Friday, August 30, 2019

Girls varsity soccer dominate against York

Riley Beem
By Matt Pascarella

The girls’ varsity soccer team played York in an extended preseason game on Saturday, August 24th at Windham.

Windham had a solid start and pressured their opponent right away. The Lady Eagles were aggressive, as they moved the ball around well and took multiple shots on York’s goal. Windham intercepted several passes from York players. The Lady Eagles had great communication and their intensity did not waiver even a little in the first half.

Half: 0-0

In the second half, Windham kicked it up a notched (or two) and really put the pressure on York. There were several shots on York’s goal in the first few minutes of the half. Windham capitalized on any misstep and continued to pressure. As the shots on York’s goal kept coming, Julia McKenna scored.

End of second half: 1-0, Windham extra half was played in this extended game. The Lady Eagles did not let up. They continued to command the game, as the Lady Eagles kept the ball flying at York’s goal. Abby Thornton scored on a corner kick and then Riley Beem gets one by the goalie. Windham’s strong defense prevented York from scoring and Windham takes this preseason game, 3-0.

 “I think they’re starting to come together really nicely,” said coach Deb Lebel. “They’ve been communicating really well, which I think is laying the foundation for a great season ahead.”

Field hockey off to a good start before regular season

Casey Downing
By Matt Pascarella

The Varsity and JV field hockey teams traveled to Thornton Academy to take on the Trojans in a preseason game Friday, August 23rd.

This game was played a little differently. Varsity and JV athletes alternated playing halves.
Game 1:

Windham varsity came out strong, communicating well, aggressive and ready to show Thornton who’s boss. Windham had solid offense and defense. They were working to be first to the ball and succeeded. Amanda Foss, #2, scored twice. The Lady Eagles moved the ball around nicely and had high intensity individually and as a team.

The JV Lady Eagles also came out strong. Windham had great offense and defense, intercepting several passes from Thornton players. Windham communicated well and had several shots on goal.
Final: 2-1, Windham

Game 2: player’s intensity did not lessen. Windham continued to move the ball around well and was first to the ball. They kept up their offense and defense. Windham took multiple shots on goal. Chloe Desmond, #7, scored.

The JV Lady Eagles didn’t let up. They primarily kept the ball toward Thornton’s side of the field for a large part of the half; Windham communicated well. Casey Downing, #29, scored.

Final: 2-1, Windham

“The athletes played great in their halves, because basically the whole team returned,” remarked varsity coach Cory DiDonato. “They’ve been working together for a few years...they know where each other’s going to be, they know how to back each other up, they are extremely good at communicating. Looking forward to this season, we’re going to win a lot more games, the kids are confident, they’re ready...they want people to realize Windham is a force to be reckoned with. I’m just really excited.”

I am really excited for this season, too” added Tiff Theriault, JV coach. “This is a great group of girls who work hard together and I believe their hard work will pay off for them.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Middle School summer track team does well in state tournament

Jacoby Burton
By Matt Pascarella

Thirty-nine athletes competed in the state track meet held at Brewer Community School on Saturday, August 10th. In order to qualify, athletes had to place in the top four in their event at the qualifier meet within their division. During states, the top six in each division for each event are recognized for their achievement with a medal as they compete against towns from all over the state.

Over the summer, athletes from kindergarten through eighth grade competed in a series of developmental track meets each week to gain experience in their events, to get the chance to compete against kids from different towns in southern Maine. There were 70 athletes on the roster, making this was one of the largest teams in recent years. This year’s team was twice the size of last year’s team.

