Friday, February 26, 2021

Sixth-grade Windham travel basketball teams become Maine Hoops champs

By Matt Pascarella

Two very exciting games had two very exciting results during the Maine Hoops championship tournament on Saturday, Feb. 13 at XL Sports World in Saco. After the final buzzers, both the Windham sixth-grade boys and the Windham sixth-grade girls travel basketball teams had become Maine Hoops champions.

Windham's sixth-Grade boys' and girls' travel basketball teams
won championship titles during the Maine Hoops tournament
on Feb. 13 at Sports World in Saco. Shown in top photo are
the Windham sixth-grade boys' travel team and the bottom
photo is the Windham sixth-grade girls' travel basketball team.
For a while, it seemed like there might not be a sixth-grade travel team season and few basketball travel leagues were in operation because of Covid-19. That’s where the Maine Hoops league stepped in. During the eight-week Maine Hoops season, Windham’s opponents were a real jumble of teams from other towns. Every team in the Maine Hoops league made the final tournament where it was single elimination.

The season began in early January and it was hard to find places to practice. Windham girls’ Coach Ben Delewski held outdoors practices in his driveway. He made the practices voluntary because of the unusual circumstances but was surprised at how many of the girls showed up.

The boys ran into a similar practice problem due to school gym closures. Thankfully, Nick Pierce at New England Fitness and Athletics in Windham offered weekly classes for the boys, which Windham boys’ Coach Ryan Brown noticed made a big difference in the team’s abilities on the court.

The sixth-grade girls’ team are competitive in every game and call themselves the ‘Fierce Lady Eagles.’ They faced the Southern Maine Sting team, a team they had lost to a few times, in the championship game and came back from behind to beat them. Delewski said it was all about defense and he was proud of how well his girls played together.

“It felt amazing to play in the tournament and win,” said sixth-grader Leandra Woodman. “Our team is unstoppable together, and I owe all of our success to our coaches. I’m so proud of our team for our dedication and our hard work.”

Brown said his boys progressed all season. They played well as a team, had a role and were able to deliver. He had a great group of kids who were willing to put the work in every week.

Sixth-grader Preston Brown and teammate fourth-grader Carson Brown said they were really excited for the chance to play with their friends during Covid. They felt relieved to win it all after the hard work they put in. The team really worked together and were not selfish.

Delewski said when the Fierce Lady Eagles became Maine Hoops champs, their reaction was similar to as if they won the NBA Finals.

The boys had some big smiles on their faces when they became champions and for Brown, that was more important than the win. The team worked together and fought hard to pull off a tough win. <

Windham swim team gets together to make season work

Windham junior Sam Flibbert gets some time in the pool
with the rest of Windham High's swimming team on Saturday,
Feb. 20 at Riverton Community Center in Portland.
By Matt Pascarella

Many prep sports teams at Windham High School have had to make adjustments when it came to the winter season. For the swim team, their season started a little later than usual, with a lot of unknowns. They were unable to return to the pool at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish because of COVID-19.

Luckily, the team was able to get some pool time two days a week at the Riverton Community Center in Portland. They have also been doing workouts in the gymnasium at Windham High School. They recently had a practice on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Riverton Community Center.

When Coach Peter Small began the season, he discovered from the start the swimmers wanted a return to something that resembled normalcy and most importantly, the team wanted to be together and compete with each other.

Even when they were unable to get together as team, these Windham Eagles were doing the virtual work to prepare for when the physical work could begin. Virtually, they brought in a nutritionist, a certified yoga instructor and even had virtual trivia nights.

“The idea of being able to come together to work out together, they’ve stuck with it from the beginning,” said Small. Most of their time has been in the gym doing drylands, which are core and strength building exercises. These exercises help get the team ready for the water.

There will be no in-person meets for the season, but Windham will participate in a virtual meet against Thornton Academy on Saturday, March 6. Each team will swim at their different locations and the results will be sent in and scored. Outside of virtual meets, there will be no regional or state championships.

