will be taking with him, his response was: “To be honest. I think over the years that is what the kids have wanted the most.” When Milling heard of the opportunity at South Portland and knew he would be applying, he said, “I tried to be honest with the current guys when the South Portland job came up. I hope they understand because these guys mean a lot to me.” Millington believes that playing basketball should be a positive experience regardless of the outcome of the games. He knows not every kid who ever played for Windham has had a positive experience but it is always his goal.

Besides the idea of coaching for his home team another key factor in Millington’s decision was his home life. Millington and his wife are adopting a boy and being closer to home is important to them. This child has brought more joy than they could ever have thought possible. 

When Coach Millington faces Windham this coming season as the new coach for South Portland, he said, “It will be weird, especially if the game is at Windham.” 

Millington will continue as a teacher in the Windham School Department where he will still interact with the guys from the team. “It will be hard to compete against a group of guys that you absolutely want to see succeed at the highest level possible. I will be rooting for them all season long.” Coach Millington is also very grateful for the support the school, parents, and the community has given him over the years. 
Millington is glad he is leaving the coaching position on good terms all around and that he can come back, see and talk to the people that he considers friends.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

UCAN 5K brings Mill Street playground closer to completion - By Jim Beers

It was a beautiful morning in Raymond last Saturday as people from all over arrived to run in the third annual UCAN 5K Road Race. The ever-growing popular race drew “around 250 participants this year," said one of the event's organizers, Brenda Caouette. Caouette, Aniko Pongratz, Carol Meader and Ed Gagne round out the committee for the UCAN 5K.

The event is in memory of Candace Woolston, and proceeds are to benefit the playground revitalization on Mill Street in Raymond. The playground was something near and dear to Woolston's heart. Gaining over $15,000 in three years,  the project and its ideas are off and running. The UCAN committee, along with Woolston's family, will make future plans for the Mill Street project with Raymond town manager Don Willard.  

In addition to the 5K road race, there was also a kid's run featuring a cowbell and lollipop prize for each of them at the end. The committee again received tons of volunteer help to make this day happen from start to finish. 

It could not have happened without the help from not only Raymond residents, but many surrounding communities as well. "Bringing the community together for this is the best part of the event," added Caouette. 

"If Candace were here she would love the event, but she wouldn't like that it was all about her," said Jack Woolston, Candace's husband. Her dreams and visions are the catapult for this great project, and will continue to be, as each year the event grows in number and help. 

The male race winner was Windham High School sophomore Ben Breton, with a time of 17:29.  Hailey Applebee, a seventh grader at Jordan-Small Middle School, won for the females with a time of 22:46.

PIC 1: UCAN 5K registration and start area

PIC 2: A big team for Candace Woolston

PIC 3: from L-R, R.J. Plummer, Stratty Demakis and Colby Dionne

PIC 4: Hailey Applebee

PIC 5: Windham High School cross country/track members

Pics by Lisa Davison

Lady Eagles softball team take it right down to the last out - By Stephanie Coffin

The Lady Eagles didn’t stop playing the game until the last out was applied last Thursday as the Windham Eagles softball team faced off against Scarborough in their first playoff game in eight years. What a season for this team of girls. While some played their last game of their high school career with their heads held high, proud of their teams accomplishments, others will get to come back next season and do it all again.

Scarborough Red Storms (17-0) hosted the Windham Eagles (10-8) and drew a crowd to watch the first game of the playoffs. Despite a big day at the plate for Oliva Mora the Eagles fell 12-4.

The Red Storms pitcher L. Volk recorded the win for Scarborough as she pitched five innings of shutout ball. Volk struck out 7, walked one and surrendered three hits. S. Burnham, A. Murrell and K. Scoville combined for 9 hits and 5 RBIs. 

The Eagles Danielle Tardiff was unable to get it done in the circle and took the loss. Tardiff allowed seven runs in four and one-third innings, walked one and struck out one. 

The lead stayed with Scarborough HS after the second inning, when the Red Storms scored two runs on an error and an RBI single by L. Powell. After posting two runs in the third, Scarborough again scored two in the fifth inning. In the third Scarborough scored on an RBI single bringing home K. Scoville. Scarborough added five more runs in the bottom of the fourth. K. Scoville started the inning with a single, bring M. Murphy home and was then quickly followed up by A. Murrell's 2-run home run, bringing home K. Scoville. 

A one-run sixth inning helped bring the Eagles within 10. The Lady Eagles continue to play with a hope to close the gap made by Scarborough. Madison Elliot with a nice pop up to center field and was able to place herself on second base. Oliva Mora up with two outs, pops the ball up for a double allowing M. Elliott to score. Mooridian got to the plate and placed a line drive down the third base line for a foul. As she continued to chip away at the ball keeping her in the game, she finally walked. D. Tardiff was hit by the pitcher making the bases loaded. Anita Mooridian up to bat with a line drive to center, allowed Mora to score. When Lauren Talbot got to the plate, the pitcher over threw the catcher and Windham took advantage scoring another run. Talbot ended up walking loading the bases yet again. Scarborough eventually threw the ball to first for the last out of the game. After pushing across three runs in the top of the seventh, the Eagles faced a 12-4 deficit. An RBI single by Mora, an RBI single by Anita Mooradian, and a wild pitch triggered the Lady Eagles' comeback, which wasn’t enough to move them to the next playoff game.

Eagles soar past the Scots in Western Class A preliminary game - By Stephanie Coffin

The Windham Eagles (9-8) baseball team traveled to Standish to face off against the Bonny Eagle Scots (11-6) last Tuesday in the Western Class A preliminary game. Eagles senior Tanner Laberge has only lost one game in two seasons and continued his winning road streak pitching against the Scots. 
The Eagles trailed 2-0 going into the third having hit a batter to place him on base and botching a rundown. However, in true Windham style the Eagles didn’t take this as a sign that the game was over and struck back. Tim Greenlaw was able to able to get a run in with an RBI single. Windham then took the lead in the fourth chalking up two runs. Freshman Tanner Bernier doubled to right to tie the game and Freshman Mike Gilman sacrificed a fly ball to center driving home Zach Alpern.

