Thursday, December 31, 2020

Windham baseball star to play in college for University of Connecticut

Windham High School pitcher Brady Afthim, a
senior, signed a national letter of intent to play in
college for the University of Connecticut during a
special ceremony at Windham High School on
Dec. 18. From left are Brady's brother Bryce Afthim,
Brady's mother Shelly Afthim, Brady Afthim
and Brady's father Phil Afthim.
By Ed Pierce

Brady Afthim has dreamed of playing baseball in college and he’s about to make that dream a reality, signing a national letter of intent to play for the University of Connecticut.

Afthim is the first player from Maine ever to be recruited by UConn Coach Jim Penders and will pitch for the Huskies in the Big East Conference. He will fall under the tutelage of Huskies’ pitching coach Josh MacDonald, who has coached six All-Americans during his time at UConn and has had at least one pitcher earn All-American status in each of the past four seasons.

He said having an opportunity to attend college and play baseball in New England appealed to him and was a big part of why he chose UConn.

“I felt that it was the best school for me since I wanted to stay in the Northeast,” Afthim said. “I really liked Pitching Coach Josh MacDonald and Head Coach Jim Penders and I wanted the opportunity to play for them. I wanted to play for the best baseball school in New England and that’s UConn. I want to get bigger, better and learn more from my coaches about the mental side of pitching. I would like to eventually become a weekend starting pitcher.”

To reach this point in his career has been a long road. He started playing baseball when he was 5, playing Little League baseball in Windham where he was part of the Windham All-Stars that won the district title when he was 9 and then captured the state championship when he was 10.

“I played for the Southern Maine River Rats and was part of winning the EBL championship when I was 14,” he said. “I joined the Maine Lightning when I was 16 and played for their College Showcase

Up until playing for the Lightning, Afthim had played catcher since the age of 7, but Lighting Coach Ryan Copp saw his potential as a pitcher and encouraged him to transition to the position.

He knows so much from playing in high school and college himself and creates a good atmosphere at games and practice,” Afthim said. “He is also the one who helped me through the recruiting process.”

Afthim also credits his Little League coach Scott Butts, River Rats coach Shawn Humphrey and his family for his development as a baseball player.

“My family has been very supportive - my Dad, Phil, taught me how to pitch, my brother Bryce has been a teammate and is currently a pitcher at the University of Southern Maine and my Mom, Shelly, has been my biggest fan.”

Afthim says he’s hoping to play his senior season for Windham High School if they have a season not wiped out by the pandemic and says he’ll take away a few memories from suiting up for the Eagles and WHS Coach Cody Dube.

“Making varsity and being the starting catcher as a freshman is certainly something I’ll never forget,” he said. “Also, in my sophomore year, Coach Dube let me be the closing pitcher against Noble. It was the first time in high school that I was able to pitch since I was the catcher.”

Dube says that Afthim's desire for excellence has been an integral part of the Windham High team.

"Brady's success comes from his competitiveness and his drive to be the best he can be. Brady takes failure personally and transfers those emotions into becoming a better player and teammate," Dube said. "When you have the drive to be the best you can be I truly believe you can be successful in whatever you put your mind towards. Brady's work ethic and commitment will be the two key factors to his success at the collegiate level."

He said Afthim's love of the game is evident. 

"Brady approaches the game as a game, having fun and doing so with a smile on his face. He also understands the 'winning" mentality,' which I believe is one of his key reasons to be the best he can be; Brady doesn't like to lose," he said. "Brady truly loves baseball and loves to compete, when these are mixed with a strong work ethic it makes for an exciting combination." 

The thing Afthim says he enjoys the most about playing baseball is the sport’s unpredictability.

“The best team doesn’t always win the game and the game can change at any time,” Afthim said. “The
biggest misconception about baseball players is that they are not athletic. “This may be an assumption in middle school or high school, but if you look at college and professional baseball, you have to be athletic to get to that level.  People also say that baseball is boring, but if you understand the game, you know that it is not boring at all.”

Going into his senior season at Windham, Afthim has been honored as the best high school player in Maine by the website Stadium Talk in their feature “The Best High School Baseball Player In Every State 2020” and he has strong expectations for the team.

I really hope we get a senior season since last season was canceled due to COVID,” he said. “If we do, expect us to be scrappy, get some wins and get into the playoffs.” <

Saint Joseph’s College ready to finish track facility

STANDISH – Saint Joseph’s College has announced plans to complete the outdoor track and field section of the SJC Athletics Complex.

Earthwork for the project is slated to begin this spring and construction will be completed well in advance of the 2022 spring outdoor season, during which the Monks will have the opportunity to host meets for the first time.

“Our coaching staff and team members are extremely excited to hear that the track and field facility will be completed by the end of next summer,” said Saint Joseph Track and Field Head Coach Tom Dann. “This will allow us to host meets for the first time in the college's history and to showcase our outstanding facility.  It will without a doubt raise the bar for our program and attract talented high school track and field athletes to our college.”

The initial phase of the SJC Athletics Complex, construction for which began in the fall of 2016 and concluded in the fall of 2017, included an artificial turf-surfaced and lighted field, an eight-lane track, a storage facility for equipment and a satellite athletic training room, and on-site parking.

To be able to host track and field competitions, the complex will be expanded to include throwing areas for the javelin, shot put and discus/hammer events as well as a pair of jumping lanes and pits. The facility will be outfitted with all the necessary implements, including additional hurdles, a throwing cage, and pits for the high jump and pole vault events.

“The completion of our track and field facility is an exciting step forward for Saint Joseph’s College and
our students,” says Director of Athletics Will Sanborn. “Finishing this phase of the project will allow our students to train and compete on a first-rate track and field facility. We are grateful for this continued commitment to our athletic program by President James Dlugos and the Saint Joseph’s College community.”

Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years.

From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the college offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of about 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more information, visit <

Friday, December 18, 2020

Where Are They Now: Windham track star Vanessa Rallis

A 2008 graduate of Windham High School,
Dr. Vanessa Rallis competed in indoor and outdoor
track and field and also played soccer while a 
prep athlete here. She went on to compete for the
track team at the University of Chicago and is
now a pediatrician and lives in Massachusetts
with her dog, Zazu. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

In track and field, it’s a given that a good hurdler has to be completely familiar with everything so if something adverse happens they can adjust quickly. That’s probably what allowed Windham’s Dr. Vanessa Rallis to make the transition from competing in hurdles and the long jump for the Lady Eagles to a career in medicine.

A 2008 graduate of Windham High, Rallis competed in indoor and outdoor track and field and she also played soccer while in school. She started training and competing with the track team at Windham Middle School and says she was fortunate to have had such a supportive environment to grow up in.

“My favorite part of competing with the Lady Eagles was the community,” Rallis said. “My teammates were my friends, those friends not on the team came to games and meets to support us, teachers came out to support us, the town came out to support us. It’s something that just wasn’t the same in college and something that I don’t think I fully appreciated until I left.”

After graduating from Windham, Rallis attended the University of Chicago taking pre-med classes and graduating in 2012 with degrees in Biology and Comparative Human Development. At the school, she competed in NCAA Division III indoor and outdoor track and field meets, running the hurdles, long jump, in the Pentathlon and the Heptathlon events, although she had to make the transition from prep to collegiate sports.

I had to find my niche on a new team both socially and competitively,” she said. “In short, I’d say everything at the University of Chicago felt bigger and more exaggerated, but once I found my spot, they felt very similar because they were my team and my social circle. It was a bigger time commitment, practices were longer, much more time was spent in the weight room, and we traveled much longer distances for meets, making the balance between academics and athletics even more difficult.”   

Rallis went on to complete medical school at St. George's University in Grenada and a pediatric residency at The Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, Illinois. She now lives in Osterville, Massachusetts on Cape Cod and works as a pediatrician for Briarpatch Pediatrics.

She credits numerous coaches for helping her improve athletically, but two in particular stand out the most.

“I started high jump at some point in middle school because I could charge at the bar and muscle my
way over pretty well. I only had the pleasure of having Coach Peter Connolly my freshman year, but I’ll never forget the patience he had with an anxious freshman trying to figure out track and field,” Rallis said. “He took a girl charging at a bar and attempted to teach timing. High jump is very much a mental game, and I can still picture him standing in the aux gym and the Expo coaching me over the high jump bar each and every time. He definitely taught me to slow down and have patience both by instruction and example, things many others have reiterated over the years, but he was the first and most successful when it came to high jump.”

Rallis also praised Coach Jeff Riddle for helping he understand the concept of teamwork.

“Track is a strange sport where we are competing both individually against our teammates, and as a team to tally enough points to beat other schools,” Rallis said. “When I decided to join the track team, it was a way to stay in shape for soccer, I did not understand the concept of team with track and field. Coach Riddle made Track and Field a team sport for me; he made it a community.  I think the thing I learned most from Coach Riddle is to take everything in stride. He celebrated accomplishments, but did not shy away from fears and disappointments, acknowledging them and then helping to move on.”

Riddle said that by the end of her high school athletics career playing soccer, indoor and outdoor track & field, Rallis was named 12 times as a WHS Scholar Athlete. He said during her senior year she was named a SMAA Scholar Athlete in all three senior sports seasons, and over time while contributing to 12 WHS different teams, she was named six times as the Most Valuable Player award on some of those teams and fittingly she was team captain on her track teams starting in her junior and then continuing through her senior year of play.

“Beyond those incredible earned accolades, Vanessa Rallis was named as the 2008 Towle Award winner, an incredibly honorable achievement/award and a historic award given at WHS from a vote by all WHS Varsity Head Coaches,” Riddle said. “As a dedicated track athlete, Vanessa was a ‘Jill’ of all events over the years, she high jumped, long jumped, triple jumped, ran 200-meter dashes, but her trademark was her hurdling ability; competing in the 55-meter hurdles, 100-meter high hurdles, and 300-meter hurdles, this is where she contributed the most to her teams, and to progress as a hurdler is a significant process, one which she set as a goal and met head on.”

He attributes her success as a student-athlete to being relentless and fearless in the pursuit of excellence, even if failure would creep in once in a while; and doing it all with tremendous humility and style, and with a can-do attitude beyond compare. 

“A true model for all teammates back then to learn from and now many years later, she’s a model to all still to continue to learn from, her drive toward success is unmatched,” Riddle said. “Vanessa brought her authenticity to her teams:  her humor, her positive attitude, her fun style, her work ethic, her dedication, her desire to solve problems, her ability to unify, and we even appreciated her sarcasm, and
of course her incredible smile and laugh.” 

For Rallis, her greatest memories of competing in track and field are a relay meet in Scarborough and another on the day of the prom.

“Never would you think hurdles could be a relay event, but it was always the most fun,” she said. “The meet really took us out of our comfort zone, you needed so many people to participate in each event so people got shuffled where they were needed.”

It also seemed that the prom always fell on the days of either the Southwestern meet or the State Track and Field Championships.

“I remember that feeling of excitement from the meet itself and knowing we were all going to rush home and get ready just to gather again at prom,” Rallis said. “Getting my hair done in my track uniform and trying to shower after without messing it up is still a great accomplishment.” <

Tails from the Outdoors: The Indestructable Duck

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle

Some years ago I was assigned to the Pentagon but lived in northern Virginia. I had a friend that lived in Ladysmith down about in the middle of Virginia if you took I-95 south. He had access to a U.S Army Fort called A.P. Hill. The fort was a sprawling installation of several thousand acres of training areas and ranges where mostly Reserves went to train before shipping out overseas. Areas that were not “hot” with training activities could be hunted if you took the right safety courses and had the right passes.