The meet itself was packed with athletes from everywhere in Maine. As I watched Windham athletes compete in the various events, I saw determination and focus. The heat couldn’t stop these Eagles from giving 100%. The Windham team had been working hard all summer and it showed. Here are some of the results:
Annalynne Goodwin finished first in the girl's eight and under shot put and sixth in the high jump.
Katie Martin finished fifth in the girl's nine and ten 200-meter race
Ava Gerrity finished second in the 11 to 12 girl's high jump, fifth in the girl's 11 to 12 grade 200-meter race, and fourth in the 11to 12 grade girl's long jump.
The boy's eight and under 4x100 relay of Cody Ruth, Callum Crockett, Jacoby Burton, and Landyn Crossman came in first place.
Cooper Dickson placed fifth in the eight and under boy's race walk.
Jalen Stephens placed fourth in the nine and ten boy's shot put.
Paris Knight placed sixth in the boy's nine and ten race walk.
Lukas Hammond placed fourth in the 11and 12 80-meter hurdles and second in the 11and 12 boy's long jump.
Daniel Hancock placed sixth in the 80-meter hurdles.
The 11 and 12 boy's 4x100 relay team of Marek Slomczynski, Nick Verrill, Karl Longstreth, and Jason Marsh placed fourth.
Jason Marsh placed fifth in the 11 and 12 boy's race walk.
The 13 and 14 boy's 4x400 relay team of Garrett Crossman, Jackson Kingsley, Creighty Dickson, and Nick Marion placed third and took almost 11 seconds off their seed time. 11 and 12 coed relay team of Daniel Hancock, Demi Nicholas, Meg Kingsley, and Dylan Crockett placed sixth. 
The 13 and 14 coed team of Adriyanna Edge, DJ Stephens, Garrett Crossman, and Caitlyn Marsh placed fifth.

“The goal of the summer track program was to develop interest and enjoyment in the sport of track and field through the use of instruction on event basics, work outs, games, and activities. We also stress the importance of sportsmanship and team work,” remarked coach Philip Jackson. “This was a very hard working group of athletes who used what they learned in practice and applied it to the meets. As a coaching staff, we stressed the importance and belonging of each athlete on the team and had the belief that everyone has something to contribute to the team. The kids really enjoyed the aspects of competition, making progress in their events, and the friendships that are developed with teammates and kids from other towns.”

Friday, August 9, 2019

Coach Spotlight: Nick Caiazzo wants his players to develop a true love of the game

Nick Caiazzo
By Matt Pascarella

Nick Caiazzo has been coaching for almost twenty years. Originally from Portland, he grew up playing baseball, playing professionally for a short time. Eventually, he found his way to Windham where he’s been involved with Windham Little League coaching softball.

“I’ve always been around the baseball game, so as a young kid growing up in Portland, I had really influential people that made any sport I played very fun,” stated Caiazzo. “I can still remember my nine-year-old little league baseball coach, Rick Hanson - he made an absolutely enjoyable experience for me to go out and play.”

As Caiazzo progressed through middle and high school, his coaches continued to inspire him. His football coach, Bill LeRoy and basketball coach David Brenner were good role models and these coaches were the foundation for Caiazzo’s later interest in coaching.

In 1993, Caiazzo was drafted by the Texas Rangers to play professional baseball but turned it down to go to the University of Maine to play baseball on a full scholarship.

At the University of Maine, he was coached for three years by Dr. John Winkin. “He was probably the best baseball coach ever in the state of Maine,” Caiazzo comments. In school he studied elementary education with a minor in kinesiology and exercise physiology. Using his educational background, he enjoyed working in high school as well as in baseball and basketball camps with young kids.
Caiazzo was drafted junior year of college by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that option wasn’t enough to miss his senior year. From 1997-2001 he played for the Milwaukee Brewers. “I was in AA [ball], like a Portland Seadogs guy. I was a pretty good athlete and could play multiple positions on the field; there was a year I hit 300,” added Caiazzo.

He was drafted as a catcher but played other positions such as right and left field, first base and was a designated hitter. “To me, baseball has been a wonderful tool for me to learn not just about myself, but this world and what else is out there and dealing with people.”

Once Caiazzo finished playing professional ball in 2001, he got a job at South Portland High School as a long-term substitute. That led to him teaching fourth  and fifth grade classes.

Caiazzo became involved in Windham Little League because he didn’t want to be the parent on the outside who complains about the game, he wanted to jump in and make it better. “I don’t teach every kid the same way, everyone is a little bit different,” he began. “Half the battle of being a coach is having quality coaches to back him up.” Caiazzo stated that he has been fortunate to be surrounded by all the great coaches involved in the softball program. he pulls a player aside, he always kneels on the ground. Caiazzo stated it’s important to be at their level and empower them into taking ownership of the game. “I’m 6’ 4”. I try to give those girls as much power as possible and we’re all the same here; the last thing I want is to be an intimidating figure over nine and ten-year-old girls.”

