Santa Claus is at the North Pole preparing to make his annual mad dash around the globe to deliver presents to all the good girls and boys.
Here in Maine, Christmas shoppers are jamming the stores in search of that must-have item for a loved one.
Here are a few suggestions for “gifts” that might be on the wish list for members of the University of Maine athletics department this holiday season:
Most importantly for all, a speedy and sound decision on hiring UMaine’s next director of athletics. No one knows better than the head coaches the need for charismatic leadership to guide the Black Bears into the future. Having the new AD in place will help ease what must be a time of some uncertainty for many on the UMaine staff and begin a new era in the department.
Head football coach Jack Cosgrove has much for which to be thankful coming off a 10-3 season that included UMaine’s first-ever home playoff game. That doesn’t mean the award-winning coach doesn’t have visions of a speedy, 200-pound tailback dancing into the end zone, along with commitments from more talented recruits who want to pursue their football dreams in Orono.
For men’s basketball coach Ted Woodward, a rugged 6-foot-10 center with good feet and the ability to both score in the low post and block shots likely tops his list. In the meantime, he’s looking for continued patience from Black Bear fans, and steady improvement from his players, amidst a challenging rebuilding season.
Women’s basketball coach Richard Barron may simply be wishing for his team to maintain good health as it continues to mature. Things are looking up for the Bears, but his program, too, could benefit from a taller, polished, back-to-the-basket post player who can provide a potent presence at both ends.
With Alfond Arena again buzzing in anticipation, men’s hockey coach Red Gendron seeks continued improvement from a young team that appears to be generating some momentum. That said, he probably has a speedy “sniper” and some hard-hitting defensemen on his Christmas list.
Track and field coach Mark Lech undoubtedly is hoping the crew renovating the New Balance Field House receives some extra inspiration, and perhaps some elfin magic, to complete the project soon so his athletes have someplace to practice indoors. UMaine runners, jumpers and throwers have been working out outdoors since May.
For UMaine baseball coach Steve Trimper and softball coach Lynn Coutts, perhaps nothing could put them more in the holiday spirit than a mild winter weather forecast. That will help them get their teams outside to practice early and ensure 2014 home games don’t have to be postponed or canceled.
For many of UMaine’s dedicated student-athletes, there would be no greater Christmas gift than to be able to return home to spend time with their families. With only a week between games during the holiday week, those on some of the winter teams most likely won’t be able to do so.
Instead, the Black Bears will be wishing for good health while sharing this special time with their second families — their teammates and coaches — as they gear up for what they hope will be a happy and prosperous 2014.