By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
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.”
By Sarita Crandall & Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writers
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)
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 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.
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.
By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
As the 2017 season approaches, the UMF softball team is looking to be a contender in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) with new head coach Kat McKay and many strong freshman additions.
Despite being a young team with only one senior and two juniors, McKay is confident in her players’ abilities to succeed this season. “I think that we’re going to turn some heads in the conference this year,” she said.
McKay brings 13 years of coaching experience to the team, including one year as assistant softball coach for the Beavers during the 2015 season. Most recently, she was head softball coach at Poland Regional High School for four years. She has also coached basketball at Poland and soccer and softball at St. Dominic Academy, where she served as assistant athletic director last year.
McKay said that it was hard to leave her job as assistant athletic director, but coaching was ultimately what she wanted to do. “I wanted to be a collegiate softball coach for a while,” she said. “Coaching is what I wanted to do full time.”
Coaching became a passion for McKay due to her experiences as an athlete. “My coaches that I had had in the past were big influences in my life and I wanted to be that for someone else,” she said.
McKay said her favorite part about coaching softball at UMF is the athletes. “They have had some overturn with head coaches in the past few years,” said McKay. “The girls here want to be successful. They have the desire to win and better themselves.”
Kiana Thompson, a junior center fielder, has noticed an unbelievable difference in this year’s team compared to previous seasons. “A huge freshman class that came and more than three pitchers has given us more looks as a competitive team,” Thompson said.
With a roster full of newcomers, Thompson explains that the team is working hard to find their groove. “Chemistry of our team right now is growing,” said Thompson. “As such a young team we are learning day by day on how to play with each other.”
Last year, the team won seven games according to McKay, and Thompson and the rest of the team are looking to build on that. “I want to become closer as a team so we can trust each other on and off the field,” Thompson said. “I think that the NAC will underestimate us and we are going to open some eyes when they see us play.”
Freshman and second baseman Amber Grady said the transition from high school softball to the division three team was nerve wracking, but McKay and her teammates made her feel welcome. “We all support each other on and off the field,” said Grady. “It is nice to know that no matter what we will all have each others back.”
According to McKay, the team will be heading to Florida on March 25. Grady explained that the week-long trip is stacked with 3 double headers and one triple header. Although the team will be enjoying the warm weather, the games aren’t just for fun because the wins and losses count to their season. “These games are going to show us where we are at and where we stand. It will show us our strengths and weaknesses,” said Grady. “I am excited and ready to see us on the field and playing together.”
By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
Freshman Tyus Ripley puts up a shot at a recent game against Bates College. (Photo by Jeff Lamb Photography)
In spite of several injuries among top players, the UMF men’s basketball team is making a run at the playoffs following a five game conference winning streak sparked by newcomer Tyus Sprague-Ripley. Ripley, a 6’6” freshman transfer has made a huge impact for the Beavers offensively and defensively over the past month averaging 9.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game, according to UMF Athletics.
Changing teams in the middle of the season can make it tough for a player to get comfortable, but Ripley, who was previously a Saint Joseph’s College Monk, said the changeover has been smooth. “Some of the players I’ve played with before,” said Ripley, “so it seemed like it’d be the easiest transition.”
Stepping on the court during a game this year for the Beavers wasn’t part of Ripley’s expectations coming into the new team. “At first I didn’t know if I was able to play,” said Ripley, “I was just expecting to practice.”
As soon as Ripley got his chance on the court, he proved to the Beavers he was going to be an important asset to the team. He was recognized as NAC Rookie of the Week for the last week of January, following another UMF Rookie of the Week, freshman forward Riley Robinson.
Ripley was recognized after a week of averaging 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block, while also shooting an impressive 57.1% from the floor and going 5-for-5 at the free throw line. The team went 2-0 that week.
Ripley, who humbly accepted this accolade, said he is hoping for more of a team goal, such as going to playoffs and winning a championship. He said, “I actually didn’t know I got it until like way after everyone else.”
Head Coach Dick Meader explained that injuries have had a huge impact on the team this season. Freshman forward Billy Ruby suffered a broken ankle early in the season, and freshman center Anthony Owens has faced two sprains, according to Meader. Both players are known for their talented offensive and defensive presence on the court.
Meader explained that Ripley has helped make the team stronger where injury has made them weak. “He’s added some size, toughness, doing what’s right getting loose balls, and establish our defense,” said Meader, “he helped fill the gap of Anthony Owens.”
Although Riley came in halfway through the season, Ryan Camire, a senior captain on the team, explains that this isn’t apparent in his play. “He’s growing into his own,” said Camire, “he’s picked up right a way.”
“Tyus definitely is one of our most important guys,” Camire said, “he gives us a nice down low presence.”
The Beavers, who are now 8-6 and tied for third in the NAC, are looking to clinch a playoff spot and home court advantage.
“The big thing is we have some big road games, keeping that focus of what we need to do, trusting the coaches game plan and scouting reports, letting our instincts carry,” said Camire, “we always have to stay hungry and stay on our toes.”