Friday, May 29, 2020

Maine Principal’s Association’s establishes guidelines for fall prep season

Add The Maine Principal’s Association has issued guidelines
for allowing prep athletes and coaches to return
to the playing field this fall. Shown is the Windham High
 School girls varsity soccer team before a game last fall.
By Matt Pascarella

As COVID-19 puts so many things in jeopardy, Maine’s Interscholastic Management Committee (IMC) and the Maine Principal’s Association (MPA) Sports Medicine Committee met on May 7 to determine what the next steps might be as summer athletics begin winding up and we begin thinking about the fall season.

Through June 13, what would be the end of the 2020 season, the MPA recommends coaches communicate with athletes in their programs to remain active and continue a healthy lifestyle.
Starting June 14 through July 5, virtual contact between coaches will be allowed. However, coaches cannot provide sport-specific recommendations regarding an athlete’s workout. July 6, both the IMC and the MPA hope to have in-person contact between athletes and coaches occur. This only happens if a set of guidelines are established that follow recommendations set up by Gov. Janet Mills, the Maine Center for Disease Control, and the Maine Department of Education. These guidelines are still in development to define what in-person instruction should look like.

The two week ‘hands-off’ period in which coaches are not allowed to contact players for the first two weeks of August has been eliminated this season.

The Sports Medicine Committee suggested a revision for a one-year period regarding pre-participation physical exams. Currently, the recommendation is that athletes have a physical every
two years.

This would allow athletes that have been previously involved in athletics, as long as they do not have a pre-existing condition, to complete the comprehensive health questionnaire used during the years between physicals. The concern here is there would be a scheduling difficulty with a physician prior to the start of the fall season.

Athletes who have never played a sport are still required to get a physical.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will have some type of a fall season, said Michael Burnham, Executive Director of the Interscholastic Division of the MPA. “We will follow all of the guidelines from our medical experts. The season may look a bit different than in the past, but if we are able to return to school in the fall we are hoping to be able to offer some co-curricular programming.”

“Things will be different as we enter a new normal for athletics,” said Rich Drummond, athletic director for RSU14. “As of right now, RSU14 is offering fall signups. “We need to assume things will be up and running; we’re not sitting on our hands.“It’s important to be patient … but also not to make rash decisions, because in three to four days that decision could be wrong,” Drummond said.

He assures parents and those with concerns to “be patient, the guidelines will come, and we’ll go from there.”

Some Windham coaches agreed.

“I do think it’s important for student’s wellbeing to have some sort of fall athletics if we can do it safely,” said varsity soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I am hopeful that at some point this summer we’ll be able to work with small groups of players (no more than 10 at a time) with multiple sessions.” 

Lebel said it will be much different than players and coaches have become accustomed to in the past.
“I think the recommendations from the MPA will definitely make it harder (than we are used to) to coach, but … safety has to come first,” Lebel said. “This summer I see as more of a conditioning and fitness where you can maintain six feet between training players.”  

There are many unknowns and as we get closer to the season. Hopefully we (as a state and a community) will have more information. Please stay tuned. <

Friday, May 22, 2020

Athlete of the Week: Chris Naylor Works Hard for Himself and His Teammates

Chris Naylor
(Photo by Stephanie Coffin)
By Matt Pascarella
Like many of the athletes I speak with, they are disappointed about the cancellation of the spring sports season. However, they are all making the best of it. Senior Chris Naylor is no exception. He’s going to miss playing with his teammates but is looking forward to his plans for next year. Naylor signed a letter of intent with Husson College to study Sports Management and play baseball.
Until he was 11, Naylor lived in Massachusetts. He played several sports, such as soccer, hockey and baseball. When he and his family moved to Maine, he continued playing baseball and began playing basketball. He also played football, basketball and baseball during middle school. Once in high school, he focused on basketball and baseball. He’s played for both school teams and travel teams, playing baseball on Maine Lightning and basketball on YES and Next Level.
Naylor and his family have always been passionate about sports and watching a game or attending a sporting event is a family activity.
Naylor says being on a team is an opportunity to make friends and teaches you to work well with others. He also states in order to be successful you need to be able to communicate and trust each other.
“I have learned to push myself to be the best that I could be because I did not want to let my teammates down,” he says. “Knowing you and your teammates have the same goal and are willing to work hard every day makes for a successful and fun season.”
He said the friendships he’s built, and memories made with his teammates will last a lifetime. One of the things his basketball coach, Chad Pulkkinen, always says was, “you are not going to remember the final score of the game, but you will remember the bus rides home.” a student athlete, he’s learned the importance of time management and remaining focused. Being an athlete makes Naylor strive to never settle; he always wants to improve.
This year Naylor received the Southern Maine Activities Association (SMAA) All Academic award for baseball and basketball. For basketball, he was the team Most Valuable Player (MVP), SMAA Senior All Star Team, SMAA All Conference Honorable Mention, and Maine Principal’s Association (MPA) AA North Honorable mention. He’s also captain of both his basketball and baseball teams and was voted Student of the Month by the Windham Lion’s Club.
He encourages all underclassmen to keep working and do whatever they can to become a better player in whatever sport they play. They may have to get creative when it comes to their workouts, but it will all be worth it come next season.
During this time, Naylor has been trying to focus on getting stronger, while staying positive. He and his stepdad hung a tarp from the bottom of their garage door so he could use it as a backstop to throw and hit baseballs into. He is hoping to have the opportunity to play a little summer ball soon. He is running daily and has been following workouts that consist of lifting weights, using bands, and agility provided by his baseball coach, Cody Dube, and basketball coach, Chad Pulkkinen.
Naylor works part time at Hannaford Supermarket. We would like to thank him for helping the community during this time. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time on the lake with family and friends and playing video games with friends. <

