Friday, August 25, 2023

Windham varsity girls’ soccer progresses as a team during preseason scrimmage

By Matt Pascarella

With the start of the regular fall season beginning next week for some of the fall sports, Windham’s varsity girls’ soccer team took on York on the road during a scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 19. Windham’s defense allowed no goals in two halves and Windham offense found the back of the net multiple times to walk off the field with a 3-0 win.

Windham varsity junior Stella Jarvais heads toward the goal
during a preseason varsity girls' soccer game on Saturday,
“Since we’re such a young team we’re getting used to all ... playing together,” said Windham junior Stella Jarvais who scored during the game. “Everything is just going upward ... we passed very well. [Windham] is a team that works really hard, and we will always put the team first.”

Windham junior Kyla Harvie scored early in the game. Windham got out in front of the ball and worked hard to stay with it.

Harvie said the team has gotten closer throughout the preseason and they’ve bonded as a team to get to where they are. They started strong and Harvie feels like it’s going to be a good season.

Windham had multiple shots on York’s goal during the preseason scrimmage. Partway through the first half, Windham sophomore Marley Jarvais scored from a kick from junior Hannah Lee.

Windham’s defense limited scoring opportunities for York and kept the ball away from Windham’s goal for most of the game. At the half, Windham led 2-0.

Intensity remained strong as Windham began the second half. They had several shots on goal and Stella Jarvais scored when she knocked the ball in the net off a corner kick. Windham remained in control of the pitch and their defense stayed tough.

“It’s so early,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer assistant coach Jim Stewart. “To expect to be at a level where we want to be this early is tough ... today was the beginning of smooth; it wasn’t even, it wasn’t soft, but it was smooth. I think it’s really encouraging of the things we’re able to do with a pretty young team.”

Stewart said that the preseason win was nice to have, but for him it’s more about what they are doing together as a team and what kind of game they’re playing.

Two minutes remained in the game when Windham freshman Isabella Vassoler had a close shot at goal that just barely missed going in.

Vassoler said this was her first girls’ varsity soccer game and she said the team’s passing improved as game went on, and that the squad’s hustle had also improved.

"We’re starting to come together,” said Windham girls’ varsity head coach Deb Lebel. “We knew that we had some holes to fill, but this ... felt like a good steppingstone for what’s next.”<

Bowling continues to make difference in life of Windham autistic teen Colin Robinson

By Matt Pascarella

From the moment 18-year-old Windham resident Colin Robinson stepped onto the bowling lanes, he was hooked, and an impact was made.

Windham's Colin Robinson displays his trophy
after winning the Rhode Island Youth Master's
Bowling Tournament on June 3 in Warwick,
Robinson has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and is considered very high functioning, but has a very quiet personality. Bowling has helped him be more comfortable communicating with people. It has helped him learn to work in high stress situations with multiple stimuli, remain calm and keep his focus on specific tasks. He has been bowling for 12 years and has competed in bowling tournaments across New England as well as a few in New York.

This past year, Robinson earned nearly $1,000 in scholarships based on both performance and awards. He was one of three recipients of the Roger Perrault Scholarship from the Lewiston-Auburn chapter of the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), the sport’s governing body in the United States.

Robinson said he got interested in bowling by practicing with his dad, John Robinson, who is a USBC level 1 certified coach. Colin Robinson said he likes to bowl because it’s competitive and fun. It’s exciting because he gets to compete with skilled bowlers.

Both Colin and his father were practicing at a bowling alley and the manager let them know they had a youth league on Saturdays. They gave it a try and things immediately clicked for Colin Robinson.

He competed in about 25 bowling tournaments last year. Recently, he won two DJBT handicap tournaments, a series in New England during the 2022-2023 season. In a handicap tournament, a predetermined value is added to the pin count. He also recently posted his first scratch tournament win at the Rhode Island Youth Masters.

This was an important win for the Windham teen because he was consistent in hitting his targets and shooting spares, two skills he has worked hard to master in practice.

In 2022, he qualified and competed in Junior Gold, a large tournament where his division, the Under 18 boys, had as many as 1,300 participants. Robinson also bowled in the Junior Gold tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2022 and in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2023.