Although there are no in-person meets, the team participated in an inter-squad meet on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Riverton Community Center. The team was split in two and the seniors decided who swam what events. It was run like a normal meet except it was one half of the team against the other. Small said it was awesome; it was the first time they got to race this year.

Senior Tristan Candelmo said it felt amazing to be back in the water. His goals for the season are to try and set some new personal records, but he is just very thankful to be able to get back in the water.

Small and his assistant coaches aim to provide a fun, safe work environment where the team can progress as individuals further down the road.

“It feels really good (to be back in the water) said sophomore Hannah Heanssler. “It feels ... normal again ... the coaches are doing a really good job; I enjoy it.” Heanssler said her goal was to cut down on her race times from last year and improve her strokes.

“There’s been enormous support by the community to keep us in school and competing safely,” said Small. “I think kids are thirsty to be in school and be with each other in safe environments. We’re grateful for the support of the school and community to let us do that.” <

Friday, February 19, 2021

Windham alpine skiers achieve strong finish in second race

Junior Emma Debrosse of Windham High finishes
her run during an alpine skiing meet against
Gorham and Kennebunk on b. 12 at Shawnee
Peak in Bridgton. Debrosse's final time was 
By Matt Pascarella

Two days after their first race, the Windham High alpine ski team returned to Shawnee Peak in Bridgton to take on Gorham and Kennebunk in the giant slalom on Friday, Feb. 12. Windham junior Sarah Hare placed first overall among the girls with a final time of 1:07.54. She finished her first run in 33.29 and her second in 34.25.

Windham freshman Lilly McLean finished third overall with a final time of 1:13.12. Windham sophomore Annie Jackson finished fourth overall with a final time of 1:14.53. The Windham girls held five spots in the top ten with each of the five girls finishing the race in under one minute twenty seconds.

Windham sophomore Sam Plummer finished second overall among the boys with a final time of 1:05.88. He finished his first run with a time of 32.66 and his second run with a time of 33.22.

“It’s really nice (to get back out on the mountain),” said Plummer. “I’m glad we’re able to do it with Covid and everything; it’s nice to be able to race. The conditions were really good ... the course settled nice and it was pretty fast-paced.”

The Windham boys occupied four of the top 10 spots. Sophomore Nolan Dries finished fourth overall with a time of 1:08.23. Sophomore Logan Marden finished seventh overall with a time of 1:12.42.

“The team had a great night,” said Windham coach Lucas Hare. They are really starting to put together the techniques that Coach Politano and I are reviewing with them. All the hard work the kids have been putting in is clearly paying off as their recent race results show.”

In team points, Windham came in first for both the girls and boys. Gorham did not qualify in either group, so there were only two team scores. The girls had a score of 15-32; the boys had a score of 23-30. <

Windham boys’ basketball works hard against Thornton Academy

Windham High senior Nuar Bol soars before
dunking the ball during Windham's game against
Thornton Academy at Windham High School on
Feb. 15. Windham fell to Thornton Academy by a
By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Eagles Freshman first team, junior varsity and varsity teams hit the court against Thornton Academy, at home, on Monday, Feb. 15.

First team

In this group’s first game of the season, they came ready to play. After a slow start in the first quarter, the Eagles battled and had begun to close the gap after Thornton Academy had pulled away early on. Windham passed the ball well and had several shots on basket.

In the second half, although Thornton Academy’s lead grew, Windham had several nice blocks which prevented more scoring opportunities for the Trojans. Offensively, Windham kept up their efforts and took shot after shot, but little was dropping. As the clock wound down, Hunter Simpson sunk a very nice three-pointer. While they put in a good effort, at the buzzer Thornton Academy got the “W,” 51-23.

“It’s nice to be back out,” said Erik Bowen, who was the team’s high scorer. “We got to get back to practice, work on our offense more, conditioning and get back at it (for) next game.”

