Friday, August 27, 2021

Windham varsity field hockey shows strength and unity during Play Day

By Matt Pascarella

Windham’s varsity field hockey team hit the field against Cheverus and Scarborough during Play Day, held at Cape Elizabeth High School on Monday Aug. 23 and it was an opportunity for teams to practice skills and come together before the start of the regular season next week.

Windham junior Hannah Heanssler runs with the
ball to the Cheverus goal during a varsity field
hockey game on Monday, Aug. 23 at Cape Elizabeth
High School. The game was one of many during
Play Day, where teams worked on their skills 
before the regular season opens.
Windham had already beaten Greely 2-0, Fryeburg 4-0 and South Portland 2-0 earlier in the day and the Lady Eagles continued to show their strength when they beat Cheverus 6-1 before falling to Scarborough 3-1.


Windham was aggressive right out of the gate. They moved the ball well and did a nice job of staying with the ball. Windham’s defense was strong as they only let Cheverus put one in the net the entire game.

Windham pressured. Moments later Windham put the ball in the net. Windham gave the Cheverus’ goalie a workout. From that point on, the Lady Eagles could not be stopped, as they scored goal after goal.

Windham junior Hannah Heanssler put two in the net; so, did Windham senior Ellie Miller. Windham senior Ellie Wilson also scored.

“Today gave [the team] a chance to practice trusting each other,” said Windham varsity coach Cory DiDonato. “We lost quite a few seniors last year, so there’s a lot of new kids in new positions.”

One of the things DiDonato was trying to figure out was who’s going to play where and fit best.

“I think there’s like a pocket of kids that have been used to working together for so long, that they’re learning to trust other kids in those spots,” she said.

DiDonato added it was really good for Windham to know they can come back as a team after Cheverus was first to score.


Scarborough scored early, but that did not deter Windham. They fought hard with a lot of hustle. Windham took several shots on goal as the game progressed. Windham stayed with Scarborough and prevented them from getting too many in the net.

Windham pushed through any tiredness they may have felt. Windham junior Emma Morrison scored halfway into the game.

“I think we’re really learning how to mesh well with each other ... communicate and know where we need each other on the field,” said Miller.

Miller said they are passing well and moving the ball nicely down the field between teammates.

She said she is very excited for the upcoming season. <

Varsity, JV girls’ soccer claim win against Thornton Academy

Windham varsity girls' soccer junior Abbey
Thornton gets by her opponent before scoring a
goal during the Lady Eagles' preseason match
at home against Thornton Academy on Tuesday,
Aug. 24. Windham won, 4-1.
By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School’s varsity and junior varsity girls’ soccer teams owned the field in back-to-back preseason games against Thornton Academy at home on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

During a very, very hot afternoon both teams took control of the field early on and scored multiple times. Windham’s defense made it close to impossible for TA to come back and grabbed the lead, with the varsity eventually emerging with a 4-1 win over the Trojans, while Windham’s JV turned back TA, 2-0.


The Lady Eagles were aggressive right away and did not let the heat affect the start of their game. Windham took several shots on goal and junior Ashley Clark scored early on. Windham’s defense held off TA and prevented them from making much progress in the first half.

As the sun bore down, Windham pressured. The Trojans did manage to get one in the net, but that’s as far as the Lady Eagles would allow them to go.

Windham sophomore Ashlee Sawyer scored before the end of the first half. At halftime, Windham led 2-1.

“Playing TA in the past has been kind of difficult; we know how they play,” said Windham senior Sarah Talon. “They’ve always been great competition and I can’t wait to play them again.”

Talon said there are some new faces on the team this season which she said was really awesome.

Windham was more aggressive in the second half than they were in the first. They took repeated shots on goal and junior Abbey Thornton scored. Then Clark scored again.

“That’s a good preseason game,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I really feel like we’re starting to come together well; we’ve got a really strong junior class. We had some spots to fill, but we’ve had some freshmen step up and fill in really nicely.”

Junior Varsity

Windham’s JV started strong and kept that strength going through the entire game. They moved the ball well between each other and communicated early on. The Lady Eagle’s defense had control of TA and prevented scoring opportunities. Windham’s offense kept the Trojans’ goalie busy.

Windham sophomore Abby Llyod scored in the first half, followed by freshman Caitlyn Marsh. At the half, Windham led 2-0.

“I think we played really well,” said Llyod. “It was one of our first times playing with the incoming freshmen and I think ... we played really well as a team and we’re going to have a great season.”

Windham continued to command in the second half, being first to the ball in many instances and did not let up. They held off TA.

“[Windham] definitely commanded the field and the positive thing about this group ... is that they’re really just working to figure out their roles on the team and I think they’re doing a fantastic job,” said Windham JV girls’ soccer coach Lisa Anderson.