John Robinson said it’s amazing to watch his son work toward achieving his goals. This season, Colin Robinson started out averaging a score in the 150s in both league and tournament competitions. In the last two months of the season, he was consistently averaging a score in the 170s during tournaments.

“Bowling has helped Colin in every way possible; physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, etc.,” said John Robinson. “He’s learned to calm himself and work with and support his peers. I get just as excited when he gives someone a fist bump or says ‘nice shot’ as when he throws a great shot himself. He’s ... made tremendous progress.”

To watch him practice, it’s evident that Colin Robinson works very hard on his game. This past year, he bowled with some of the best youth bowlers in the country under some of the toughest conditions. And he still practices for these tournaments with his father, although Colin Robinson’s official coach is Jimmy Clark.

“He is so amazing to work with,” said Clark, the owner of Bowler Builders Pro Shop and a USBC silver-level certified coach. “I have watched him embrace every challenge thrown his way. I see more confidence in his actions. Watching Colin grow as an individual has also made him a better teammate. Having autism can make the communication between bowlers a little tricky, but Colin is now able to talk with his fellow bowlers with more confidence and more success.”

According to Colin Robinson, his years of bowling have taught him how to compete against some of the best bowlers. He said practicing with his dad is fun and helps him bowl better.

“Autism and other neurodivergent disorders are a very broad spectrum,” said John Robinson. “I encourage every parent to at least give bowling a try. It doesn’t have to be in a league; just get out and let them roll the ball down the lane. I’m in bowling centers three to four days a week and I frequently see groups of people from high functioning to severely impaired. The joy on their faces when their ball hits the pins is incredibly heartwarming.”

Colin Robinson will compete in a tournament in Rhode Island on Sept. 9 and his league bowling will begin on Sept. 16.

Colin and John Robinson are in the process of setting up goals and planning tournaments for the upcoming season. They say that their big goal is converting to two-handed bowling, where his left hand supports the ball up until he releases it. In addition, Colin Robinson will build upon his existing skills, so that he can do his best and qualify for next year’s Junior Gold. <

Friday, August 18, 2023

Windham residents show skills in Maine Senior Games

By Matt Pascarella

Whether you’re competing in one event or several in the Maine Senior Games sponsored by Martin’s Point Health Care and AARP, it’s a great opportunity for individuals beginning at age 45 to meet and compete against others their age. 

There were over 90 athletes at the track and field event from all over New England and included Windham residents Gene Kirkpatrick and Mariellen Sheridan. It was held at Saint Joseph’s College on Sunday, August 13.

Windham resident Gene Kirkpatrick clears the high jump bar
at 4-02.75 feet to set a new meet record in his age range at
the Maine Senior Games track and field event at Saint
Joseph's College on Sunday, Aug. 13.
The Maine Senior Games began in the mid-1980s. According to their website, “The mission of the Maine Senior Games is to provide athletic events and wellness opportunities to improve the health and fitness of people 45 and over.”

Coordinator of the event and Saco resident Karen Reardon has been involved with athletics all her life; she was a coach at South Portland and Biddeford. She retired in 2021 and joining the Maine Senior Games was a chance to continue doing what she loved. She’s been involved with the games for 15 years and this is her first year as coordinator.

“Being involved in sports is what really attracted me to the Maine Senior Games and the mission of the games, is to get people moving,” said Reardon. “[To be] active and be as healthy as possible.”

While these particular events were track and field, the Maine Senior Games offers a variety of events from basketball to bowling to cornhole to pickleball.

Windham resident Gene Kirkpatrick was always very competitive in track in high school. When he heard about the Maine Senior Games, it sounded like something he thought he could do. Currently in his second year participating, the games have gotten him much healthier, and he’s been exercising and eating better.

“At this age, it’s the comradery, meeting new people and forming new friendships is the biggest benefit,” said Kirkpatrick.

For Kirkpatrick it’s not so much about competing against others, but more about competing against himself and trying to beat his personal records.

Kirkpatrick jumped a height of 4-02.75 feet in the high jump which exceeded his goal in that event and was a new meet record in the 70-74 age bracket for the Maine Senior Games. In the triple jump, he placed third with a 22-07.00 distance.

