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.<