By Lloyd Jones
FRYEBURG — Fryeburg Academy wrapped up another successful winter sports season last week when the Raiders hosted the 2015-16 Winter Sports Awards.
Athletic Director Sue Thurston talked about the number of highlights and accolades the Raiders were a part of this winter. Each team had one of its athletes talk about the season and what it meant to them. It was a fantastic night for Raiders Nation.
Raider Plaques were awarded to the following:
Special Olympics — Sportsmanship Award — Reed Wales.
Boys basketball — Coaches Award — Scott Parker and Ryan Hewes.
Girls basketball — Coaches Award — Katherine Parker and Alexandria Fraize.
Girls indoor track — Coaches Award — Oriagna Inirio. Remarkable Raider Award — Anna Lastra.
Boys indoor track — Most Valuable Award — Jeremiah Schrader. Coaches Award — Evan Wadsworth.
Alpine skiing — Most Valuable Award — Harrison Leavitt. Most Dedicated Award — Laura Friedman.
Girls Nordic — Most Valuable Award — Emily Carty. Most Improved Award — Elise Richardson.
Boys Nordic — Most Valuable Award — Patrick Carty. Most Improved Award — Seth Johnston.
Ice Cats — Raider Award — Huxley Lovering and Bowen Greenleaf.
Unified basketball — Teammate Award — River Lusky. Spirit of the Game Award — Chris Hennessy.
Head of School Award — Anna Lastra.
Howard Ross Award was presented to Randy Wales, FA Class of '84.
The Howard Ross Award, as the plaque reads, is "given annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sport of skiing here at Fryeburg Academy."
"Randy is the father of four-year skier Reed Wales and has donated countless hours and resources to the Nordic team through trail work, improvements and groomer transport," John Weston, head coach of the ski program at Fryeburg Academy, said. "With the winter climate changing, our course at Stark's Hill is becoming known for having quality snow regardless of the weather. This is in no small part thanks to the heavy equipment and operation that Randy has selflessly donated over the years. Without his generosity, especially in a winter like this one, skiers from around Maine and New Hampshire would not have had a place to train and race as Starks hosted not only CCC Middle School meets but also their State Championship; Western Maine Conference meets; and also the New Hampshire Meet of Champions."
Each sports season, coaches and one of their athletes talk about their respective seasons. At Wednesday's awards, speakers were: for Special Olympics — senior Reed Wales and Coach Kathy Dunham. For boys' Nordic skiing — senior Pat Carty and Coach John Weston and Coach Chris Darling. For girls' indoor track — senior Anna Lastra and Coach Kevin McDonald. For ice hockey — junior Huxley Lovering and Coach Dave LePage. For Unified basketball — junior Damian Eldridge and coaches James and Sue Thurston and Coach Sam Dyer. For alpine skiing — junior Hannah Frye and senior Harry Leavitt and Coach Dyer. For boys basketball — senior Ben Darling and Coach Sedge Saunders. For girls' Nordic — senior Costanza Santarelli and Coach Weston. Boys' indoor track — senior Jake Maidment and Coach McDonald. For girls' basketball — senior Bridget Bailey and Coach Sean Watson.
Athletic Director Thurston introduced boys' basketball player Nicholis L'Heureux-Carland as one of the evening's main speakers.
"Nick is a senior, captain, 12-sport athlete here at FA, who has participated in football, basketball and baseball," Thurston said. "He is a member of five different teams who have won Western Maine Sportsmanship Awards. I have known Nicholis since since he was just an infant, and I have had the privilege of watching him grow from always being the biggest player on the team, like the 6' third grader, to being a teammate who is always supporting his classmates and just being kind-hearted. Throughout his career, he has had to play many roles on his teams, from a starter, to coming in off the bench and even different positions on the field or court. One piece of Nicholis that has always stood out is his ability to be loyal to himself and his team. He is always willing to do whatever sacrifices his coaches have asked of him if it makes his team stronger. So, I turn the program over to Nicholis L'Heureux-Carland."
"I would like to start by saying thank you to all of the coaches and parents for all the time and support they have given to our programs," L'Heureux-Carland said. "I would also like to thank Mrs. Thurston for making sure that our schedules line up and Nate (Gaudet, the athletic trainer) for being there to help with injuries and rehab. For as long as I can remember I have been watching Fryeburg Academy athletics. I grew up on campus so all of the games were in my backyard. I have always longed to be, not only an athlete but, a captain here and when freshman year came, I couldn't have of been more excited.
"Of course I dealt with the normal struggles a freshman does when entering their first year of high school sports," he continued. "But before I could even stress about my insignificant issues, it was sophomore year, then junior year, and now senior year. It seemed like I had just blinked and the four years were almost over. High school sports taught me not only good sportsmanship and to be a leader but also has showed me the keys to success and the amount of work involved to be successful. For as long as I can remember athletics have been a huge part in my life. I am sad to be changing 'I play' to 'I played,' but without sports I would not be the person I am here today. High school sports gave me friendships, skills and life lessons that I will never forget. To all of the underclassman, enjoy it. You'll have your moments where it all doesn't seem worth it, but trust me it is. And trust me, it flies by, I know you don't think so now, but really it does. Cherish the little moments, cherish tough two-a-day practices, cherish adversity and cherish all the people you encounter, come the end of senior year you'll be glad that you did. High school sports are about making memories, having fun, competing and building character. I am so glad I got to spend my time creating those memories here at Fryeburg Academy. I wish all the underclassman luck in the future, enjoy it while it lasts because I promise it won't last long."