Windham resident Mariellen Sheridan has been participating in the games for five years. Sheridan said she competes for the opportunity to train and be with other people while having a good time and staying healthy. In her age group, she finished first in the 100-meter-dash with a time of 21.94 seconds. She also finished first in the javelin with a throw of 58-08, first in the discus with a throw of 1-08.75 and first in the 200 with a 49.91 time.

Sheridan has always been an athlete. And the games gives her a goal and something to look forward to. She works to beat those goals and competing builds her confidence up for next year.

Massachusetts resident Chuck Rossetti is in his second year of the games. He said it was a fun time, well organized, nice and relaxed. The volunteers are fantastic and it’s a joy to compete.

“The Maine Senior Games gives [its participants] motivation to stay active and social interactions,” said Reardon. “For some it’s trying to see if they can make it to Nationals, for others they just want to do it. Having that physical outlet, we all think of it as happening in high school and college and all the youth sports, but if you like to do that, that never really goes away, and this is a place to do it.”

You don’t have to be an expert to participate in any events offered by the Maine Senior Games. You can come to an event and watch or try an event and see how it goes. All skill levels are welcome. <

WYBA’s Sonic Coed 3-on-3 Tournament brings communities together

By Matt Pascarella

After a few years off, Windham Youth Basketball Association’s Sonic Coed 3-on-3 Tournament returned on Saturday, Aug. 12 in Windham and with a great turnout of 16 teams from third graders to adults 40-plus who were playing in a friendly competition that brings not just players and supporters from Windham, but also surrounding towns.

Gray senior Noah Hebert makes his way to the hoop during
the eighth Sonic Coed 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament hosted
by the Windham Youth Basketball Association on Saturday,
Aug. 12 in Windham. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
“This tournament is for a good cause,” said Windham resident and Windham Youth Basketball Association (WYBA) coach Lily Cooper. “It’s a memorial tournament that we’ve been coming to and supporting for years. Just being able to see the kids play together coed, it’s not something they get to do very often. I love being able to see the boys and girls get together and play. It’s great for all the teams and the kids to support each other.”

The tournament was created to celebrate Windham High School basketball player Dan Giguere, who passed away in a car accident. Giguere was a coach, a teacher, a father of three sons and was very active in the community.

WYBA raised close to $1,500 from the tournament which will be split between the Youth Basketball programs and the Windham High School basketball programs.

Gray senior Noah Hebert loves basketball and said the tournament is a fun opportunity to play. For Hebert, spending time with friends, meeting new people and playing a competitive sport he likes is very positive.

“It was time to bring it back,” said WYBA president Ben Delewski. “We have these nice new courts [by the Public Safety building]. It was a great showing, beautiful weather and was a ton of fun.”

Delewski wants to build up the basketball culture in Windham, and events like this can help to start building those powerhouse teams. The Sonic 3-on-3 Coed Tournament helps because the younger kids look up to the older kids and the older kids become role models and with the adults participating everyone can learn from one another and just have a good time. It also teaches to include everyone, as girl’s baskets are worth double the points.

“This is a great cause; perfect day to be out here, seeing everybody. For me, just happy to be playing and keep moving. Everybody’s here having fun,” said Windham resident Johnathan Bassett.

According to Delewski, the tournament teaches kids how to play the right way and get good open shots, having fun and being part of a team. A lot of kids hadn’t played since the end of the winter season, so this is a good summer activity and gets the kids talking about basketball and preparing for the upcoming season.

“I really wanted to play basketball, because I haven’t played since the winter,” said Windham fourth grader Colby Sargent. This was Sargent’s first year playing in the tournament. “It’s really fun because you’re just getting out and playing for fun. It raises money and it’s really good for people to get out and just play.”

Windham graduate and resident Nick Curtis used to play in the tournament as a kid and said it was a lot of fun to play in it now. Curtis said it brings everyone together and supports the basketball programs in a friendly environment.

Windham resident and parent Angela Wyman said the tournament is about team building and community building. She likes that other communities are part of it. Her boys have been playing basketball since they were little and look forward to it every time. It keeps kids involved and brings families and communities together while supporting the basketball programs.

