Monday, August 31, 2015

Girls Volleyball - gaining popularity all over Maine - By Stephanie Coffin

There appears to be a brightening future for volleyball in Maine. High school volleyball is picking up steam. The key will be getting players started at a younger age so a base can be created to support the high school efforts. 
Volleyball is gaining in popularity really quickly in Maine. It seemed for a long time there was no interest among the state’s high schools. There hasn’t been a huge jump, but it has grown every year. Southern Maine sees the addition of a team or two a year. Most of the players in Maine are girls, but more boys are turning out, too, and some youth boy’s teams have been created. However, there are no boy’s high school teams in Maine. 

Volleyball became a Maine Principals’ Association sanctioned-sport with one class in 1997. There were 12 teams in 2001. In 2005, teams were designated as East or West, with 10 in the East and 7 in the West. Currently, there are 23 high school programs statewide with 13 in Class A and 10 in Class B. Classes replaced East/West designation in 2010.

Volleyball is a sport with a lot of specialization. Some like to play just in the back row, some like the front row and some play every position. The rosters generally number 9 to 12 players with 12 being preferred.

William G. Morgan is the man to thank for the creation of this sport. The original name for the sport was "mintonette" but changed to "volleyball" rather quickly. And like the name being changed so did the rules of the game over the years. Volleyball remained solely an American sport for a few years until it began crossing oceans to become one of the most exciting and popular sports played all over the world.

After deciding that the net should be higher off the ground than that of a tennis court net, Morgan needed a ball that was larger than a tennis ball but lighter than a basketball and so therefore the volleyball was created of light leather that could be easily sent above the net with continued rapid play. 
A little history behind the game:

In 1895/1896 - the game of volleyball was brought to the YMCA directors of physical education

In 1912 - the amount of players in a team was set at 6, which is the same as today. Also the rotation before serve was introduced. 

In 1920 - the set and spike, which made the game more dynamic, was established in the Philippines. The history of beach volleyball really began and gained momentum in Santa Monica, CA. The first volleyball courts were put up on the beach and families came to play.

In 1934 - national volleyball referees were approved and recognized.

In 1964 - International volleyball rules were standardized in 1when indoor volleyball became an official Olympic sport in Tokyo.

In 1984 - the U.S. won their 1st medals at the Olympics in Los Angeles. Men won the gold and women won the silver.

Chuck Fleck has been promoting the sport of volleyball for some time and it looks like it might be finally taking off here in Windham for future high school girls. Fleck has been coaching for the local travel club, the Maine Juniors ( and has kept statistics for the Windham High School team for the past two years. Fleck will also be the assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s College this fall season under the head coach Yami Nolan.

Volleyball has always been a favorite sport to Fleck who started playing while attending Ithaca College. Along with his wife, they played on a team in Maple Grove, Minn., where they previously lived. They would play three seasons out of the year and their team was the “C” league champs from 1997 to 2001. Fleck’s daughter Megan also plays volleyball and currently plays with the Maine JOs 14Gold team.

The volleyball season will run from September through October, practices will be after school Monday through Friday. Scrimmages will take place in the month of October as well as two multi program events hosted by Biddeford High School on October 18 and November 5.

Fleck stated “volleyball can be a lifelong sport and I hope this program is successful in keeping the interest growing in Maine. Volleyball is played year round, you just need to know where to look and we are trying to make the possible.”

Windham will have their first official Windham Youth Volleyball Association (WYVBA) season this fall! Information and sign-up night will be August 24th at the Windham Public Library , 217 Windham Center Road, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the big meeting room. Potential players and parents of sixth to eighth grade girls from any were in the area are encouraged to attend.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summertime doesn't mean the end of playing sports - By Stephanie Coffin

Softball is often referred to as baseball for girls, with a larger ball and a smaller diamond. The first women’s team was formed in 1895 in Chicago’s West Division High School in the United States. There was no organized or coached competition, and they were not considered comparable to men. However, softball is a growing sport among our young athletes and as the softball saying goes, “There’s nothing soft about it, it just leaves a bigger bruise.”

The following young women from Windham have used the summer to their advantage to stay on top of their game while they played a sport they have a passion for. Lauren Talbot, Danielle Tardiff, Olivia Mora, Katelyn Troiano and Taylor Tibbetts are a few such players. Below is what they have accomplished with their respective teams this summer:

Maine Thunder U14 bring home the gold
Windham’s incoming sophomore Lauren Talbot played on the Maine Thunders U14 Gold softball team this summer. Though Talbot has been playing since the fifth grade this is her first year on an AAU softball team. Her passion for the sport has her anticipating the next season already. Last season for Windham, Talbot primarily played center field for the varsity team. However, during this past summer she enjoyed playing positions such as shortstop, second and third base, right, left and center field. “Learning and playing all the positions helps you to connect with the game,” Talbot said.

