Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

By Devin Lachappelle – Contributing Writer

   Although the Farmington area has yet to see significant snowfall, members of UMF’s Alpine Ski teams are already hitting the slopes and training hard as they look to get a strong start to the season. They hope to eventually make a run for the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in March.

   Jed Stevens, a Junior and a captain of the men’s team, is cautiously optimistic about this season. Stevens expects that both the men’s and women’s teams will put up strong performances despite a lack of upperclassmen racers.

Ben Higgins takes a practice run down Chicken Pitch, a steep section of trail at Sugarloaf Mountain
Credit: Ben Higgins

   “We have a very young ski team this year,” Stevens said. “Luckily for me, the majority of our team has an ample amount of experience in racing. My expectations for the team this year are high, but skiing is a tough sport, so we take on our season by going one race at a time.”

       Jess Freeborn, a sophomore and a captain of the women’s team, agreed with Stevens, and noted that she appreciated her teammates’ energy. “The women’s Alpine team is a young but vibrant team,” she said. “The team [is] extremely excited and eager to hit the snow.”

   Although her teammates have shown incredible enthusiasm about this alpine ski season, Freeborn said that she still likes to keep a careful eye on her fellow racers to make sure no one gets overwhelmed.

   “I help make sure everyone’s attending practices and in a good place emotionally and academically,” she said. “I have been called the team mom more than a few times!“

    Ben Higgins, a recent transfer student from Currie College and a new addition to the men’s Alpine Ski team, was a bit more outspoken about his goals than Stevens and Freeborn were. “We’ve had nationals on our Google Calendar all year,” Higgins said, in reference to the USCSA Championships, which are held in New York at the end of the ski season.

   While the Alpine Ski teams don’t have official home racing venues, Stevens mentioned that he and his teammates train often at Titcomb Mountain, a small ski mountain located two miles from the school’s campus.

   “UMF and its snow sports teams have an excellent relationship with Titcomb Mountain,” Stevens said. “In my own personal opinion, Titcomb has one of the best trails for slalom races in the state of Maine.”

   Stevens also noted that Titcomb is particularly accommodating to UMF students, both for those looking to watch races and those looking to ski. “[Titcomb is] only ten minutes away and provides free skiing to all UMF students, [so] if you want to come watch us compete, this is the venue to do it,” he said.

   Stevens and Higgins mentioned that although it isn’t as close to campus as is Titcomb, Sugarloaf Mountain is a fantastic place to practice, given its substantial size and the difficulty of its trails.

    “Sugarloaf provides us with an opportunity to train on a large mountain with challenging terrain, which gives us a major edge in races held on difficult slopes,” Stevens said. “Once the season gets into full swing, this is our preferred training space for giant slalom [races].”

   Higgins agreed and said, “I would consider Sugarloaf to be part of our extended community here at UMF.” With laughter in his voice, Higgins continued, “It’s not too far away; if you give it a little bit of a lead foot you can get there pretty quickly.”

   The full schedules for the men’s and women’s alpine ski teams can be found at http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/malpineski/2017-18/schedule and http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/walpineski/2017-18/roster, respectively.

   Any UMF student interested in getting a free season pass to Titcomb Mountain should visit http://www.titcombmountain.com/.

UMF Women take 2nd, Men 3rd at NAC Cross Country Championships

UMF Women take 2nd, Men 3rd at NAC Cross Country Championships

By Devin Lachapelle – Contributing Writer

Led by three individual top-ten performances for the women and two individual top-ten performances for the men, UMF’s women’s and men’s cross country teams earned second and third place finishes at the North Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships, which took place in Farmington for the first time in ten years.

UMF’s top female runner was Katie LeBlanc, who placed second out of ninety-five total runners. Teammates Laura Pulito, Gwen Baker, Chloe Kenyon and Molly Jack finished fifth, eighth, twenty-third and twenty-fourth, respectively.

UMF’s best male runner of the day was Jeremiah Sands, who finished second in a field of eighty-five. Robbie Hollis finished in eighth, while David Doering, Cory McCullough, and Connor Marland rounded out the rest of UMF’s scoring positions at eighteenth, thirtieth and thirty-third.