Anderson said that she has a very positive outlook for the upcoming season. <

Tales from the Outdoors: The Lowly Earthworm

By Bob Chapin

For thousands of years, man has been collecting earthworms and using them to catch fish. They still work! Despite the money I have invested in fishing lures and tackle, I still rely upon earthworms to put fish in the live well. 

I have friends that wouldn’t be caught dead with “Garden Hackle” in their possession, especially in pursuit of our various trout species. Somehow that is looked upon as cheating…it is just too easy. In fact, among some of the sport’s purist even the suggestion of “sweetening” one of your feathered offerings with a piece of earthworm is a heresy.

Most of us began our angling careers using worms starting with cane poles and bobbers. Nothing stoked the anticipation of a day of fishing like scouring the backyard with a flashlight after dark the night before looking for the telltale shine of a couple of nightcrawlers trying to start a family.

If you were stealthy and quick, you could catch them extended out of their burrows and they were easy to collect. However, if you were heavy footed or slow to pounce, it was amazing how quickly they could return to their underground lairs. 

We would sometimes aid the dew less nights with a light sprinkling from the garden hose about a half hour before to get them moving on top. A casual perusal of available U-Tube videos will give you a selection of electrical contraptions that are guaranteed to produce crawlers literally shooting up out of the soil and some of them actually do work.

Today the average fishermen is not so involved and simply buy theirs from one of the many convenience stores or bait shops along Route 302 and other convenient locations.

One tip: always open the lid on the shallow plastic tubs and make sure the container you are buying holds live robust worms. They often sit in these locations for weeks waiting to be purchased. If you see a web of fine tentacles across the black dirt, that usually means the worms have expired. More than once I have arrived at a remote location and opened the container to discover a putrid mass of expired worms.

During our walleye trip out to Ohio last year, the captains we chartered used earthworms exclusively. They used a bait box for Canadian nightcrawler that was designed to keep them cool throughout the day.

They lasted longer and were livelier than any I had seen before. They are a great leap from the cylindrical container we used to carry on our belts as a kid.

I bought one of the bait boxes and have used it religiously ever since. It has a central compartment where the worms reside, but then around the perimeter are smaller compartments designed to hold cool packs or simply ice cubes…they work great.  I don’t know where they get the dirt they pack worms in, but it is quite black and was forever getting all over my boat and was a pain to clean.

Now, when I get a tub of worms, I pluck them out of the containers and drop them into an old cottage cheese container three-quarters full of cold clean water. It rinses them clean and makes them much easier and cleaner to handle. A clean wet rag gives them some cover and is all you need to keep them happy and alive for several weeks if you put the whole container in the reefer when you get home from a day trip.

Kids love fishing with worms. After they get over their initial squeamishness, they enjoy playing with the worms. Yes, you will get some questions from them about whether the hook hurts them, but that is soon forgotten once the first sunny comes into the boat or onto the dock. I use a #6 or #8 bait holder hook when fishing worms. Occasionally, when I know there are larger prey around, I will go to a #4.

Even through the ice, a worm will catch them most of the time. I am partial to a nightcrawler as they offer a hearty meal to most of the species we concentrate on and the style of fishing—trolling—we practice most. However, when fishing for trout on smaller streams and rivers where you will be tumbling a bait down through the current and around the rocks, we often lighten up to red wrigglers or straight trout worms, not necessarily night crawlers.

There are other terrestrial baits that you can use such as grasshoppers, hellgrammites, beetles, and ants, but nothing tops a worm for just about any species including catfish, any of the trout species, and even salmon. If you haven’t tried worm fishing lately, get in touch with your childhood adventures and give it a go. <

Friday, August 20, 2021

Cody Dube: From high school to professional baseball and back

Windham High graduate Cody Dube pitches for the Aberdeen
 IronBirds, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, during a minor
league baseball game. Dube spent two seasons pitching in the
minors for the Orioles after playing college baseball. He is now
the varsity baseball coach at Windham high School.  
By Matt Pascarella

After Windham High varsity baseball coach and WHS graduate Cody Dube graduated in 2012, he attended Keene State in New Hampshire and as a pitcher, he caught the attention of several Major League Baseball scouts. After college, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles at age 22 and would go on to play for their affiliate teams, the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Delmarva Shorebirds. Dube spent two years in the minors before he made the personal decision to give up professional baseball.

During his college senior year, Dube was in touch with the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics. While Dube had communicated with many teams, he was picked by the Orioles as a 10th round draft pick in 2016.

Dube’s ultimate goal when he entered the Minor leagues was to see where he could end up.