Windham coach Doug Elder said the team is working on transitioning from playground basketball to an instinctual execution of principles. He’s hoping to make some of their offensive motions more instinctive; during the game there were a few times Windham didn’t let the ball get stuck and that’s very important to the principles Elder is working on with the team.


Both teams were evenly matched to start. Windham had good defense and kept Thornton Academy from getting far ahead. The Eagles really worked hard to be first to the ball. Junior Robert “Will” Ledbetter sunk a three-pointer as Windham was right on Thornton Academy’s heels.

Unfortunately, Thornton Academy took a significant lead. Windham was trying, but the shots weren’t falling. Thornton got the 70-34 win. High scorer: Warren Elder.
Junior Jakob Emery said things didn’t go their way in the second half. What they can do is to keep practicing and working to get better every day; hopefully the results will be different next time.

“In the second half ... we ran our principles much better than we did in the first half,” said Windham coach Geoff Grigsby. He added the team needs to play with more defensive effort in future games.


Thornton Academy took a small lead early on, but Windham worked hard to catch up. Shortly before the end of the first half, senior Nuar Bol slam dunked the ball to tie the game at 17.

Senior Kaleb Cidre sunk several three-pointers in the second half to become the game high scorer. After three quarters, three points separated the teams.

“We were going through our offense really well,” said Cidre in response to his three-point shots. “I’d get to the right spot at the right time and hit the shot.”

The game was tied at 36 with four and one half minutes left to play. Roughly two minutes later the games was tied at 39. Thornton Academy had a two point lead with one minute left. As the clock wound down, Thornton Academy slowly pulled away. At the buzzer, Thornton got by 50-45.

“Our guys were anxious to play ... against a really good team,” said Windham coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Guys fought hard, played all the way through the buzzer and that’s all we can ask for.” <

Tales from the outdoors: Smelting a popular winter fishing activity in Maine

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle 

One of the most enjoyable things you can do up here in Maine during the winter is to go smelting. Smelt are a saltwater fish that make a spawning run up freshwater rivers at a time when the ice is safe to walk on. You are fishing for the larger saltwater smelt not the bait fish in many of our freshwater lakes and ponds. It is a good activity for families and small groups of compatible guys.

There are several commercial “camps” that will begin to operate as soon as we have enough safe ice. Most of these consist of a structure roughly 8 x 10 feet with a source of heat inside such as a wood stove or a kerosene heater (I prefer the wood stoves because I can modulate the heat to stay warm while avoiding overheating and the smell that your clothes and hair will acquire after a short time in a kerosene-heated hut).

Inside the hut there will likely be one to two long trenches cut through the ice through which you will fish. Most will have fishing lines tied above the trenches, about eight per side, complete with leader, sinkers, and a small hook. You are welcomed to bring your own gear. When you check in you can buy or may be given a package of sand worms in seaweed to use as your bait.

You decide how deep you want to fish and unwind the appropriate length of line, bait it with a small section of worm (Caution-sand worms have pincers that can puncture your skin so find the head-first, and then remove it), drop it into the trench, and you are in business. The smelt bite can be very subtle so pay attention to your lines. These are relatively small fish… six to eight inches average.

What time of day, or more precisely what time in the tide cycle, determines when you should fish. There are lots of opinions about the best time but if you are there an hour or so before high tide you should be in great shape as the smelt tend to come in on a rising tide. The commercial guys track the tides as well and know the preferred times. They will probably offer you a couple of different times and you can decide what best suits your crowd.

Usually, four to six fishermen per shack works best, more than that, get a second shack. You contract with them for about a six-hour time slot before you give up the shack. Prices vary but most are very reasonable, say $20 for the shack per person and $4 for the worms. These are very social outings, and the camaraderie is what makes it fun.
You may wish to avoid Friday and Saturday nights if you are sensitive to folks who imbibe too much adult beverage, or use crude language around children and wives, just say’n.

