When I was recently approached about being a sports contributor for this esteemed newspaper, many questions sped through my mind. What would I write about, what would be the overriding theme, who am I trying to reach through my writing.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I have a great passion for sports. While I’m a fan of the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics, the sports moments I cherish the most have been right here in Maine at venues like the Bangor Auditorium, Mansfield Stadium, or Cameron Stadium. Moments such as Zak Ray and Joe Campbell’s play at the buzzer to stun goliath Deering, the 2010 Senior League World Series run by Bangor, the ’97 Snow Bowl for the Eastern Maine Championship, will always remain etched in my memory bank. Over the past twenty plus years as a coach, public address announcer, and commentator, I consider myself blessed to have been involved in the games in one capacity or another. The reason I most enjoy high school and youth sports is because of the relationships I’ve developed with so many coaches, players, and those who cover the games. When I look at my best friends in life, the majority have some sort of link to Maine youth and/or high school athletics. I can’t say the same thing and don’t get the same feeling when watching Dustin Pedroia or Tom Brady.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the Pine Tree State, you soon come to realize Maine is a special place. Particularly in Eastern Maine, the sense of community pride is strong in many locales, especially when their local sports team is performing well. There’s something special about heading out to a small community for the big game, a small, packed gym, the locals sharing stories of the glory years, hoping for another gold ball. I’ve witnessed this scene carried out in far-flung locales such as Jonesport, Mars Hill, East Millinocket, Houlton, and countless other places, where community still matters. And, you know another great thing about high school and youth sports: No fantasy leagues, just thought I would throw that in, I loathe fantasy sports. If you are looking for help with your fantasy league, you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t need to look at stats to tell me who is better than who, I have two perfectly good eyes, they tell me all I need to know.
In thinking about an underlying theme or style, one thought kept protruding to the front of my cranium. The idea was born of all places from a commencement address given at the University of Maine when by brother received his Master’s Degree. Now mind you, most commencement addresses are highly forgettable, so it seems strange that something said by the speaker a few years back would still resonate in my mind. In her charge to the graduates, Senator Susan Collins, who was quite disturbed with all the partisanship and general negativity in Washington, challenged the graduates to “find the good and praise it”. This is what I will attempt to do each week, and I encourage you to do the same, is to find what is good and to praise it.
When we consistently focus on what is good and praise it, we set ourselves apart from the cacophony of noise that has become paramount in much of today’s dialogue. When it’s time to offer critique, we can be that beacon of light that will be heard over the constant drum of negativity.
So in a nutshell, what can you expect to see in this blog? Well for one thing, we won’t be trying to cure all of sports’ warts and warbles. There are plenty of people out there fit to do so and there are plenty of other outlets for this purpose. This is primarily to be a celebration of all that is great in youth sports. Articles throughout basketball season will be more event driven rather than topic driven, focusing on what is truly noteworthy throughout our state.
So I invite you to join me in the days ahead as we celebrate what is great about youth sports in the state of Maine. Together, let’s find the good and praise it!