When Chelsea Kuzio attended an open house at the University of New England in Biddeford, the Hampden Academy soccer standout decided she wanted to watch the women’s soccer playoff game between UNE and Western New England University.
“I didn’t know anything about Western New England but I wound up talking to the parents of their players, they found out I played soccer and they introduced me to the coach [Ron Dias] after the game,” Kuzio said.
Kuzio had a positive conversation with Dias, decided to visit the school and that’s where she will be playing soccer next fall.
“I liked the school, I liked the campus and I liked the soccer coach,” said Kuzio, who had 22 goals and seven assists for the Broncos this past fall. “I wanted to go to a pharmacy school and they have a new pharmacy program. I think their first class graduates this spring.”
Kuzio’s goal-scoring prowess will help fill a need as the Golden Bears scored only 20 goals in 21 games while going 4-14-3 this past season.
Dias will lose 12 players off that team.
“We’re elated that she’s coming,” Dias said. “She scored a lot of goals in high school and that’s one of the things we’ve been lacking the past few years. She has a nose for the goal and that’s what we’re looking for.
“She’s a pretty good athlete. She’s also good in track. She’s quick and she has pretty good size [5-foot-7],” added Dias. “I didn’t promise her anything but I told her she’d have a good opportunity to start and play significant minutes next fall.”
Kuzio acknowledged the fact there will be an opportunity to play immediately was a factor in her decision.
“When you’re in the pharmacy program, I understand that it’s really difficult to play in your third year [due to the academic demands] so I wanted a chance to play right away,” Kuzio said.
“We’re hoping to squeeze three years out of her but even if we have her for two years [it’ll be worth it],” said Dias, who intends to use her as a striker and said he is bringing in a large freshman class.
Kuzio also gave serious consideration to attending Husson University in Bangor.
“It was a hard decision. But the financial situation was better at Western New England,” Kuzio said.
Husson and Western New England are NCAA Division III schools and aren’t allowed to provide athletic scholarships but student-athletes can qualify for academic scholarships and financial need money.
UMFK hoop teams reach out
Members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams at the University of Maine-Fort Kent recently tried their basketball skills at a new, challenging level.
The Bengals visited the Forest Hill Rehab and Nursing Center at Northern Maine Medical Center, where they took part in a game of modified basketball against residents of the facility.
Eric Werntgen and Brad Holabird, coaches of the UMFK men’s and women’s hoop teams, respectively, teamed with Forest Hill activities director Linda Bergeron to put the event together.
Zsakiyah Brown, Emmaly Jurson and Quintina Young joined Holabird from the women’s team, while Yoshives Belizaire, Glenn Gaitor, Jaxon Walton and Werntgen represented the men’s squad.
Games were played on hoops placed four feet high, as all Forest Hills residents are confined to wheelchairs.
The activity is part of the UMFK Athletics Bengal Character Initiative Program in which UMFK student-athletes and teams give back to the community in a variety of different projects.
Division III Week winds down
The University of Maine-Presque Isle has been busy celebrating the inaugural NCAA Division III Week.
The initiative celebrates the impact of Division III athletics and UMPI has been promoting what it describes as a unique student-athlete experience on its campus. A press release boasts UMPI offers “a highly competitive athletics environment, a commitment to academic excellence and leadership/community service/campus involvement.”
NCAA Division III Week was created to celebrate academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, leadership and community service among its participants. Division III is the largest contingent in the NCAA, with 442 members featuring almost 180,000 student-athletes competing for 28 sport championships.
The NCAA national office has been promoting its partnership with the Special Olympics during the week. Division III will donate $1 (up to $5,000) to Special Olympics for every new “Like” April 9-15 on the division’s Facebook page.