Some regulars use a board with four reels attached to it and sensitive spring steel bands, salvaged from old corsets or broken ice tip ups. The line is threaded through a loop near the end of the stays going directly to the baited hook. When a fish bites it pulls the stay down and the fisherman knows he’s got a bite. Smelting tends to be “hit or miss”, meaning you either do very well filling a 5-gallon bucket or you only get a few. The ones you do get are delicious when cleaned and fried up in a fish batter or just plain. The diehards don’t even clean them sometimes!

Things you should bring to make your time more successful and enjoyable include:

** Camp chair with cushion (a seat will be provided but they are often very primitive)

** Ice creepers for your boots

** Your own tackle – short rods, small lures, small hooks, sabiki rigs, small weights

** Knife to cut bait

** Reading material; cards

** A bucket to carry your gear in and to store fish

** Small cutting board

** Rag/paper towels

** Phone/Ipad with camera; video games

** Lots of food, snacks, drinks for you and to share – this can save a slow night!

Watch local papers and sporting magazines for places advertising smelting opportunities or point your browser to “Maine Smelting Camps.”

Here are a couple to get you started:

Baker’s, Route 27 Smithtown Road, 207-582-4257

James’s Eddy, Route 127, 426 Middle St., Dresden, 207-737-2596

Jim’s Camps, Route 24, Bowdoinham, 207-666-3049 <

Friday, February 12, 2021

‘Veterans on the Ice’ returns to Lakes Region

The Naples Recreation Committee and the Sebago
Lake Anglers are hosting a free Long Lake Ice
Fishing Extravaganza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on
Saturday, Feb. 13. FILE PHOTO
Three years ago, a fellow by the name of Tim Hoffman, approached the Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association (SLAA) of Naples about taking ownership of a large Ice fishing hut being constructed by the Rockland Fire Department in their spare time.

Hoffman, who was the leader of a group called Veterans on the Water, was interested in an organization that could take a hut, once constructed, and operate it for ice fishing. He saw it as a means to get more veterans, both mobile and mobility challenged, outside and active during the winter months. Tim’s group was already doing events for veterans on open water but did not have the capability to do so on hard water here in southern Maine.

The SLAA, in cooperation with American Legion Posts 148 in Windham and 155 in Naples, willfully accepted the challenge and immediately went about modifying the hut. They widened the door to accept wheelchairs, cut two holes in the floor to accommodate anglers who prefer to remain indoors and out of the cold, added both a wood stove and a wall-mounted propane space heater for heat and attached an 8-foot aluminum ramp to aide wheelchairs and other mobility challenged fishermen and ladies.

For the past two years, SLAA has operated the hut, generally from the third week in January to the third week in March, accommodating veterans from the local area, the Portland Vets Center, the Windham Vets Center, the VAST crowd at Pineland, and Warriors 45 North out of New Hampshire. In addition, the group has hosted local Boy Scout groups and families from Camp Sunshine.

The hut is now equipped with an ice auger, multiple tip ups, a skimmer, and folding chairs to accommodate those without the necessary gear. Although the hut is best utilized by small groups, individual veterans have used it when they have scheduled a time slot.

This year the hut is located directly in front of Kent’s Landing about 200 yards off the boat ramp on Long Lake. The weak ice has kept the hut off until this recent cold spell, but it is now sitting on 8-plus inches of solid ice and 22 feet of water. It has been out there less than a week and already members of SLAA have caught fish.

Unfortunately, Tim Hoffman succumbed to cancer last year, but not before seeing the hut in operation on the ice. He was a strong advocate for veterans having served as a Medic having seen the suffering many went through on the battlefield and at home. I think he would be proud of his legacy on Long Lake. To maximize use of the hut, SLAA was looking for ways to expand the usage when they were approached by the Town of Naples Parks and Recreation Department about including ice fishing as an activity the whole town could participate in.