Friday, May 15, 2020

Athlete of the Week: Coronavirus Ended Her Season, Not Her Spirit

Windham High Senior Hannah Langstaff
Photo by Bill Knight Photography
By Matt Pascarella

Senior Hannah Langstaff has been running since she was very young. Her parents signed her up for a summer track program when she was 5 or 6, and by middle school she loved the sport and began running cross country. Langstaff says she finds joy in running and its something she looks forward to every day.

Like many athletes, the loss of the 2020 Spring season was discouraging; Langstaff had many goals she wanted to accomplish. However, she came to terms with it by taking a step back and looking at all she had accomplished.

I had accomplished so many other goals since my freshman year,” she said.

And she’s training as if the season is still happening; she’s doing workouts and running with her dad.

When Langstaff was a freshman she describes herself as being super shy and never really leaving her comfort zone. Running and athletics changed that. She slowly gained the confidence to push herself to that next level in her races.

“I became a lot more confident in myself not just on the track but in the classroom and at home,” she said.

When it comes to competing, she loves the rush of adrenaline and that fact that anything can happen during a race. “You find yourself doing better than you would have ever thought. Racing is...very mentally challenging, which I find rewarding.” favorite part about being on a team are the friendships she has made.

“My senior year of cross country, the girls on the team had created this idea of family and it was so amazing to be around,” she said. “It didn't matter what grade you were in or where you placed on the team, we all became so close.”

By having teammates around who constantly push her to become a better runner and athlete, Langstaff said an atmosphere of achievement was created.

“I would not have become the runner I did without them there supporting me,” she said.

She has learned lessons through her teammates and coaches that have made her a better person. She always tries to be positive, push herself, and never take the easy way out., along with other seniors, and Coach Jeff Riddle have brainstormed ways to keep the Outdoor Track team connected during this time. The seniors are ‘Eagle Nest’ leaders and have the responsibility of making sure everyone in the group is doing ok. The seniors are there if teammates need someone to talk to.

There is also a ‘Nest Group Competition’ where the team is broken into two groups and Riddle sends out a challenge, not necessarily physical, just something to keep the team engaged.

Her advice to athletes who may feel a bit defeated during this season is to get started and stay motivated. She says having a routine is helpful.

She suggests start with a run, but if that’s not your speed going to YouTube and finding a body workout to do. She advises taking an hour a day to do some kind of exercise.

“Now is a great time to get in shape or put in extra work towards your sport,” she said.

Langstaff likes to hang out with friends go on hikes/walks and she also loves to go to the beach and read.

Next year, she will attend the University of New Hampshire and major in Nursing. She also plans on running track and field and possibly cross country.  <

Friday, May 8, 2020

JSMS student Ethan Fletcher shares lessons learned from sports

Ethan Fletcher
By Matt Pascarella

Jordan-Small Middle School (JSMS) seventh-grader Ethan Fletcher became more and more interested in sports through his involvement with the Raymond Recreation Department. Beginning at the age of five, he started playing soccer, basketball and baseball through the department. He later began downhill skiing and continues to do so recreationally. This was Fletcher’s first year on the Jordan -Small Middle School soccer and basketball teams. His coach, Jim Beers described him as ‘one of the best all-around young men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.’ 

Fletcher has learned a lot while being on a team and has made many good friends in the process. One of the most important lessons learned was how to be selfless and how much teamwork matters. “It's important to see what my teammate’s strengths are and use them the best we can to play each game,” said Fletcher. He added it is key to learn to listen to the coach in order to play as a team.

He likes working with his teammates and improving his skills, with help from the coaches, as the seasons progress.

https://www.schoolspring.comFletcher uses the lessons about teamwork and respect in his everyday life. “I know we need to work together to make progress.  It doesn't fall on one person.  I respect my coaches and I adjust my play. The way you go about your life isn't different.  Work together, don't center anything around just yourself and be willing to adjust.”

How is Fletcher training during the pandemic? He said he misses his friends quite a bit, but he needs to really push himself to get outside and play without them – and he does. Fletcher has been playing and practicing dribbling and shooting for primarily basketball, but also a little soccer, too. He uses YouTube to help him work on his practice drills. He also practices personal fitness by doing planks, pushups and sit ups. to Fletcher, athletes can make the most of this time by just getting outside and doing whatever they can with whatever they have available to them. “Practice the fundamentals of the sport(s) you play,” states Fletcher. “If your opportunities are limited, there are still always ways to exercise and stay active, like hiking or riding bikes.”