One year at the start of duck season my friend asked if I would be interested in coming down for a few days of duck hunting. Duck season was kicked off with wood duck hunting because as it got colder, they were one of the first species to migrate further south. I was excited to do that so as the weekend approached, I got a kitchen pass, a day off from work, and a reservation at one of the vacant Bachelor Officers’ Quarters, or BOQs, for transient personal and headed south.

The area he had permission to hunt was a narrow valley that had a permanent creek running through it to a small pond where the woodies loved to congregate as they fed on acorns dropped from the ridgeline oak trees. The set up sounded perfect. We would enter the valley via the stream and work our way toward the pond. When the woodies left for the morning to feed in grain fields they were just as likely to follow the stream on their way out and we would have been in excellent position for some pass shooting.

Unfortunately, my buddy had not done any recent scouting, relying on his memory of the terrain from past years. When we got there the creek had grown over quite a bit and the foliage on both sides was over our heads. No problem we thought as we bushwhacked our way towards the pond. This took longer than expected and legal shooting arrived before we were halfway there. The ducks flew as we had predicted but we could only see a few degrees either side of the creek centerline. We could hear them passing us by but couldn’t see them. Finally, a flight came right down the creek and I managed to drop one just behind me. We searched for an hour looking for that duck but the most we could find were a few errant feathers. By that time the morning flight was over and we left the area for some deer hunting.

Ducks will often return to a sanctuary or safe haven toward the end of the day so we planned to be back at the creek with plenty of daylight left. We were walking in on the creek but the grass around us was so high we could not see below our knees and just shuffled our waders along feeling for the creek bottom. We hadn’t gone very far when I stepped on something that wiggled under my boot. This was cottonmouth and rattlesnake country, so I was not eager to put my hands down and grab whatever was under my boot. Finally, I was able to clear away enough of the grass to see that it was the duck I had dropped that morning. I did the usual practice of ringing its neck, put him in my vest pouch, and finished the evening hunt. When we got to the truck, I put him in the back with the rest of the gear and we drove to the BOQ. When we got to the Q, I opened the back of the truck and there was the duck
sitting upright staring back at me. I rang its neck again but did not want to disturb too many feathers as it was a beautiful bird and I wanted to have it mounted. While we cleaned up for going out to dinner, I put the duck in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator for safe keeping.

When we returned some hours later, I opened the freezer to check on my prize and lo and behold, there he was again eyes wide open and upright. However, by now he had lost control of his bowels and the inside of the freezer compartment was wall-to-wall duck poop. Can’t tell you what a mess that was to clean up. We had to defrost the entire refrigerator. I then pithed his brain with a nail we found, a technique we learned on a frog in biology class, and that did it.

I had that woodie mounted and every time I look at him in my bar I am reminded of that experience. <

Friday, December 11, 2020

Tails From The Outdoors: Things you probably shouldn't do

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle

If you are a non-resident and you want to hunt Brown Bears on Kodiak Island Alaska, you are required to hire a commercial guide. This is probably a good rule because you can get yourself in trouble pretty quickly. As service members, my two buddies and I were considered residents after a year on assignment and technically did not require a guide which none of us could afford.  With resident status we thought we were well qualified to hunt the big bears. Genetically, Brown Bears are the same as inland Grizzly Bears but because they have access to salmon spawning streams and rivers, they have a unique opportunity to gorge themselves on protein rich salmon prior to hibernation. They grow quite a bit bigger than Grizzlys who often have to rely on blueberries, crowberries, carrion and ground squirrels with an occasional moose or caribou calf to supplement their diet.

The three of us got our permits and permission to use a Forest Service cabin at Karluk Lake in western Kodiak and had an air taxi operator fly us in at the lake for a week’s hunt. We had been there about four to five days when we found ourselves on a good hillside from which we could spot any bears moving up or down the Karluk river which was a couple of hundred yards below us. Should we spot a bear, one of us would remain on the lookout spot while the other two would drop down to river level and run a pincer attack on the bear. The lookout would tell us how close we were to the bear or if he changed direction or departed. That afternoon we spotted a bear making his way up the river. I was fortunate to be one of the shooters and thought nothing of dropping down off the hill and crossing the river to the bear’s side. 

What we hadn’t anticipated was the 10- to 12-foot height and thick density of the alders there. We worked our way towards each other with the bear between us. We met in the middle without ever seeing or hearing the bear. We knew he was close, but we had no chance of seeing him before he could be on us. In retrospect it was a stupid thing to do. We left the area and walked back towards the cabin to start dinner while our buddy walked down from the lookout. As we got to the cabin, we heard our partner shoot twice. We hustled back to where the shots came from to find our buddy trying to drag a bear unsuccessfully out of the river. Apparently, after we departed and he walked down to the river, which at that location was only about 25 yards wide, the bear came out of the alders at the exact point where we came out. He went home with a bear and we learned an important lesson.

Less risky but not much smarter, I was with one of the same buddies on a fly-in Dall Sheep hunt. We had been flown in at a high mountain lake down on the Kenai Peninsula where we established a base camp on the shore. We then climbed even higher and used a spike camp for the next five days while we climbed into the hanging valleys looking for sheep. The only game we saw in range were some Ptarmigan, birds who were probably seeing their first humans ever. They kept just ahead of us by walking along the rocks as we were well above the tree line.