“I’m really pleased with how many people showed up and all the smiles,” said Delewski. <

Friday, August 11, 2023

Windham Little League ceremony recognizes outgoing players

By Matt Pascarella

Windham Little League’s 2023 closing ceremony and 12-year-old aging out ceremony is a way to close out the season and congratulate those 12-year-old players who have aged out of the program, while also thanking them for their time and dedication with the presentation of a medal and a gift. This year’s ceremony took place at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm in Windham on Monday, Aug. 7 and was followed by a Home Run Derby and an informal game.

Windham eighth grader Evelyn Robinson slides safely into
home during an informal softball/baseball game as part of
Windham Little League's closing and aging out ceremonies 
at Ciccarone Field at Lowell Farm in Windham on
Windham Little League recognized softball players Eliana Kostopoulos, Layla Pinto, and Evelyn Robinson along with baseball players Silas Clark, Bryon Davis, Dylan Emmons, Chase Gagnon, Riley Gallagher, Brady Legere, Ryan Manning, Sullivan Nappi, Troy Otterson, Hunter Pulkkinen and Cody Ruth.

“It’s important to recognize these kids through their years of Little League so that they feel important and want to stay involved in baseball and softball,” said Windham Little League president Tim Gaudet. “All the way from T-Ball to Majors Division each kid develops in a certain way, they get different coaches and different perspectives on teaching fundamentals.”

Gaudet said he will miss this particular group of Little League players because he has coached a lot of these kids since they played T-Ball. The talent of this group is what stands out to him as well as the fact that they really love playing with and for each other. Gaudet said he likes that they all love being part of a team.

The Home Run Derby ended in a three-way tie with Gallagher, Nappi and Robinson all hitting two home runs. They each received a gift card for their participation.

“It’s been a good, program, good teammates; I loved it,” said Windham seventh grader Gallagher. “All the kids are nice; the coaches are good. I’ve learned a lot about hitting and definitely catching.”

Gallagher had never caught until the AAA Division. Once he started, he has caught ever since. He said that he wants to play in high school, college, and middle school and is sad to age out of Windham Little League.

Windham eighth grader Robinson said that Windham Little League has been a fun time and she’s learned you don’t have to win every single game. She’s enjoyed playing and wants to work on her hitting, with plans to play in high school and college.

Rave X Motorsports coach Ralph Gallagher said it’s bittersweet to have his son age out. They had a great All-Star season and seeing the kids with all the different ability levels all the way up through, his focus as coach was to keep it fun – he wanted the kids to walk away at the end of the season and remember that about Little League.

Ralph Gallagher said Little League teaches the ability to strikeout and get back up the next time. You can’t change what happened in the past, but what you can change is how you react moving forward. You can make up for it in the field or at the plate or make a play. That’s what life is about – if something gets you down you can’t let it hold you down.

Baseball and softball teach kids about growth in areas that are both physical and mental. Ralph Gallagher stressed the important role volunteering plays for Windham Little League. He’s been a coach since T-Ball and said it’s very satisfying, you only get these years once with your child.

Windham Little League is always looking for volunteers and coaches for both softball and baseball. If you are interested, please reach out to Tim Gaudet at 207-939-6235 or at <

Varsity basketball players give back to community by training younger players

By Matt Pascarella

When Windham High varsity senior Erik Bowen and varsity sophomore AJ Moody were up-and-coming basketball players, they had older players they trained with and looked up to. To inspire and help a new generation of younger Windham players, Bowen and Moody recently started conducting training sessions in a newly built gym at Moody’s home.

Windham participants work on their basketball
skills with WHS varsity players Erik Bowen
and AJ Moody during basketball training
sessions on July 25 in Windham.
“When they come here, it’s not like [we] want them to be like us, said Moody. “You want them to be better than you. So ... they can achieve more and love the game more.”

Kids come in and talk to them about what they want to work on. Sometimes Bowen and Moody have a plan and sometimes they’ll implement shooting and dribbling drills into a training session.

Bowen and Moody offer one-on-one sessions or trainings in small groups. They’ll referee games so participants can utilize the skills being taught to them. They also offer open gym sessions and will soon be announcing a middle school 3-on-3 league.

