UMF XC Shines Highlighted by Mens’ Victory

By Michael Levesque, Assistant Editor.

On Saturday September 25, 2021, the men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Saxl Park in Bangor, Maine to compete at the Husson Harrier Invitational.

A good race day for the men’s and women’s team was highlighted with the men’s squad capturing first place. Five members from the men’s team finished within the top 32 positions with three runners finishing in the top 15.

Captain Joe Ashby, a senior, finished 21st overall and indicated some uncertainty before the race in regards to where they would finish. “Going into the meet we weren’t really sure if we would win because we know that Colby [College] and Husson [University] have really strong programs,” Ashby said. “But we were there to run hard and compete.” Improving on their times was the main focus of practice in the weeks leading up to the meet but actually winning the meet became the overall goal. “We are training really hard for times but at the end of the day, we are here to win the NAC [North Atlantic Conference],” Ashby said.

Coach Sean Cabaniss said through the teams Instagram page that the men’s win was the “first time since 2018.” Cabaniss also said on the page that many of the team members individually had great races with “PR’s[personal records] almost across the board.”Ashby also recognized the efforts of each runner. “We have a really strong team this year. With NAC’s being at a difficult course this year, [Saturday October 30th hosted by Thomas College] we really want to win.”

Ashby knows that even with the recent success, challenges still remain ahead. “Winning is never easy. We weren’t the smallest team there but I do think we were the second smallest.” One major challenge to winning each race is the team size. “It’s hard when you have a bunch of other runners to displace your guys,” Ashby said.

But with any success comes a sense of pride. Ashby recognizes the overall accomplishment of the team. “To win was a great feeling because I don’t think we have won a meet in quite a few years.”

The Cross Country teams will have their next two meets Saturday October 2nd [hosted by Bates] and Saturday October 23 [hosted by Bowdoin] before competing in the NAC championship on October 30th.

NBA Coach Clifford Visits UMF

NBA Coach Clifford Visits UMF

By Michael Levesque, Assistant Editor.

   Photo from the UMF Athletic Department

    On September 10, 2021, student-athletes and members within the University of Maine Farmington athletics department had the opportunity to listen to alumumnist and National Basketball Association coach, Steve Clifford.

Clifford returned to the college from which he graduated in 1983 to talk about his experience coaching basketball at the highest level. Clifford, who graduated from the university in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in special education, played basketball for UMF all four years. After graduation, he coached at the high school and college level before accepting a position as an assistant coach for the New York Knicks in 2001. Clifford was an assistant coach in the league for 12 more years before becoming the head coach for the Charlotte Hornets in 2013 and later the Orlando Magic. Today Clifford is a coaching consultant for the Brooklyn Nets.

Clifford first talked to a large group of UMF student athletes, where he touched on values that he believes are not only good for NBA players, but athletes in general. “Work, accountability and togetherness… These are the three main ideas that he focuses on with the NBA teams that he has coached,” said McKenna Brodeur in an email. Brodeur is a captain on the women’s soccer team and a post player on the women’s basketball team. “All three ideas…impact a team’s culture,” she said. “Work requires you to put the effort in. Accountability means having discipline and showing up every day on time, as well as knowing the plays and sets. Lastly, togetherness is the goal of the team,” she said. “You need to be able to play together and have a plan to get better.” Brodeur mentioned that some of the messages she learned, she plans on taking to the soccer field. “I want to bring back what I learned from Coach Clifford back to the team. I think it will be a good reminder on why we cannot just show up to practice and expect greatness. We must work toward our goals and aim to do better every day,” Brodeur said.

Clifford’s visit then transitioned to the basketball court where he conducted a coaching clinic. With UMF men’s basketball players on the court and coaches from around the state in the bleachers, Clifford conducted a few drills and offered coaches advice on running a successful basketball team. “[Clifford] showed us different drills and plays and how they transitioned to success at the NBA level,” said Jack Kane, a center on the men’s basketball team. Kane mentioned how other coaches were there to learn as much from Clifford as they possibly could, including UMF’s own coach Sam Leal. “Coach was taking notes in the stands, listening. He was not ‘coaching’ at all,” said Kane. Kane, like the other members of the team actually completing the drills that day, hopes that what they learned from Clifford can translate to a successful season this winter.

For more photos of Clifford’s visit, check out the athletic department’s instagram page @umfatheltics.

UMF Biology Class Helps Cultivate New and Rare Life

UMF Biology Class Helps Cultivate New and Rare Life

By Michael Levesque, Contributing Writer

Nancy Prentiss Biology Class

Photo courtesy of Nancy Prentiss, Biology Class

    The Natural History of a Maine Watershed class taught by Nancy Prentiss, accompanied by Maine aquatic professionals, ventured out to lay Atlantic salmon eggs near Avon, ME. 

    Classified as an endangered species, Atlantic Salmon are almost exclusively found in New England and waters north. These fish travel up rivers, like the Sandy, to lay their eggs and exit later to spend years of their lives out in the Atlantic Ocean. After their time in the ocean, they return to roughly the same area where they hatched from their eggs to lay eggs of their own and repeat the process.

    Nancy Prentiss, the professor of the Natural History of a Maine Watershed class, has now made this trip three years in a row. She looks forward to this trip every year. “I’m definitely a field person,” Prentiss says, “I really pushed hard to submit a form for approval.” Luckily for the class, approval was given. They were able to utilize the class’ small number of students and independent travel to help make sure that everyone involved stayed safe.

    Joining Prentiss and eight members of the class were the Department of Marine Resources, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Previously, the class prepared for the trip by practicing using snowshoes the week before. Despite frigid weather, COVID-19, and having to trudge through snow on snowshoes, the class persevered. 

    After locating a spot to lay the eggs, a gravel nest was made–similar to that made by actual salmon–to help protect the eggs. A tool resembling a funnel was used to create the depression in the ground. This process was delayed as cold temperatures made some of their equipment freeze. Although there were delays, Prentiss and her class embraced the challenges. “This is science,” Prentiss said. 

    Describing the eggs as similar to “Orbeez”, Hope Norton mentions she wasn’t expecting a class trip like this involving professionals to happen. The eggs were previously fertilized three months before. As eggs and young fish, they will call that nest home for approximately two years before making their own journey to the ocean. “I just love throwing students into a situation and then you learn by doing,” Prentiss says. “When [the students] are doing it themselves, that’s the best way to learn.”

    Lauren Preis, a student in the class, described the struggles these salmon face today. “They have trouble migrating because of dams and culverts,” said Preis. “For every 15,000 eggs, only one adult salmon fish will return,” Preis says. Because of these grim statistics, blockages are a problem for the Sandy River and for other places and species as well. 

    Although these rates are alarming and frustrating, some studies and efforts show these fish as possibly having a chance. “There are fish returning from the fertilized eggs they have planted,” Prentiss says. Efforts made by educational institutions like colleges and high schools in Maine as well as state and federal agencies have produced some hopeful results.

    For the class, this was an experience that shaped their student experience while getting them outside of UMF. “It was an amazing life experience,” Preis said. 

    Preis and her classmates perhaps didn’t imagine taking such a trip in the beginning of the semester, but are grateful nonetheless. “I wish I could do it with everybody,” Prentiss said. “We are always in a different stream and every time I go, I learn more.” 

    Prentiss is hopeful her class will be able to continue this tradition and have more people down the road lay salmon eggs. The shared goal of this class and others in the industry is to remove these fish from the endangered species list.