A little confidence can go a long way in motivating a team.
The University of Maine women’s basketball developed some confidence during its recent four-game exhibition tour to Canada.
“It was awesome,” said junior forward Samantha Wheeler. “It’s a great experience to have under our belts before most America East teams have even thought about starting their season.”
Coach Cindy Blodgett’s team posted a 3-1 record, getting a head start on its season with a foreign tour permitted once every four years by NCAA rules.
“It was definitely good to come out with a winning record for Canada, because we haven’t really experienced that much the years that I’ve been here,” Wheeler said.
UMaine was challenged in each of its games and experienced numerous tight situations that should help it grow heading into its preseason workouts.
“We got to experience losing a close game together and winning a close game and winning by a lot, the different emotions that come with (playing during the regular season),” Wheeler added.
“All that emotional energy really brought us together as a team.”
The Bears, who have been together in Orono most of the summer, shared the experience of seeing the sights in Montreal and Quebec City, including a boat tour on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal.
“It was beautiful. To learn the history of Montreal and everything, it was great to experience,” Wheeler said.
Blodgett enjoyed watching the players and staff interact with each other on an extended trip.
“The team camaraderie, especially being on the road for seven days, virtually without cell phones, was really great to see,” she said.
Perhaps the most important on-court dynamic for the Bears was integrating their newcomers into the mix. UMaine’s freshmen, Ashleigh Roberts, Jaymie Druding, Ali Nalivaika and Greer Babbe, and junior transfer Sheay Longstaff all made contributions and had the opportunity to play within the team structure two months before the season begins.
“The freshmen did very well in Canada. They were thrown into it very quickly and with practices, having to learn the plays and everything, they caught on quickly,” Wheeler said.
Blodgett liked what she saw from her team during the Canadian tour.
“Overall, I think our toughness has improved tremendously since last year,” she said.
Cole new NJIT head coach
Mike Cole, who spent last season as an assistant coach at UMaine, has been hired as the head baseball coach at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The former University of Vermont start previously served as an assistant at Vermont under Bill Currier and at Manhattan College with UMaine coach Steve Trimper.
“He’s certainly ready to be a head coach,” Trimper said. “He’s a tireless recruiter and a great teacher.”
At UMaine, Cole worked with Black Bear hitters and infielders.
He becomes the third UMaine coach in the last year to move on to a head coaching job. Jared Holowaty departed in 2009 to take the job at Whitman College in Washington, while Bears assistant Aaron Izaryk this summer was hired as the coach at Bridgton Academy.
“That’s three guys that have worked here as assistants that are head coaches at pretty good levels,” Trimper said. “People are recognizing we’ve got a pretty good program here.”
At NJIT, Cole replaces Brian Callahan, who guided the Highlanders for the last 10 seasons.
UM slates Military Appreciation
The University of Maine is sponsoring Military Appreciation Day for its Sept. 2 football opener against Albany at Alfond Stadium in Orono.
Active, reserve and veterans of all branches of the U.S. armed services and their family members will receive free tickets for the 7 p.m. contest. Service members must email Kerry Birmingham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The special guests will be treated to refreshments in the field house starting at 5 p.m. There will be special speakers, a military parade, displays and a special recognition during the game. Parking for military guests is free at the Collins Center for the Arts, with shuttles running to and from the stadium all evening.
‘HS Football Night’ Sept. 2 at UM
UMaine’s home football opener Sept. 2 at Alfond Stadium also will be recognized as “High School Football Night.”
All high school players wearing their team jerseys will be admitted free and free UMaine posters will be handed out.
For more information, contact UMaine athletics marketing director Jeff Wildey at 581-4849.
Ostergaard new Colby assistant
Peter Ostergaard has been hired as an assistant men’s soccer coach at Colby College in Waterville.
The native of Denmark, who coached professionally there the last seven years, joins Mark Serdjenian’s program. He previously served as a volunteer at Bates College in Lewiston in 2001.
Ostergaard, who earned a business degree from Lyngby Business School in Denmark in 1989, was an exchange student at Mount Ararat High School in Topsham in 1984-85, then played for the Vedbaek Soccer Club in Denmark from 1985-1997.
Carroll new trainer at St. Joseph’s
Neil Carroll has been hired as the head athletic trainer at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.
Carroll replaces Rick Burrill, who left Saint Joseph’s after two years to work with the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks.
Carroll, a native of Gray who attended Gray-New Gloucester High School, earned a B.S. in athletic training from the University of New England in Biddeford in 2002. He has since worked as a trainer at Greely and Scarborough high schools.
Carroll also played soccer at UNE and was a three-year assistant for the Nor’easters’ women’s soccer program.