Friday, August 28, 2020

Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team honored for academic excellence

Windham High graduate Nick Curtis
averaged 26 points per game for
the Saint Joseph College Monks
men's basketball team during
the 2019-2020 season.
 KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has announced the eighth annual Team Academic Excellence Awards, created by the NABC Committee on Academics, and Saint Joseph's College is one of 313 teams from around the nation to earn the honor.

These awards recognize outstanding academic achievement by a college men’s basketball team with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better for the 2019-20 season.
To earn an NABC Team Academic Excellence Award, institutions in the NCAA (all three divisions), NAIA and NJCAA must count the grade point averages of all men's student-athletes who competed during the 2019-20 season. The honor marks the third-consecutive year in which Saint Joseph's has claimed the national academic accolade.
Saint Joseph's is one of two teams from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) to earn the academic accolade as Suffolk University joins the Monks on the distinguished list.

Also, St. Joe's is one of just four Maine institutions – along with Bates College, Maine Maritime Academy, and UMaine-Farmington - to claim academic honors this summer.
Under the watch of 17th-year Head Coach Rob Sanicola (Saint Joseph’s Class of 1999) this past winter, the Monks went 12-14 with a 6-5 GNAC record while en route to claiming the #5 seed in the conference tournament.
The Monks suffered a season-ending GNAC Quarterfinal loss at #4 Anna Maria College on Feb. 25. <

Show of unity reinforces need for athletes to compete

From left, Windham High School athletes
Julia McKenna, her mother Dana McKenna
and Daniella Yale and her daughter Emma
Yale are shown at the 'Let them play' rally
in Augusta on Monday. PHOTO BY
By Matt Pascarella
If you’ve been on Facebook in the last few months, you’ve probably seen photos of student-athletes with the hashtag ‘let them play’ in response to the possibility of the Maine Principal’s Association canceling the fall sports season because of COVID-19.
On Monday, a rally was held along the sidewalks of the Blaine House in Augusta where parents, athletes and supporters held up signs and wore their school colors and masks, while marching to stress the importance of a fall sports season.
The goal was to have the voices of prep athletes heard and their school colors be seen.
As athletes held up their signs, their message was clear “Let us play.” Usually competitors, these student-athletes and their families stood together in unity to show the MPA they needed a fall sports season.
Many passing vehicles honked in encouragement. resident and rally organizer, Amy Michaud Bourget said that she was hoping to appeal to the MPA, the Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Education on behalf of prep sports. She wants them to know there is an overwhelming need for sports for all student athletes.
She said that mental health is also a big factor as sports are an outlet for some who might not have a lot at home.
“I think it’s so important that these kids get to play fall sports,” said Bourget. “My son is a three-sport athlete and has already missed baseball in the spring. This has been super hard on him. He works hard to keep his grades up for sports and hopes to be able to play college ball. As a junior this year, it’s the most important year for scouting.”
Bourget wants athletes to show they are willing to do what it takes to play this season.
“I want to play this season because I miss the game so much,” said Windham senior Julia McKenna. “I miss the excitement of game day, winning and the team bonding.” said that she has watched seniors before her honored at Senior Night and McKenna can’t imagine not getting to experience that moment.
McKenna said that she wears a mask and practices safe social distancing. She thinks they can have a safe season as long as they follow reasonable guidelines.
I think it’s important to play fall sports this season because of the value it holds for my daughter and other athletes,” said Julia’s mother, Dana McKenna. “They are in their time of life when things like sports hold a lot of weight with how they will do in other aspects of their life.”
Dana McKenna said sports teach life lessons like learning to deal with success and failure.
As a mother, Dana McKenna, said it was important to attend the rally because of how much the season means to her daughter. She said that she has respectfully tweeted and emailed the officials who are charged with making the decision to play or not.
She said that she wanted to stand behind her words and be a presence at the rally in hopes that her voice will be heard.
Dana McKenna does have concerns regarding COVID, but she also has concerns when her daughter gets injured or has a bad flu.
“I do find that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to my daughter playing.  Her mental health is just as important as her physical health.”
The MPA is expected to announce its decision regarding fall prep sports in early September. <