Bailey talked about the bonds formed with her basketball teammates.
"For anybody who's known this group of girls for awhile knows that we spend an insane amount of time together. Every girl on this team plays soccer as well, so if my math is correct (which it's probably not) we spend around 208 days a year together.
"In true Coach Watson fashion I came prepared to provide you with some more in depth statistics. After shooting at least 20 each day after practice; the seniors alone have shot around 15,138 foul shots and still can't seem to make any of them in a game. Surprisingly after consuming roughly 470 of Coach (Chris) Dutton's much appreciated snacks on the way to away games; we ended up winning 83.3 percent of our games this season and are still able to pretend that Coach Watson's jokes are funny.
In all seriousness though, I was trying to avoid saying something cliche like "we're not just a team we're a family," but I can truly say that I consider these girls my sisters. We started rec ball together in like third grade and have all played on the same team together since. This is with the exception of Katherine (Parker) who came late but we still consider her as one of us.
"Last year we were put in a unique situation with our lack of a single senior, we knew that we had to take advantage. I'm telling you now that I have never seen a harder working group of girls, with such passion and chemistry with each other. The amount of time this team spent working their butts off outside of the super inconvenient practice hours is unbelievable and probably a little concerning to some people. Nevertheless throughout the summer, fall and winter we spend countless hours on the field, in the gym, at Friendly's and in Nate's office and we've made memories and constructed a bond that's irreplaceable and unforgettable."
Frye and Leavitt talked about the winter that really wasn't for the alpine team.
"As the season rolled around, the weather looked less than promising as it showed no sign of snow. As we began practice the slopes were barren and our hopes decreased greatly, but that did not hold us back from squeezing in the most skiing as possible. Despite not having the snowfall we had hoped for, we managed to have a great season nonetheless. A season full of laughs, memories and accomplishments.
"We are so lucky to have such a quirky group of people on our little team.
"We would like to give thanks a few people who made it all possible. First of all a huge thank you to Sue Thurston, for organizing our busses to and from the mountain and everything else you do for us and every other teams at the school.
"Thank you to the bus drivers Fred and Bob for getting us to the mountain for practices and races.
"Thank you to the parents who spent long days at the mountain standing in the cold and giving us lots of food to eat.
"Thank you to our teammates who made the season very interesting. And last but not least, thank you Sam. Thanks for being an amazing coach for the past four years, for teaching me just about everything I know about skiing and having fun on the slopes.
"Thank you for putting up with us on a daily basis, for being one of the most supportive coaches I've ever had, and making this season a memorable one."
Santarelli recapped the Nordic season.
"I'd like to begin tonight with gratitude.This season wasn't easy, but we made it great. You don't join the ski team to run, but through December it certainly felt that way. In mid-December, it was 40 degrees and raining. As Christmas came and went, we waited and waited for the snow to arrive. As our first scheduled meet approached and we still weren't able to ski, we were all beginning to wonder how this was supposed to work.The snow finally came, and we got on skis just a week before our first meet.
"That's like never shooting a basketball or dribbling until your competition season has started. Even once we did start skiing, the conditions were often less than excellent. So many days I was surprised there would be snow to ski on at practice at all, but Coach Weston really is a miracle-worker with his groomer. And when snow was forecast, we'd wonder if it would turn out to be rain, or almost worse, if it would blow over. In mid-January you shouldn't be able to see the old leaves under a scarce four-inch layer of snow or hear your teammates call, "Watch out for the dirt patch!" a week before your State Meet. Whether toiling through six inches of sticky, freshly fallen snow — what we call mashed potatoes — or sliding over what was hardly more than chipped ice, the girls' team held its own in these tough conditions.
"It has been my privilege to be on the girls' Nordic team over the past two years. None of the girls that skied this year were on the team two years ago, and a few of us hadn't even skied until last year. Even though our team is young, we had a very competitive season and placed well. Yes, there were bad days along with the good, but throughout it all I saw a team of girls that was outstandingly determined and immensely supportive.
"The girls' Nordic team placed fourth in the Western Maine Conference, which is the most competitive conference in our class. Two weeks later we held onto fourth place over our two-day State Meet up in Farmington. This incredible achievement wouldn't have been possible without the stellar performances of every member of the team. In a field of over 60 skiers, sophomore Emily Carty and freshman Zoe Maguire placed in the low teens in the classic race. Although you might not believe it looking outside, the Nordic season isn't over yet. Emily and Zoe raced in the under-16 Eastern Championships (two weeks ago). Also, both of them and Irina qualified for the Eastern High School Championship races in Vermont this (past) weekend. They comprised the largest group of Fryeburg Academy girls to represent Maine in this event in over two decades. This Nordic girls' team is made up of talented athletes who are dedicated, fun, excited and passionate about their sport. I am so fortunate to have skied with you, and I wish you the best of luck in the years ahead."