Under the guidance of Theresa Hendrix, who graduated from Saint Joseph’s College as a three sport all-star, Talbot’s softball team traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts for the August Bash. The team played all six games with single elimination to bring home the gold. 

“It was a lot of hard work and dedication but the team played well and showed they had what it took,” said Talbot

Maine Thunder Softball is where, whether it’s little league, middle school, high school or college, players can identify areas that they need to work on in order to continue their progress of achieving success on the field and off. They stress the importance of academic success in the classroom coupled with time management. Without a great education, softball doesn’t exist. Under the leadership of Nick Caiazzo the Thunder program is focused on providing all players with an opportunity to reach their full softball potential. The Maine Thunder Travel Softball Program prides itself in training coaches through on going staff training sessions. 

Talbot also plays basketball for the Windham Eagles, making varsity as a freshman last season, looks forward to the upcoming school season and will be going out for the field hockey team this fall as well. Talbot is a girl who likes to stay busy, keep in shape and build friendships along the way.

Lady Mavericks U16 seal the win
The Lady Mavericks U16 team consisted of four of Windham’s athletes: Incoming juniors Olivia Mora, Danielle Tardiff, Taylor Tibbetts, and incoming sophomore Katelyn Troiano. The team also included players from many area high schools including Scarborough, Bonny Eagle, North Yarmouth Academy, South Portland and Sacopee Valley. 

 Although this team of girls is a U16 team, all but one of the tournaments they played in was against U18 college showcase tournament teams. The most recent tournament the team played in was the NCMASA Umpires Open tournament in Leominster, Massachusetts. This was the only U16 tournament this team played in all summer. The Lady Mavericks U16 team won all six games that weekend.

The Lady Mavericks is an organization created for girls of all levels that have a passion for softball and have a goal to be the best softball player she can be. The organization is made up of girls from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Though softball is a passion of these girls, a few play multiple sports, Danielle Tardiff also plays field hockey along with Taylor Tibbetts while Olivia Mora is a guitarist and a bassist when she’s off the field.

Basketball - the love of the game, no matter the age - By Stephanie Coffin

Six teams from Maine Senior Women’s Basketball traveled to Minneapolis in July to compete in the 2015 National Senior Games. Three of the teams took home medals; one of those teams being the Maine Triple Threat team, which took home the silver medal in the 55-59 age Division 1 tournament. The team consisted of coach Maureen Sylvia (Westbrook), Kathy Sanborn (New Hampshire), Adrienne Turner (Hollis), Cyndi Bona (Scarborough), Mary Whited (Falmouth) and Lana Merchant (Windham). 

Triple Threat set the bar for MSWBB teams – winning gold medals in their first national tournament (back in 2009). Along with Maine Triple Threat’s silver medal, Maine Endo also won the silver medal in the 50-54 age groups in the Division 2 tournament and the Maine Pioneers squad won bronze in the 65-69 Division 2 tournaments. 

Maine Triple Threat has been playing together since 2008 and the current age range is 55-59. The team’s talent runs deep and is evident in their well-executed plays and fierce determination which pay off in consistent wins. The group practices two times a week with competitions that happen throughout the year. 

Games are played on a 3x3 basketball half courts with one basket. The game starts with three players from each team on the court. There are two 15 minute halves, where there is running time until the last two minutes of each half. If the game is tied at end of regulation playing time then overtimes are played until one is ahead when the buzzer sounds. 

Maine Senior Women’s Basketball is a group of passionate athletes, age 45 to 75 representing the State of Maine in regional and national tournaments. MSWBB currently consists of six teams in four age brackets. Five teams have brought home medals from National Senior Games, making Maine one of the foremost states for senior women’s basketball. This dedicated group practices year-round in Portland-area gyms, working on individual skill building, teamwork drills, aerobic conditioning and scrimmages. 

If anyone is interested in joining a team or would like to inquire more about these teams feel free to stop in and attend a following practice: Team Pioneers (age 65+) practice Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Middle School in South Portland. All other practices are Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Middle School and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Sullivan Gymnasium at the University of Southern Maine, Portland. You may also reach out to Deb Smith at and check out their Facebook page.