Friday, August 21, 2020

Still kicking: Raymond Youth Soccer registration opens

Raymond Youth Soccer is tentatively scheduled to
start on Sept. 12 and will run for seven weeks.
A link to register online is now available by visiting
their website. FILE PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce
The season for Raymond Youth Soccer is nearing once again and registration is now open for players.
According to Mark Anderson, Raymond Youth Soccer director, grade groupings for players will be reorganized this year and COVID-19 precautions will be used for safety.
“We are reorganizing the grade groupings,” Anderson said. “The new grade groupings will help to align soccer with other sport grade groupings, match our groups with surrounding towns, help even out size and maturity among players, and keep elementary school and middle school kids together.”
He said that Raymond Youth Soccer will follow national recommendations for soccer play, including extra hand washing stations provided.
“When registering please select "pay by check," Anderson said. “Once we are able to confirm that the season will proceed as planned then you will be able to log back in and pay by credit card or send a check.”
Age divisions include Pre-K and Kindergarten (coed); Grades 1 and 2 (coed); Grades 3 and 4 (boys and girls teams); and Grades 5 and 6 (boys and girls teams). cost to play is $30 to $40 plus a shirt if needed. Players may reuse shirts from previous season.
“The season is scheduled to start Sept. 12 and runs for seven weeks,” Anderson said. “Pre-K through Grade 2 teams practice and play on Saturday mornings. Teams from Grade 3 to 6 play on Saturday mornings with one or two practices during the week.”
Anderson said teams in Pre-K through Grade 2 will play at the Agawam fields off Route 85. Grades 3 to 6 teams will alternate between playing at Agawam and the Lake's Region school fields on Kansas Road.
“Anyone can sign-up and scholarships are available for families in need,” he said. “There is no cost difference for out-of-town families.”
He said that that Raymond Youth Soccer has many coaching and volunteering opportunities available in coaching, field painting, concession stand, uniforms, and administration.
“All our programs are run by volunteers, many have been with us for years and are stepping down because their kids aged out,” Anderson said. “We need the next generation of parents to step up and fill these roles so that we can keep programs running.”
If you have questions about the soccer registration, please send an email to <

Windham’s Summer Rec Track and Field readies emerging athletes for future competition

Paris Knight walks on air while competing
in the long jump during a Windham
Parks and Recreation Summer Rec
Track Meet.
By Matt Pascarella
Windham Parks and Recreation Summer track program looked a little different this year. But their goal was the same: to teach kids the basics and get them interested and excited about track and field. Athletes were given the opportunity to develop their skills in running as well as some field events (javelin, shot put, long jump and discus).
Summer track is associated with the USA Track and Field (USATF) organization. Although athletes, ages 5 to 14 could not compete against other towns, USATF held a virtual track meet during the summer. USATF’s virtual track meet was a competition against athletes on the Windham team.
Coaches got times and distances from events and those scores were sent to USATF to rank and score them against other towns.
Here are some highlights from Windham’s virtual meet:
Andrew Young took first place in the 13/14 year old 400-meter race, the 800, and the 1500. Jalen Stephens won the 9/10 boy's shot put. Karl Longstreth won the 11/12 boy's shot put. Marek Slomczynski won the 11/12 boy's discus and the 11/12 boy's javelin.
Naia Varney won the eight and under girl's long jump. Hanna Miele won the 9/10 girl's long jump. Noah Saucier won the 11/12 boy's long jump. Caitlyn Marsh won the 13/14 girl's javelin and the 13/14 girl’s 400. Mason Bragdon won the 11/12 boy's 3000. Kayo Longstreth won the eight and under boy's javelin throw.
Marin Miele won the 8 and under girls race/walk. Paris Knight won the 11/12 boy's race/walk.
Zach Noonan won the 13/14 boy's 100. Taylor Lucas won the 9/10 girl's 1500 and the 800. Dylan Crockett won the boy's 11/12 200 and Renner Gerrity won the 9/10 boy's long jump.
Windham High graduate and Parks and Recreation coach Hannah Langstaff coached the program this year and last year and has participated in Windham’s Summer Parks and Recreation track since she was 5.“I still remember the coaches that were there and how much of an impact they had on me, so I just hope that I can do that for these kids. I also hope that the summer track program gets kids to continue track into middle school and high school to grow those programs as well.”
She said that her favorite part about being a coach is definitely seeing the kids get excited to run or do field events.
“It’s really awesome to see them so invested in the sport.”
Windham Parks and Recreation made sure participants were being as safe as possible in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
“It took a lot of careful planning for each part of practice to make sure social distancing and other
guidelines were being followed,” said coach Phil Jackson.
When athletes arrived, their temperature was taken, and they used hand sanitizer.
Each coach worked with a small group of athletes so being socially distant was easier. Throwing implements were sanitized after each practice and not shared between athletes.
“We had to wear masks, sanitize, and stay social distanced, although after the first practice I think we had a pretty good system down. Coach Jackson used cones to separate the kids whenever they were not running, so at field events or during stretches,” said Langstaff.
They had close to 80 athletes participate this summer.
“Even during the pandemic, our numbers were still higher than last year. I think given that so many sporting events were cancelled this spring and summer, there was an increased interest for children to be involved in something that allowed for socializing and physical activity,” said Jackson. <