The Naples Recreation Committee is excited to announce that with the Sebago Lake Anglers they are hosting a Long Lake Ice Fishing Extravaganza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.  Kids bring your families!  Everyone is invited to participate in this free day of ice fishing fun! 

The Sebago Lake Anglers will have everything you need from bait to ice fishing equipment to introduce you to this fun sport! Refreshments - coffee, donuts, hot dogs and beans, cookies, water and hot chocolate will be available. Bring ice creepers and a chair and enjoy the fresh, crisp outdoors on beautiful Long Lake!  The weather seems to be co-operating, but if it should turn stormy that day, the rain date will be the following Saturday, Feb. 20, same time, same place.

For more information on the Town of Naples event please write Kathy Keinath at

Veterans wanting more information on the ice fishing itself or to schedule a time for your personal use call Bob Chapin at 207-655-1028 or email <

Middle school basketball skills and drills seasons are a success

By Matt Pascarella

Windham Middle School and Jordan-Small Middle School’s winter athletic seasons have been broken into two sections: Winter I which is only basketball and Winter II which is indoor track, swimming, wrestling and alpine skiing. The middle schools aren’t playing competitive games but working on conditioning and skills and drills to get ready for future seasons.

Jordan-Small players during a skills and drills practice on
Monday, Feb. 8 at Jordan-Small Middle School in
Raymond. Back row, from left, are Aiden Heath, Blake
Heath, Jake Anderson, Harrison Behnke, Olivia Hamilton
and Corey Brackett. Front row, from left, are Audrey Getchell,
Briella Beers, Jaelynn Howard, Eliana White and Noah
Campbell. Not shown is Evie Behnke.
Both schools have been working hard to provide an athletic experience for their student athletes who were robbed of their seasons due to COVID-19. Regardless of skill level the skills and drills sessions have given players the chance to get back on the court.

Coach Jim Beers runs skills and drills in two groups with the boys and girls at Jordan-Small Middle School, Monday through Thursday. He says both groups are very dedicated to getting better and work hard in order to do so. 

Beers said it’s not as strict as his normal practices would be, but while it is more relaxed, the groups aim to work for the time they are given.

“He makes practice very fun,” said Jordan-Small seventh-grader Corey Brackett about skills and drills with Coach Beers. They’ve been doing shooting drills along with other skills and Brackett has learned to adjust her shooting style. She had played recreational basketball and was nervous about games and playing on a school team but being able to do skills and drills has given her extra experience and also given her confidence on the court.

“It’s good to get those skills and drills down and keep practicing them, especially in times like this because if not, you just lose that sense of focus,” said Jordan-Small eighth-grader, Harrison Behnke. For Behnke, being able to get in the gym is a big positive.

At Windham Middle School their skills and drills seasons wrapped up on Thursday, Feb. 11. Seventh and eighth-grade girls coaches Deb Lebel and Lisa Anderson and seventh and eighth-grade boys’ coaches Craig Dickson and Adam Manzo have been holding workouts Monday through Thursday since late January. It has been a big success for both groups.

“It’s an opportunity for some kids who were unsure if they would play, they could come and play because it’s skills and drills,” said Windham eighth-grade girls’ coach Anderson. Seventh-grade girls’ coach Lebel added it allowed some kids who may have never tried out for the team the chance to get the experience of playing for two and a half to three weeks.

The goal is fun agreed both coaches Lebel and Anderson. They said their goals as coaches were to have the kids interact with their peers and move, getting activity. The response has been fantastic. The kids are happy to be here and look forward to coming.

“Being back out and playing the sport is fun to do again.” said eighth-grader Hannah Lee.

The kids get a lot more one-on-one time they wouldn’t necessarily get in the season. It’s beneficial because the kids need the opportunity to be here and be kids. The response has been one hundred percent positive.

“We get to hang out with friends and play basketball,” said seventh-grader Bianca Otterson. She likes that the opportunity to play is still available.

Seventh-grader Ronan Mace has learned a lot about passing, shooting and teamwork.