“I didn't want to end my baseball career with any regrets or thinking that I could've (or) should've done something differently,” said Dube.

He added it took commitment from all aspects of life; you need to train, eat, sleep, practice, repeat. You have to be the best you can be.

During his time, Dube had some of the most memorable experiences he will ever have. He’s played in front of anywhere from 3,000 to 12,000 fans in beautiful stadiums and got to hang out with great athletes from all over the world.

“I will always remember the major leaguers who rehabbed with us, the guys we played against who are now in the big leagues, the teammates who are now in the big leagues (and) talking to the guys from other countries about what their home life is like,” said Dube.

He got to go play against some baseball greats like Pablo Sandoval, Pete Alonso, Juan Soto, and Bobby Dalbec; and even Tim Tebow. It brings back good memories for Dube when he sees them today on TV.

Dube also got to play with current Orioles like Alexander Wells, Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna and Hunter Harvey. Of each player, Dube said they were very talented and hard-working individuals. Wells was Dube’s spring training roommate. Dube described him as an awesome, laid-back Australian with a love of the game.

Playing in the minor leagues required a lot of hard work. Some aspects might not be so fun: sleeping on a bus, eating gas station food, being away from friends and family, the day-to-day workouts, coupled with practices can be taxing, Dube said.

They started in Florida in February and returned home after Labor Day Weekend and throughout that time, Dube said they might have maybe 14 days off total during that span.

One of the most impressive ballplayers Dube met was former Orioles’ pitcher Zach Britton who spent a couple games in the bullpen with Dube’s team. Dube said he was a great teammate and one of the coolest guys he played with. Dube got to warm up in the bullpen with Britton and got pointers from him.

Dube also got to play with retired Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and also met former Orioles’ star Brian Roberts and Hall of Fame legend Cal Ripken Jr.

One of the hardest decisions Dube ever had to make was when he decided to forego his professional baseball career. The day before he was to report for 2018 spring training, Dube told the Baltimore Orioles he was done.

“I enjoyed playing when I was on the mound, there was nothing better than competing like that,” said Dube. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision (to leave), like realistic probabilities of being promoted, spending too much time waiting to pitch; we had 14-plus pitchers for nine innings a day. You experience many highs and lows on a daily basis.”

Once he left minor league baseball, he did not have much interest in playing again. Dube said does not plan to return to the minors.

To anyone who is pursuing a career in baseball, Dube says you should work harder each day so that you can say you gave it everything you had once you reach the end. It can end so quickly and you will never have another chance.

When Dube became Windham’s varsity baseball coach he said it was a cool opportunity to coach where he grew up. Since Dube had Rich Drummond as his Athletic Director in high school, it made the transition to coaching easy.

Dube has a lot of nice memories from the Windham program. It’s been cool for Dube to now experience the game from the coaching side.

He is a Project Engineer for Langford and Low Construction in Portland and enjoys snowmobiling and skiing in the winter, hanging out around Sebago, playing softball, and chasing his new puppy Revvy in the summertime. <

Windham’s Talon wins one-on-one title for second year in a row

Windham senior Sarah Talon plays defense during 
the one-on-one championship game at the Maine
Invite Only Top 30 Skills Basketball Camp held
at XL Sports World in Saco on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.
By Matt Pascarella

If you’ve ever seen Windham’s Sarah Talon play during a varsity basketball game, it’s not hard to see why she was picked for Maine’s Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp. She is definitely one of those players that leaves it all on the court and works very hard to continue to improve her game. During the camp, the invitees compete in a one-on-one “Queen of the Court” championship game. On the weekend of Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 at XL Sports World in Saco, Talon won the one-on-one “Queen of the Court” championship for her second year in a row.

Talon began working with her trainer and now the organizer of the Maine Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp, Ben Teer, when she began high school. Teer started and now runs the Top 30 Skills Camp.

Talon got her first invite to the camp from Teer when she was in ninth grade. Talon knew from the start “Queen of the Court” was something she enjoyed very much. She considers one-on-one a specialty of hers and often succeeds at it.

Teer said Talon is a true competitor and one of the most athletic and unstoppable guards in Maine. She has tangibles to take over the game whenever she wants.

“Which is why she’s such a good one-on-one player,” said Teer. “Her athleticism, style of play, and skillset sets her apart in one-on-one. She has a killer instinct and is cutthroat; attacking you over and over and over.”

Athletes are selected to Maine’s Invite Only Top 30 Skills Camp by several ways. Teer reaches out to coaches and Amateur Athletic Union directors asking them who they think are top players in each class. Teer hosts online nominations where anyone can nominate who they think deserves it.

He also travels the entire state and watches thousands of athletes compete. He looks at statewide rankings, newspaper all-state teams and conference top awards. Social media also allows Teer to follow the journeys of many of these athletes.