Friday, August 14, 2020

‘Strike Force’ student bowling team dazzles on lanes

The 'Strike Force' bowling team gathers at Bayside Bowl
in Portland in January. From left are Jason McCarthy, Camden
Gendron, Zach Bernier and Lucas Littlefield.
 By Matt Pascarella
In the summer of 2012, Windham student Lucas Littlefield was bowling with his family at Bayside Bowl in Portland.
There was a flier running a promotion that promised a bowling ball if you joined their eight-week bowling program for kids. Littlefield joined and became hooked and this was just the beginning. Years later, Littlefield and three of his friends Camden Gendron, Zach Bernier and Jason McCarthy started their bowling league “Strike Force” and would go on to compete in tournaments all over the state.
They have already begun practicing and preparing for tournaments taking place in 2021.
When he was 6 or 7, Littlefield was looking for a new activity after his karate teacher retired. A flier he saw promising a free bowling ball got him to join the Peewee bowling division for kids ages 3 to 8.
Eventually, he did get his bowling ball and although it was of lesser quality it was a driving factor in the forming of the “Strike Force” team years later.
Littlefield was already into the sport in elementary school when he met Zach Bernier, who joined the team in 2015. Bernier’s been interested in bowling for as long as he can remember.
The two then got Camden Gendron involved and a year later, he joined the team. Gendron’s grandmother introduced him to bowling and it took off from there.
Littlefield enjoyed bowling more and more and became immersed in the competition, his favorite part. Bernier said bowling always been something he’s looked forward to.
In 2019, their friend from Westbrook, Jason McCarthy joined and although they had never thought about being a team, they realized they could join tournaments because they had four people. “Strike Force” was officially formed.“While on a team, you are competing against not only yourself, but your teammates and other opponents,” said Littlefield. “This allows you to have more motivation to do your best and try to better yourself for the next time you play together.”
Gendron said he wanted to join the league because it was something fun to do with friends on
My favorite part is just being able to spend time with my friends outside of school,” said Bernier.
The tournaments they’ve played in are very welcoming to all skill levels and feature bowlers from all age groups. Pre-COVID, they competed in travel tournaments once a month.
“The tournaments bring in kids from different bowling leagues all across southern Maine. The winner gets some scholarship money, a medal, and bragging rights,” said Bernier.
As they begin to start practicing, the pandemic will have an effect on play. They will have to wear face coverings and social distance. They will also have to monitor their health while playing.
They are planning to compete in the US Youth Open and Junior Gold tournaments in 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, all this hinge on what the virus does.
They are ready start bowling again.
“I am excited to get back to bowling‘s) a fun sport,” said Littlefield.
Gendron said they are excited to get back out there.
“I'm itching to get back out there,” said Bernier.
The boys are raising money to get to the tournaments in Indiana. They have an account at Patman's Redemption for those who would like to donate their returnable money. This fundraiser goes until July 1, 2021.  <

GNG defeats Jet Ski Guy in final game of Windham Little League season

Jet Ski Guy pitcher Justin Tom winds up to throw
a pitch during a Windham Little League Minors
division game on Aug. 7.
By Matt Pascarella
The final game of the season for Windham Little League Minors division teams Gray New Gloucester (GNG) and Windham’s Jet Ski Guy took place on Friday, Aug. 7 at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm.  While it turned out to be a blowout, there were many exciting plays.
Jet Ski Guy put runners on base and took an early 3-0 lead, but unfortunately, GNG pulled ahead after one inning and kept adding to their lead and won easily, 19-4.
In the top of the first inning, Jet Ski Guy’s Patrick Davenport and Jacob Burke were both hit by pitches. Jordan Tom then swatted a hit and Davenport scored. Burke scored on Ethan Clapp’s base hit and he also scored for Jet Ski Guy later in the inning. the third inning, Nappi walked.  He quickly stole his way around the bases and scored on a passed ball.  At that point, the score was 10-4, GNG.
Jet Ski Guy had a couple of noteworthy defensive plays when they threw a runner out at home early in the game and threw a runner out at third in the third inning.
The game started with Jet Ski Guy’s Justin Tom on the mound followed by Andrew Hinse, Myles
Karantza and Sullivan Nappi who closed out the game. Each of them did a great job and were awarded game balls at the end of the game.
Hinse said when he was up on the mound, he was trying to throw strikes, get his team to win and have fun. His favorite thing about this season was being able to pitch.
“The season went as well as expected,” said coach David Langway. “We had a few first-year players and we were a very young team. Most of the time they paid attention and listened intently to the coaches. I believe we'll have a good nucleus for next year, but we'll still have to see what baseball will look like next year.” <