It’s important for Caiazzo to make sure his girls have fun, know that they’re players and coaches have their back, making sure they have the necessary tools needed to tackle situations that might arise in the game. “Keep it simple, over analysis causes paralysis.”

Those moments where mistakes are made are important, “so you can learn from it, because at the end of the day, it’s a game. We’re representing this town and Windham is all of us. All we’re trying to do here is create those moments where the kids say, ‘I want more of it, I want more of it.’’

Caiazzo lives in Windham with his wife of twelve years and his two daughters. They have chickens, dogs and bunnies.

Slot car racing is a favored pastime for many

By Matt Pascarella

Hank Gagnon first got interested in slot car racing when he was 17 or 18. While he did stop racing for a short time, he got back into it when his stepson, Jesse Jordan, became interested in racing slot cars. Jordan’s friend brought him to a slot car track to see what it was about, and Jesse bought two slot cars and he and Gagnon started racing after that. “When I got back into it, we got into it pretty heavy,” Gagnon said.

Briefly, slot car racing the racing of powered miniature autos that are guided by grooves or slots in the track on which they run.

“I like the cars and I like the racing; it takes quite a bit of practice to get good at,” replied Jordan.
Gagnon is the owner of Rev It Up Raceway and Black Bear Auto Care, both located in Windham.

Roughly three years ago, Gagnon bought a couple slot car tracks, and designed an oval shaped track called the ‘Maine Monster Mile’ which, end to end is 24 feet long. Gagnon races 1/24 scale slot cars. He has been doing weekly races for seven to eight years. Some cars can reach the speeds of 15 to 20-plus miles per hour.

Gagnon races with other slot car enthusiasts every week where ten to 20 people bring their wooden compartment cases that hold their various slot cars, along with supplies and the necessary tools to do any repairs. Slot car aficionados travel from all over the state to race on Gagnon’s track including the towns of Poland, Auburn, Brunswick and Greene; “There was even one guy who came up from Massachusetts,” Gagnon said.

Casco resident Butch Belanger described how he got interested in slot car racing. “My dad raced in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s in Westbrook. We got into it 20 years ago when the track opened down here.

We then got out of it. When I went to work for NAPA Auto Parts I met up with Hank and he kept trying to get me to come race. I finally showed up and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been almost four years. What keeps me coming back is the enjoyment of going around in a circle having fun and an inexpensive good time.”

George Allen discovered slot cars at the Auburn Mall. “I was racing real cars and I was going to start racing remote controlled cars and I walking into the Auburn Mall and saw a slot car track. I said, ‘I got to check this out,’ so we went down to the Auburn Mall on a Wednesday night and the rest is history. Me and my boy, we’ve been racing ever since – met all these great’s a lot of fun.”
Allen started the Minot Mountain Speedway after buying some track from a guy in Massachusetts. “My garage is my track and these guys all come to my house’s a blast.”

On the smaller side of slot car racing, Windham resident Jim Hoar started the Maine HO Slot Car Racing Club in 1999. HO scale is 1/64 which is the size of a matchbox. Hoar enjoys the comradery of the sport and likes getting new racers involved.

He describes his club as an ‘eating club with a racing problem’ “When we take a portable track out to car shows in Portland or Bonny Eagle, people will say ‘I used to do that when I was a kid.’ Now their kids come and play on our track and they say, ‘hey mister, this is better than video games.’”

Hoar has two large tracks and a dragstrip, the only dragstrip in Maine, for racing HO slot cars, in his basement. Participants come from all around New England, and a lot of the club members, donate their time and energy; members like Mario Bosse who donated Poland Spring water to the club as well as was willing to offer any help.

HO racer, Brian Valle described racing as ‘therapeutic.’ It’s a five to six hour escape, where every month the club does a race with roughly 12 to 22 people. When people of all ages see the tracks, it brings out the kid in them. A lot of the guys involved in HO racing, are to some degree former car guys or ex car racers. “From the community standpoint, we would love to see anybody that just enjoys this as their hobby; that they remember what it was years ago...they can get in touch with us, and we’ll help them,” added Hoar.

