BANGOR — Jordan McLain left quite a legacy on Brewer High School’s softball program, leading the Witches to an Eastern Maine Class A title as a freshman before enjoying a solid playing career at the University of Maine.
Her playing days now behind her, McLain is looking to pass down wisdom to today’s generation, and the Orringtion native has joined Bangor High’s coaching staff as an assistant.
“I just wanted to give back to other girls, and I like working with kids,” said McLain. “I’m going into teaching, so it’s a good way to stay involved, I guess.”
McLain would like to help out with Bangor’s pitching staff, but is happy to be on coach Don Stanhope’s staff regardless.
“We haven’t really specified a role yet,” said McLain.
McLain was a standout pitcher for Brewer who went on to play three years at UMaine, and she simply decided she didn’t want to play her senior year.
“Just ready to move on,” she said.
When Stanhope heard that news, he didn’t waste time in giving McLain a call.
“He asked what I was doing during the season, said do you want to help coach, I said yeah sure, let me know when it gets closer,” McLain said.
It’s also a good start on McLain’s career aspirations as she’ll pursue teaching after earning her education degree from UMaine in May.
She has student-taught second-graders in the Bangor system, and now works with kindergarten students in Veazie, which represents a new challenge.
“It’s definitely different,” she said. “I was in second grade for the first half of the semester, and I really like second grade.”
Bangor is coming off arguably its best season in program history, with an 18-2 record and its first-ever Eastern Maine championship.
“I’m very excited, I think it’s going to be a good season. I hope we do really well,” McLain said. “I hope that I have something to contribute to this team.”
Strange feelings will certainly be pumping through McLain’s veins when the Rams head across the river on April 22 to face Brewer.
“That’ll probably be interesting,” said McLain, whose sister, Meghan, was a shortstop on the Witches’ state championship team in 2008. “I know a lot of the girls on that team so it’ll be interesting.”
Watching Bangor’s 10 pitchers and catchers open preseason tryouts last week sparked some fond memories for McLain.
“I am definitely starting to miss this part of high school,” she said.
While Bangor did graduate the bulk of the lineup from its regional championship squad, McLain does know about the pressures of defending a title.
“I think that just by sharing the knowledge that I have with my experiences playing and doing some coaching, that’ll help them get through their season and work what they need to work on,” she explained.
Tryouts in full swing
The Maine high school spring sports preseason is fully under way as preseason tryouts and practices kicked off for baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and lacrosse teams.
Baseball and softball squads were allowed to assemble 10 pitchers and catchers starting March 21.
The first countable games, matches and meets can be held after 3 p.m. on April 14, with the first softball matchup among Eastern Maine schools pitting Class C rivals Washington Academy of East Machias against Calais.
A new season brings a new set of challenges as Bangor, Hermon, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill and Deer Isle-Stonington will be aiming to defend their regional championships. Of that quartet, only the Hawks emerged with gold last spring, claiming their first Class B state championship since 1977.
Coach Stephanie Biberstein’s club will have a great chance to repeat, as Hermon graduated just one senior, and the Hawks were in great spirits as they kicked off the preseason.
“We’re all pretty excited to get started,” said senior pitcher Deb Colpitts. “We’re just going to go at it as we did last year, just take it a game at a time.”
With championship success also comes respect from opponents and Hermon will likely have a target on its back this spring,
“I think so, but we’re just going to take it one game at a time and see how it goes,” said senior infielder Ashley Thayer.
McKayla Bates, Colpitts’ batterymate, is ready to go.
“I’m always excited to play softball,” she said.
While Hermon and Mattanawcook Academy are being pegged as the two teams to beat in Eastern Maine this spring by many experts, Colpitts knows that the Hawks can’t look past anybody.
“We’re looking at all the teams. They’ve got great fielders, they’ve got great hitters,” she said. “We can’t underestimate any other teams.”
Valley’s Hartwell retires
One of the more familiar faces on the girls basketball scene in Maine has decided to hang up his whistle.
Gordon Hartwell, who has coached basketball at all levels for 28 years, including the last 14 at Valley High in Bingham, has decided to retire.
Hartwell amassed a solid 201-85 record at the school, leading the Cavaliers to Western Maine Class D championships in 2006 and 2009. Valley earned a trip to the regional finals this winter before falling to Richmond.
Hartwell has had many outstanding players under his watch, including Kristin Baker, who went on to play for the University of Maine, and Cindy Schultz, who claimed regional tournament Most Valuable Player honors her sophomore and senior campaigns.
Schultz enjoyed a terrific senior campaign after her junior year was wiped out by a knee injury.