Eighth grade boys coach Adam Manzo said his goal as a coach is to give the kids a chance to do something and learn something in the process. Some of the kids haven’t done anything sports-related since the start of the pandemic.

Interaction and athletics are important, especially during this time. Coach Beers made a good point when he said whenever there is some return to normalcy, kids put down their devices and get back to face-to-face messages; playing the sports they love together and having fun. The pandemic has definitely opened our eyes to how important doing things together are and how much we miss that. <

Lake Region Ice Cats get by Trail Blazers in season opener

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle Trail Blazers traveled to the Bridgton Ice Arena for their home opener against the Lake Region Ice Cats on Monday, Feb. 8.  One of the changes to the 2021 hockey season is instead of playing their standard three periods in games, the teams now play two 22.5-minute halves.

The Trail Blazers came out ready to go. They had good hustle up and down the ice. Shortly into the first half, with 19:34 left to play, the Ice Cats got one between the posts to take a 1-0 lead.

The Trail Blazers continued to take shots on goal, giving the Ice Cats goalie a workout as they tried to tie the score. The Trail Blazers worked hard to be first to the puck and their defense prevented any further scoring from their opponent for the remainder of the half.

At halftime, Lake Region Ice Cats led, 1-0.

In the second half, the Trail Blazers kept up the intensity. They moved the puck nicely. Although the Ice Cats did score a couple times in this half, the Trail Blazers’ defense kept their goals to a minimum. With 8:19 left to play, Junior Aiden Hartwell shot the puck from the side of the ice directly into the Ice Cats’ goal. The score was 2-1, in favor of the Ice Cats after that goal. 

At the buzzer, the Ice Cats managed to get by with a 3-1 win.

“I thought we had great effort,” said Trail Blazers coach Bobby Fothergill. “We just didn’t execute the way we would like. We will get back to practice and keep working hard.” Fothergill added the intensity was there all night.

“I think we have a chance to be very good (this season); if we play like we did tonight with great effort. We just need to execute and the results we want will come.” <

Friday, February 5, 2021

Windham lacrosse star earns scholarship to play at Franklin Pierce University

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School senior Riley Beem is moving forward, academically and athletically.

She has always been into sports and started playing lacrosse in the third grade. Her hard work continued to pay off on Friday Jan. 29 at Windham High School when she signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse on a scholarship for Franklin Pierce University, located in New Hampshire.

A four-sport athlete during her high school career, Beem didn’t realize she wanted to pursue lacrosse until seventh or eighth grade. A lot of her focus had been on middle school soccer up to that point. Once she started focusing on lacrosse more it became a very positive experience and her love for lacrosse began to grow.

Windham's Riley Beem signs a national letter of intent to
attend Franklin Pierce University on Jan. 29 at Windham
High School. Beem received a scholarship to play college
lacrosse and plans on majoring in Health Science. She will
also apply to the doctorate physical therapy program and
would like to become a physical therapist. She was accepted
into the Honors Program and plans to make the Dean's List .
She started doing club programs with Maineiax, a premier lacrosse club for athletes in grades two through 12, to improve. She did several skills and drills programs and played on travel teams which helped her grow and develop as a player. Her mindset was always to stay focused and work as hard as she could.

Coaches have described her as a hard worker, an outstanding teammate and someone who leads by example.

Windham High Lacrosse coach Matt Perkins said that when Beem joined the team as a freshman, she had one speed and it was 1,000 mph. She spent time in the off season working on her lacrosse stick skills. Perkins described her as a relentless worker; someone who just got better and better because of her work ethic and great drive.

She is currently running track as a way to get in shape for the upcoming lacrosse season. She has also been going to New England Fitness Academy and is working on putting a Windham lacrosse team together for World Cup through Maineiax, in order to get a chance to play before the lacrosse season begins.

“This year has been difficult due to COVID-19 but if everyone continues to put in the effort and follows the guidelines, I am hopeful we will be able to have a great season,” said Beem.