Anyone interested in learning more or joining the HO club can contact Jim Hoar at 894-5289 or You can also join their Facebook page: Maine HO Slot Car Racing Club.

Anyone interested in learning more or racing the 1/24 or ‘O’ scale slot cars can join the Rev It Up Raceway group on Facebook and contact Hank Gagnon through that page.

Raymond man plays on the winning team of the Southern Maine men’s baseball 35-plus league

Jim Beers from Raymond takes home.
By Matt Pascarella

On Friday night, August 2, the Southern Maine Men’s Baseball League (SMMBL), age 35+, known as the Arizona Diamondbacks, played the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

The SMMBL is a wooden bat league that has 25-plus and 35-plus age divisions. They feature players from all over the Greater Portland area. On the Diamondbacks, Windham/Raymond is well represented by Jim Beers of Raymond, who joined the team in 2017. Beers describes playing on the team as ‘pure heaven.’

The game had a slow start for the Diamondbacks. They got things going in the fourth inning after John Massey, #26, and Bret Urban, #29, both walked. They made it home and scored two runs.

Fast forward to the sixth inning where Urban walked and scored again, now it’s 5 to 3, Washington Nationals. The Diamondbacks kept the Nationals from scoring for three innings as they headed into the bottom of the ninth. Three runs are needed to win and two to tie. Kevin Cashman, #50, and Beers, #9, each got on base and made it home to tie the game at five.

The Diamondbacks held off the Nationals in the top of the tenth and now all the Diamondbacks needed was one run. Steve Cascio, #3, walked and Massey singled. Urban walked and now the bases were loaded, with the winning run on third. Eddie Simmons, #24, sent the ball into the outfield and Cascio scored. Diamondbacks took this game 6 to 5 and remain undefeated with a record of 9 to 0.

“It was a great game tonight. It took us a little while to get back into it - we just had to be patient...swing at strikes and good things will happen,”stated Coach Steve Casio. “This is a good group. This team has been together for a few years now and everybody comes to’s a lot of fun.”

Friday, August 2, 2019

Varsity girls’ soccer win Northern New England Challenge Cup 2019

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Lady Eagles won the Northern New England Challenge Cup, which was held Saturday, July 27th and Sunday, July 28th. This tournament is hosted every year at the end of July and was held in Yarmouth. Sixteen teams entered from Maine and Massachusetts. During the playoffs, Windham started the day by beating Gorham 3-0. They then beat Bonny Eagle in penalty kicks. In the finals they beat Scarborough 1-0.

“It’s a great way to wrap up the summer season and it’s a fun way to start seeing where younger players might find a role on the team. We were excited about the outcome because we only had 5 returning varsity players participate,” commented coach Deb Lebel. 

Congratulations! We’re looking forward to seeing you play this season!

Another successful year for the Sonic Three-On-Three tournament

By Matt Pascarella

In its seventh year, the Sonic Three-on-Three basketball tournament continues to be a fun activity Windham, Raymond and other surrounding communities enjoy.

The tournament is organized by Windham Youth Basketball and began after organizer Pat Moody’s teammate, Dan Giguere, nicknamed Sonic because he was fast, was killed in a car accident. “A bunch of us got together and wanted to do something in his memory and it’s also a great opportunity for the community to come together...and have a good time,” began Moody. 

“We created the tournament in his memory with the focus of bringing the community together.” proceeds go to benefit the town in some way. This year, the funds (estimated at roughly $2,000-$3,000) will go to the Windham High School basketball teams. They will receive a software program called Huddle that takes video footage of each of the team’s games and breaks it down so that the coaches can evaluate everything the kids are doing and bring it in to film sessions and practices to help develop the players and program.

Soon to be sixth graders Mason Arbour, Bradley Muse and Marley Jarvais spoke of why they keep coming back to the tournament. “It’s good for our community; it helps out everyone” said Muse. “I like basketball and it’s for the community,” added Arbour. “It’s really fun,” agreed Jarvais.

“I went to Windham schools and my son plays, so I get to play with him as well,” said Kati Morrell who’s been coming to the tournament since the beginning.

 “It’s so fun. The turnout has grown a little every year...people don’t want to miss it, because it’s a great time,” observed Moody.