After so many days of freeze-dried rations a live bird would have been a great addition to our dinner
meal. A shotgun would have been handy too but we were sheep hunting and the thought of hitting one of those birds with a 7mm or a .300 Win Mag was not appealing, especially when they were so close, so we started throwing rocks at them. It is extremely difficult to throw a rock accurately with a day pack on and a rifle slung over your shoulder. 

After several lame attempts we took off our packs and laid our rifles on them believing that should we spot sheep nearby we could simply return to the guns and be in business. The Ptarmigan stayed enticingly ahead of us and managed to evade our best efforts. Soon we were quite a distance away from our rifles and no closer to the birds. When we called off the rock throwing, we could not find our packs! We searched for over an hour. What fools we would have felt like if a full curl ram strode into view and we had nothing but rocks to throw at him. We didn’t do that again. <

Windham's Beem earns Southern Maine Regional All-Star honor

Riley Beem, right, a Windham High School senior,
has been named by the Maine Soccer Coaches
Association as a 2020 Southern Maine Regional
By Ed Pierce

Athletic versatility has paid off for Riley Beem of Windham High School as she has been named by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association as a 2020 Southern Maine Class A Regional All-Star.

A senior defensive specialist, Beem is a model player for coaches and has done whatever has been asked of her, no matter what sport she plays. She’s also an outstanding student, carrying an overall GPA of 102.

According to Deb LeBel, Windham girls’ varsity soccer coach, Beem takes instruction well and has been a key defender for the team.

“The first thing that comes to mind when talking about Riley is her coachability.  She really listens to constructive coaching and tries to implement what you’ve asked her to do,” LeBel said. “Riley is also a very versatile player.  At the end of the 2019 season, we had a key defender sidelined due to injury and when we asked Riley if she’d mind moving back to defense, she replied, ‘sure, no problem.’  Riley was a midfielder for us her first three seasons in high school, but because of her speed she was able to slide into a defensive back position easily.  It was rare that an opponent was able to get around her.”

LeBel said that Beem possesses a number of special traits that contribute to her success playing soccer.

“Riley is a hardworking student athlete.  She has outstanding time management skills, which not all high school students have,” LeBel Said. “She has played a sport each season of her high school career, making her a rare three-season athlete.  Not only did she find time for sports, but she did this while taking AP and Honors classes. Her hard-working personality shines on all aspects of her life.”

Her speed and ability to shut numerous offensive threats down has made her a top defender for Windham’s girls’ varsity soccer team, LeBel said.

“She is tireless on the field and never gives up no matter how many times she is challenged,” she said.
“Riley is a model athlete to have on a team.  She comes to practice ready to work hard, she listens and executes what we’ve put into place.  Riley pushes her teammates in drills and makes everyone around her better.  She is a quiet leader and leads by example.”

And in her years of playing soccer for Windham, Beem has continued to work hard to improve her skills.

“It’s been fun to watch Riley evolve over the past four years.  She’s always been a great athlete, but as a senior she played with confidence and an ‘air’ about her,” LeBel said. “Riley is a relatively small athlete, but because she’s a smart player she could often beat opponents to the ball.  By doing this, her size never mattered.  I think Riley will take many life lessons that she’s dealt with as an athlete and apply them throughout life: she sees the positive in things, never gives up and constantly preservers.  I have no doubt that Riley will use the qualities and become very successful in life.”

Beem is also exactly the type of team-first player that LeBel says she needs to win at Windham.

“Riley is a teammate that gets along with everyone.  She is inclusive and makes the underclassmen feel welcome on the team,” LeBel said. “She is one of the most unselfish players I have coached.  She went from a midfielder scoring goals her first three years of high school to playing defense her senior season.  Her reply was, ‘play me wherever the team needs me.’”

But as talented as Beem is in soccer, she has her sights set on playing another sport in college.

“While Riley is a very good soccer player, lacrosse is the sport she’s most passionate about.  She had the opportunity to play at the University fo New Hampshire next year, but she felt a smaller school would be a better fit for her,” LeBel said. “She will be studying Health Sciences and playing lacrosse next year at Franklin Pierce College.”

Even so, Beem said she’ll miss being part of the Windham girls’ soccer team.


“What I like the most about playing soccer is the aspect of being on a team. I have been playing soccer
since I was about 4 years old and have always loved being part of a team,” she said. “Playing a team sport like soccer has taught me many lessons and

while playing soccer and I personally believe that the best players are not the one who are concerned about how many goals they score, but the ones that continuously work hard to make themselves and their teammates better players. Having a team mindset in a sport like soccer will helped me become the person I am today, and most importantly it has allowed me to make some amazing friends.”


She said playing soccer for her has never been about how many goals she scores, but about working hard and playing whatever position she was asked to play.


“Coming into high school my goal was to work as hard as I can to make the varsity team as a freshman,” Beem said. “As a freshman I started as a forward and now as I senior, I am a defender because that is where the team needed me to be. I think the hardest aspect of playing soccer is having the right mindset. I have come across many types players while playing soccer and I personally believe that the best players are not the one who are concerned about how many goals they score, but the ones that continuously work hard to make themselves and their teammates better players. Having a team mindset in a sport like soccer will always be a greater benefit to the team.” 


Beem said she is deeply honored to have been chosen as a 2020 Southern Maine Regional Soccer All-Star.


“I was completely surprised when I heard I was chosen to be a part of the Southern Maine Class A Regional All-Star Team,” she said. “I am extremely humbled to be selected and I never thought I would be considered for an All-Star team like this.” < 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Windham midfielder Thornton earns All-State girls’ soccer honor

Windham midfielder Abbey Thornton moves past
York defenders during a girls' varsity soccer game
last season. The Maine Soccer Coaches Association
has honored Thornton, a sophomore, with selection
to the Southern Maine All-State Soccer Team for the
By Ed Pierce

With her sights set on playing college soccer someday, Windham High School’s Abbey Thornton is making a strong case for that goal after being honored with selection to the 2020 Southern Maine All-State Team by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association.