The NAC Championships were held on the Mt. Blue High School campus in Farmington, which Hollis, a captain of the men’s team, said was to the advantage of the UMF runners.

“It’s a slow course, considering the hills, and mentally we knew we would have that edge as a team if we trained here,” he said.

Hollis, in his fourth year at UMF, said he was excited that Farmington had the chance to host such a big event. “There’s a set schedule where it’s decided where the North Atlantic Conference meet is held each year,” he said, “and it was good to see that NACs were going to be held here my senior year.”

UMFs Robbie Hollis approaches the finish line as assistant coach Moninda Morube (left) watches.
Photo Courtesy of Devin Lachapelle

Pulito, a captain of the women’s team, agreed with Hollis and said that much of both teams’ conditioning activities involve exercises designed specifically for the trail system at Mt. Blue. “This is our home course, so we train on it all season and we know it really well,” she said. “We do a lot of hill workouts because there are so many hills on this course.”

Pulito mentioned that preparation for races is not only physical but also mental. “We do a lot of visualization where we sit in a circle and [coach Dan Campbell] brings us through the race,” she said, “and we sit there with our eyes closed and picture the whole thing.”

Moninda Marube, an assistant coach of both the men’s team and the women’s team, said that he was extremely pleased with the tenacity shown by his runners during the race.

“Mentally and emotionally they’re very strong,” he said. “They worked hard; I saw them push, and it really worked out.”

Marube emphasized that his role as a coach was that of a supportive mentor and that the UMF runners deserved most of the credit for the team’s success.

“My purpose is to help them focus and not be nervous,” he said. “They prepared themselves very well. I’m impressed.”

The women’s and men’s teams will both be participating in the NCAA New England Regional Championships in Gorham, Maine later this month.

Full results from the NAC Cross Country Championships and details about the upcoming NCAA Regional meet can be found at http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/wxc/2017-18/schedule for the women and http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/mxc/2017-18/schedule for the men.

With the End of Fall Ball, UMF Softball Takes a Break.

With the End of Fall Ball, UMF Softball Takes a Break.

By Gavin Elliott – Contributing Writer

   UMF’s softball team recently completed their fall ball season with a tight-knit scrimmage that pitted Beaver against Beaver.

The 2017-2018 Softball Team (L to R)
Top row: Coach Kat McKay, Justice Merrill, Alyssa Dillan, Tasha DeRoche, Kailyn Hill, Brianna McGrath, Kayleigh Oberg, Brittany Dugal, and Kalyn Grover.
Bottom row: Melissa Veitch, Amber Grady, Callie Hammer, Margaret Fogarty, Erika Whitman, Taylor Burke, Amber Raymond, and Abby Shields.
Not shown: Kylee Atwood and Hope Faulkingham
(Photo courtesy of Kiana Thompson)

   After the scrimmage, UMF sophomore Alyssa Dillian said, “it was a great way to end the [fall ball] season because it was competitive, but also really fun.”

   This scrimmage was just one of several ways to help the team bond. According to second-year Head Coach Kat McKay, “the purpose of fall ball is to bring together a group of people, some who have never met or played together, put them on the same page, and start to build unity in what everyone already has knowledge of.”

   This especially benefits freshmen who have never had a chance to play with the softball team before. “I felt like a part of the team…I got to understand my new team’s personality,” said Callie Hammer, a UMF freshman.  

   UMF sophomore Amber Grady echoed her team’s sentiments. “It was definitely a learning experience for all of us.” Along with building skill and communication with the team, the players also learned about one another on a personal level.

   Beginning last year, the softball team went on its second annual team bonding trip. This year, the Beavers went camping in Avon, Maine for one night.

   “Last year we went canoeing,” said McKay. “It’s about getting the girls out of their comfort zones because they finally start to laugh together and let their guard down.”  

   Reiterating Coach McKay’s comment, Grady said, “[the camping trip] went really well, we all got to know everyone and see each other come out of our shells.”

   Reminiscing about the trip, Erika Whitman, a UMF sophomore, looked at her teammates and laughed, saying she “loved when we sat around the campfire and bonded over pizza and embarrassing stories.”