During the weekend, some of the skills Talon worked on was being aggressive on the court and learning ways to never back down from any competition.

When it came to the one-on-one championship, Talon knew if she had won last year, she was capable of winning again this year.

She said her athleticism and confidence played a big role in winning this competition. She knew what her advantages were and used her athleticism wisely.

“It was very nerve racking ... (winning the one-on-one championship) in front of the entire camp. I knew I had a lot of pressure because of last year’s ‘Queen of the Court’ win.” Talon said her experience this year was amazing.

In order to prepare for the Top 30 Camp and the championship one-on-one game, Talon has been working out in the basketball gym, taking hundreds of shots and repetitions every day. She’s also been playing and practicing with her Amateur Athletic Union team, named Attraction.

“This summer has been very important to me in preparation for this winter. I’m hoping for a very fun and successful winter season,” said Talon. <

Friday, August 13, 2021

Windham Park’s new basketball courts draw attention

The new basketball courts by the Windham Public Safety
Building on Gray Road have been a big hit. The courts are
Phase Two of the larger Windham Community Park project
which also includes sand volleyball courts, scheduled to be 
installed by this fall. PHOTO BY PAT MOODY   
By Matt Pascarella

If you’ve driven by the Windham Public Safety building on Gray Road, you’ve probably noticed the new basketball courts in Windham Park. The bright blue courts are usually occupied by many players from Windham or members of adjoining towns who are very excited about the new facility.

In addition to the basketball courts, there is also a sand volleyball court which is projected to be ready soon. The basketball courts, which are open from dawn to dusk are Phase Two of Windham’s Community Park Project.

The goal of the new courts is to provide a safe and accessible location for people of any age to take part in an activity that is fun and healthy. The vision for the Community Park is to provide something for everyone.

Along with the courts, Phase Two included stormwater management infrastructure, installation of the electrical conduits for eventual installation of lighting and sand volleyball court installation. The final cost of Phase Two was $160,783.

“The department is thrilled to see all of the activity and hear the positive responses to the new courts,” said Windham Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks. “We are grateful for those who are already stepping forward to be good stewards of the property by picking up trash and bottles.”

The basketball courts will soon have four benches that Home Depot will donate. Eventually, the plan is to have the court fenced in with surrounding lights installed. At the moment there is no time frame on when those pieces of the phase will be completed.

In addition to being lined for basketball, the courts are also lined for pickleball. Windham’s Department of Parks and Recreation does have portable nets on order that they will keep at the court for those who would like to play pickleball.

Another part of Phase Two is the sand volleyball courts. The Department of Parks and Recreation are waiting for a few parts to be delivered and will soon be installing the volleyball net. Construction of the nets will hopefully be completed for use this fall. 

Once approved, phase three of the Community Park Project could include a playground, walking path, exercise stations, lighting for the courts and stormwater draining. Brooks said the Department of Parks and Recreation would be seeking potential grant money for some of these items in order to expedite the completion of this multi-phase project.

“It’s nice to have an outside facility to be able to come out to, especially during Covid when a lot of the indoor stuff was shut down,” said Windham resident Michael O’Donnell.  “It’s newer and you can tell they did a good job with it. (The surface is) nice and bouncy ... it’s not as hard on our knees and shins.”

O’Donnell said the courts are good for the town because it provides another area for kids to play. It gets people together and keeps kids out of trouble. He said the more stuff like this that can be brought to the town the better.

“Windham is a growing town with hundreds of youths and adults actively participating in organized basketball and volleyball. This new space gives our growing community access to quality facilities to grow their skills and love of the game,” said former Windham Youth Basketball (WYBA) President and current Board Member Pat Moody.

WYBA and the Windham High School coaches have begun discussing plans for how to best make use of the basketball courts for clinics, tournaments, and potential leagues.

“The Rising Eagles Basketball program will be the first organized program to utilize the courts later this month when Coach Chad Pulkkinen and Coach Geoff Grigsby conduct free training to middle school players interested in skill development and gaining a better understanding of the fundamentals of the game,” said Moody.

Incoming Windham High School senior Nathan Fitzgerald said he’s been to the court several times and likes it because it’s easy to get to and it’s a good way to get outside and get some activity in.

“Instead of people ... going up to Manchester (School), they can just come here. It’s near town center. It’s going to get a lot of people outside and a lot of people active,” said Fitzgerald, who is also excited for more phases of the Community Park Project.