Thornton, a sophomore midfielder, says that she’s humbled by such recognition and wants to be able to continue her love and passion for the game while playing at a high level.  

“I want to make sure that I always enjoy myself and have fun playing soccer,” Thornton said. “It is not about the goals or how well I do, but just simply playing a game that I have loved for so long. Soccer requires me to be all in and give it my all whenever I am on the field. I like how it pushes me both physically and mentally. It allows me to work hard, do something I'm proud of, and hopefully contribute to my team.”

According to Deb LeBel, Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach, Thornton has been a pleasure to see grow and develop.

"Abbey’s a fun player to coach,” LeBel said. “She’s a player that you can challenge in practice and she’ll accept the challenge and work harder to get better.”

LeBel said Thornton is a very likeable and a fun teammate to be around.

“You can often find her joking around with teammates and not taking a grief from the upper classman.  She is well respected for effort and talent that she brings to the game,” LeBel said. “Even though Abbey was our leading scorer this season, she’s extremely unselfish player and routinely sets her teammates up for scoring opportunities.”

Currently taking all honors classes, Thornton had a GPA of 99 after her freshman year and LeBel said
that as a coach she love that Abbey is so talented on the field, but also thinks it’s just as important that she takes her academics seriously. 

“She challenges herself in the classroom and these traits make her an even better athlete,” LeBel said. “Abbey strives to do her best in all aspects of life.”

Her talent and skills on the soccer field are undeniable, but Thornton says she has challenges to overcome.

“For me the hardest aspect of playing the game of soccer is getting in my own head. When I get in my head I tend to overthink and prohibit myself from just playing,” Thornton said. “I make things complicated, doubt myself, and put pressure on myself to do better. I play best when I am 100 percent involved in the game and in the moment. Another aspect that I find very troubling is not disappointing others. Standing on the field, I feel obligated to do good in order to prove that all the money, time, and effort that has been invested in soccer was not just for nothing. I want to make my family, teammates, and everyone in my life proud. I want to validate that I am worth it and have importance on the field which can sometimes feel like a lot.”

Thornton works well for Windham with another sophomore midfielder, Elizabeth Talbot, LeBel said.

“Abbey is extremely versatile and can play in a variety of positions on the field. Abbey and Liz Talbot do an amazing job controlling the midfield, so for now I see them both staying as central mid-fielders.  They both set up teammates during our offensive attack on opponents,” LeBel said. “Abbey was a major contributor even as a freshman.  It’s rare that freshmen make the varsity girls’ soccer program, but Abbey and Liz Talbot both started at center midfielders together as freshmen.  They play so well together and have done a fantastic job controlling the midfield since they stepped onto the field their freshman year.  Abbey also got serious about her fitness this year and came into the season very fit.  This combined with a strong physique doesn’t allow her to get pushed off the ball often.”

Thornton has an amazing soccer IQ and makes things happen seamlessly,” LeBel said.

“Abbey stands out on the soccer field because she has a tremendous shot, but she also knows her role and gets back on defense as well,” she said. “She instinctively makes runs so her teammates can get her the ball offensively. “

Receiving this honor is significant because the 2020 season was one of marked uncertainty for Windham prep athletes.

“Personally, this means a huge amount and I am very grateful to be recognized for the All-State soccer team. In a year as crazy as this one, my main focus was playing my best each and every game because I never knew when it would be my last,” Thornton said. “This recognition gives me a sense of success this year and a sense of accomplishment even though our season was so short. It also means a lot to me because it means people are noticing my hard work and the effort that I put in. Nevertheless, I wouldn't be recognized for this if it wasn't for my amazing teammates, coaches, and family who are always there to push me and allow me to continue to improve my game. I am very grateful for all these people in my life. To be recognized to the All-State soccer team was a feeling like no other and gives me even more drive to be better.” <

Outdoors: Recovering wounded game

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle

Many of us are looking forward to getting back in the woods this fall in pursuit of whitetail deer. We’ve done our scouting, sighted in our rifles or grouped our arrows within a tight circle and gained access to our hunting areas from landowners or on publicly owned lands. Most of us are confident that given the right opportunity, we can do our part and safely and securely harvest an animal. As luck would have it, we are blessed with a shot opportunity our first morning out.

The hold is steady, the deer is standing broadside, it is in range and free of any other deer, and the area behind the deer is clear hillside. The shot surprises us a little bit because we squeezed the trigger or the release oh so gently. We expect the deer to drop in his or her tracks and are doubly surprised when it runs out of sight. We are flabbergasted and immediately begin to question what we did wrong. We want to run up to where the deer was last seen, and we expect to find the deer just out of sight. That may not be the best strategy at this point.

Preparation for this situation actually begins before you leave the house. It includes things like placing surveyor marking tape or tissues in your kit that you can use to mark the spot from which you shot, the exact spot the deer was when you shot, and where the last spot you saw the deer as it was running away. Use these markers to locate the direction the deer went and as a reference if you have to backtrack. You may also wish to record the contact information contained in the Maine hunting regulations regarding people who provide dog tracking services should they be needed.

How long should you wait before proceeding to the deer’s initial location? It depends. If it is not raining or snowing you can take your time. Conventional wisdom for archery shots that kill by exsanguination, or bleeding out, is to wait 30 to 60 minutes. The deer may not even know it has been hit, may not have heard the shot, and may simply move off a short ways, and lie down where it bleeds to death. If you follow up too quickly the surge of adrenalin it gets from hearing you may give it enough energy to move off where you may not find it. Rifle shots can be followed up much more quickly because in addition to muscle and tissue damage they kill with a degree of hydrostatic shock. If you have rain or
snow falling every minute you wait risks the trail being washed out or covered up so go quickly after the shot.

