Friday, March 27, 2020

Are high school athletes role models?

Riley Beem
By Matt Pascarella

I was reading an article on about the top 30 arguments and debates in sports and #1 was ‘should athletes be role models?’ I would phrase this differently to ‘are athletes role models? ’The article was talking about professional sports, and the writer’s answer was yes. But what about on a smaller scale? Are high school athletes role models?

My answer is yes. I think most high school athletes are examples to be admired, especially for the
younger kids and athletes. I see many elementary and middle school kids come to varsity games to watch the ‘bigger’ kids play. I think this means they already look up to and aspire to be these varsity players someday.

Being an athlete means you have to keep your grades up and that alone sets a good example for younger generations. Sports are fun, but academics should come first.

In Windham, many of the varsity teams help out the community and the younger athletes, by donating their time.

During the winter season, the boys and girls’ varsity basketball teams help out the elementary school
kids by assisting them in basketball drills on weekends.

Seniors Ivan Kaffel and Hannah Talon both won the Little Eyes Award last season, for demonstrating a commitment to youth in the community.

The football and lacrosse teams have a Leadership Council where the purpose is to set up what the expectations for the season as well as expectations in the community. The athletes set the tone as to what they want to see as teammates. Everyone has a say and coach Matt Perkins said the council has been a great way to get rid of negative actions and promote positive behaviors.

Emma Yale volunteered with an organization called ‘Farm to Table’ with Riley Beem and Lily Savard in November; Emma coached Little Lax (lacrosse) last spring, she helped set up at the craft fair; she volunteered at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Polar Express through Key Club. Yale participates in PowerServe, every year; which brings students, family members, and residents together to serve those in need in our community.

Last Spring, Ben Elliot was a volunteer assistant coach on a boys’ lax team which was pretty remarkable because he did it while his season was going on.

Former Windham athletes and alumni have come back to the town they grew up in and/or the school they graduated from to coach various sports in the community. There are many, but just to name a few: Chad Pulkkinen, class of 2002, was a star athlete and returned as the varsity boys’ basketball coach. Samantha Frost, class of 2014, and Stephanie Frost, class of 2012, played Windham Youth
Basketball when they were younger, as well as high school basketball and are now coaches with Windham Youth Basketball.

So, are high school athletes role models? Well, if you’re talking about Windham athletes, the answer is a resounding yes. And they’re going to continue giving back year after year.

Friday, March 20, 2020

We could use Tom Caron’s advice right now

Tom Caron speaking in 2018 at WHS
By Matt Pascarella

I racked and racked my brain for a sports topic this week. The high school spring sports season has been pushed back to April 27th and there is still another week left of school closures. It has been a stressful couple of weeks with social distancing, bare supermarket shelves and general uncertainty emerging faster than before. So much is postponed or cancelled. It’s very strange to see mass cancellations without 12 feet of snow on the ground.’ve had many amazing experiences since I started with The Windham Eagle as a Sports Reporter. There are so many things I never considered being a part of but has been part of my experience as a result – and I’ve loved it all. One of those experiences was when I got to meet and sit down with NESN sportscaster, Lewiston native and Lewiston High graduate, Tom Caron when he spoke at a ‘Meet the Coaches’ night in 2018. A Massachusetts’ resident, Caron has deep seeded Maine roots as he’s worked for WBLM, WGME, WPXT and, when they were here, called play-by-play for the Portland Pirates hockey team and writes a column for the Press Herald.

When he addressed the students and coaches, he stressed kindness and helping others, in order to make the team(s) the best they could be. These two characteristics are important to remember in times of high stress.
He emphasized that being prepared is important, though he wasn’t referring to toilet paper. When I sat down to interview him, he couldn’t have been nicer; he was very patient and friendly. I remember him telling me teamwork (in the TV studio) was something he fell in love with right away. He also stated to give people the benefit of the doubt – you don’t know what kind of day someone might be
having. Right now, a lot of us are having strange days.

Just last week, Caron tweeted:
As the world continues to get weirder, remember to:
-Be kind
-Give physical, emotional and financial help to those who need it
-Don’t spread rumors
-Stay home when you can
-Call your parents. They’re probably freaked out, too
-Keep your fingers crossed. But wash your hands first

Let’s take Caron’s advice and do whatever we can to help make things better/easier for yourself and
others. We’re all in this together and, if we pull together, we will make it through.
Stay safe everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Fifth-grade Travel Basketball wins championship game

By Matt Pascarella

The fifth-grade travel basketball team got a championship win with six wins, no losses during the Westbrook Paper City Classic Thursday, March 5th through Sunday, March 8th.

During the tournament, Windham got wins over Scarborough, Gray New Gloucester, Five Towns-Camden, St. Brigids, Sheepscot Valley, and beat Yarmouth by three in the finals. Everyone on the team played hard defense and outperformed the competition. Colin Jarvrin was named tournament MVP (Most Valuable Player).

Nice job guys!

Standing: Coach Josh Kranis, Preston Brown, Coach Ryan Brown, Luke Drottar, Colin Janvrin, Kevin Tshibungo, Cam Drapeau
kneeling: Carson Brown, Landon Wyman, Boston Kranis, Jackson Drapeau
missing Cole Robie and Mitchell Greer

Excellent end of season effort by Unified Basketball

Kayla Fillinger
By Matt Pascarella

The Unified Basketball team played their final home game of the season against Gorham on Monday, March 9th. It was also Senior Night; seniors Whitney Wilson, #4, Brianna Webber, #5, Natalle Medina, #14, Riley Silvia, #25, Ben Silva, #41, Cameron Malone, #44, and Nate Hall, #50, were each presented with a small gift to thank them and their parents for their years of dedication to Windham sports.