Windham girls soccer team dominates summer play - By Stephanie Coffin

Windham High School girls’ summer soccer team participated in the Northern New England Challenge Cup in Yarmouth the weekend of July 25th and 26th. This tournament marked the end of the summer season for this group of players, who will now prepare for the regular school season. During the tournament they faced teams from South Portland, Deering, Greely, Thornton Academy, Gorham and Melrose, Massachusetts. The two-day tournament was a great opportunity for the girls to work together and get their groove in place for the upcoming school season. 

 Participating in the Yarmouth Tournament resulted in the Windham girls going undefeated in all six of their games, and only allowing one goal in for the whole tournament.

On Saturday, the girls were lined up against Deering, South Portland and Greely. 

Facing off against Deering, Windham won the game 2-0. Maggie Lloyd scored with a header from a corner kick by Ciera Berthiaume in the first half of the game and Lyndsey Arsenault scored unassisted in the second half of the game.

Facing off against South Portland, Windham won the game 4-0. Ciera Berthiaume scored on a pass from Holly Spencer along with Maggie Lloyd scoring on a pass from Berthiaume in the first half of the game. Aly Kirby scored on a pass from Maddi Mauro and Caitlyn Winn scored unassisted in the second half of the game.

Facing off against Greely, Windham won the game 2-1. Maggie Lloyd scored unassisted and she also scored with a pass from Holly Spencer in the first half of the game.

Sunday’s games the girls lined up to play against Melrose, Thornton Academy and Gorham: 

Though the weather was not cooperative and it poured for the most part, the Windham girls went on to defeat the last three teams in the tournament to bring home the win. 

After practicing twice weekly throughout the summer and competing in this weekend tournament the upcoming season looks to be a very promising start to what is hopefully a successful season!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Third annual 3.3 Sonic Basketball Tournament - By Stephanie Coffin

The Windham Youth Basketball programs now boast nearly 500 kids who participate in the sport, but this has led to the challenge of not having adequate facilities for basketball, especially during the winter season. The town has fewer courts and more youths involved in its program than any of our neighboring towns or cities. 

“As a community we really need to invest in infrastructure that supports the demand,” stated Windham Youth Basketball Association board president Pat Moody.
To help support the kids Moody and the WYBA started hosting the Sonic Co-ed 3x3 Basketball Tournament in the summer of 2013. The tournament is named “Sonic” in loving memory of Windham alumni Dan “Sonic” Giguere, who was a past star player for Windham in the late 90s. He ended up passing before his time in February of 2013. 

The proceeds of the tournament have gone to a number of various programs and projects over the past three years. In 2013, the proceeds were split with donating between the Primary School Playground Fund and a Fund for Dan Giguere’s family (his wife and three young sons). In 2014, the proceeds were used to purchase basketball hoops for the playground at Manchester Middle School and to replace the backboard padding in the Windham Primary School Gymnasium. This year’s proceeds will go toward purchasing a shooting machine that helps train young players to learn the art of shooting.
The tournament has been funded by a combination of sponsors and the entry fees ($50 per team to participate). This year’s primary sponsors were Windham Mill Works, Bob the Screen Printer and Walmart. 

This year’s event drew hundreds to the soggy Manchester courts this past Sunday, July 26th. The tournament has grown and has turned into something the community really looks forward to. This year’s 32 teams registered and the tournament earned roughly $2,300. The tournament is primarily made up from teams within Windham and the Windham alumni. However, it has started to promote to local communities who are enjoying the fun competition added to their summer. There are five divisions, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, then high school teams and adult teams. (This year two new divisions were added as there were requests for both the third and fourth grade and high school divisions). 
 Many of the youth teams have informal practices in the weeks leading up to the tournament and have come prepared to play with customized team uniforms. The tournament has a mini BBQ during the event for those that are hungry and for spectators absorbing the games. The champions of each group received “bragging rights” and champions T-shirts.

The Saturday before, WYBA board members prepare the court and round up additional baskets. Four baskets are borrowed to have enough for all the divisions.

“We have experienced beautiful weather for the first two years and this year we had a two hour rain delay but were able to make it happen with help from many folks,” said Moody. In addition to the generous sponsors this year and in years past, the WYBA would like to give a shout out and extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Cutter’s Edge and the WYBA board members and friends that rescued the tournament from a wet court by bringing personal equipment down to the courts to help dry them off hours before the tournament was to start. It was a team effort with brooms and leaf blowers scrambling to prepare the playing surface.