Once you get to the spot where the deer was, take care not to walk in his tracks. Walk to the side and look for signs made by his hooves or his body as he pushed through tall grass particularly if there was a dew or frost that morning. Finally, look for blood. If you find any blood as an ethical hunter you are committed to an exhaustive search. Blood can tell you more about the shot. For example, bright red blood may indicate a large muscle hit or a liver hit; blood with bubbles in it indicates a lung hit. In addition to looking at the ground, look at fallen limbs or logs the deer may have stepped over. Look at brush and leaves up at the height where the wound would likely be. Deer are considered thin-skinned animals and all of the deer I have taken with archery resulted from complete pass throughs, meaning the broadhead passed through both sides of the deer making a blood trail on both sides of his tracks. Blood out of the body very long turns black pretty quickly so if it has been some time since your shot expect to see black splashes or drops, sometimes very small. Drops of blood may attract insects so look for them congregating around any spilled blood. Finally, other indicators may help. Crows, magpies, and Blue jays quickly take an interest in an animal not moving and their calling may alert you to its location. If all else fails, call the dog tracking people sooner than later. A hunting partner I had in Germany shot a Reh deer from a hochsitz or high seat at about 7 a.m. We searched for that deer for two hours before the landowner engaged a tracking dog and the deer was recovered in 15 minutes, no meat spoilage and my partner got his trophy.<

Friday, November 27, 2020

Windham Youth Soccer Association seeks support after signs vandalized

Signs at the Windham Youth Soccer
Association's Gambo Field in Windham
like this one were vandalized earlier this month.
The WYSA is now considering closing field
access during the off-season when there are
no field activities happening during business
By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Youth Soccer Association did not ask sponsors for donations when it began to financially navigate the pandemic several months ago.

With the continued support of their team of volunteers and generous donations from past years, they were fortunate enough to be able to have a season this fall.

On Nov. 9, the signs at WYSA’s Gambo Field in Windham were found vandalized. There are plans to replace the signs before the start of the next season. This added expense, among others, makes it difficult for the organization and they could use your help.

The Windham Youth Soccer Association was founded 38 years ago with a mission to develop, promote and administer soccer programs for Windham residents ages 2 to 14. They are an integral part of the community, teaching the game to many who now may be teaching it to the next generation.

WYSA normally runs programs two to three times a year; a fall and spring program along with occasional clinics in the winter and summer. 

This year they had to cancel the spring sessions because of COVID-19. This put an additional financial burden on the organization; the fields and facilities still need to be maintained. WYSA is also committed to not increasing programming costs.

“Out of respect to local businesses being affected by Covid-19, WYSA elected not to solicit any sponsorship funding this year,” said WYSA board member and coach, Ken Clark. “WYSA is a 100 percent voluntary organization (and) relies on small participation fees to play and money from sponsors
to pay all the expenses that go along with running this organization.”

WYSA is contemplating closing field access to vehicles during the off-season when there are no soccer activities happening during field hours. Vehicle access to the boat launch and trestle would be eliminated due to increase in vandalism and cars speeding through the facility. 

Clark said that the added traffic has done damage to their roads and creates safety concerns when children are present. Gating the facility would prevent situations like this from happening in the future.

There has also been talk of security cameras, though that is a significant investment and could take away from WYSA’s ability to provide programming.

“While we are happy we were in a position to manage through this season, it has impacted our ability to continue to invest in our facility and programming,” said WYSA Treasurer Brian Dries.

Clark said that unexpected expenses like replacement of the sign have a detrimental effect on the budget.

“WYSA is run completely by volunteers and are always looking for those with interest in helping out to reach out to us, said Dries. “Volunteering has connected us better to the community, forged great bonds between people driven with a shared desire to promote great programming for kids in the Windham Community.” 

If you have interest in helping out, please check out their website at or email:

If you are a business who would like to sponsor a team, find the information on the WYSA website about how to contribute.  

If you would like to make a donation, you can mail a check payable to:

Windham Youth Soccer Association to PO Box 389, Windham, Maine 04062. <

Outdoors: Five tips to make sporting outings more effective and fun

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle

For the most part, duck and goose seasons overlap each other. As a hunter, you want to be prepared for either species as you never know which will come to your decoys or which you may stumble across in a jump shooting situation. Shell belts have become very popular for storing your shells while providing ready access to them for follow-up shots or to change loads to match the species available. They also facilitate carrying them around with you as you scour the bogs. However, once the shell is loaded into a belt loop it is near impossible to determine whether it is a duck or goose load. The manufacturers don’t give us much help either as the markings that tell us what size load it is, how many drams of powder it contains and whether it is steel or lead shot are on the sides and tend to rub off after a few outings. In the excitement of an approaching flight in low light conditions, how do you know if the round you are pulling out is what you want? One solution I have used involves painting a stripe across the metal or primer end of my goose shells with White Appliance paint…the small bottles that come with a paint brush in the cap. I know at a glance which ones to pull when the geese approach.

It seems like no matter what kind of footwear I wear on hunting outings, leather boots, knee high rubber boots, or waders my feet would always get cold when on stand and not moving much. Now, when I get ready to leave home, I tape a chemical hand warmer to my socks right under my toes with masking tape. The chemical sacks stay put until I get my foot into a boot and they are small enough not to bunch up and hurt my toes. They make triangular toe chemical warmers that come with a sticky side to do the same thing, but I find they are not large enough to remain warm for the entire outing. You may be tempted to use Duct tape but I caution against that as the heat may cause the stickum to transfer to your sox and when they go through the wash they will become permanently sticky…word to the wise!