   Smiling and chuckling at Whitman’s comment, UMF sophomore Kalyn Grover added, “my favorite part was definitely watching the sunrise with my teammates,” said Grover.  

   After a two month break, the team will resume their hard work and practice at the start of the new year, followed by a trip to Clermont, Florida to compete in the 2018 Spring Games in March. Here, the Beavers will play a variety of teams from all over the U.S..

   At the Spring Games, the team will not only be together on the field, but also staying together for an entire week. “I’m looking forward to [the Spring Games], being with my team again and hanging out,” said Dillian. “[We] really bond in Florida when [we] get to live together and get our first chance to play against others with our new team.”

   Last year in regular season, the team’s only goal was to beat the previous year’s number of wins. However, the team “found so much success, it opened some of the other team’s eyes to UMF being a contender,” said McKay.

   Looking forward to the upcoming season, Dillian said, “it will take some work to get to where we left off last season, but I think we are capable of repeating what we did last year, even with our young team.”

   Although there is uncertainty about how this year’s team will perform in the spring season, one thing is clear: the team is looking forward to picking up their gloves and bats to prove themselves on the field once again.

Baseball: Beavers Fall in First Doubleheader at Hippach Field

Baseball: Beavers Fall in First Doubleheader at Hippach Field

By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer

Seniors of the 2017 UMF Baseball Team (Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

Seniors of the 2017 UMF Baseball Team (Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

The sun was peering out from behind the clouds, and the weather seemed perfect for the UMF Baseball team’s debut game at Hippach Field this season. The Beavers came out to an impressive crowd for a Tuesday afternoon, sporting their new striped jerseys and ready to take on Husson University Eagles for a conference doubleheader.

“Having played twenty-one road games and having no outside practices,” said Head Coach Chris Bessey, “it felt phenomenal to get on Hippach and play…in front of home fans was great and I think reenergizing to our players for the stretch run of the season.”

The Eagles came out attacking in the second inning earning their first run. It didn’t take long for the Beavers to answer back. Shortstop Jimmy Parks hit a single to get the team going. Up next was senior first baseman Mark Leahy, who crushed a double, sending Parks around second, where he lost his helmet. The intensity of the stadium rose as Parks came around third; he was going all the way. He dove head first into home plate, just barely beating the catcher’s tag. Parks emerged from the daring play to his teammates swarming him off the bench.

By the fourth inning, the weather started to take a turn for the worse as the rain began to fall. As the field became more wet, the Beaver’s bats became dry. The team would go on to record only one more hit that game. Despite the strong defensive showing by the team and freshman pitcher Justin Rodrigue, the Eagles proved to be a threat at the plate in the first game with nine hits and the 5-1 win.  

With a quick half hour break in between games, the team didn’t get much time to shake off a loss. “In between games, we just mentally prepared,” said center fielder Tyler Flayhan, “and talked about trying to grind out our at-bats and put more runs up in the next game.”

Among the fans in the crowd was Eric Aguiar, a member of the UMF golf team. He has attended three games this season. “It’s difficult this year to go to a lot of games because of the heavy winter and the late melting of the snow,” said Aguiar, referring to the fact that until this game, the Beavers played all home games at Husson due to the conditions of Hippach Field.

“I enjoy watching the team because I hang out with a lot of the guys that play,” said Aguiar, “so it’s fun to go out and support the Beavs.”

UMF struggled finding their rhythm at the plate early in the second game, while Husson sent home three runs in the third inning. The Beavers battled back though, matching the score in the fourth inning. Husson came back with two scores in the following inning, leaving the teams with final score of 5-3. UMF improved their hits to seven.

“Losses are never fun,” said Flayhan, “but with such a busy schedule, we have to flush it and move on to the next games and focus on those games.” Flayhan wasn’t exaggerating about their busy schedule. The team went on to play an additional four doubleheaders that week.

The Beavers’ record fell to 3-20, while the Eagles improved to 20-14. “Out of our 20 losses, 15 have been by 3 runs or less, which can be frustrating on everyone,” said Bessey. “The job is to learn from every situation and get better from it, make the adjustment to succeed, not dwell on the failures.”