The main focus is basketball, but they also want to bring fun and a love of the game into their training sessions. If you want to succeed at the game, you really need to develop a passion for it, and Bowen and Moody are working to accomplish that with their participants.

“We’re trying to get them better but also have them have a fun time and teach them skills like relationship building,” said Bowen.

Sixth grader Julia Call and third grader Callen Call said they have enjoyed these basketball trainings.

Julia Call said the training shows her how to shoot better and make her dribbling moves work better.

Callen Call says Bowen and Moody make skills, drills, and scrimmages more fun.

Some of the drills Bowen and Moody teach to participants are the same drills they work on during their varsity practices. If the younger participants who learn those drills know and develop that muscle memory, it can only help them as they progress in the sport.

Bowen said using what they’ve learned in practice also helps them too. If they’re teaching what they are practicing, that’s going to increase Bowen and Moody’s muscle memory and they’ll do better on the court.

“[I like] talking to the youth and wanting them to be in my position one day,” said Moody. “And to let them know, it’s going to be one nice ride.”

There is a varying cost to the training depending on what you’re looking for. Bowen and Moody are planning to donate some of their funds to the Dempsey Center as well as put some of their money back into their trainings.

“Younger kids aren’t going to come up and tell you they look up to you, but I know they look up to us,” said Bowen. “Trying to create a more personable connection with the younger people that are the future of our community and our basketball program; it’s been nice.”

Moody said if he had had an opportunity like this when he was younger, he would have taken advantage of it. He wants to take his energy and love of the game and give that to the little kids he is teaching so that they can become better basketball players.

“It’s impressive to have these older kids give back,” said Julia and Callen’s father, Chris Call.

Both Bowen and Moody say they are trying to leave the Windham basketball program better than they found it.

They’ve gotten more of a response to their training sessions than expected, and there is still time to sign up by calling 207-239-9576 or 207-838-1604. <

Friday, August 4, 2023

Windham varsity boys’ basketball wraps up successful summer session

By Matt Pascarella

It’s been a busy and productive summer for the Windham High School boys’ basketball team. They became Gold Rush champions during a basketball camp at Thomas College in Waterville. The entire team has been working hard each morning showing up for early morning practices. In the final game of the summer season, Windham boys’ varsity beat Edward Little at home, 56-49, on Thursday, July 27 in a game that showcased their hard work and dedication.

Windham's Conor Janvrin dribbles past two Edward Little
opponents during a summer basketball game at Windham
High School on Thrursday, July 27.
For the first time, the boys’ high school basketball program invited Windham seventh and eighth graders to join them in a week of practices as they finished their summer season.

“We couldn’t wait for the summer to start, just because of the guys we had coming back,” said Windham varsity boys’ basketball coach Chad Pulkkinen. “Summer has been great, because we get to hang out with these guys, but also helping fuel their passion for the game. It’s very rewarding for me.”

During the final game of the summer season, Edward Little jumped to an early lead. Windham tied the game with the Red Eddies several times and the game was tied at 22 at the half.

At the start of the second half, Windham really increased their intensity and took the lead. Windham remained out in front and made it difficult for Edward Little to get this win.

Windham junior Creighty Dickson said they pushed the pace, finished at the rim and played fast pace on defense; it was a solid game.

When Pulkkinen opened practice up to seventh and eighth graders, he said he’s seen his players start to understand their roles as role models and that gives them a sense of how to hold themselves as players and athletes. It’s a win-win for both sides. It’s been very collaborative and powerful for the program.

“It’s been good we all work out together a lot,” said Windham junior Conor Janvrin. “We all worked together, everyone knows their role and plays a part in the team; I’m looking forward to the upcoming season [this winter].”

Windham sophomore AJ Moody, sunk 3 three-pointers during the Edward Little game, said this was the last summer with some of the seniors. He really wanted to show up for them and put everything on the line; he couldn’t ask for a better coaching staff. He likes teaching the upcoming high school players new things and he can’t wait to play with them.

The varsity players got to show the middle school players how they do things offensively and strategically. The overall comradery has been really fun. Pulkkinen enjoyed seeing his team as a great set of role models. It was fun for him to see varsity players giving back to the youth program.