If you would like to donate to the Community Park Project, please call the Windham Department of Parks and Recreation at 892-1905. <

Windham High fall sports season ready to move forward

Tryouts begin later this month for Windham High School's
fall sports teams. A full fall season of prep sports will be 
underway by September and fans will be allowed to
attend games this year. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
By Matt Pascarella

The 2021 Windham High School fall sports season is a go. At this point in time, all sports will be able to play – including football – with this season looking very similar to the spring season, meaning minimal COVID-19 restrictions.

Fans will be allowed at all games and no masks are required if you are outside. The prep sports preseason will begin on Monday, Aug. 16 with tryouts and scrimmages, and the official fall season will start in late August and early September.

As far as the Maine Principal’s Association is concerned, there may be some modifications down the line, but right now the season is looking really good, officials say.

The Windham School Board recently met to discuss what the start of school will look like. Will masks be required or not? Depending on what was decided, athletes playing the only indoor fall sport, volleyball, may or may not be masked.

Windham Middle School and Raymond’s Jordan-Small Middle School will have regular seasons, with the Windham Middle School season beginning in mid-to-late September. Jordan-Small Middle School’s season will begin in early September.

Windham High school Athletic Director Rich Drummond is approaching this season as if it were pre-pandemic times.  He said that the Athletic Department is moving forward and is very excited for the start of the fall prep season.

“I’m very much prepping like it’s the fall of 2019,” said Drummond.

Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Ben Schulz feels pretty good about the group he has returning this season. He said it’s a nice mix of senior leadership and talented young guys. This combination gives the team optimism that returning to the Southern Maine Activities Association playoffs is a realistic goal.

“As we have learned over the past year and a half, things can change pretty quickly,” said Schulz. “If we stay healthy and work hard, I suspect we definitely have the ability to field a team that our community will be proud of.” 

Drummond went on to say that it is proven at this point, kids can participate safely in athletics. It may look a little different at times, but Drummond said they made it work last fall and for the winter and spring seasons. He added he thought athletics can happen not only in Windham, but statewide.

“I think we are going to be strong this year, said Windham varsity field hockey coach Cory DiDonato. The girls are coming in with determination and have done the work this summer to be in a good place when preseason starts. They have been together and know how each other works which is an asset.”

DiDonato said that seniors Sarah Hare, Ellie Wilson and Ellie Miller are going to be key returners. They know what it takes to get it done and how to do so. The rest of the returning teammates are also playing crucial roles for the team too. DiDonato has high hopes and is excited for the season.

This season will add a new sport to the schedule, Esports, or electronic sports. Windham coach Seth Fournier described it as video gaming at another level through organized, strict competitive gameplay. This activity has really grown throughout the state. This will be a varsity sport representing Windham High School.

Fournier said the Esports will work on skills such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and creative problem solving. There will also be a physical component as well. It will not be 100 percent in front of a screen.

Fournier wants to shake the stereotype that you can’t do other things and play video games.

“You can play video games and still be a functioning adult. You can still do what you want and play video games,” said Fournier.

E-sports is going to open up an activity to another population of students who may not normally be involved in the athletic program. Their season will begin in late September.

“(This is) one of the more anticipated exciting falls I’ve been looking forward to in a long time,” said Drummond. “I think we’re going to have great teams and we’ve got great athletes. I think we’re going to have a great fall and it’s a good way to kick off the school year.” <

Tales from the Outdoors: The Worst Hunt Ever?

By Bob Chapin

People often ask me, “What was the worst hunt you were ever on?” You would expect it would be a hunt where I was injured, or where an airplane taking us in crashed on the way out, or simply where we did not get the quarry we were after.  While my last horseback elk hunt in Idaho was no picnic (three broken ribs, knee wrenched and back injury when the horse fell on top of me) it was still a good hunt in beautiful terrain with good companions, and we heard and saw elk though did not shoot at any.

A contender for the worst hunt started out with such promise. There were four of us who were flying in via float plane to a secluded peninsula down in Prince William Sound, Alaska for Black Bear. We flew in on a De Haviland Beaver, the work horse of the north. The plane is capable of carrying a tremendous amount of gear and passengers—as they say you ‘cube it out before you gross it out’ meaning you can’t load any more into it before you reach the gross take-off weight limitation. We took what we thought was going to be a comfortable camp for 6 days in the wilderness—tents, food, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, clothes, and rain gear.  The weather the day we flew in was spectacular—sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, no wind and temps in the 70s—not bad for an Alaskan May.