Bonny Eagle only managed to get one more hit in the last four innings of the game. While the Eagles Laberge only got stronger as the game went on ending with a five hitter and seven strikeouts. Bonny Eagle had one more chance in the sixth to tie the game with two outs; however, shortstop Mike Gilman threw to third baseman Tanner Bernier for the out, bring the game to an end.

Tough quarterfinal loss for the Eagles

The young Eagle baseball team traveled to Marshwood to play in this year’s quarterfinal game. The Eagles faced off against the Marshwood Hawkes (14-3). Windham (9-9) had only three returning players from last season: Tanner Laberge, Josh Dugas and Zach Alpern. Though the team is young they played a good season and became stronger as the season progressed. 

The 13-1 loss was a tough game for the Eagles but they put up a fight until the end. Marshwood started the game strong and didn’t give Windham the opening they were striving for. Sophomore Tim Greenlaw who has had a good season had a pair of singles for Windham. Freshman Mike Gilman and Senior Ryan Gorman pitched for the Eagles.

Pictures courtesy of Kathy Greenlaw.

Season overview for boys tennis and boys track - By Stephanie Coffin

Boys Tennis:
The boy’s tennis team went into the playoffs as the number seven seed after a tough loss to South Portland. The team won a preliminary match against Biddeford which allowed a quarterfinal match against number two rivalry Deering. Deering beat the Eagles 4-1 in regular season play. After two hours of play the match was tied at 2-2. The Eagles won at first singles and third singles. Second singles player senior Dom Cancelarich was down 5-2 in the third set. Dom put together an incredible string of games to clinch the match 3-2 for Windham. The boys’ team went on to lose to number three Falmouth who then advanced to the state championship. The boys’ tennis team had a great season overall, said Coach Glider.

Boys track:
This year’s boys track team had 12 athletes qualify for the state track meet. Ernie Ruby placed fifth in the 100m and sixth in the 300m hurdles. Ernie then qualified for the New England meet in the 100m, where he placed 23rd. He also received a third team all-SMAA conference in the 100m.
The teams top performers this season included: Eric Webb, in the sprints and jumps, who unfortunately had a season ending injury. Eric did set a school record in the 100m this season. Thomas Sappier qualified for states in the javelin, shot put and discus. Ben Breton finished eighth at states in the 3200m.
Ben Breton, Jeremy Bennett, Aaron Graves and Liam Flynn also set a school record in the 4x800m relay. 

Western Class A Softball preliminary-round tournament - By Stephanie Coffin

The Lady Eagles softball team has waited eight years to make the playoffs and they have succeeded in style. Tuesday afternoon, the Eagles (8th) hosted the Gorham Rams (9th) in a Western Class A softball preliminary-round tournament game.
Any type of playoff game or championship game is enjoyed by the fans more when there is a challenge, when the players are playing to their potential and the team is working together. That is exactly what happened for both the Eagles and the Rams during this preliminary game, unlike during the regular season when these two teams faced off and the score ended up 14-8 with Windham winning that game.
Senior Julia Gaudette was the starting pitcher for the Rams and she went head to head with the Eagles Danielle Tardiff. The Rams scored first and kept the lead going into the third inning when Windham’s Sadie Nelson and Olivia Mora each hit home runs; Nelson’s was a bomb going far over the left-field fence and Mora’s clearing the center-field fence. The Rams tied the game up in the top of the fifth when courtesy runner Kathryn Bertin, running for Gaudette, scored from second base on a sacrifice fly to deep right by Grace McGouldrick.

Julia Gaudette for the Rams pitched a good game against the Eagles and stepped down in the sixth as Grace McGouldrick stepped up to the mound to pitch the remainder of the game.
The Lady Eagles Christina Mooradian led off the sixth inning with her second single of the game, and Katie Hunter stepped in to pinch run for her. Hunter stole second, but was still there with two outs on the board. 

“My assistants and I had been talking and noticed that their third baseman was crashing hard,” said Eagles Coach Demmons. “We figured we could sneak her in there and knew it would take a perfect throw, a perfect play, to make the play.” On the second pitch to Lauren Talbot, Katie Hunter ran for third, Hunter had stopped halfway between the bases, but the throw went into left field and she was able to continue. “I thought that there was no chance of me getting to third because the catcher had already thrown it,” said Hunter. “But I watched for her to drop it and it just passed her so I was like, ‘I’m going home.’ ”

Hunter slid home just before the throw and the Eagles took the lead 3-2. Now it was up to Danielle Tardiff to secure the win for the Eagles. Tardiff struck out the first two batters and got the final out on a foul pop in which catcher Sadie Nelson was able to make to seal the deal. 

“She was superb,” Nelson said of Tardiff. “She hit all her spots. She pitched an amazing game.”

Eagles coach Demmons was pleased with the way his young team responded to the playoffs. The Eagles have only two seniors on their roster. “The kids showed a lot of character, a lot of heart,” he said. The Rams coach Martin stated, “We hope to do better in the future. The kids worked hard but give Windham credit. They hit the ball well and their pitcher threw well. “We knew coming in she was going to throw strikes and you could see the last couple of innings she got on top of us.” The Eagles also played well defensively as Catcher Sadie Nelson picked a runner off first and shortstop Madison Elliott turned a soft line drive into a double play.

The Lady Eagles will face top-ranked Scarborough on Thursday for the quarterfinals.