In October, she was able to visit Franklin Pierce University and meet the players and coaches on the women’s lacrosse team. The team made quite an impression on her; they were very welcoming, and she could see herself playing alongside them.

“We believe she will fit great here, on and off the field. With her persistent energy and skill on the lacrosse field, she will no doubt make a positive impact on this program,” said Franklin Pierce University head women’s lacrosse coach Caitlin Sweeney.

Beem said she would like to thank all her coaches who pushed her and were a big support system. She would also like to thank her parents; saying her mom instilled a ‘don’t settle, always push to do the best you can’ kind of attitude in her.

Beem plans on majoring in Health Science and will apply for the doctorate physical therapy program at Franklin Pierce University. At the moment, she would like to be a physical therapist, but says that might change. She was accepted into the Honors Program and has a goal to make Dean’s List. <

Tales from the outdoors: More black bears than you could want (continued)

By Bob Chapin

Special to The Windham Eagle

When we left this story last my hunting partner and I were being charged by a black bear, fired at it and watched it disappear over a steep ledge.…About that time we heard the cubs… yes she was a mother bear trying to protect her cubs. We were hiking up to locate them when here came mama bear again. Unseen or heard by us she had circled back up above us where her cubs were. In all that spotting and watching we had not seen nor heard the cubs. This time she angled off of us by about 10 degrees and about 10 feet away. We each fired again, and she disappeared over the edge. We later found her piled up against a group of alders.

We hiked up and found the three cubs, all up a lone pine tree beginning to topple over the steep terrain. We knew that this meant we had to try our best to save the cubs, bring them to the Anchorage Children’s Zoo, and give up Mom’s hide as hunters cannot profit in a situation like this. Burt shinnied up the tree and grabbed the first cub by the scruff of the neck. He said, “Chapo, catch this” and he dropped the cub down hitting me in the chest. In a second, it was biting and clawing its way up to my head before I could get a grip on it. Let me tell you those little buggers have sharp claws and teeth. I grabbed it off my head a threw it to the ground where I pinned it then put it into a backpack we had. I said, “Burt, next time just drop it on to the ground and I will get it from there.” And that is what he did. So we had two of three cubs in hand but the third one proved problematic. The more Burt climbed up that pine the further up the cub climbed and by now the tree was bending way too far over the hill. If Burt had fallen, he would have bounced off the hillside and there was no telling how far down the hill he would roll. We decided to go take care of mama first and maybe the third cub would come down so that is what we did.

Once we had the mother’s hide lashed to a packboard we climbed back up to where the cub was, but he had not moved. It was now getting dark and we started down the mountain. By the time we got to the shore the tide had come in and the only way back to camp was through a grove of dead pines with branches all the way to the ground just waiting to poke an eye out in the dark. We wisely decided to spend the night on the beach and built a small fire for warmth. The cubs were quite content in the backpack and seemed to enjoy the granola bars we shared with them. Sleep was fitful on the shore, but we did get some. First light, which comes real early in Alaska that time of year, we started across the bay floor now exposed by low tide. We repeated the drill getting across the stream and once we got some warmth back into our feet we hiked back to the tent where our wives were sleeping.

For whatever reason we thought it would be funny to pitch the two cubs into the tent on the sleeping girls which we did. We immediately saw the folly of this when we remembered that we had left two revolvers with them “for protection” and what if they started blazing away with us a tent fabric away. So we had a big reunion and the cubs became the center of our life. We kept them in an old wooden barrel that had washed up on the shore and fed them instant oatmeal which they must have enjoyed because they ate it all. Burt and Margie stayed in camp and Sue and I continued to hunt. 