About the time we got to our campsite and got the tent set up the clouds formed then parted and it started raining like a Southeast Asian Typhoon. It didn’t let up for five days!  We made the best of it we could and hunted hard the first three days. By the fourth day it turned into a survival trek. Everything we owned was wet—all our clothes, our food, our bedding, everything in the tent was wet and so were we.  We even dug a trench under the edge of the tent and bailed water out of it with cooking pots in an effort to find a dry spot. Tempers flared. A normally convivial bunch of guys who all got along well on a normal day, were suddenly at each other. To make matters worse, the promised land of Black Bears was suddenly devoid of game. One guy saw a bear, got a shot …and missed. I don’t know why but we all hated him for missing, like if he made the shot, we all would have somehow felt vindicated. That hunt could not have ended soon enough. Fortunately, the clouds parted the morning of the pick-up day and our air taxi operator showed up as promised. It was a quiet ride out.

Another bust hunt was an elk hunt in western Colorado. This hunt had everything going for it. We had a guy on the ground in Monument who was our liaison, he knew the lay of the land, had hunted this area in the past, was going to get and pre-package all the groceries for our drop hunt and lined up a packer he knew with horses to get us and our gear into the public hunt zone. We had driven out from Virginia for this hunt and were eager to get started. The first indication of trouble was when we arrived at the trailhead to find several horse and camping trailers already there—not good! We pressed on as the packer was confident that this was the entry to a vast area and we would soon out distance the other guys. We used a camp the packer had used before, it was a couple of wall tents and a horse corral. Normally, the wrangler would have ridden out with the horses but two of us elected to hire him as a guide for the first day.

Our guy on the ground and his buddy from Colorado left camp at daybreak and proceeded to fan out on the mountain opposing our camp. The wrangler took two of us up to a saddle in the mountains where, “the elk just pour through here” according to him. We were not 20 minutes out of camp when we heard shooting coming from camp’s direction and we secretly rejoiced for our friends. Shortly, as we approached the saddle we stumbled upon another occupied camp, clearly positioned to intercept the elk as they came through. The area was not large enough to support both our parties, so we returned to camp planning on helping our buds recover their elk.

When we rendezvoused with our buds, we couldn’t believe the stories we heard. The buddy from Colorado shot at a bull but could not describe where he was standing when he shot, where the bull was when he shot, what the reaction of the bull was when hit, or what direction he went once shot. Upon further questioning it was discovered this was his first hunt…for anything, it was a borrowed rifle, he had never fired the rifle on the range, and had no idea where it would hit at 100 yards! We spent two hours looking in vain for any sign of a hit. This guy should never have been in the woods.

Our buddy’s story was even more bizarre. He is an accomplished hunter and should have known better than to leave a novice alone on the hillside. Our buddy shot a cow elk about the same time his buddy shot but rather than stick with it, he elected to go look for his buddy to see if he needed any help…nice thought but not the correct response. Unfortunately, after he heard his buddy’s saga, he was unable to locate his cow. Again, we used valuable hunting time looking for a cow that should have been recovered instantly. Those were the only living elk seen that trip.

Two days later I was hunting in the same general area, and I could smell a dead animal. I started a search pattern across the hillside and had not gone far when I discovered a deceased cow elk under a blown-down tree. In just a couple of days it had been found and fed on by coyotes and a black bear. The shooter walked up as I examined the cow and harvested only the eye teeth as jewelry as the meat was spoiled.

These were two hunts I’d like to forget! <

Friday, August 6, 2021

Windham's Brady Afthim and Emma Yale win National USA Today High School Sports Award

Windham High graduating senior Brady
Afthim has been honored by USA Today
as 2021 Male Athlete of the Year for
Maine and also as Maine 2021
Baseball Player of the Year.
By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School graduating seniors Brady Afthim and Emma Yale ended their spring seasons on very high notes. They both won several awards recognizing them for their hard work over their high school athletic careers and last month each were honored as winners of the National USA Today High School Player of the Year award.

Yale was recognized as Maine’s “Female Lacrosse Player of the Year” and Afthim was recognized as Maine’s “Baseball Player of the Year” and “Male Athlete of the Year.”

USA Today High School Sports Awards has 105 local and statewide award programs and is the largest high school athletic recognition program in the country. The best athletes from many individual sports are selected each year.

Top athletes from statewide levels advance to the national USA Today High School Sports Awards where the best of the best is selected. The selection process is not through application, but rather USA Today has their own selectors that pick athletes through “statistical analysis, game coverage and coach/athletic director feedback.”

Afthim and Yale were part of the virtual national awards show which streamed on Thursday, Aug. 5 and was hosted by Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski.

Afthim, who will attend the University of Connecticut on a baseball scholarship, recently won the Winkin Award, Gatorade Player of the Year and Varsity Maine Player of the Year among other honors. By the end of the season, he had struck out 128 batters in 53 and 1/3 innings pitched. He also had three homeruns over the course of the prep season and also threw a no-hitter.

Tufts-bound Yale set a new Windham High School record of 145 goals scored over a high school athletic career after the end of the 2021 season. She was also one of Windham’s “Female Athlete of the Year” for 2020-2021.  