“I’d say that we just need to find a way to get the bats rolling some more, but our pitching and defense has been pretty solid all year,” said Flayhan. “Once the hitting comes around, we will be all set.”

Beavers Capture Win Against MMA Women’s Lacrosse

Beavers Capture Win Against MMA Women’s Lacrosse

By Sarita Crandall & Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writers

Senior members of the 2017 UMF Women’s Lacrosse Team. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

Senior members of the 2017 UMF Women’s Lacrosse Team. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

It was looking like it was going to be a beautiful spring afternoon to play a game of lacrosse, but despite the ominous weather that grew over the field at Thomas College, the Women’s Lacrosse team never gave up and defeated Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) with a final score of 10-1. The rain added a dramatic component to the game, which was considered a home game for the Beavers despite the necessity of an alternative venue due to the conditions of Prescott Field.

As the Beavers warmed up before the game, Coach Beth Lebel, who is in her first year as head coach of UMF lacrosse, noted that this was going to be a game that they needed to compete. “MMA is going to battle, they’re physical, they’re fast and athletic, but we are too. If we can just connect our passes and transitions, then I think we should compete fairly well,” said Lebel.

Carly Raymond, a key player for the Beavers, said that on game days it’s an adrenaline rush. “I can’t focus in school, can’t sleep the night before,” Raymond said enthusiastically, “It’s all nerves and excitement!”

At the blow of the whistle to signal the start of the game the intensity was there for both teams, but UMF was more in control of the field and scored a goal in the first three minutes. The first goal was scored by Danielle Conway and assisted by Raymond.

UMF Women's Lacrosse players warm up for their game. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

UMF Women’s Lacrosse players warm up for their game. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

It didn’t stop there for UMF. They continued to send four more goals into the net by the end of the first half. MMA was becoming discouraged by the control, composure, and finesse that our Lady Beavers were showing during the game. Some MMA players were becoming aggressive and unsportsmanlike out of frustration. Raymond mentioned that many teams are aggressive on the field and can get out of hand if the refs don’t set them straight. “Our team keeps our heads on our shoulders and fights through, we rarely fall to their level of checking and pushing,” Raymond stated proudly, “UMF in general has great sportsmanship!”

Sportsmanship and work ethic are two traits the Women’s Lacrosse team represents very well for UMF. The Beavers goal as a team was to have a positive team culture, and this was evident in practice the night prior to their game against MMA.

With a winter that seemed to last forever and piles of snow speckled with dirt still covering the UMF campus, many spring athletic teams can be found practicing anywhere they can find dry ground. A line of lacrosse sticks and equipment tucked behind the sidelines and a cluster of athletes with UMF maroon shorts and Beaver lacrosse tanks came into view when walking into the last two courts. Coach Lebel practiced her behind the head shot while the team warmed up. The first shot flew wide and landed a couple of laughs from her team. “Practice makes perfect!” she yelled. This seems to be the motto the Women’s Lacrosse team goes by.

After going for a two lap warm up run, the team came back to the court to complete their routine dynamic stretching, strength exercises, and basic skills. The team’s personality can be described as encouraging, lighthearted and supportive, all while having a competitive, intense edge. “They’re fun to be around,” said Lebel, “and they also know when it’s time to put their game faces on and work for everything.”

The 2017 UMF Women's Lacrosse Team. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

The 2017 UMF Women’s Lacrosse Team. (Photo Courtesy of Patty Smith)

The team had just come off of a couple of losses over the weekend at New England College and Castleton ending a four game winning streak, but these athletes did not come to practice that Tuesday to dwell on those losses; they came to work and prepare for their next conference matchup against the MMA Mariners.

Despite the adversities caused by a Maine winter and being a young, fairly inexperienced varsity team, the Beavers have had a successful season so far with a record of 5-3. Coach Lebel doesn’t look at having players who are new to the sport as a hardship though. She explained that newcomers make positive contributions including work ethic and excitement to learn and get better at the sport.