“It was really fun to watch and play against a bunch of high-level players and being able to learn from them,” said Windham eighth grader Sean Lebel. “They showed me the pace that high school basketball is played at and is a very big step up from middle school. It was a great way for me to work on fundamentals and get up a lot of shots. It was nice to build relationships with a lot of the high schoolers too.”

Windham junior varsity and assistant varsity coach Geoff Grigsby said the commitment and dedication he’s seen on the court from players of all ages this summer really proves Windham is a basketball community on the rise. <

Windham’s Eagle Soccer Camp builds foundation for future success

 By Matt Pascarella

If ever there was a definition of community it was evident during Windham’s Eagle Soccer Camp. In its first year, this week-long camp was run by the varsity girls’ and boys’ soccer programs of Windham High School and took place from July 24 to July 28 at Windham High School.
Counselors and varsity girls' soccer players Olivia Shaw,
front, and Marley Jarvais give a demonstration at the
Eagle Soccer Camp on Friday, July 28 at Windham

The camp combined players of all skill levels from kindergarten to eighth grade and they had the help of current and graduated high school players, as well as varsity coaches and a variety of community members. The goal was to provide an affordable community-based high-quality soccer instructional environment.

“This is building a program for the future,” said Eagle Soccer Camp organizer and Windham boys’ varsity soccer coach Jeff Neal. “The camp was about providing a niche service that would benefit both the Windham Youth South Association program and school teams; we have Windham Youth Soccer Association, high school, and college kids out here. All at the same field at the same time interacting with each other – that’s beautiful. This was a way where I could see we could kind of glue it all together and provide a little bit of cohesion and offer supports across the board.”

The camp was broken up into morning and afternoon sessions with campers divided into groups by age. The morning sessions were about working on skills, while the afternoons were an opportunity to apply those skills in scrimmages and activities.

“It’s important for the younger kids to have older girl role models,” said Windham junior Emily Talbot. “It’s a good experience for us to be with the younger kids who will be playing high school and for them to help us and see what it’s like to [play] with the older kids.”

Talbot said it was a great opportunity to work with the boys’ varsity soccer team more because the teams are separate during the season. She enjoyed watching the younger kids have fun and get involved in playing the game they love.

Windham junior Luke Cunniffe said the week was good and the camper’s energy has been through the roof. Cunniffe said it made him excited for the future of the program. Spending a week as a coach made Cunniffe see the game differently. During the season, it can get stressful, so to see the kids playing unconditionally with a smile on their faces makes it super fun and makes him remember why they all started playing.

Windham graduate Julia McKenna really looked forward to jumping into this week. She was impressed by how resilient the second graders in her group were. It was very hot during the week, the kids were tired, but they wanted to learn.

McKenna said this was a positive experience and she enjoyed getting to know the kids on a personal level as well as being able to help them on the soccer field.

Fifth grader Natalie Brey joined the camp because she likes soccer and wanted to get better. She said it was a positive experience and she learned new moves like how to keep the ball away from a defender. She would eventually like to play in high school and college.

“Surround yourself with awesome people and amazing things happen,” said Neal.

The camp was successful because of the people involved. The campers kept their attitudes positive through the heat, tried their best and were willing to try new stuff. The staff, including athlete trainer Casey Sinclair, were the ones making it happen, making it a success.

Windham varsity boys’ soccer junior Sam Rogers said the week was a success because everyone loves the sport, and it’s been a good week with a lot of kids learning about soccer. He likes being a role model for younger players.

“Our goal was to help run a camp that served the entire community,” said Windham girls’ varsity soccer coach Deb Lebel. “We’ve connected with 10 to 12 kids in our group, and they know us and know us well. And also know the players on the field, so when they come to watch a varsity game, they are cheering on someone they know and feel really connected to.”

Lebel said an unexpected outcome of the week was the boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer teams getting to work together and become more united. There’s been a lot of excitement; kids want to increase their skillsets and aspire to accomplish as much as they can.

Eighth grader Luke Hangge is a goalie and said he wanted to improve his footwork. The week went well, and he’s learned to have control with his feet. He said he really learned a lot and enjoyed the camp; the coaches made it fun and structured. He would like to participate in it again. <