Yale won the WMTW News channel 8’s Travy Award and was voted the number one player in the state by Maineiax Lacrosse Club. She was a top 10 student of her graduating class at Windham High School and will play college lacrosse for Tufts University.

Afthim said he feels really good about having had a very successful final high school season. As he looks ahead to a collegiate sports career, ending his senior year so well has given him confidence for the next level.

“It’s always cool getting recognition for success,” said Afthim of being chosen for the National USA Today High School Sports Award. He said he did not apply for the honor but was notified a few days prior to being named as the male winner for the state.

He said the awards are a nice confirmation of the work he is putting in.

Recently, Afthim turned down an offer to be drafted to play professional baseball by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“[It was] a little bit scary but also really exciting to even have the opportunity. I turned it down just because I know that I’m not ready for that step right now and I think I’ll be more successful going to the University of Connecticut first,” he said.

As if being a master on the mound wasn’t enough, Afthim also has taken up another sport, bowling. He said it might just be a phase, but he goes bowling a lot and bought his own ball. While it may just be a hobby, he’s competitive and takes everything super seriously.

Windham varsity baseball coach Cody Dube said he was not surprised when Afthim was chosen for this USA Today award. Dube said it was well-deserved as Afthim is a hardworking, committed athlete who loves what he does.

Yale said she was unaware this award existed too until Windham’s Athletic Director Rich Drummond notified her about her being chosen for the USA Today honor.

“It took me by surprise, but it is something I really appreciate, as it recognizes everything I've been able to accomplish and all of the hard work I have put into the sport,” said Yale.

The awards are a nice confirmation for her that she is on the right path. They inspire her to do more as she knows she can achieve bigger goals in the future. Yale is excited to see what she is capable of accomplishing at Tufts.

Before she heads to college, Yale said she’ll be camping with her family as well as some other fun things with family and friends.

Windham girls’ varsity lacrosse coach Matt Perkins said of Yale earlier in the season, “she puts the time in, and she does the extra things. Yes, [Emma] is very gifted, but she works extremely hard.” <

Many athletic opportunities available for Windham youth sports

Windham Youth Football teams will soon begin their fall
season with registration ending Aug. 16 for tackle football for
grades three through eight. Registration for flag football is
By Matt Pascarella

The fall sports season is right around the corner, and with it comes the many Windham youth sports opportunities the town has to offer. Currently, registration is open for the Windham Youth Soccer Association (WYSA), Windham Youth Football and Cheering (WYFC) and the Windham Youth Volleyball Association (WYVBA).

Windham Youth Football & Cheering

Registration for cheerleading, kindergarten through eighth grade; tackle football, grades three to eight ends Aug. 16

Flag football for kindergarten through second grade registration ends Aug. 30. To register visit:

The goal of Youth Football and Cheering is to teach the skills of football or cheering while promoting good sportsmanship and helping the participants to develop a sense of teamwork. Flag football is available for kindergarten through second grade for $75.

Third grade through eighth grade students can participate in tackle football.

Registration for third grade through sixth grade is $120. Teams are grouped by grade with two teams at each level and each team is a mix of both grade levels. Girls are welcome to play tackle football.

Third grade through sixth grade tackle football include a game shirt and mouth guard. Helmets, shoulder pads, black padded football pants, practice shirt, and cleats are not included. Helmets can be rented for $40 with $20 refunded upon return of the helmet. 

Registration for tackle football for grades seven and eight is $150 and include a game shirt, pants as well as practice shirt and pants. Helmets, shoulder pads, padded football girdle (shorts with hip pads and tailbone pads for under football pants) and cleats are not included.

Cheerleading is open to kindergarten through eighth grade with only sneakers needed for participation. Registration is $65.

No Covid restrictions are currently in place. WYFC understands that could change and are prepared with an alternate plan if necessary.

Coaches do not have to wear masks at this point but is subject to any change.

Financial assistance is available, volunteer hours required. WYFC ask people who get financial assistance to volunteer for a few hours in the Snapshot or as a team parent.

Flag football coaches are still needed.

For questions contact Jason Farley at

Windham Youth Soccer Association

Registration ends Aug. 13. To register visit:

The goal of Windham Youth Soccer Association is to provide a fun environment for the development of youth soccer players. The In-House soccer program is available for ages four to 12 and is $80 for the fall. In-House only plays games at Gambo Field in Windham.

Registration for the travel program is currently closed.

WYSA also offers the Little Eagles program for two to three-year-old players for $55. Uniforms are included for both In-House and Little Eagles. A ball is included for Little Eagles. Financial aid is available.

WYSA has established Covid protocols based on current recommendations from the state of Maine and Center for Disease Control.