Some of the success of the rookies definitely comes from support from the more seasoned players. Rhi Jackson, one of five seniors on the team, attributes this to a lot of team bonding and Coach Lebel’s “Big Beavs and Little Beavs” idea. Lebel paired each upperclassman with an underclassman. The “team buddies” give each other gifts and pump each other up before games.

Looking towards the future of UMF Women’s Lacrosse, Lebel hopes to expand the program further. “We will continue to take players who haven’t played before and those with limited high school experience, along with veteran high school and club lacrosse players,” said Lebel. “Girls’ lacrosse in Maine is expanding rapidly and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the game with my team and program.”

Needless to say, their hard work did not go to waste. The Beavers came out even stronger in the second half of their recent matchup against MMA, scoring five more goals to assure them the win. Whenever a goal was scored there seemed to be a new energy on the field for UMF. For Raymond when she scores—during the game she acquired two goals—it’s a sigh of relief. “All the work to get to the net finally paid off!” The next game for the Beavers will be their Senior Game, Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at Thomas.

UMF Students and Farmington  Community Members Team Up In  Local Futsal League

UMF Students and Farmington Community Members Team Up In Local Futsal League

The trophy given to the champions of the futsal league. (Photo Courtesy of Seth Noonkester)

The trophy given to the champions of the futsal league. (Photo Courtesy of Seth Noonkester)

By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer

UMF students and Farmington community members team up and face off in a futsal league on Friday nights at the Farmington Community Center. Futsal, a game similar to indoor soccer, was eliminated from the list of intramurals put on by the FRC this year due to unsportsmanlike conduct.

According to Seth Noonkester, a UMF grad who currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the Town of Farmington, the futsal league was created last year. There are eight teams made up of 7-12 players and each player pays a $10.00 registration fee. The season consists of eight regular season games through the months of February and March with playoffs and a championship game the first Friday of April. The champions get their names engraved on the Rec’s Futsal League Trophy and custom jerseys to wear during the next season.

“The Farmington Parks and Rec Futsal League is a great opportunity for adults who have experience or a desire to play soccer during the winter months,” said Noonkester. “What really makes the league so successful are the players in the program. We got lucky to have such a high energy and fun group of players.”

Not only is the futsal league a fun activity for Farmington community members, but many UMF students are enjoying the competition as well. “The Farmington Rec Department welcomes anyone to be part of our programs,” said Noonkester. “We currently have around 15 to 20 UMF students playing in our Futsal League this year alone.”

“The futsal league is such a great gig,” said UMF junior Sarita Crandall, who is also an employee at the Farmington Community Center. “Before teams are picked there is two Fridays of just pick up so you get to know all the players really well and make friends with people in the community that are your age or 20 years older than you.”

“I play field hockey for UMF but I always have so much fun with soccer, especially indoor,” said Crandall. “I’ve played indoor soccer since I was in middle school and really enjoy it even though I can’t ball handle to save my life.”   

Dave Zeliger, a member of the Farmington community and a player on team Comeback Kids, said it was because of his kids that he got involved with the futsal league. “Figured it would be fun, a good workout, maybe help me to be a better coach and give my kids a chance to watch their father play for a change,” said Zeliger. “They are horrified by my play.”

Zeliger explained he is happy to have UMF students participate in the league. “Mostly, it’s no different than playing against anyone else, although they are younger, fitter and more skilled,” said Zeliger. “I admire their ability and their presence clearly elevates the level of play.”

Both Crandall and Zeliger said that unsportsmanlike conduct has not been an issue in the league. Crandall said the referee is very active in shutting down any potential problems.

I actually think that the UMF students have been respectful and considerate playing against the variety of ages and skill levels of the community players,” said Zeliger. “Most of the UMF players really seem to get it.”

The Farmington Parks and Rec Dept. hosts many activities for children and adults at the Farmington Community Center. The Community Center is free and open to the public Monday through Friday and offers a full size basketball court, batting tunnel, and bouldering and rock climbing walls. Noonkester describes the community center as a “hidden gem” in the town of Farmington.

UMF students who want to get involved can visit the Community Center or like their facebook page at www.facebook.com/farmingtonrec.

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