He plans to try out for both soccer and basketball once he gets to high school, and if possible, continue with those sports through college.

When he’s not playing a sport, he likes to read, watch movies, play guitar, talk with his family and play video games with his friends.

Looking back on the successful 2019 softball and lacrosse season

Riley Beem
By Matt Pascarella

The 2020 spring season is unlike any we’ve seen before, but one thing the Coronavirus can’t cancel are the memories from last season. Here are just a few:

The nine and ten-year old softball team played South Portland in a tournament game. Cami Casserly, #8, tied the score at two. As tensions rose, the team headed into extra innings. Eliana Kostopolous, #5, was placed at second. Casserly got a base hit and Kostopolous advanced to third. Sarah Smyth, #16, got a single on a bunt. Bases loaded. Addison Caiazzo, #15, got a base hit and Kostopolous scored. 3-2, Windham. Casserly advanced to third and stole home. Smyth stole third. Caiazzo stole second. Smyth stole home. 5-2, Windham. Windham took this game 5-4! 11 and 12-year-old Lady Eagles could not be stopped, after they won the Division Six game, they pummeled Hermon 15-0 to become state champions. In the first inning, Stella Jarvais, #9, got a base hit and stole her way to third. Chloe Edwards, #14, scored. Jaydn Kimball, #28, doubled and Kennedy Kimball, #34, scored. After Hannah Lee, #10, bunted, the bases were loaded after Oakley McLeod, #2, walked. Caitlyn Marsh, #42, singled to left field. J Kimball and McLeod scored. Bri Duarte, #3, bunted and took first. Edwards doubled to left field and brought in Lee and Marsh. Jarvais doubled to center and Edwards scored. K Kimball singled and brought in Jarvais.

http://www.rsu14.orgVarsity Softball had a strong start in their preseason as they beat Lake Region 11-1 in six innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Ellie Wilson, #2. advanced to third and made it home off a hit from Ellen File, #8. Ellie Miller, #3, walked and a base hit from Kayla Gorman, #15, drove Miller in. Three more walks and Gorman scores. Two more walks and Whitney Wilson, #7, and Chloe Wilcox, #22, scored. They later beat the Blue Blazes (in the rain) by an astounding 18-0. boys’ lacrosse team played Sanford and won 24-0. In the first quarter, they scored 13 goals. Windham was aggressive and pressured Sanford the entire first half. They had great communication, solid offense and defense. Windham moved the ball nicely too, giving multiple players the opportunity to put one between the posts. The Eagles scored one after another after another after another. Top scorers: Tyler Woolston #7, Matty Babb #13, Connor Cummings #17 and Seth Wall #12.
In a game I’ll never forget, girls lacrosse played South Portland at Saint Joseph’s College in a downpour. They beat South Portland, 16-7. Despite the downpour, Windham’s intensity never wavered. Belle Skvorak and Riley Beem  scored early on in the second half. Windham truly was unstoppable; letting only three goals in as they scored goal after goal after goal after goal against South Portland. At the buzzer, Windham had their eleventh consecutive win.

The girls lacrosse team, beat Portland in the semifinals 10-5 and faced off against Falmouth to become the Northern Class A runner-ups.

This is only a fraction of the games played and the games covered. I’ll do some more digging and find some more games to post in the future.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Athlete of the week: Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown
By Matt Pascarella

Senior Cameron Brown got interested in sports, and basketball in particular, because of his dad. His dad had always been a basketball coach. Brown says he was ‘born with a basketball in his hand and never put it down.’ He has played basketball all through his childhood and has played soccer and basketball during his high school career.

Growing up, Brown wanted to learn everything he could about basketball. “I would always go to my dad’s games and watch for hours; watching the NBA I looked up to guys like Lebron and Kobe because of how hard they worked and how competitive they were.” 

Over the years, Brown has learned much more than just what’s on the court. He’s learned lessons he’ll use long after he stops playing. Lessons like, the value of hard work and communication. And a team is only as a good as its coach. Brown says he’s been lucky to have been coached by some of the best players to play in Maine, along with professional players and mentors of the game who are very knowledgeable about their sport.

Like most scholastic athletes, Brown is training during this unusual season. He’s doing cardio and various weight exercises and tries to work out every day. He has weight sets and boxing equipment in his garage. He acknowledges that he is very fortunate to have this equipment available to him. athletes who may be struggling or discouraged during this time, Brown says to “keep a mindset that won't ever let you stop working on your craft, whatever it may be. Make sure you are working as hard as you possibly can so that you pick up right where you left off.” He adds that it is important to show your coach you should play at the highest level. “Don't leave any doubt because once it's over, it's over.” 

Next year Brown will be attending the University of Southern Maine to play basketball and major in media studies/journalism. When he’s not on the court or the field, he likes to listen to music, watch old NBA games and spend time with loved ones.