Skowhegan High School field hockey coach Paula Doughty is entering her 33rd season as the head coach of one of the state’s most dominant programs of all time in any sport.
But she doesn’t give it much thought.
The current 75-game winning streak? The 12 state Class A championships in 13 years?
“I don’t pay one bit of attention to any of it,” said the refreshingly candid Maine State Sports Hall of Famer.
“I’ve got a new bunch of kids and it’s like putting a giant puzzle together,” she said. “You see what you have and where people need to go.”
And she still enjoys that first day of practice.
Doughty said watching the maturation and development of a team is one of the joys of coaching.
“We have so much raw talent. It’s a lot of fun bringing them together and watching them grow as a team. It’s never the same,” she said.
She takes exception to people who will say in a casual tone it was “just another season” after another successful state title run by the Indians.
“Every year we have a whole new bunch of kids and every season is special to them, their families and their classmates,” she said.
They won’t discuss the winning streak.
“I hope my kids won’t get caught up in that and just go out and do the best they can do,” said Doughty. “That’s all they can do.”
She knows the streak eventually will come to an end.
“It’ll happen sooner or later. It’s high school sports. Anything can happen. Nobody wins forever,” she said.
She has been pleased to see how field hockey has progressed in the state.
“It’s getting better and better all the time. You’re seeing better players on all the teams. Every year is harder and more challenging,” said Doughty. “That’s the fun of it, really.”
She is proud of the players she has sent to Division I schools but quickly will point out that she is equally proud of those who have had productive careers at Division II and Division III schools.
Doughty, who has been an educator for 41 years and teaches government and psychology at Skowhegan High, said the one major change she has observed in her 33 years of coaching is the paperwork.
“Thirty-three years ago, we didn’t have to fill out any paperwork. Now there are nine forms that have to be turned in [per player]. It is so over the top,” she said. “The whole first day is spent filling out forms and chasing down parents.”
The Indians graduated quality starters including Allison Lancaster, who was chosen Miss Maine Field Hockey last year and is at Providence College, along with Logan LeBlanc, Holly and Heather Lupo, and Mikayla Toth.
But Skowhegan has a solid nucleus and a talented group of newcomers.
Forwards Renee Wright and Brooke Michonski, back Tori Mullin, midfielder Rylie Blanchet and goalie Leah Kruse headline the returnees with freshmen Haley Carter and Julie Steeves highlighting the list of newcomers.
In addition to perennially strong Messalonskee of Oakland, Doughty expects to face a lot of vastly improved teams this season including Mt. Blue of Farmington, Oxford Hills of South Paris, Lawrence of Fairfield and Bangor.
Thomas will host state finals
For the first time, Thomas College of Waterville will be the site of the three state field hockey championship games. They will be held on Saturday, Nov. 1.
“We’re very excited. They have an outstanding facility,” said Mike Burnham, assistant executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association. “It’s nice to be able to play the games in central Maine.”
They were held in Yarmouth last year and at the University of Maine in Orono two years ago, he said.
The state soccer championships will be held for Classes A and D at Hampden Academy on Nov. 8, but he said they have yet to decide on a Western Maine site for the Classes B and C state games. Falmouth is the front-runner, Burnham said.