Windham came out with intensity right from the start. AJ Mains, #34, went in to make a basket right away and a short time later scored two to put Windham on the board. Malone had strong defense as he grabbed several rebounds and scored twice. Medina also put the ball up to add more points to Windham’s score. The Eagles had great defense, as they blocked shots and stole the ball any opportunity they got. Hall sunk a mean three pointer. Austin Rice, #3, snagged several turnovers and scored two baskets during the first half. Kayla Fillinger, #23, scored four points during the half.
Half: 25-23, Windham

Silva scored back-to-back baskets early in the second half. The game was tied at 29. Then 33. Then 35. Mains scored a couple baskets during the half, Webber put eight points on the board during the half. Dani Iaconeta, #2, scored two baskets. Hall sunk another three-pointer. The Eagles continued to get rebounds and add to the scoreboard. Windham had pulled away, but Gorham was not far behind. With less than a minute left, Gorham was up by one and after a great effort by everyone, Gorham snuck by.

High scorers: Hall, Silva, Mains, Webber

Final: 57-54, Gorham

“This was a great end of season game,” observed coach Anne Blake. “Everyone made gains this season; they made gains in their defense, they made gains in their offense and just learning to work together as a team and work together and pass the ball.”

Congrats to the team on a fantastic season!

Local woman conquers competitions

By Matt Pascarella
Caroline Connors. Photo by  Ted Bonenfant (@misfitmediaman)

For Windham resident Caroline Conners, staying active through working out has always been important for her. She describes it as more of a passion than a hobby. When she discovered CrossFit, a high intensity fitness regime, with a variety of strength training exercises, she was hooked. That eventually led to her coaching classes at CrossFit MisFits in Windham and Portland; helping others to better themselves, meet new people, gain confidence and become healthier. In the Open CrossFit competition held last year, Conners ranked first in Maine, for the third consecutive year, 32nd in the U.S. and 69th worldwide.

jasonweatherby@hotmail.comBefore becoming associated with CrossFit, Conners would work out on her own and got to the point where she wanted to work out with others. A friend introduced her to CrossFit, she jumped in, tried a class and knew it was just what she was looking for. She’s been part of CrossFit MisFits since 2014.

A friend of hers by the name of Drew Crandall, along with a couple of other owners started Crossfit MisFits in Crandall’s garage. This is where Conners was first introduced to it. Popularity grew and grew so much that Crandall was able to open a location on Warren Ave in Portland. Then, they opened their sister location in Windham.

In November 2019, Conners competed in the Open CrossFit competition, in order to qualify for the CrossFit Games; a goal of any competitive crossfitter. In order to qualify for the Open competition, you need to place in the top 20 worldwide. The competition is online and open to any registered CrossFit athlete. Once they’ve signed up, each week one workout is announced, and everyone does the exact same workout. They input their scores and that gets them on the leaderboard. If you do not make it in the top 20, you can qualify in other ways, which is to go to sanctioned events. Conners attended one in January and will attend the Atlas Games on Friday, March 13th in Montreal. The winner of this event goes on to the CrossFit Games.

“It’s pretty cool. When I first started CrossFit I didn’t have any desire to compete. I didn’t know what it was all about, I was just doing it because I liked working out,” recalls Conners. “Once I realized there was potential to get good enough, that’s when I really started to get more serious about competing and put in more time and effort.”

In her first couple years, her goal was to be first in Maine. “And now it’s just trying to stay on top of that. Honestly, worldwide is what I’m thinking about. Being on the top has boosted my confidence a little bit; it’s really see your hard work pay off, because it is a lot of work and it’s a lot of time and commitment.”

Friday, March 6, 2020

SMAA All-Conference selections from WIndham High School

Congratulations to SMAA (Southern Maine Activities Association) All-conference selections from Windham High School. The banquet was held at Keeley’s Banquet Center in Portland on Tuesday, March 3rd.

Hannah Talon: 1st Team
Sarah Talon: 2nd Team
Carly Morey: All Rookie Team

Chris Naylor: Honorable Mention
Will Mannette: All Rookie Team
Hannah Talon and Chris Naylor will also represent Windham in the SMAA Senior All-Star Game.

A sports photo proves “Eagle Pride” is alive and well

By Matt Pascarella

I took this photo roughly a year ago at boys and girls lacrosse games at Saint Joseph’s College. Whenever I see this photo, I’m reminded of that day. As you may have guessed, it was raining. But not like a drizzle or even a steady light rain, it was a torrential rain; a rain that left a few inches on the ground. The games were played at Saint Joseph’s College because their field doesn’t have actual grass. This did not keep the water from accumulating, though.

While of course I have photos from the actual games, I took and kept this photo because I think it’s a perfect illustration of some of the story behind the game. It was cold. It was very wet. And no matter where you stood, or even if you moved only a little, your clothes got soaked. In between the girls and boys games, I ran out to my car and quickly put on a dry sweatshirt, although it was 60% soaked before I got to the field. What’s the significance of this photo? Two words: Eagle Pride.’s fan base is dedicated no matter the conditions. Supporting your team in any condition is awesome. There’s something about showing up to cheer on your family, friends or student athletes in an intense rainstorm that made an impression on me.  

Looking back, I know this wasn’t the first-time fans and family had shown support in bad weather, but it was one of the first times I had seen it in such extreme conditions.

Windham fans show up no matter the weather or how far away a game is. It may seem somewhat inane for the guy who covers Windham sports to say Windham has the best fans, but I’m going to anyway. We have great athletes, coaches and fans; when it comes to athletics, Eagle Pride couldn’t be more apparent. And this photo is a great indicator of that.

As we gear up to head into the spring sports season, I just want those dedicated Windham fans to know, while my main focus is on the players, I’ve noticed you, too. Keep up the good work.