Maidment reflected on the indoor track season.
"Winston Churchill once said, 'Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.' It takes a great deal of courage to step out onto the track, onto the runway or into the thrower's circle to perform in front of a field house filled with athletes and spectators over and over again. I am very proud to say that I, along with the coaches, was able to watch everyone step up and improve meet by meet on their jumps, times and throws. Although we did have a few hiccups with minor injuries, everything worked out when it came time to suit up and compete. The results have said just about everything there is to say, all I am left with simply a congratulations to all of you on a fun, exciting and memorable season. Even though the results are split between boys and girls, we really are one team, we go to school, train and compete as a unit. We have really left a mark in the standings at USM and Bates this season and the vast majority of all of you will be returning next year.
"A huge thank you to Nate Gaudet, the athletic trainer who saw a great deal of us on a daily basis for tape, ice and so on. Coaches, we thank you for your dedication, time, and attention. Coach McDonald truly represents what any athlete competing in any sport should, respect. For the track, for the officials, for other competitors and also for yourself. Coach Collins, you have been inspiring, insightful and just a great Coach to be around throughout the seasons. Although they may not be here, we all owe a great thank you to the bus drivers. Our late meets start at 6:30 which means we don't get done competing until almost 10 p.m. if not after, plus the bus rides home makes for a very late night. Train hard, compete harder and I wish you all the best of luck, and as Coach McDonald always says, Raiders Rock!"
A number of Raiders garnered All Conference Awards, which are selected by either the vote of the league coaches or as a result of finish in the Western Maine Conference Championships.
In girls' basketball, Julia Quinn was named First Team All Conference; Alexis L'Heureux-Carland and Mackenzie Buzzell were named Second Team All Conference.
In boys' basketball, Oscar Saunders was named Second Team All Conference.
In Nordic skiing, Emily Carty and Patrick Carty were named First Team All Conference.
In indoor track, Alexis Charles, Skye Collins, Oriagna Iniro were named First Team All Conference for as members of the 4x200 relay team; Inirio also earned First Team All Conference for the 55-meter dash; and Lastra was named Second Team All Conference in the 2-mile run.
In alpine skiing, Brooke Juneau earned First Team All Conference.
Several Raiders earned All Academic laurels (seniors with at least a 3.2 GPA and receiving varsity letter) in the Western Maine Conference: in Nordic skiing — Pat Carty; basketball — Sage Boivin, McKenna Gerchman, Alexis L'Heureux-Carland, Katherine Parker, Julia Quinn and Roy Elal; indoor track — Baha Demir, Ori Inirio, Anna Lastra, Emily McDermith, Tran Tranh and Brian Word-Sims,
A few Raiders received All State honors, either by either finish in the State Championship Meet or as a result of a statewide vote from each sports State Coaches Association. Pat Carty and Emily Carty in Nordic skiing; Alexis L'Heureux-Carland and Julia Quinn in basketball; Huxley Lovering in ice hockey; and the 4x200 indoor track relay team Skye Collins, Orie Inirio, Lexi Charles and Anna Lastra.
The following athletes were selected through either their finish in State Championships or at sport specific qualifiers to compete as a part of Team Maine at the New England Championships.
Nordic Skiers in U 16 New England Championships were Emily Carty, for finished fourth overall; Zoe Maguire; and Seth Johnston.
As a part of team Maine at Eastern this past weekend were Pat Carty, Emily Carty, Irina Norkin and Zoe Maguire.
Indoor track at the prestigious New England Indoor Track and Field Championships held earlier this month at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Mass., were the 4x200 relay of Anna Lastra, Ori Inirio, Skye Collins and Lexi Charles; and Jeremiah Schrader and Evan Wadsworth, both in the 600 meters.
The Winter Special Olympians enjoyed great success with results Courtney Ela placing fourth in 10-meter walk; earned a bronze medal in glide; and another bronze in super glide; Ben Charles earned gold medal in the giant slalom and a silver in the slalom; Star Young won a gold medal in the slalom and a silver in the giant slalom; Reed Wales won gold medals in both the 1k and 3k races; and Aaron Hennessy took seventh place in the giant slalom; fifth place in the downhill; and sixth place in the slalom.
Special Olympian Reed Wales has been selected as an alternate to the World Games in Austria next winter, an honor that rarely includes high school athletes.
The FA Special Olympics team received the McGovern Team Spirit Award at the Sugarloaf Winter Games and the criteria reads: the team which has demonstrated: unity and spirit in all facets of participation and levels of competition."
Coach Saunders and the members of the boys basketball team received the boys' basketball Class A South Sportsmanship Banner.
State Champions this winter were the 4x200 relay team of Ori Inirio, Skye Collins, Anna Lastra and Lexi Charles, who won the Class B State Championship.
3-Star Jackets were presented to Coleen Bullard, Ella Forbes, Cobey Johnson, Joe LeBrun, Scott Parker, Kyleigh Rose and Gavin Smith.