BANGOR, Maine — Kenny Colpritt of Bangor has been practicing his soccer skills all winter.
But it has almost all been done inside.
Blackbear United players start their workouts indoors in December before getting outside in March for tournaments, sometimes in southern Maine but usually out of state. League play and the State Cup tournament go from April through June.
Now, Colpritt and many of his friends and teammates are eager to take advantage of the warmer weather.
“It’s getting there,” said the 16-year-old midfielder, a member of the Blackbear United Under-16 boys team. “At a tournament last week in Massachusetts, it was cold, but it was good to get out.”
He’s more than ready to start getting outside here, also.
“Here [at Fields4Kids] is good for working on your foot skills,” said Colpritt of the artificial indoor surfaces behind Beal College, “but to get used to the game, we’ve got to get outside.”
Anna Michaud of Hampden, who plays on the U17 girls team, feels the same as Colpritt, but she will have to wait a little longer than everyone else.
“I have mono,” she said, “but I’m still eager to get out and play in tournaments and the State Cup.”
There is no shortage of soccer for the 16-year-old, in spite of her mononucleosis.
“I play [soccer] at Hampden Academy, I play basketball in the winter, then I wait for Blackbear to pick up,” Michaud said. “When Blackbear ends, then I go for ODP [Olympic Development Program], but you have to try out for that.”
There are 10 Blackbear United age-group teams — U12, U13, U14, U16 and U18 boys and U12, U13, U15, U17 and U18 girls. About half of them compete in tournaments each weekend, such as this weekend’s trips to Lancaster, Mass., and Epping, N.H.
“The rest of New England is 10-15 degrees warmer than we are,” said MJ Ball, director of coaching and premier programming for Blackbear United.
“This past weekend was our first time outside, others had been going for three weeks.”
That’s unlikely to change over the next month or so, according to Ball.
“Without turf [at the University of Maine in Orono and Husson University in Bangor], we’d be inside until the first game in April,” said Ball. “There are a lot of good grass fields around, but there aren’t a lot of good-draining grass fields.
“Even if [the precipitation] stopped now, it would still be at least a month before we could get on them. We don’t want to ruin them.”
So the approximately 250 Premier (U13-U18) players and 225 Premier Academy (top U11 and U12) players will continue to train at Fields4Kids and maybe start to get out once a week at UMaine and Husson while the weather continues to improve.
Now that the winter sports seasons are done or nearly done, more players are coming in.
“Six kids just joined because basketball just ended,” said Ball.
That could accelerate some, according to Patsy Oversmith, who is on the Fields4Kids board of directors.
“As soon as it gets warmer and other sports [wind down],” more players of all ages are expected to turn out, said Oversmith, who is also president of Bronco Travel Soccer.
“The leagues are growing every session,” said Michelle Conway, Fields4Kids treasurer.
Participation overall is looking good, according to Ball.
“Number-wise, this is probably our best year,” he said. “And good numbers at each [age group]. Each team is deep, and that’s what you want.
“Continued growth of the [Premier] Academy can only help.”
Success doesn’t hurt, either.
“Since 2001, we’ve had about 150 boys and girls go onto play at college, whether at the [NCAA] Division I, Division II or Division III level,” said Ball.
He specifically pointed to John Bapst sophomore Abby Pyne, who recently made a verbal commitment to play for Duke University, and Bangor senior Ashley Robinson, who will be a nonscholarship player for the University of Maine in the fall.
Buoyed by examples such as Pyne and Robertson, the players accept the long months of hard work.
“There’s a passion about it, the enthusiasm is always there,” said Oversmith.
Michaud is a prime example of that.
“Soccer is my life,” she said.
It’s tryout time for next season’s youth hockey travel teams.
The deadline for registering for the Maine Freeze, which is the Tier II and Tier III organization for the Bangor, Brewer and Penobscot Valley youth hockey associations, is Wednesday for peewees and squirts and March 28 for bantams and midgets.
The squirt tryout dates are March 19 and 26, the peewee dates are March 20 and 26, the bantam tryouts are April 2 and 7, and midgets are April 4 and 7.
All tryouts will be held at UMaine’s Alfond Arena.
Among other tryouts in Maine, registration for Southern Maine Travel teams has been extended to Tuesday.
Their squirts and peewees will try out at Biddeford Ice Arena March 19 and 20 from 5-7 p.m. for squirts and 7-9 p.m. for peewees.
Bantams will try out March 21 and 22 from 6-8 p.m.
Players are reminded to bring their tryout fees to their first session.
The Casco Bay Youth Hockey midgets, whose midget minor team is preparing for the national tournament at the end of the month, will try out Monday and Wednesday at Portland Ice Arena from 8:15-9:30 p.m.
Squirts are March 13-15. It’s goalies only 5:30 p.m., skaters at 6:40 p.m. the first day; goalies and skaters scrimmaging at 5:30 p.m. the second and third days.
Peewees have a similar schedule, but their first night is 5:50 p.m. for goalies and 7:50 p.m. for skaters. The next two days are 6:40 p.m. for both.
Bantams will go March 20-22 with goalies only at 5:50 p.m. on March 20 and skaters at 6:40 p.m. All players start at 6:40 p.m. the second and third days.
The Casco Bay Youth Hockey girls tryouts are March 27 and 29 at Travis Roy Arena in Yarmouth at 5:30 p.m. each day for the U12 and U14 teams and 6:40 p.m. for the U16 and U19 teams.