Coach Stephen Napolitano pays it forward to Windham Little League

Windham's Stephen Napolitano has been honored
as 'Coach of the Week' by The Windham Eagle. He
has coached both baseball and softball and is
currently coaching his daughter's softball team.
By Matt Pascarella
Little League has always been a part of Coach Stephen Napolitano’s life. He played it as a child and when he had children of his own, he jumped in and coached their baseball or softball teams. Napolitano is now in his 15th year as a coach. Aside from coaching his daughter’s softball team, he is just finishing his first year coaching travel softball with the Southern Maine River Rats.
His mother passed away when he was 7 and during that difficult time, Little League was there for him and became a source of some of his fondest childhood memories. When he was an adult with children of his own, he wanted to be there to grow along with his kids and serve others as former Little League parents had done for him when he was younger.
A graduate of Windham High School and the University of Maine at Orono, Napolitano’s family has run the Dairy Queen in North Windham for 42 years. During these years, Dairy Queen has sponsored many youth programs and Little League teams. As a coach, he has made so many incredible friendships within the community that will last a lifetime. Napolitano wants everyone to know that all types of volunteers matter. 2006, he offered to help as an assistant coach for his oldest daughter, Abby’s team. During his season as the head coach for his son Brady’s Little League baseball team, his youngest daughter, Kaylee’s softball team lost their head coach after the first game. So, Napolitano volunteered to coach on her softball team too. He started coaching softball exclusively in 2017. 
This year has been an adjustment. Napolitano has had to remind players to use hand sanitizer between innings and maintain the appropriate social distance. He said he misses giving high fives and shaking his opponents’ hands.
After the three months of lockdown, it was a huge blessing for our girls to be around each other again. I witnessed much needed smiles and joy,” he said.
It’s very important for his young players to see themselves improve their skills and gain confidence in themselves and their teammates. Napolitano’s goal is to have a group of players who commit to improving from game one to the final game of the season.
Last year, his 9- and 10-year-old girls All Star team reached the district finals. He was an assistant coach on that team with Nick Caiazzo and Ronnie Higgins. He says it was an incredible experience for his girls and coaches alike. Look out for that same group of girls to make a solid run next year.
“Teaching kids work ethic and fun can go together,” said Napolitano. “It is especially gratifying to witness those players get a hit off a tough pitcher, squeeze in a stolen base or catch a hard hit ball. Once they smile, it is all worth it! It’s not about winning, it’s about achieving.”
He grew up in Raymond and started his family there. That’s also where he began coaching. He relocated to Windham in 2012 and lives here with his son Brady and daughter, Kaylee. <

