Friday, March 8, 2024

Windham graduate Tara Flanders reaches basketball milestone of 1,000 points in career

By Matt Pascarella

Windham High School 2019 graduate, Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) graduate and current University of Southern Maine (USM) senior Tara Flanders scored her 1,000th point on Feb. 22 in a semifinal game with University of Massachusetts Dartmouth at USM in Gorham and surpassed 700 rebounds.

Windham graduate and USM senior Tara
Flanders competes during a college
basketball game against Plymouth State
at USM in Gorham. Flanders recently
surpassed 1,000 points in her career.
“Coming to USM I knew that I was only 201 points away from scoring 1,000,” said Flanders. “But I tried not to think about it too much because I never wanted that to be my main focus going into games. The mindset I had was ‘if I get it, I get it, and if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.’ All I cared about was winning games with my teammates. If I’m being honest, I think surpassing 700 rebounds is just as cool as scoring 1,000 career points. Scoring is harder than rebounding because you can have nights were you’re not hitting your shots but getting rebounds is all effort and grit.”

She became interested in basketball at age 5. Flanders remembers her parents driving her to Windham High School to participate in youth camps with the varsity players. Her parents introduced her to a variety of sports, but she always gravitated toward basketball.

“Playing a collegiate sport at any level has its ups and downs,” said Flanders. “I can confidently say that they were some of the best years of my life. The things I learned from basketball I will be able to use with me for the rest of my life, such as how to deal with conflict, how to communicate with people, and how to work together with a group of people to achieve a common goal.”

While at SMCC she got her degree in liberal studies and business administration. She is working toward completing her degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies at USM. Flanders doesn’t specifically know what she wants to do after college but would like to coach. She will start an internship for a non-profit organization called “Strong Girls United” where she’ll be mentoring and working with young girls.

“Tara is only my second player to reach the milestone,” said SMCC women’s basketball coach Katie Stannard. “Tara never goes less than 110 percent while scoring 1,000 points is the headline accomplishment, having over 700 rebounds standing at 5 feet 7 inches actually fits Tara’s value even more. She is always the hardest worker in the room, and there is never any doubt that she will do whatever it takes to make her team successful.”

While Flanders did spend most of her collegiate career at SMCC, she felt she had gotten too comfortable and wanted to challenge herself. She heard there was going to be a new head women’s basketball coach at USM, so she reached out and expressed her interest in playing.

“Tara was extremely valuable this season,” said USM women’s basketball coach David Chadbourne. “Tara’s greatest strength is her ‘motor.’ She literally never stops and always plays all out. Tara is a wonderful person and teammate. I would have loved to have Tara for all four years, but I am grateful for the one season I had the privilege to coach her.”

She wouldn’t have been able to reach this milestone without the confidence that her SMCC coaches gave her. They saw something in her she didn’t see in herself as a freshman. They motivated and pushed her every practice; she was held to a higher standard than others. Flanders trained and practiced off the court.

“It feels really cool to be able to say I ... hit some of these huge milestones throughout my college career,” said Flanders. “I am even more grateful for the love and support I have had from my teammates, coaches, family and friends along the way.”

Her dad, Mike Flanders, will miss watching his daughter play. It’s been their thing traveling together chasing basketball courts from Windham to as far away as Virginia.

Flanders said that she would like to thank her mom, Kelly, and her dad, who have been her biggest cheerleaders. She said their love and enthusiasm is what has kept her going and she greatly appreciates them. Also, she thanks her SMCC coaches Katie Stannard, Patrick Haviland, Vanese Barns, and Danielle Pinkham, saying they shaped her into the player she is today.

According to Flanders, playing in front of people she loves, like friends and family, makes playing her favorite sport much more enjoyable. <

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