I was back searching the hillsides trying to make the best of the few hours we had left before pick-up when Sue said what about that one? While I was busy looking at the hillsides a bear came out at the base of the peninsula we were on, about 300 yards away. I quickly stalked within 100 yards and using an old sawed-off stump as a rest dropped the bear with one shot. We admired the bear then set about skinning it with an eye towards a bear rug. Back in Anchorage my hide went to the taxidermy, the cubs went to the zoo, and Burt went to the game department to S’plain himself. <

Winter sports return to Windham as the season ramps up

Windham's Hayleigh Moody heads toward the
hoop in a girls' basketball home game against
Bonny Eagle on Feb. 7, 2019. Despite
delays, the Windham winter sports season
will start soon, although because of COVID-19
limitations, not all sports will have the seasons
they may have wanted. 
By Matt Pascarella

COVID-19 restrictions put a halt on Windham’s winter sports season when Cumberland County was categorized as yellow, which for a moment meant no athletic activities could occur. The Maine Principals’ Association reversed their decision to ban athletic activity in a “yellow” county as long as local school administrators allowed it.

Recently, Cumberland County returned to the “green” categorization because of a decrease in COVID-19 cases. Windham High School’s winter sports teams began conditioning with skills and drills as they prepare for the upcoming season, set to begin early this month.

Middle schools

Jordan-Small Middle School and Windham Middle School will have their season broken into two parts: Winter I and Winter II. Winter I will go to February break and be solely basketball, grouped by school cohort. Full remote students can participate, but only on the days they would attend in person. Unfortunately, scrimmaging or competitions will not be offered at the middle-school level, and the season will be based on skills and drills.

“The girls are very enthusiastic to be back in the gym,” said seventh grade girls’ basketball coach Deb Lebel. “There are big smiles under their masks that light up their eyes. Sports motivate many students to come to school and do their best while they are in the classroom. As a parent and teacher, I see this social/emotional piece as something that many students have really been missing during the pandemic.”

After February break, Winter II for middle school athletes will run until the third week of March offering indoor track, swimming, wrestling, and alpine skiing. Details are still being worked out, but it looks like each of these sports will be conditioning, with the exception of alpine skiing which may compete, but as of right now that is still to be determined.

Jordan-Small Middle School will be able to access Windham’s Winter II sports.

“It makes it hard to do anything team concept-wise,” said Jordan Small Middle School boys’ basketball coach Jim Beers. He’s working in almost a non-basketball capacity; masks on all the time, socially distant, minimal sharing of the ball.

“Since we can’t play any games on a schedule, or with each other really, I’m going to individually do what I can in this limited amount of time to make each of them better basketball players,” he said.

Safety protocols such as no locker room use, social distancing, hand sanitizing, mask required for all participants that cover both the face and nose and equipment cleaning after each session will be in place.

High School

High school athletics have begun practice with several sports starting competitive games early this month; schedules are still being finalized.

Safety protocols are the same as they were last season. There will be no spectators and masks are to be worn 100 percent of the time, unless taking a sip of water.

Basketball, ice hockey and alpine skiing will all begin their seasons soon. Ice hockey will play home games at the Bridgton Ice Arena. Alpine skiing will return to Shawnee Peak.

"We have been working on technical drills and gate training to ensure our fundamentals are sound," said alpine ski coach Lucas Hare. "The real focus this year is on having fun; the team has been focused and their attitudes have been great. It's great to see them outside, skiing and laughing."

Wrestling is classified as high risk and will be working on conditioning until that changes. Some sports, like indoor track and swimming do not have their regular facilities in which to compete. They may focus more on conditioning and skills and drills during their seasons. Cheering has been training virtually.
“Our plan is to bring our student-athletes along gradually and consistently work towards being ready to compete when our games begin,” said girls’ basketball coach Brody Artes. “This is a group that not only has a lot of talent on the floor but has a high level of character. A great group of student-athletes to coach. We want to be sure to honor our seniors and we always want to look to improve from beginning to end.”

Windham High Athletic Director Rich Drummond said he’s happy and proud of the kids and coaches. They are doing their best and working with facilities and within guidelines to offer the maximum experience for the kids under these limitations. <