Friday, August 7, 2020

Windham Little League pays tribute to 12-year-old players

Camden Gardiner accepts an engraved bat from Windham
Little League president Caleb Davenport during a
recognition ceremony for 12-year-old players at
Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm on July 30.
By Matt Pascarella
One of the reasons it was so important to make sure Windham Little League baseball and softball happened this summer was so that the 12-year-old players who are aging out of the program got one last season to compete. On Thursday night July 30, at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm, these players were recognized for their time with the league.
Windham Little League President Caleb Davenport presented each 12-year-old playing baseball and softball with a mini bat with their name engraved in it. Following the presentation, both baseball and softball players were broken into three teams and went head-to-head in three two-inning games that ended with a homerun derby.
This was the first year Windham Little League has done this. Since there are no regional or state All Star tournaments because of the pandemic, Davenport said the league wanted to try something different.
Afterward, Davenport said he thought it was a big success and hopes to continue this type of recognition in future seasons.
Lydia Marden of the softball team Windham Rental has enjoyed how much the game moves over the years and said that everything’s different every game with a new group each season.
Her advice to other players was to keep practicing and commit; that’s the only way you’ll get better.
Baseball team Ice Cream Dugout’s catcher Camden Gardiner said he had fun during his time playing
Windham Little League.
“You should be having fun when you’re playing a game,” he said.
His advice to other players is to cherish the moments and have fun.
“Coaching these young men has been one of the greatest privileges of my life,” said Windham Little League State Farm coach Nolan Ammons. “We are able to turn off and unplug for a few hours to come together as a community. They’ve matured into young men from giggling during the National Anthem to standing tall; learning to respect their coaches and their rivals. I will miss the comradery that develops with all teams and I wish all them well in the future.” Academy coach, Nick Caiazzo said he will miss the girls’ commitment to the game and the bright attitudes they bring each day to the field.
“They have been great,” said Caiazzo. “These girls are committed softball players.”
Congratulations to Windham Little League 12-year-old players Nola Bryant, Dawson Carlberg, Daniel Clark, Nick Davenport, Oriah Doucette, Isabella Hinse, Elias Jauregui, Kennedy Kimball, Jacob Leavitt, Cayden McCartney, Oakley McLeod, Ty Stahle, Aiden Tweedie, Lucas Baratta, Mason Butterfield, Ethan Clapp, Chloe Edwards, Keagan Farley, Braycen Freese, Graham Herald, Jack Jordan, Hannah Lee, Addison Leger, Lydia Marden, CJ McDonald, Aaron Sanborn, Noah Adams,
Alayna Baldwin-Dagnese, Calvin Bartz, Brayden Bean, Joe Donnelly, Brianna Duarte, Camden Gardiner, Levi Hayman, Davis Jordan, Sophia Kalogerakis, Joshua Logan, Ronan Mace, Sierra Sparrow, Seamus McDougall and Willow Washburn.
The town of Windham looks forward to watching you play in the future. <  

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Windham’s Chloe Wilcox honored for softball career by New England Girls Softball League

By Matt Pascarella

The cancellation of the spring sports season left many seniors without that final act to close out their high school athletic careers. But the New England Girls Softball League (NEGSL) worked hard to provide a summer softball experience for many athletes.

Windham High School senior Chloe Wilcox has been playing on the Southern Maine River Rats Orso team in the NEGSL this summer and on Thursday, July 30, the league honored Wilcox, as well as seniors from other towns, at Saint Joseph College in Standish.

From left,, Natalie, Chloe, Ella and Fred Wilcox
gather at a New England Girls Softball event
honoring high school seniors at Saint Joseph College
in Standish on July 30.
Wilcox says she had a lot of fun playing this year and had a great summer. She was thankful for the experience.

All the work Travis Demmons and the Southern Maine River Rats organization did to make sure the athletes from the local programs got a chance to play this summer made a difference. It was much appreciated, according to Wilcox.
One of the things she said that she missed the most about her spring season at Windham High was getting to experience her “last everything,” including her last first game playing for the school, her last playoff game and most of all her last time taking the field with an Eagles team that really became a family to her.

Wilcox said there is there is so much to be proud of from her time of being a Windham Eagle.

One moment that will always be special to her was a game against Thornton Academy. Her team went in with a common goal, put in every ounce of effort and it ended up being an 11-inning game.

“Though it didn’t end exactly as we may have wanted it, seeing the team come together and fight until the very end will reside with me forever,” said Wilcox.

Her coach and dad, Fred Wilcox, said he couldn’t ask for a better player to coach.

He said that she’s always working on her craft and is a great teammate.

“She understands that softball isn’t an individual sport and it takes a team to be successful. Off the field, she’s a hard worker,” he said. “I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful and smart young lady who is destined for great things.”

Most of all, the coach said that he’ll miss her leadership and skill on the field next year, but is looking forward to her continuing her success at Colby College.

“If you’re reading this Chloe, thank you for all the memories. I’m so proud of you. You’ve been a great mentor to your sister, Ella. She’s the player she is today because you helped her set the bar high and reach higher. We love you.”

Chloe would like to thank coach Travis Demmons who supported her through her high school career. She said that she wants him to know that he is so greatly appreciated.

She also would also like to thank her family, who have been very supportive with special recognition to her dad and coach.

“He has put endless hours into helping me and making me who I am today, not only as a softball player, but as a person. I don’t think I could thank him enough for the things he has done,” she said.

Her Southern Maine River Rats travel coaches, Kim and Gary Orso have been some of her biggest supporters. Wilcox said.

“I can confidently say that I would not be who I am today without them,” she said.

In the fall, Wilcox will head to Colby College to major in chemistry with a pre-med track where she will start a new chapter in her life and athletic career. She said that just talking with her future teammates is making her very optimistic for her next four years. <