At this point in time, players are not required to wear masks when playing outdoors, though can if they choose to do so. Unvaccinated coaches are required to wear a mask.

For questions contact Jason Weatherby at

Windham Youth Volleyball Association

Registration ends Sept.10. To register visit:

The goal of Windham Youth Volleyball is to be a starting point for younger kids who wish to play the sport in high school and beyond. This program is a club team for middle school players, grades six to eight.

College coach Chuck Fleck said if your child is serious about volleyball and would like to someday play at the college level, it’s best to start in middle school. Anyone from RSU 14 or other districts are encouraged to join.

The WYVBA season runs parallel to the fall sports season with practices held daily in the Windham Middle School gym. Once the basics are learned, competitions with other area middle schools begin.

The cost is $90 for the season, plus $20 for a personalized team jersey. Jerseys can be used from season to season and financial aid is available on a case-by-case basis.

The only equipment needed is indoor court shoes, kneepads, and a positive attitude.

If there is a Covid protocol in place at the start of the season, WYVBA will follow the decision made by RSU 14 Superintendent Chris Howell.

If interested, Windham Youth Volleyball has coaching and board member positions open.

For questions contact Chuck Fleck at <

Tales from the Outdoors: Summer Doldrums

By Bob Chapin

This is the time of the year that is considered the lazy time. The weather is balmy (when it is not raining), the rental places around the lake are doing a brisk business, area farmers’ markets are chock full of fresh offerings from the garden and the area ice cream parlors all have long lines. The lake waters have warmed up enough that swimmers and tubers are active most of the daylight hours. Life is good. 

For the outdoors men and women this is the time when food plots need caring for, trail cameras can identify what and who is moving about your hunting property, and relations with landowners can be massaged so you have a place to hunt once the seasons resume.

For those who hunt from tree stands this is the time to check the safety of and the shooting lanes from your favorite stands and a time to install new ones as the deer movement patterns may have changed. Land use near your stands may also have changed necessitating a stand movement.

For those of you fortunate enough to have been chosen during the Moose Lottery, now is the time to line up your recovery crew, find lodging and food sources, and a guide, should you feel the need for one. Most of the prime areas for moose are fairly remote and there is not an abundance of lodges and camps up in the unincorporated townships so reserve yours early.

Prices will probably surprise you a bit but remember in some of these areas hunting is the primary source of revenue for those who live there. You will probably only do this once in your life and when the last piece of delicious meat is safely stored away in a cooler you will agree that it was money well spent.

These summer evenings are a great time to take kids fishing. The weather is great, the fish are biting, the insects are not usually bothersome out on the water, and we are blessed here in Maine with an abundance of choices of where and what to fish for.  Fishing can be as simple as a cane pole, a worm, and a hook fished from the shore.

You don’t need a $50,000 bass boat decked out in $10,000 in electronics to catch fish. Some of the most enjoyable and productive fishing I have done has been from a 14’ aluminum boat with a 10-horsepower outboard. The beauty of a boat or a kayak or canoe is that it can get you to more of the fishing water on a lake or pond.

We have a tremendous variety of fish to fish for and most are present in our local lakes and ponds.

For example, I live on Thomas Pond and at any given time of year, except for the transitions to hard water (ice) I can go out my backyard and fish. This 556-acre lake has landlocked salmon, largemouth and small mouth bass, white perch which are particularly active right now, Sunnys, yellow perch, cusk, brook trout, pickerel and eels. I am told there are rainbow trout in the pond but in 13 years I have yet to catch one, so I don’t say we have them.

Sebago Lake is right next door, and I can pull my boat and be fishing on Sebago in about a half hour. The attraction there is larger fish, both salmon and the Lake Trout or Togue. The lake has had its ups and downs as a fishing lake and the old timers tell me it is in a down cycle right now.

It used to be a great lake for salmon, in fact, the town of Raymond prides itself as “Home of the Land Locked Salmon.” Reading recent history books available at area variety and gift shops you will note that this area was largely developed as a fishing destination where sports from New York city and places in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey used to take a train north then transition to horse drawn wagons to get to sporting camps all around the lake.

The pictures confirm that there were more, and larger salmon easily caught. Lakes, and the fish that are in them, change over time due to a host of factors. Fishing pressure introduced or non-native fish such as pike, bass, and Togue, as well as forage fish such as smelt and alewives affect the fishing.

Uses of more water to a growing Portland population, the stocking of Togue by IF & W, the stocking of saltwater variants of smelt as well as relocating smelt as a food source from other lakes within Maine and the “bucket biologists” that have introduced bass and pike have all had an impact on the fish we see today. Still, it is a tremendous resource to have so close. You should get out and try it! <