Scarves and neck gaiters, particularly the polypropylene kind, are a great contribution to your cold weather gear. They come now in various camo patterns to complement the rest of your ensemble and can be worn up or pushed down as needed. They can even replace a lost hat to keep your ears warm and as gloves in a pinch. With our recent COVID mask wearing experiences we are all used to the face being covered why not be warm as well!

Archers often save a group of arrow shafts for their hunting loads and use the rest of the dozen arrows that come in the box for target practice to minimize the variations in arrow flight. Even within the saved arrows they will number the shafts or light-colored vanes of the straightest arrows so they are assured the highest probability of true flight. They measure them on a straightness jig to the thousandths of an inch. Even the manufacturers
have caught on and marketing materials declare what the variation in straightness they “guarantee” they will have out of the box. Do not trust these claims…measure them for yourself and mark your arrows accordingly. The measuring gauges are relatively inexpensive and the cost of failure to fly true on a costly elk hunt is immeasurable.

Most folks like a hot beverage when they are sitting in a blind or on stand in the cold of a winter morning. Many lug a 24-ounce or greater thermos with them and at the end of the hunt are still lugging half the liquid around with them. Years ago, I switched to a 10-ounce thermos and I find that it holds all the liquid I need at half the weight. It has a push button stopper in it so I can pour without fear of the liquid rushing out and over running the small cup lid. It makes quite a popping sound when released so when on deer stands, I unscrew the whole stopper to avoid the noise that would not be necessary in a duck blind. It makes for fewer nature calls as well. I taped the barrel of mine with camo duct tape and spray painted the ends to avoid glare. <

Windham grad Ciera Berthiaume excels on and off soccer field at USM

Ciera Berthiaume goes up against a Western
Connecticut State opponent at the Little
East Conference game at Hannaford Field
in Gorham on Sept. 21, 2019.
By Matt Pascarella

University of Southern Maine senior, Ciera Berthiaume made a big impression at USM the moment she stepped on the soccer field. Since graduating from Windham High in 2016, she led the Huskies women’s team to their best record in school history. At the end of 2018, Berthiaume made it into the USM history books by scoring the second most goals in a season.

Even though USM did not have a 2020 fall season, last month she was honored as the “Husky Hero of the Week” for her accomplishments in previous seasons.

While at Windham High School, Berthiaume was a four-time Southern Maine Activities Association All-Conference player. She and her team won back-to-back state championships. She was named to the 2017 Maine State Class-A All-Star team and the All-New England Region team. 

Berthiaume wants to recognize the amazing teachers she had at Windham High School. They really helped her shape herself into being the person and student she is today. She really appreciates them putting up with her adolescent self. Teachers are extremely crucial to a student’s development and she thinks they deserve more recognition especially during COVID times.

An English major, Berthiaume took time off from soccer after she arrived at USM. Berthiaume had put a lot of time into the sport and felt burnt out her last year of high school. She wanted to figure out who she was outside of soccer. The time to recover did her well, because as soon as she stepped back on the field, she began to turn heads.

“Coming back onto the soccer scene I was mostly focused on being able to play a sport I love. I came in
excited to be a part of a team again and the new community I was joining,” she said.

While there was no 2020 fall season, Berthiaume and her teammates did get to practice, and it gave them a sense of normalcy in a year filled with uncertainty.

USM women’s soccer coach Seth Benjamin described her as a leader on the team.

Benjamin said she does well relating to other players, underclassmen as well as upperclassmen.  She was instrumental in putting herself in underclassmen’s shoes and that helped a lot of their younger players, especially this year.

It meant a lot to her to be the “Husky Hero of the Week.”

I was incredibly grateful to be recognized ... It really made me feel like I’m a part of the USM community,” she said. The people at USM have always been extremely welcoming and supportive.”

Berthiaume excels off the field as well. She received the William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete Award for two consecutive seasons. To receive this, athletes must have a minimum grade point average of 3.00 for fall and spring semesters, be a full time student and be a member of a varsity team for a full season.

Her biggest goal is to become an author. As a high school student, she loved reading and did it as much as possible. She enjoys writing poems in her free time and finds it therapeutic. She also likes to write coming of age stories. She hopes to write something that connects with and impacts a reader.

“She’s a phenomenal player,” said Benjamin. “We couldn’t ask for anything more from her ... she’s come through in the clutch so many times for us.” <

Friday, November 20, 2020

Cheerleading able to support Windham teams

The entire Windham High cheerleading team is
shown in a photo during the first 7 vs. 7 football
game at Windham on Oct. 24. Cheerleaders
include Briley Smart, Bria Campobasso, Riley
Parker, Elexis Crommet, Kenzie Leask, Chloe
Fitts, Natalie Adams and Celina Sayed. 

By Matt Pascarella

In her first year as head coach of the Windham High School cheerleading team, Bari Campobasso knew there was a high probability of not having a regular season because of COVID-19. It was very important to Campobasso and Windham athletic director, Rich Drummond, that whatever they could provide or create for the team be done. This season was about coaches, staff, athletic department and others making the most of whatever they could for the teams and students athletes.

The cheerleading team originally didn’t think they would be able to attend games, so their practices consisted of conditioning, jumping and motion drills, going over technique and making posters to show support for fall teams.

The squad had their first team meeting in early September and shortly thereafter their first team practice. They practiced twice a week and later bumped it up to three times a week. The team was able to cheer at two 7 on 7 football games and two boys’ varsity soccer games.

Campobasso said when they were able to cheer at a few games it was huge. It goes without saying that this was an unusual season. In accordance with MPA guidelines, they did not do any tumbling or stunting, which is building a pyramid displaying dexterity and skill. All practices were held outside and the athletes were masked and stood six feet apart.

Although there were no spectators, they were able to cheer and show their support for the Windham High School teams. Campobasso said she was grateful the team was able to experience what they could, especially the seniors.

“The season’s definitely been different,” said senior Bria Campobasso. “It’s not what we’re used to, but
I know we’re appreciative to be back and cheering for the boys.” Campobasso went on to say the team’s favorite thing was being back together, being able to socialize and be back with everybody and to have a sense of normalcy.

Coach Campobasso added she is trying to expand the program and get the team more involved in different ways within the school and community. Recently, she did Virtual Storytime Videos for Windham Primary School & Raymond Elementary students. The team made videos of themselves reading a children’s story, in their uniform, and submitted it to the RSU14 webmaster for the Elementary students to access so they could be read to by the Windham High School Cheerleaders. 

“There are a lot of little eyes on this team that watch what they do and how they act. It is important that
they lead by example and encourage others to do the same,” said Campobasso.

It is important that the Windham High School cheerleading team is a positive role model, not just for younger kids, but to their peers as well. Campobasso said her team can accomplish this by promoting kindness & positivity, having good attitudes, leading by example, being supportive, promoting strength & confidence and being approachable.

“I’m extremely proud to have these girls as my team this season,” said coach Campobasso. “The majority of them showed dedication, perseverance, adaptability and all with good attitudes. I know they all wanted to be able to do more this season ... but they never (waiver) from being there.” <

Friday, November 13, 2020

Windham varsity and junior varsity boys’ soccer give all, but Scarborough narrowly gets by

Windham varsity soccer player Ethan
Wert, a senior, takes the ball away
from a defender and heads toward
the goal in Windham's home game
against Scarborough on Nov. 6.
Windham kept Scarborough from
scoring for more than a half.
Scarborough did get one by the
goalkeeper for a 1-0 win.
By Matt Pascarella

The Windham High School varsity and junior varsity boys’ soccer teams kept rival Scarborough scoreless for the first halves of each game, and then some on Friday, Nov. 6 at Windham.

After the varsity team held its own against this tough team, the Red Storm managed to score halfway through the second half and got a 1-0 win. Scarborough scored back-to-back goals late in the second half against the JV team and won 2-0.


Windham’s varsity started strong, pressuring Scarborough. In only his second varsity start, filling in as goalie, junior Colby Connolly had several nice stops and blocks.

Windham held off Scarborough in the first half and showed they have grown as a program. Windham coach Ben Schulz said they still have some work to reach an upper echelon like Scarborough but added “I’m proud of them; we worked hard, but sometimes the ball doesn’t go your way.”

Windham’s intensity didn’t let up in the second half. There was roughly 18 minutes left in the game when Scarborough scored. As the clock wound down, Windham made one final effort to tie. Unfortunately, they came up short and Scarborough got the win.

“This is probably the best we’ve played in seasons,” said Windham captain and junior Wyatt Flibbert. “I’m pretty happy with how we played as a team ... we gave up that goal, but we worked hard and almost got one back there at the end ... definitely worked a lot harder than in the past.”

Junior Varsity

The Windham JV team also had a scoreless first half, pressuring the Red Storm, with strong defense and multiple nice stops by Windham sophomore goalie Sam Plummer.

“I think we could have played a lot better, said Windham junior Will Stewart. “Towards the second half we cleaned it up.”

Stewart said they didn’t have the energy they needed in the first half. In the second half they connected
more passes, made better runs and had more shots on goal, they just could put any in.

In the second half, the Eagles continued to pressure with shots on goal and several blocks from Plummer. With a little more than eight minutes left, Scarborough scored. Then with a little less than seven minutes left Scarborough scored again. Windham put in a strong effort, but never recovered and Scarborough won 2-0.

“I think they found the fight they needed (in the second half)” said Windham coach Mitchell Hodge. “They worked and held them off. We had moments where we were flat, but never stopped working, never stopped staying engaged. It’s not the outcome we wanted. We made the adjustments we needed to, just couldn’t hold them off the whole way.”<

Prep football’s ‘Big Man Challenge’ a competition mixed with comradery

Windham varsity football player Fisher Allen,
a junior, flips a tire as fast as he can up the field
during Windham's Big Man Challenge
on Monday, Nov. 2 at Windham,
By Matt Pascarella

It was cold and windy on Monday, Nov. 2 but the chilly weather didn’t seem to affect Windham’s varsity and junior varsity football teams, it only seemed to energize them. Windham competed against Lewiston, at Windham, in the Big Man Challenge meet, a competition with training exercises to work on skill and to get better on the football field.

The Big Man Challenge was broken into several events: a tire flip, a tire toss, an iron sled pull, an ultimate relay, a tug-o-war and a pro shuttle which is a back and forth 10-yard run. Despite that fact these two teams were competing, I saw encouragement from both teams geared toward their competitor. It seemed to be just as much about team building as who wins or loses.

Freshman Nathanial Allen said, “It was a pretty funny experience, we had a fun time, we don’t really get to do this often. It’s pretty fun to have other teams come in and just have some fun and competition.”

The varsity players beat Lewiston with a combined score of 41-29 for all events.

The junior varsity lost to Lewiston with a combined score of 35-16 for all events.

In the tug-o-war, in which both Windham JV and varsity teamed up, Windham clinched a 10-5 win over
the Blue Devils. In the ultimate relay, Windham defeated Lewiston 10-5.

After combining the scores from all events Windham beat Lewiston 77-74.

“(I’m) hoping these guys get a chance to compete against each other and have fun, that’s the biggest hope,” said coach Matt Perkins. (Windham) did great, they competed and had fun. I thought they did a great job and excited to be out here, encourage each other so it was good to see.”<